Tuesday, June 30, 2020

On the Dixie Overland Highway, Historic US 80 - Vicksburg area (MS-04)

R.H. Henry Bridge, Big Black River, Bovina, Mississippi (Fomapan 100 Classic film, Hasselblad 501CM camera, 50mm Distagon lens) 
In the previous article, I explored US 80 (formerly the Dixie Overland Highway) in west Jackson. Proceeding west, US 80 went through the town of Clinton and eventually to Vicksburg. It then crossed the Mississippi on the old Mississippi River bridge (now closed to traffic). Once Interstate 20 was built in the 1970s, part of 80 disappeared, and the route is no longer continuous west of Clinton. But from Edwards west, you can still drive on 80 as it crosses the Big Black River and cuts straight through the loess bluffs. Here are some photographs from US 80 east of Vicksburg.
Colored Motel, US 80 east of Mount Albans Road (expired Kodak Ektar 25 film, Hasselblad 501 CM camera, 50mm Distagon lens)
This is the former Colored Motel on US 80. In the 1980s, a sign above the building still showed the name, and somewhere I may have a Kodachrome slide. Regardless, the motel has been unused for 4 decades and the jungle is slowly engulfing the buildings. The pink paint on the stucco walls was rather cheerful and warranted some color frames.
Aluminum Fiberglass lady, somewhere on US 80, Vicksburg (4×5" Tri-X film, 180 ƒ/5.6 Caltar IIN lens) 
The aluminum fiberglass lady was so sweet. She was always impeccably dressed. She never objected to having her portrait taken. She was quiet. And then she went away without a word. I did not record the address in 1989 and do not know exactly where she stood, but I hope she proudly graces another home now. If any of you readers recognize her, please let me know.

UPDATE: This may be the former Miss Uniroyal, also known as the Uniroyal Gal. Amazing, she once lived in Vicksburg! Please see the last comment from a reader below. 
Oops, minor problem, US 80 (Kodak Panatomic-X film, Hasselblad 501CM camera, 50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens, yellow filter)
Just west of Mount Albans Road, the soil under part of the roadbed washed out during the January 2020 rains (rain fell for a solid month). As of May 2020, the MSDOT highway department is in the process of purchasing land and settling contracts for the repair.
Pinewood Motel, US 80, Vicksburg (Tri-X film, 180mm ƒ/5.6 Caltar IIN lens)
A short distance west, closer to Vicksburg, was the former Pinewood Motor Court. I took pictures there over the years and wrote an article about the Pinewood in 2019. Preservation Mississippi covered the Pinewood in a 2014 article. I included a 2006 photograph to remind you what the old motel looked like. As of early 2020, all the buildings have been demolished because the site may be used for a new Warren County jail.
No more pecans here, Hwy 80, Vicksburg (Panatomic-X film, Hasselblad 501CM, 50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens)
A long-unused steel warehouse sat on the south side of the road adjacent to the Pinewood. At one time, it may have been a car repair shop as well as a pecan shed.
The junk pile was pretty trashy. A few friends like the pickup truck perched on top of a Honda.
Some abandoned houses/trailers are in the woods south of the road. Once the foliage comes out in spring, they are hard to see.
A driveway drops down into a gully and leads off to a house somewhere. I liked the old real pickup truck.
Shed off US 80 near Anderson Road, Vicksburg (Kodak Panatomic-X film, Hasselblad 501 CM camera, 80mm ƒ/2.8 Planar-CB lens, green filter)
Once you reach the junction of 80 and MS 27, the scene becomes totally boring strip America, with gas stations and cheesy strip malls. It is un-photogenic. From here, Clay Street leads downtown, but there is no real US 80 connection to the old Mississippi River Bridge any more.
We will close with a photograph of the old Mississippi River Bridge in 1993 during construction of the Ameristar Casino. The company had to install a serious amount of geotechnical protection to reinforce the bluff and stabilize the road leading down to the casino. By 1993, the old bridge was already closed to car traffic. It may, one day, become a walk and bike trail. I wrote about 80 in east Louisiana in an earlier article (please click the link).

This ends our survey of US 80, the former Dixie Overland Highway, in Mississippi. Thank you all for riding along. Standby for more coverage of 80 in Louisiana.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

On the Dixie Overland Highway, Historic US 80 - west Jackson, Mississippi (MS-03)

Hideaway Club, 200 Oklahoma Street (Hasselblad 501CM camera, 80mm ƒ/2.8 Planar lens, Kodak Panatomic-X film)


Dear Readers, I have written about US 80, formerly known as the Dixie Overland Highway, before. I covered it in three chunks: east Mississippi, west Mississippi, and east Louisiana. This time I will cover west Jackson between State Street and I-220.

In the post-war era, the Dixie passed south of downtown Jackson and served as a urban industrial and commercial zone. General Electric and other companies built factories there. Preservation Mississippi wrote about the Jackson Lamp and Glass Works in a 2016 article. On a recent MPB (Mississippi Public Broadcast) talk show, some reporters remembered how during the 1980s, 80 was the place to go for good restaurants and other activities. I recall a restaurant called the Green Derby.

What Happened?

Today, US 80 in west Jackson is horrifying. Hotels and motels are closed or cater to a rough clientele. Stores are shuttered. Factories are empty shells. Trashy cars crash over potholes and gaping expansion joints in the crumbling pavement. Payday loan stores occupy storefronts in seedy strip malls. Former filling stations have been converted into various functions or abandoned entirely.
Former gasoline station (possibly Pan Am or Amoco), Gallatin at Oklahoma (at US 80), Jackson (Moto G5 digital file)
Example of Pan Am gasoline station, location unknown (from 1961 MSU yearbook, provided by Thomas Rossell)
Over the years, a coworker and I both lamented the decline of Jackson. He experienced it personally, having lived in west Jackson in the 1970s and early 1980s. A pertinent article from City Journal by Aaron M. Renn, titled, "The Lifeblood of Cities," describes the decline of so-called middle neighborhoods.
"The media tend to portray urban neighborhoods as either booming gentrified districts or zones of impoverishment. Neighborhoods in between get overlooked. But these older urban and inner-suburban “middle neighborhoods” may be where the next generation of urban problems—or solutions—will be found. Cities once held vast tracts of such neighborhoods, populated by workers in manufacturing or the civil service. With what analysts call a “barbell” economy dividing increasingly into rich and poor, it’s no surprise that urban middle-class neighborhoods are feeling squeezed."
In the post-war period, especially the 1950s and 1960s, Jackson was a bustling and thriving industrial and commerce city. (So were Greenville, Meridian, and other Mississippi cities). Thousands of modest homes were occupied by traditional middle class families, where dad was the main breadwinner and mom was at home or working part-time. Former middle neighborhoods, neither slum not wealthy, went downhill when the demographics changed as a result of loss of jobs, crime, drugs, deteriorating schools, and changing social conditions.

The author noted how today, there are an increasing number of single women households, and those families are often low income. The houses are not maintained and deteriorate. Soon, the entire neighborhood looks degraded. Therefore, people with means move to the suburbs, which, in USA, means white flight to government-subsidized suburban developments (i.e., socialism for developers). The older neighborhoods are left behind with diminished tax base, crumbling infrastructure, and crime.

This is a complex topic with numerous factors at play, such as tax policy, zoning codes, subsidy of developers, political corruption, and cheap land in the far suburbs. Regardless of the reasons, we have grossly mismanaged urban and suburban growth in the United States. Many American cities look more shoddy, dirty, and dilapidated than cities I have visited in the Third World, let alone anywhere in Europe.
Former Gipson Discount grocery store, 1420 Hwy US 80 (Panatomic-X film, 80 mm Planar lens, yellow filter)
BelAir shopping plaza, 1999 US 80 (Rolleiflex 3.5E Xenotar camera, Panatomic-X film)
This sign for Bel Air has a 1960s moderne appearance. The shopping plaza is pretty seedy, and some of the stores suffered a fire in 2011. The "Land of Sleep" has been gone for decades. However, the Patel Brothers store has an excellent selection of Indian and Pakistani groceries and spices.
Jackson Southwest Hotel, 2649 US 80 (Panatomic-X film, Hasselblad 501CM camera, 50mm F/4 Distagon lens, 1 sec. exposure at ƒ/5.6)
I saw a rutted driveway that went up a hill just west of Ellis Avenue. At the top, an urban decay treasure: the former Jackson Southwest Hotel at 2649 US 80. It was horrifying. The window frames and wiring had been looted by metal scavengers. I did not venture too far into the building by myself, but the lobby was worth capturing. (Click any photograph to see the gruesome details enlarged.)

An article from WLBT Channel 3 on May 31, 2013, stated:
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - The former Holiday Inn and Jackson Southwest hotel on Highway 80 in Jackson was once a popular spot for dinners, meetings and social functions -- now it's a dilapidated eyesore. 
"It makes everything around it look like Beirut. Does this not look like somebody bombed it. People leave their properties and go somewhere else and we allow them to do this," said Nina Holbrook of the Metro Area Coalition. Many windows on the building are broken, and the 14-acre property is overgrown. Recently someone broke through the gates and thieves have been rummaging for metal and copper. 
Holbrook says the building was sold at auction to P & N Properties in Hattiesburg for about $50,000, and the owner was hoping to flip it for a huge profit, which never happened -- and now probably never will due to it's condition.
The Pearl Street AME Church purchased the wreck around 2015, but all plans for renovation have been thwarted by vandals and homeless occupants.
Former Green Derby Restaurant, at the corner of US 80 and Ellis Ave., built in 1955 in a very post-war modern architecture. Post card courtesy of Preservation Mississippi.
Best Western Metro Inn, 1520 Ellis Ave., Jackson (Panatomic-X film, 250mm Sonnar lens, yellow filter)
On the way back to I-20 via Ellis Ave, I saw another decay treasure, the former Best Western Metro Inn. The sign proudly proclaims "Gorgeous Atrium and Indoor Pool." Oops, what happened to the windows? This dump closed in 2015. WLBT Channel 3 reported on April 26, 2018:
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Properties along Highway 80 in Jackson continue to be targeted by metal thieves. The abandoned Metro Inn on Ellis Avenue and Highway 80 is the latest property to be hit. 
Metal thieves have ripped the entire front off the rooms, including windows and doors, just to get to the metal frames. 
Thursday, people were seen loading their haul into a truck and taking it to the nearby Can Man where it appeared they received cash for the stolen metal. 
Jackson - on its race to the very bottom....

UPDATE, April 26 2021: The Metro Inn is being crunched up and demolished!  WLBT Channel 3 wrote on April 20, 2021:
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - It’s been the scene of numerous crimes and an eyesore for years, but this week the old Metro Inn is being torn down. 
It’s a sight many locals were happy to see this week. The demolition of Metro Inn on Ellis Avenue is in full swing. 
The property, which went into foreclosure in 2015, has been the sight of numerous crimes since then. Vagrants moved in tearing off scrap metal.

To see earlier articles, please type "Jackson" in the search box.

The square photographs are from Kodak Panatomic-X or Tri-X 400 film, exposed in Rolleiflex 3.5E or Hasselblad 501CM cameras. Praus Productions in Rochester, NY, developed the film. I scanned it with a Minolta Scan Multi medium format film scanner controlled by SilverFast Ai software.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

More decay in West Jackson: Bailey, Gallatin, Louise, and Neatum Streets

Dear Readers, after some exploring in the great US West, it is time to turn our attention again to Jackson, Mississippi. This will be the first of several posts dealing with the state capital. You can see older articles by typing "Jackson" in the search box.

West Jackson is rough. Regular readers know I have been documenting abandoned houses and closed businesses for many years. This group of photographs is from a gloomy day in 2016 when I drove along Bailey Avenue and on some of the side streets.

Bailey Avenue

Eddie's Soul Food, 2853 Bailey Ave., Jackson, Mississippi
2855 Bailey Ave., Jackson
Bailey Ave. runs north-south and carries a lot of traffic. Many businesses and buildings are run-down or empty.
Warehouse, 2720 Bailey Avenue, Jackson
This big warehouse at 2720 Bailey Ave was empty and no longer secure. I do not know what business was formerly here, but the building is reasonably modern. The tile on the inner hall was glazed brick, similar to what you see in subway stations.

Louis Street

1044 Louis Street, Jackson
1040 Louis Street, Jackson
1036 Louis Street, Jackson

Louis is a short side street that merges into Bailey Ave. and Gaddis Street. When I was there, it looked like most of the cottages along the street were empty or burned.

Neatum Street

Asbestos shingle-clad duplex, 1101 Neatum Street, Jackson
Stucco or plaster duplex, 1010 Neatum Street, Jackson
Wood clapboard sided duplex, 1015 Neatum Street, Jackson
Interior of 1015 Neatum Street, Jackson

Neatum Street, one block north of Lewis, also was lined with empty and abandoned houses. In one house, it looked like the last tenants abruptly departed, abandoning clothes and other possessions.

180 N. Gallatin Street, Jackson
197 N. Gallatin Street, Jackson
189 N. Gallatin Street, Jackson

Drive south on Bailey and at Monument Street, the road makes a jog to the left and turns into North Gallatin Street. This was formerly an industrial area but is now run-down with closed businesses and empty warehouses. The road surface is rutted, and water seeps out of leaking pipes onto the sidewalks. Dude-mobiles rattle by with thumping rap music. Not a scene to inspire new businesses to relocate here.

I wrote about the area further south, at West Porter Street, in 2015.

These digital files are from mya Fuji X-E1 digital camera, with raw files processed with PhotoNinja software. PhotoNinja is one of the more successful software packages for processing the Fuji X-Trans raw files.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Return to the Volkswagen Disposal Yard in Moab, Utah

In mid-2018, a friend visited Moab and told me he thought the big Volkswagen disposal yard off Spanish Valley Drive was gone. Was that possible? We had photographed the treasures (i.e., old Volkswagens) in 2016, and I thought it unlikely that someone had bought them and moved them all away. Considering that there were 100 or 200 cars there, moving them would require a fleet of 18-wheelers, a serious expense.
However, I can report good news: as of October 2019, Tom Tom Foreign Car Parts is still at 1809 E. Mill Creek Drive, at the junction with Spanish Valley Drive. It looks like someone maintains the place because I saw fresh cat food and cat water outside. I did not see the watch cats, but possibly they were on rodent patrol. I only had time for a few mobile phone images. The yard has been cleared and neatened a bit, but the overall ambience is intact.
Here are a couple of Type 3 Volkswagens, known as the Squareback in the USA market and the Variant in Europe. These were handy little station wagons with more interior room than the Beetle. I had a 1965 model in college. My dad bought this car in Ankara, Turkey. He drove it to Genoa and had it shipped to Boston. When camping, I could sleep in the back at an angle or straight front and back with the hatch open. You can't do that in most of the pretentious crossover/SUV play trucklets that curse our highways and mall parking lots today. With its rear engine, the Squareback could go up and down snowy mountain roads with no problems at all.
Here is the classic Beetle, the Type 1 Volkswagen. The original is still popular.
This is the classic bus, officially the Volkswagen Type 2. It was also called, depending on body style, the Transporter, Kombi or Microbus. The Westfalia-Werke camper versions are still popular in the US west, and restored examples sell for serious prices now.
Tom was creative in his use of body parts to make the fence at his property. Well done! When you readers travel through Moab, make time to visit the Volkswagen museum. Buy one, take it home, and get it restored. Learn how to use a real transmission (i.e., with a clutch pedal) and have fun in your Beetle.

These are all digital images from a Moto G5 mobile phone.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Travels on the Mother Road, Route 66: Part 14b, San Jon, New Mexico (2019)

On my 2016 Route 66 trip, I completely missed San Jon, a small town (village) in Quay County, New Mexico. According to Wikipedia, "The village was founded in 1902 and grew after the arrival of the railroad in 1904. It was once an important local commercial center and stop on U.S. Route 66 and home to numerous tourist-oriented businesses, such as gasoline service stations, cafes and motels. However, when Interstate 40 bypassed the village in 1981, the local economy went into a decline, leading most of those businesses to shut down. Today, only one motel is still in operation and all of the gas stations and dining establishments are centered around the I-40 interchange on the north side of town."

Today, San Jon is a superb dump - the quintessential fading Route 66 small rural American town.
The Route 66 handbook claimed that the Western Motel was open for business. Not any more....
San Jon was definitely a "buy gas here" type of town in the old days. We saw at least three now-defunct filling stations on the main drag.
These are all post-WWII nondescript cinder block construction, and I cannot tell what brands were once sold at these stations.
Another station of unknown branding.
The mural on this building looked fresh and was a memorial to some townsman who, I assume, died. I love the curved glass brick at the corner. Note how the curb curves to match the building. I wonder if this was once a car dealership?
Ceramics shoppe, San Jon, New Mexico (Kodak Ektar 25 film, Yashica Electro 35CC camera)
There were a few stores in town - once.

The temperature that morning was skirting freezing and the wind was howling. We left San Jon and headed east at high speed to zip through Amarillo to beat an impending ice storm. 
Room with a view: approaching winter storm, Childress, Texas (Moto G5 digital image)
We stayed in Childress, Texas. I passed through Childress and other Panhandle towns in October on my way west (click the link). The following night, we stayed in Texarcana. I described the abandoned Union Station in an earlier post (click the link).
Finally, home. Unload, clean and sort the junk, unpack, do laundry, wash the car, develop film, pay bills, etc., etc., etc. Prepare for the next trip.
Look what awaited us from the garden: a treat!

This ends my 2019 Route 66 expedition. If you want to read previous posts, please type "Route 66" in the search box. Some day, I want to explore the section from Oklahoma eastward to Chicago. Standby for more adventures.....