Monday, May 27, 2019

On the Dixie Overland Highway, Historic US 80 - east Louisiana

Mississippi River bridges at Vicksburg, with I-20 on left and US 80 on right, 2005 during low-water (Rolleiflex 3.5E camera)
The historic Dixie Overland Highway crossed the Mississippi River just south of Vicksburg on the Old Vicksburg Bridge. Then, it headed almost due west towards Tallulah, Monroe, Shreveport, Dallas, and, eventually, Los Angeles.
1996 aerial photograph of Mississippi River bridges, view west towards Louisiana (Kodachrome film, Nikon F3 camera) 
The Vicksburg Bridge & Terminal Co. built the Old Bridge during 1928-1930. It featured a single railroad track and a dual lane highway. It was open to vehicle traffic until 1998 and has been closed since then except for special events, like the annual Bricks and Spokes bicycle event. Kansas City Southern still runs many trains a day across the bridge. The Interstate 20 bridge, on the left in the photographs above, opened in 1973 when I-20 was under construction.
There is not too much to see in the little Louisiana town of Delta. US 80 heads west past farm fields and some forest land. The Kansas City Southern railroad tracks parallel the highway.
Former depot, Mound, Louisiana, Kodak Ektar 25 film, Rolleiflex 3.5F camera, 75mm f/3.5 Planar lens
Mound was a farming community with a depot and a general store. I photographed the depot in 2005, but it has since been moved away (it has been preserved). I also have photographs somewhere of the general store. Today, the Vicksburg-Tallulah regional airport is just north of US 80. There are some nice homes on Rte 602 between US 80 and I-20.
Scott Field, Tallulah, Louisiana (Fuji Velvia film, Leica M3 camera)
Just east of Tallulah, the historical Scott Field is located within sight of US 80. This was one of the original stops for the young Delta Airlines in the 1930s, and the terminal reflects typical 1930s  airport architecture. The field is now used for crop-dusting aircraft and this handsome building (with zinc tiles) has been restored.
Snyder Street, Tallulah, Louisiana (Fuji GW690II camera)
We reach Tallulah, a mid-size Louisiana farming town. Sadly, the downtown is pretty rough. The strip was formerly Snider Street, which paralleled the railroad tracks. Today, trains roar by and do not stop, and many of the stores are closed or collapsing. There must have once been a depot, but I do not know where. I have recorded Tallulah before. My wife and I occasionally bicycle on LA 602, which takes us through Tallulah on a wide swing through farm fields and forests.

This ends out short ride on the Dixie Overland Highway. Some day, I need to explore US 80 further west as it crosses central Louisiana.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

On the Dixie Overland Highway, Historic US 80 - west Mississippi

We will continue on our trip in Mississippi along what is left of the Dixie Overland Highway, now US 80.

The present US 80 crosses the Pearl River south of downtown Jackson and runs north of Interstate 20. West Jackson was a bustling commercial zone in the post-World War II decades. Preservation Mississippi as written about some of the motels and other architecture along this strip. Today, it is a bit (well, very) dingy. The scenery is marred with fast food restaurants, old warehouses, and strip malls that clearly saw better years a long time ago. I recently wrote about the old Metrocenter Mall, which is only partly occupied now (click the link).
KCS tracks view east, Old US 80 near Clinton, Mississippi (Olympus Trip 35, TMax 100 film)
Post Drive, Old US 80 (Olympus Trip 35, TMax 100 film). The fence has been extended and now obscures all of the yard
US 80 runs through Clinton just north of I-20 (near Mississippi College) and then merges with the interstate.  I assume the old route was absorbed by the interstate. But the frontage road south of I-20 west of the Norrell Road exit may be the old Dixie Highway. It winds through woods and past old houses and past farmland.
Old Hwy 80 east of Bolton (Olympus Trip 35, TMax 100 film)
East of Bolton, it is hard to tell how much of Old Hwy 80 is the Dixie Overland and how much is modern frontage road.
Main Street, Bolton (Olympus Trip 35, Tmax 100 film)
Mack's Cafe, Old US 80, Bolton (Kodachrome 25, Leica, 50mm lens)
The first "main" town we reach is Bolton. We have explored Bolton before (click the link). There is not much to see there now.

Former Dodge dealer (no longer extant), Edwards, Mississippi (Yashica Electro 35CC camera, Ilford Delta 100 film)
National Youth Administration gymnasium (formerly for Edwards High School, Edwards, Mississippi
Edwards is the next town on our trip west. Edwards, too, has seen much better and more prosperous days a long time ago. I previously wrote about Edwards in the rain.

Woodman of America hall (no longer extant), Edwards, Mississippi (Kodachrome slide, Leica M3, 90mm f/2.8 Tele-Elmarit lens)
A former coworker tried to preserve the Woodman of America building, but the last time I drove through town, all that was left was a concrete slab. 
Shotgun house, 304 Old Hwy 80, Bolton (Olympus E-330 digital camera) 


Former filling station, US 80, west of Edwards (Fuji X-E1 digital camera)
A few older shotgun houses remain in Edwards.
Old US 80 west of Edwards, Mississippi (Fuji X-E1 digital camera)
Smith Hall, Bonner Campbell Institute, Edwards (Panatomic-X film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm lens)
Heading west, you pass the grounds of the Bonner Campbell Institute, formerly the Southern Christian Institute. Sadly, most of the historic buildings have been demolished, despite their status on the National Register of Historic Places. I thought the pillared Smith Hall was quite elegant.
Big Black River crossing, Old US 80 (Hasselblad, 50 mm Distagon lens, Fomapan 100 Classic film)
Bridge commemoration (Olympus E-330 digital image)
Proceeding west, old US 80 descends and crosses the Big Black River over the 1929 R.H. Henry Bridge.
US 80 near Bovina, Mississippi (Fuji X-E1 digital camera)
The Dixie continues west bypassing most of the town of Bovina. The road is narrow and would be dangerous to bicycle because of a lack of shoulders and the fact that some people drive much too quickly.
Former "Colored Motel" east of Vicksburg (Pentax Spotmatic, 24mm SMC Takumar lens)
Lobby of former "Colored Motel" (Pentax Spotmatic, 24mm SMC Takumar lens)


As the Dixie Overland approached Vicksburg, motels welcomed the weary traveler. One pink and now very overgrown motel just east of Mt. Albans Road formerly had a sign, "Colored Motel." I may have a picture of it somewhere but have not found it yet. It has been unused since the 1980s or earlier. Currently, the building is being engulfed by kudzu.
Pinewood Motel, US 80, Vicksburg, closed since the 1980s (4×5" Tri-X negative, Tachihara camera)
The old Pinewood Motor Lodge has also been closed since the 1980s. I suspect these businesses were unable to compete with newer hotels built near Interstate 20, which was constructed through Vicksburg in the early 1970s.
We finally reach Vicksburg. Here is an old Chamber of Commerce brochure, courtesy of Preservation Mississippi. US 80 crossed the Mississippi River on the old 80 bridge, now closed to road traffic and pedestrians but still leased by the Kansas City Southern railroad. Today, US 80 and I-20 use a new bridge, built in the 1970s. We will explore US 80 in Louisiana in a future article. I will not cover Vicksburg in this article. Just type "Vicksburg" in the search box and you can find plenty of articles about the city - color, black and white, summer, winter, snow, and even some digital.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

On the Dixie Overland Highway, Historic US 80 - east Mississippi

Route US 80 was one of our earliest paved cross-country auto roads. According to Wikipedia, much of the present 80 was once part of the Dixie Overland Highway, a southern route stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts. Today, 80 ends in Dallas, with the sections further west absorbed into various interstate highways. "As an original US Highway commissioned in 1926, US 80 was the first all-weather coast-to-coast route available to auto travelers. For a time known as the "Broadway of America", its history is second only to US 66 in American highway folklore"
The present U.S. Route 80 (in red), from Creative Commons, Wikipedia (in the public domain)
Map of US 80 (from the 1941 Mississippi Tourist Guide (courtesy Preservation Mississippi). Note that north is to the right in this diagram 
This is the first of a three-part series. We will start our trip in the Mississippi city of Meridian and drive west. This is not a comprehensive guide, just some of my random photographs along the way. Meridian was a major rail junction for 200 years and still has many tracks running through town as well a historic depot. US 80 enters Meridian from the east and merges with Interstate 20 at a complicated intersection near the mall. Within town, 80 may have run along 5th (also known as Main) Street or 8th Street. Maybe a reader can  advise.
Commercial hotels like the once served Dixie Highway as well as rail travelers (Nexus 4 digital image)
Main Street, Meridian, Kodak Panatomic-X film, Hasselblad 50mm Distagon lens
The Miner Saw Company on Main Street is an example of the type of industrial activity that once flourished in Meridian.
Hotel, Main (5th) Street at 25th Ave., Meridian, Hasselblad 50mm lens
Historic Benevolent Association Building, Main Street, Meridian, Hasselblad, 50mm Distagon lens
Meridian has a wealth of old architecture. I need to explore in more detail.
Former Cities Services station, 3700 5th Street, Meridian, 80mm Planar lens
On 5th street, I turned a corner, and there was one of the classic Cities Services Company stations with the characteristic peaked roof. Previously, I seldom paid attention to gasoline station architecture, but Thomas Rosell had just written about Citgo stations in Preservation Mississippi, and my interest was on alert. This one is now a restaurant. Some ladies were making ribs and offered me a plate, but it was only 10:00 in the morning and a bit too early for a hearty rib lunch. Pity. They were very gracious and said I was welcome to take pictures.
Hodges Variety & Arcade, 3400 5th Ave., Meridian, 80mm Planar lens
Not far from the old Citgo station was a building in poor condition at 3400 5th Ave. A sign stated "Hodges Variety & Arcade."

Heading west out of Meridian, US 80 passes through a number of small towns with names like Chunky and Hickory. I did not see all that much to photograph. It looks like most cultural or architectural remains of the Dixie Highway have been replaced with modern gas stations, fast food restaurants, and characterless steel utility buildings.
Lawrence Garage, Lawrence, Mississippi, 50mm Distagon lens
The Lawrence Garage in Lawrence may have seen Dixie travelers back in the day, but I can't be sure of the date.
Whimseys store, 23 Cedar St., Lake, Mississippi, 50mm Distagon lens, green filter to lighten foliage
Whimseys store, Lake, Mississippi, 50mm Distagon lens, green filter
Whimseys occupied a nice little 1920s cottage on Cedar Street. It was closed so I do not know what they sold or did.
Lyle's Power Equipment, 606 2nd St., Pelahatchie, Mississippi, 50mm Distagon lens
Lyle's Power Equipment occupies an interesting semi-Spanish style building on US 80 in Pelahatchie.  Look at the name molded into the arch above the door: Rankin County Motors Ford. A gent from the store told me that this was once a Ford assembly building and dealership. Model T parts were unloaded from the rail line in the back and cars were assembled and sold on the premises. The building was in nice condition and I complemented them at maintaining it so well. In fact, Pelahatchie overall looked prosperous and busy.

This ends out very short ride on the Dixie Highway east of Jackson. As usual, there is more to explore in the future. The square photographs are from Kodak Panatomic-X film taken with my Hasselblad 501CM camera. I scanned the negatives with a Minolta Scan Multi medium-format film scanner.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Vicksburg's Railroad Bridges and Crossings (More Snow)

Vicksburg has been an important railroad town since before the Civil War. One of the reasons that General Grant considered this to be a crucial strategic objective in the Civil War was the railroad infrastructure. The railroad from the western Confederate states (Texas and Louisiana) came through Vicksburg on the way to Jackson, Meridian, and other eastern Confederate cities. Once Vicksburg surrendered, the Union Navy totally controlled the Mississippi River and the Confederacy was split. This meant food and other crucial supplies could not move east from the western states.

The train still comes through Vicksburg. Let us take a quick tour of the railroad bridges in town. I suspect many motorists just rush over and do not pay any attention to the tracks below.
Mississippi River from Vicksburg, view west towards Louisiana, 1996, Kodachrome slide, Nikon F3 camera
Before the construction of the old bridge, rail cars were ferried across the Mississippi River by barges. This must have been dangerous work considering currents and changing water levels. The Vicksburg Bridge & Terminal Co. built the first bridge first bridge across the river (on the right in the photograph above) during 1928-1930. It uses three cantilevered truss spans and three Parker truss spans (from National Park Service). It formerly carried US 80 (the Dixie Overland Highway) but has been closed to car traffic since 1998. The bridge on the left was built in 1972 to carry Interstate 20.
KCS tracks from North Frontage Road, view NW towards Washington Street, Jan. 16, 2018, Fomapan 100 film
After emerging from the bridge on the Vicksburg side of the river, the track makes a long turn to the north under the interstate off ramp. The photograph above is from North Frontage Road looking to the northwest. North Washington Street runs on the hill in the snow in the distance.
KCS tracks from North Washington Street, view SE, Jan 16, 2018, Fomapan 100 film
The tracks run underneath South Washington Street and head north to the Kansas City Southern rail yard. The view above is to the south. I waited for a train, but it was cold, and snow was falling on the camera.
KCS tracks view north from S. Washington Street, Fomapan 100 classic film
From Washington Street, look north and you can see the KCS rail yard in the distance. The track in the distance to the right makes a turn and runs under Washington Street again to the cut between Belmont and West Pine Streets.
Long-closed Fairground Street Keystone bridge from under KCS tracks, Hasselblad, 80mm Planar lens, Kodak Panatomic-X film
The Fairground Street Bridge has been closed to cars and pedestrians for decades. It crossed the KCS rail yard. This photograph is from under the rail line that follows Pearl Street and eventually turns under Washington Street.
Washington Street railroad tunnel, April 2015, Panatomic-X film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm lens
Railroad cut between Belmont and West Pine Streets
This valley between Belmont and West Pine Streets must have been cut by the railroad before the Civil War. It is a rather convoluted route but may have followed natural gullies that required minimal dirt removal. The photograph above is from the Monroe Street bridge.
KCS tracks from Mission 66, view west, Hasselblad, 250mm Sonnar lens
KCS tracks from Mission 66, view east with Baldwin Ferry bridge in distance, Fomapan 100 film, Hasselblad, 250mm Sonnar lens
KCS tracks from Baldwin Ferry Road bridge, view east towards Vicksburg Military Park, Hasselblad, 250mm Sonnar lens
As the Kansas City Southern rail moves inland, it passes under the bridges at Mission 66 and Baldwin Ferry Road. I expect most people drive over and barely pay any attention to the tracks below. In summer, the view is rather dull, but the snow made the scene interesting by outlining the topography.
KCS tracks from Old Highway 27, view towards 2-Mile Bridge, Vicksburg National Military Park
From here, the tracks head east towards Bovina, cross the Big Black River, and continue on to Edwards and Jackson. Back to the Vicksburg waterfront, the Vicksburg Southern Railroad runs along North Washington Street and on to Redwood and just north of the International Paper Company mill.
Vicksburg Southern Railroad tracks view south from Haining Road, Tri-X 400 film
Vicksburg Southern Railroad tracks passing through Vicksburg Forest Products lumber processing yard, Tri-X 400 film, Hasselblad, 250mm Sonnar lens 
Vicksburg Southern Railroad from Redwood, view south to International Paper Vicksburg Mill, Panatomic-X film, Rolleiflex 3.5E, 75mm f/3.5 Xenotar lens. 
This ends out short tour of railroad tracks and bridges. These were all film photographs. Thank you for reading.