Thursday, December 31, 2020

On the Dixie Overland Highway, Historic US 80 - Monroe to Ruston, Louisiana (LA-07)

Monroe is the Big City of north central Louisiana. I did not find it very inspiring architecturally, but it is busy, with plenty of commercial activity and lots of traffic. Much of the architecture where US 80 comes through town is strip America of the ugliest nature. I did not spend much time in Monroe and need to explore more in the future. I would like to visit the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum as well as the cypress swamps of Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge (north of the city). Antique Alley in West Monroe (west of the Ouachita River) would also be interesting.

Former car dealer, 2901 US80, Monroe, Louisiana (Kodak Tri-X film, Hasselblad 501CM camera, 80mm ƒ/2.8 Planar-CB lens)
Yes, it is strip America. Maybe I should do an article on the ugliest strips I can find.

West Prong Young's Bayou from Washington Street, Monroe (Tri-X film)
This bayou must be part of a drainage system for storm water and who knows what other effluent. I wonder if there are any alligators during high water?

Heading west, US 80 runs north of I-20 for a spell then crosses and runs south of I-20. Many of the neighborhoods west of West Monroe are converting into McMansion developments, often gated (American architecture at its finest). But remnants of older farm houses as well as plenty of trailers remain. 

I stopped at this old house in Claiborne. There are likely more like this in between the new developments.
Mount Zion Cemetery, US 80, Calhoun, Louisiana (Fuji X-E1 digital image)
The Mount Zion Cemetery in Calhoun, just north of where 80 crosses I-20, was peaceful and shaded by mighty trees. 
No more food here, Calhoun, Louisiana
The crossing at Interstate 20 consists of truck stops, a Dollar store, and a couple of dead restaurants. Not too inspiring.
US 80 view east, Calhoun, Louisiana
Calhoun is an unincorporated community in Ouachita Parish; a quiet little place. I continued driving west.
Fixer-upper house, US 80, Choudrant, Louisiana (Tri-X film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 EBC Fujinon lens)
Masonic Hall, Elm Street, Choudrant, Louisiana (Tri-X film)
Choudrant is a village in Lincoln Parish. The village's web page advertises "Louisiana's Front Porch." Here I saw a surprising number of older homes in various states of repair. The former Masonic Hall on Elm Street was intact but am not sure who uses it.
In progress, 123 Allen Street, Choudrant (Tri-X film, Fuji GW690II camera)
Not being repaired, 147 Allen Street, Choudrant
Being dismantled? 153 Allen Street, Choudrant
Choudrant proved to be reasonably interesting. I did not see many people about. 

This was the end of my US 80 exploration on this outing. I continued west towards Ruston, which is a nice college town, hosting Louisiana Tech University and Louisiana Delta Community College. It will be worth a revisit some other day. Thank you for riding along on the Dixie Overland Highway. For background information on US 80 and the Dixie Overland Highway, the Federal Highway Administration has a detailed history. 

The photographs above are a mixture of Kodak Tri-X 400 film exposed with a Hasselblad 501 CM camera, Tri-X from a Fuji GW690II medium format camera, and digital images from a Fuji X-E1 digital camera.

Personal Note.  Dear readers, I hope you were all well and healthy this past year (2020), horrifying as it was regarding the virus, our national incompetence in taking medical precautions seriously, and our continued descent politically and socially. 2021 should be better in almost all respects. Stay strong, explore your world, comfort and support your relatives and loved ones, believe science and data, and stay optimistic. Happy New Year to y'awl!


Suzassippi said...

"Downtown Monroe" actually has some interesting architectural buildings and features--from late 1800s-early 1900s and mid-century moderns. I ended up spending quite a bit of time photographing, and some day, still hope to return.

Kodachromeguy said...

Thank you for the hint about Monroe, Suzassippi. I will return to Monroe with the express purpose of looking around downtown. Maybe when the pandemic abates and we can go to restaurants.....