Monday, August 29, 2016

Altheimer

From Pine Bluff, I headed across the Arkansas River and drove through the small town of Altheimer (population about 1,000). Altheimer was settled in the 1880s around a railroad line, and soon was a thriving town. But like so many other Delta towns, Altheimer has struggled economically in the recent decades. The core of buildings that once stood along Front Street in the downtown area are mostly gone (the only way you would even know any buildings were there are concrete slabs that line the street).

During the great flood of 1927, the area around Altheimer flooded. People took shelter in the second floor of the buildings downtown to escape the floodwaters. But now only a few buildings remain in the town's downtown. One of those is the Leake Building, which dates back to 1917. It looks like the roof of the building has collapsed in part, and the building has been abandoned.

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On the side of the building is an old ghost sign for Grapette soda. Grapette was introduced in 1939, and was bottled in Camden, Arkansas. It soon became extremely popular, although sales declined after it was sold to other soft drink companies in the 1970s. By 1977, the Grapette brand was shut down and the recipe was retired in the United States. But in 2000 Grapette made a return, with the original recipe now being produced by Wal-Mart and sold under the Sam's Choice brand of drinks.

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As I was leaving Altheimer and heading back towards home, I drove over these railroad tracks and stopped to get a few pictures. It was nearing sunset, and the sky and clouds were beginning to show the colors of dusk.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pine Bluff

I headed down to Pine Bluff one night after work to try to take a few pictures. I had thought that I had planned everything out, I made sure the camera and tripod were packed up and had fully charged batteries. The only thing I didn't plan to pack was a change of clothes, which meant I had to walk around taking pictures in the clothes I wore to work. Which usually wouldn't be much of an issue except it was nearly 100 degrees that day, with a head index of about 110.

With the car AC going full blast, I headed into Pine Bluff. I stopped at the old R.M. Knox House, which was built in 1885.

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I drove into downtown Pine Bluff and parked by the old Masonic Building, which was built in 1904. When it was built, it was the tallest building in the city.

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Downtown Pine Bluff is marked by a wide collection of abandoned buildings, many of which are boarded up.

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One store was closed, with metal gates across the front. There were a few items in the glass display cases, and a large collection of newspapers piled on the ground by the door.

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I headed a few blocks over and passed by the old Saenger Theater. The doors and windows of the old theater are boarded up, although someone went through and painted a few scenes on the boards.

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The theater is huge, towering four or five stories over the street. It's also an architectural gem. The theater was built in 1924, and was called the "Showcase of the South" when it opened. The theater hosted travelling plays and even had performances from Harry Houdini. But competition from newer theaters led to the Saenger theater eventually closing its doors in 1975.

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The theater found a few uses in the years since, inluding serving as the home of the Pine Bluff Film Festival for a short time. Rennovations were made, but water damage from a leaking roof has caused some damage to the plaster on the interior. The city of Pine Bluff has taken over ownership of the building, but there is no money for any repairs to the theater. So it sits empty and abandoned.

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This old sofa sat next to the windows on the second floor, near the doors that lead off to the balcony.

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The old Saenger Theater is a true gem, but one that forlornly sits forgotten in a downtown that is also lonely and empty. There are still efforts to save the theater, although funds for rennovations are low. Hopefully it will be rennovated before there is anymore water damage.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Driving

Here are a few quick photos, taken on a some different trips in the past few weeks. On our way to Nashville, we drove through Lonoke and I stopped at this old church, located near the county courthouse. It's a pretty unique looking church, and was built in 1916.

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On the way back from Nashville we stopped along Exit 256, at the Parkin exit. There isn't much here, not anymore. A gas station used to be here but it burned, leaving only a charred spot and the remains of the gas pumps and cover.

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And the abandoned sign, slowly being taken over by vines.

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Later on we made a quick visit to Northwest Arkansas, and ended up swinging by Crystal Bridges again. There were some new art exhibits there, including some large fiberglass sculptures on the trails leading to the museum.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Nashville

We took another quick trip to Nashville a few weeks back, and while we were there I made a trip to Centennial Park to try to get some pictures of the Parthenon. The Parthenon here was constructed for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition, and is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. This was taken just before sunsrise (one of the few times you can drive across Nashville and not hit any traffic). It was early, but still humid enough to fog up the camera lens when I tried to take pictures.

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Pinnacle

I headed out to take some pictures one night after work, but the original plan didn't work out. So while driving back towards home I made a stop at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. I walked along part of the Ouachita Trail, the 235 mile long trail that ends at the park. Part of the trail runs along a stretch of abandoned road, which was left when the road was re-routed about twenty years ago. The asphalt is cracked, with weeds and grass poking through (but since this is maintained by the state park people, it's mowed fairly regularly). This is a shot of the road, as it curves around the trees.

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