Saturday, November 28, 2020

On the Dixie Overland Highway, Historic US 80 - Mound and Tallulah, Louisiana (LA-02)

Dear Readers, I want to continue exploring the Dixie Overland Highway. I will start at the Mississippi River Bridge in east Louisiana and proceed west. 

From the Federal Highway Administration
To remind you were are picking up this journey on historic US80, here are some maps from the Federal Highway Administration's "Highway History." These histories about the development of our cross-continent roads are very interesting. The Arizona DOT also has an interesting history of the alignment and changes over time, including the removal of the designation of US 80.


The tallest structures in this area are grain elevators (or silos?). Some of them are impressive towers of steel and concrete. Are they not vulnerable to tornadoes, hurricanes, and lightning? Regardless, they make great photographic subjects.
Silos on Duckport Road (near Vicksburg-Tallulah Airport), Mound, LA (Tri-X Prof. film, 240mm ƒ/9 G Claron lens)
These silos are on Duckport Road in Mound (one interstate exit east of Tallulah). The thunderstorm was approaching - my favorite light.


Tallulah is the parish seat of Madison Parish (Louisiana does not have counties but instead divides the state into parishes). I have photographed there before in 2013 and 2018. Being only 30 minutes west of Vicksburg on I-20, it is easy to reach. The old Dixie once ran right through downtown. 
Bunge Corp. elevator, LA 602, Tallulah (GAF Versapan film, 135mm ƒ/5.6 Caltar-S II lens, yellow filter, ¼ ƒ/16.5)
When I bike on LA 602, I pass this tall elevator/silo complex just south of US 80. Late afternoon on July 4, a thunderstorm was approaching and the light was ominous. I only had time for one exposure with my 4×5" camera before the drops started to fall. Within a minute, a monsoon was coming down. I hustled the equipment into the back of the car and headed home through the deluge. This is another test photograph using 1960s GAF Versapan film. Click the picture to expand and see the amazing detail.
Bunge Corp. elevator, LA 602, Tallulah (Kodak Tri-X film, 135mm ƒ/5.6 Caltar-S II lens, polarizing filter, 1/30 ƒ/22)
Here is the same scene with a blue sky and puffy clouds. The 135mm Caltar-S II lens is a recent purchase with impressive resolution. The shutter is fine despite being 1970s vintage.
Bottling plant, 701 E. Green St (US 80), Tallulah (Fuji Acros film, Leica M2, 50mm ƒ/2.0 Summicron-DR lens, yellow filter)
Interior of bottling plant (Fuji Acros film, 25mm ƒ/4.0 Color-Skopar lens, 1/15 ƒ/5.6)
The former Coca Cola bottling plant at 701 East Green Street (US 80) sits forlorn and unused, year after year. I saw bales of straw and some trailers inside, so maybe someone uses it for storage. I did not see any bottling machinery inside.
E. Green St. (US 80) view east, downtown Tallulah (Moto G5 digital file)
US 80 follows East Green Street in town and passes right by the Madison Parish courthouse.
Gas Sta., E. Green (US 80) and Chesnut, Tallulah (Panatomic-X film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 lens, yellow filter)
Original arched door in former gas station (Moto G5 digital file)
This old-fashioned gas station at the corner of East Green Street (US 80) and Chestnut probably served travelers on the old Dixie Highway in the pre-interstate era. The building is in good condition and the tile roof looks like it might have been re-tiled recently.
Chestnut Street at Craig, Tallulah (Fuji Acros film, 25mm ƒ/4.0 Color-Skopar lens)
Chestnut north of East Green is a bit dreary. Some strip malls are pretty rough.
These old stores right across Chestnut from the courthouse are crumbling. Some of the units no longer have roofs. This is a photograph with my newly-acquired Voigtländer Color-Skopar 25mm ƒ/4.0 lens. This is a modern Japanese-made lens, not one from the old pre-1970s German production. The light was harsh and contrasty.
Another old commercial block is on Chestnut south of the railroad tracks. These units were partly occupied. The big water tower looms over the block.
Dabney Street is not too inspiring, but it leads to farm fields.

This has been a short visit to a Dixie Overland Highway town. In the next few articles, we will continue heading west. Thank you for riding along!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Lost Architecture, Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., Vicksburg, Mississippi

Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard in Vicksburg was formerly known as Old Jackson Road. It ran along a ridge crest and was once lined with tens or maybe over a hundred cottages. Some of them had their front doors at street level but the backs were perched over the hillsides on stilts, often quite precarious-looking. This road has occupied this approximate right-of-way since the Civil War, and many of the cottages may have been from the late-1800s or early 20th century. In the last decade, many houses been lost to fire or neglect. I have photographed along here over the years. This quick survey is oriented from downtown heading east, so the house numbers will increase. (Click any photograph to see more detail.)
1404 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
This little cottage at 1404 was occupied when I photographed it in 2014, but it definitely looked precarious. As of 2020, the house is still standing but the center is curving downward even more.
1412 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
1412 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
1412 MLK Jr. interior (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
This old cottage at 1412 once had a fireplace for a stove insert, probably a coal stove. Being a railroad town, coal was readily available.
1416 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
This big cottage is probably late-1800s vintage. I think it was occupied when I took the picture in 2015, but the boarded windows were a bit perplexing. These were once floor-to-ceiling windows, very handsome. As of 2020, the house is standing and the windows have been uncovered.
1499 MLK Jr (Panasonic G-1 digital file converted to B&W, 5cm ƒ/2 Leitz Summitar lens)
1499 was a pink house almost across the street from the old Kuhn Charity Hospital. The house was demolished around 2013. The Kuhn hospital has also been totally demolished.
1618 MLK, Jr., Blvd. (Kodak Panatomic-X film, Hasselblad 501CM, 80mm ƒ/2.8 Planar-CB lens)
No. 1618 is one of a diminishing number of shotgun houses. Vicksburg, like other southern towns, probably had dozens or hundreds of these little houses in the early 20th century, but one by one, they have been torn down.

1705 MLK Jr. rear view (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
This is the back of a small house at 1705. The trash was tossed down the hillside.
1711 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
Interior room in 1711 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
Books in 1711 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
Kudzu mountain and 1711 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
Basement 1711 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
1711 was a handsome cottage up on one of Vicksburg's many loess ridges. The rear of the house was over the hill and supported by rather precarious-looking brick pillars. There was enough headroom in the crawl space for a sink and (maybe) a residence room? A student left his/her books behind. As of 2020, the kudzu has engulfed the entire lot where the house once stood.
1756 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
Side entrance, 1756 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
1756 was an example of a house whose front porch was at street ground level but whose rear was perched over the hill. On this house, concrete blocks had been added as a basement wall, but the original supports were likely wood piles. In Vicksburg, these houses can remain occupied as long as they are in maintained condition. But if the house is condemned, the land changes zoning status where no future house can be erected.
1826 MLK, Jr., Blvd., Vicksburg (Fomapan 100 Classic film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 lens)
This house at 1826 looked reasonably sound, but the lack of an electric meter meant it was unoccupied (or at least had no electricity).
1832 MLK, Jr., Blvd., Vicksburg (Fomapan 100 Classic film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 lens)
This house with concrete cladding (to resemble limestone blocks) is still standing but has the notation from the city inspector spray-pained on the front. .
1844 MLK., Jr., Blvd. (Tri-X 400 film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 lens)
1900 MLK., Jr., Blvd (fire damage) (Fomapan 100 Classic film, Fuji GW 690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 lens)
This fire-damaged house at 1900 sat unrepaired for a long time. Status: unknown.
1904 MLK, Jr., Blvd, Vicksburg 
1917 MLK, Jr., Blvd (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
1920 MLK, Jr. Blvd (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
2228 MLK Jr., Blvd., Vicksburg (Tri-X 400 film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 lens)
2228 MLK Jr., Blvd., Vicksburg (Tri-X 400 film, Pentax Spotmatic camera, 35mm ƒ/3.5 Super-Takumar lens)
This duplex at 2228 is right next to historic Beulah Cemetery. This part of the road once had access into the Vicksburg National Military Park, but this entrance has been closed for decades. As of September 2020, the house was still standing and the pillars had cheerful turquoise paint.
Beulah Cemetery (Panatomic-X film, Hasselblad 501CM, 50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens)
Beulah Cemetery was neglected for many years, but now the City maintains it. This was from a rare snow day in 2017.

Dear readers, this has been a short tour of historic MLK, Jr. Blvd (Openwood Road). I have more photographs among my color Kodachrome slides, but they will wait for a future effort at scanning. I will show more lost Vicksburg architecture in future articles.

Monday, November 16, 2020

More Neglected (Soon to be Lost?) Houses: a Vicksburg Urban Decay Tour

In an earlier article, I wrote about a handsome but neglected early 20th century house on Howard Street. I found more traditional houses nearby, on Spring and Crawford Streets. After looking at them, we will take a quick tour of urban decay in other parts of Vicksburg. This is a convenient way to combine photographs from around town. It is a long article, so please be patient. Click any frame to enlarge it; enjoy the view.

Spring Street

Spring Street near junction with Crawford Street, view north (Tri-X 400 film)
Early 20th century cottage, 1304 Spring Street, Vicksburg (Tri-X 400 film, Hasselblad 501 CM camera, 50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens)
Chimney at 1304 Spring Street (50mm Distagon lens, 1 sec. ƒ/8)
This cottage may be on its way to demolition. The chimney was once likely set up for a coal stove insert.
Cottage at 1322 Spring Street, Vicksburg
1322 Spring St. rear.
This house at the corner of Spring and Crawford Streets looked like it was in reasonable condition. The roof was recent. But the two electric boxes missing meter domes meant there was no power in the building. Usually this means there are no occupants - but not always.

Crawford Street

1720 Crawford Street (Hasselblad 80mm Planar-CB lens,  1/15 ƒ/11.5, green filter
A short article in the Vicksburg Post reported that the city inspector had condemned several houses in town. This little cottage on Crawford Street was on the list. The bridge in the foreground crosses Stouts Bayou, which is channelized in a concrete trough here.

Georgia-Sycamore Avenues

Georgia Ave. looking uphill towards MLK., Jr., Blvd. (Tri-X 400, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 lens)
Unknown address, Sycamore Ave. (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
Georgia and Sycamore Avenues drops down steeply to the south from MLK., Jr., Blvd. Twenty years ago, there were several homes on this lonely U-shaped road, but now I think all houses are gone. I am surprised that the city still maintains it. Kudzu is engulfing everything. It is like Vicksburg's version of a Secret Garden (apologies to Frances Hodgson Burnett).

Lovers Lane

246 Lovers Lane (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
Detroit iron, 246 Lovers Lane (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
Lovers Lane is an unusual street, with its romantic name. Unfortunately, some of the housing stock is distinctly unromantic. The lane ascends past the Cedar Hill Cemetery towards the Vicksburg National Military Park. For a stretch, Lovers runs parallel to Confederate Avenue in the Park but just south of the Park boundary. A few houses are scattered in the woods, one of which was the abandoned no. 246. In the garage was a big chunk of Detroit iron awaiting restoration. I think I will pass.

Harris Street

706 Harris Street, Vicksburg (Kodak BW400CN film, Leica IIIC, 50mm ƒ/1.4 Canon lens, 1/200 ƒ/8.05, yellow filter)
This old cottage on Harris Street has been empty for years, maybe decades. But it is not abandoned. Status: unknown.

Grammer Street

Grammer Street, Vicksburg (Tri-X 400 film, Hasselblad 501CM camera, 250mm ƒ/5.6 Sonnar lens)

Grammer Street was once lined on both sides with these little shotgun houses. One by one, they have been torn down. As of January 2021, these houses have been razed.

Hunt Street

Hunt Street shotgun houses (BW400CN film, Leica IIIC, 50mm ƒ/1.4 Canon lens, 1/200 ƒ/8.05)
2314 Hunt Street (BW400CN film, Leica IIIC, 50mm ƒ/1.4 Canon lens, 1/200 ƒ/8.05)

These two shotgun houses 2314 and 2316 Hunt Street, have also been empty for years. I think they are undergoing some degree of rebuilding. (Update Feb. 2021: the two houses are gone)

Washington Street

This store at 2408 Wahington Street has the word "DEMO" spray painted on the front. Does that apply to the whole building or just the unit on the right?

Oak Street

2312 Oak Street in process of being demolished (Panatomic-X film, Fuji GW690II camera)

Oak Street runs semi-parallel to the river and has an impressive view. Many of the historic cottages have been torn down or been lost to fire over the years.

Bowmar Avenue

1221 Bowmar Avenue (Fuji Acros film, Leica M2, 35mm ƒ/2 Summicron lens, 1/125 ƒ/2.8)
1303 and 1305 Bowmar Avenue (Panatomic-X film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 lens)

The severe duplex on Bowmar Avenue just east of the Drummond Street intersection has been demolished. The two shotgun houses are also gone.

Marcus Street

1515 Marcus Street, Vicksburg

Marcus Street (now called Sturgis Street) has lost many older wood cottages. Some have been replaced with modern brick structures. This house at 1515 is clearly modern, but I am not sure if it was from the 1960s or 1970s.

Franklin Street

2501 Franklin Street (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
2503 Franklin Street (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
2505 Franklin Street (Fuji X-E1 digital file)

Franklin Street had three similar-looking duplexes. When I photographed them in 2018, all were empty and overgrown.

Grove Street

2212 Grove Street (Panatomic-X film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 lens)
2329 Grove Street, Vicksburg (Fuji X-E1 digital file)

Grove Street is one of Vicksburg's historic streets with many older houses and cottages.

Pearl Street

2509 Pearl Street (Panatomic-X film, Spotmatic camera, 55mm ƒ/1.8 Super-Takumar lens)

This is an unusual cottage on Pearl Street because it was made from cinder blocks. One by one, houses along Pearl have been torn down, and the area feels empty. I met a gent who grew up near here in the 1950s and 1960s, and he said it was vibrant with families and children then.

Levee Street

Machine shop, tank farm, Levee Street (TMax 100 film, Spotmatic camera, 24 mm ƒ/3.5 SMC Takumar lens)

This old tank farm on Levee Street, at the west end of the old Fairground Street bridge, has been unused for at least three decades. The machinery building has lost its roof and has a Stonehenge collection of concrete support pillars. I can smell fumes here, so some of these tanks hold some chemical. There has probably been leakage into the ground.

Johnson Street

754 Johnson Street, Vicksburg (Tri-X film, Hasselblad 501CM, 50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens, 1/30 ƒ11.5)

Johnson Street has been methodically deconstructed, and there are progressively fewer and fewer houses as the years go by. I wrote about Johnson Street early in my blogging efforts, in January of 2010.
(Update April 2023: this house is gone.)

Yerger Street

2602 Yerger Street, Vicksburg
2604 Yerger Street, Vicksburg

Here are two traditional shotgun houses from Yerger Street. They are long gone. These are 4x5" Fujichrome frames.

Warrenton Road

Warrenton Road store (4×5" Tri-X Prof. film, 90mm ƒ/6.8 Angulon lens)

This former gas station/store at the junction of Warrenton and Wigwam Roads has been unused for years. (Update April 2023: the building is being cleaned and possibly upgraded. I photographed this store with the Hasselblad XPan panoramic camera in 2022 (click the link)).)

Rubber Recycling Factory

Former U.S. Rubber Reclaiming, Rubber Way (Fuji Acros film, Leica M2, 24mm ƒ/3.5 SMC Takumar lens)
U.S. Rubber Reclaiming (Fuji Acros film, Leica M2, 24mm ƒ/3.5 SMC Takumar lens)
U.S. Rubber Reclaiming (Fuji Acros film, Leica M2, 24mm ƒ/3.5 SMC Takumar lens)

This disgraceful mess is part of the remnants of U.S. Rubber Reclaiming, at 2000 Rubber Way. According to the
The Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office announced Tuesday, Dec. 10, that it has transferred approximately 12.6 acres of tax-forfeited property to the City of Vicksburg effective Dec. 4, 2019. 
The Warren County tax collector conveyed the property, once owned by U.S. Rubber Reclaiming, Inc. to the State of Mississippi for the non-payment of property taxes in August 2010, the same month the company ceased its operations. The company was wholly owned by Obsidian Enterprises of Indianapolis, Ind.
So this rubber and other debris has rotted here for a decade. How many mosquitoes breed in the water? Any other pathogens? I wrote about the site in more detail in April of 2019.

US 61 South

Hopewell Church, US 61 south (Panatomic-X film, Hasselblad 501CM, 50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens)
Side of Hopewell Church (Fuji Acros film, Leica IIIC, Jupiter-8 lens)

The Hopewell Church sits on a bluff on the opposite side of US 61 from the Municipal Airport. I do not know its history. The poor old church is being engulfed by vines, and you can only see it in winter.

Glass Road

Church, Glass Road (Panatomic-X film, Hasselblad 501CM, 80mm ƒ/2.8 Planar-CB lens, ¼ ƒ/11, green filter)

This little church is on Glass Road near the former entrance to the Marathon LeTourneau industrial complex. LeTourneau once built jack-up drilling rigs and other industrial machinery. At one time, a small neighborhood existed here. The pavement can still be seen in the woods, but all the houses are gone. I assume that this church once served the community.

Dear readers, this has been a rather haphazard tour around Vicksburg and Warren County. There is a lot of old architecture here, and we are gradually losing it. If any of you readers have suggestions of more places to see and photograph, please let me know.

UPDATE: I found a 2018 photograph of the tanks at the Levee Street tank farm.  

Unused tank farm, Levee Street, Vicksburg (Kodak Ektar 25 film, Rolleiflex 3.5E, 75mm ƒ/3.5 Xenotar lens)