Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Broadway Bridge

The Broadway Bridge first opened in 1923, and served traffic crossing the Arkansas River for several decades until the state highway department decided to replace it. The bridge was torn down last year (after several attempts to bring it down, the bridge was stubborn). The new replacement bridge opened a few months ago, with a cost of only $98.4 million. While I was downtown last week, I tried to get a few shots of the new bridge. So here's a shot from the north side of the river, looking south towards downtown Little Rock.

IMG_6123-2

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Delta Star Trails

A cold front passed through the state last weekend, bringing with it some much-needed lower temperatures and a significant drop in the humidity. Along with making it actually tolerable to be away from air conditioning in the summer, the low humidity also meant that there was some extremely clear skies at night. This would turn out to be perfect conditions for astrophotography.

I decided Sunday afternoon that I should probably take advantage of this by actually going out to take pictures. So I charged the batteries and gathered all the camera gear, and headed out to the Delta. There was a spot that I had actually visited a few weeks before that I thought would be a perfect spot for getting star trail pictures, and luckily it's only about an hour away from home. Along the way I made a quick stop at this field, near the small town of Coy.

At first glance, it just looks like a low hill that stands up from the field that surrounds it. But this spot is actually quite historic - this is an ancient mound that was built by a Native American culture that occupied this area from around the years 700 - 1000. Not much is known about the people who built this, but they are also the same ones that built the nearby Toltec Mounds.

IMG_5799

From there I drove further into the Delta towards this old building. According to the owners of the property, this building was used to store and to dry rice. The machinery inside is out of date and not used anymore, but it is still the tallest building for many miles. It was amazingly clear outside, and the sky above it was covered with a countless number of stars.

IMG_5866-2

It was also surrounded by a countless number of mosquitoes. I was attacked by a relentless swarm of mosquitoes while I attempted to set up the camera and tripod. I'm not trying to exaggerate, but there was a literal cloud of mosquitoes that descended on me like sharks. I tried to get the camera set up as quickly as possible while being feasted on by a unending onslaught of mosquitoes. And of course, bug spray was the one thing that I forgot to bring with me.

I did manage to get everything set up, and left the camera to take pictures for about an hour and a half (luckily it wasn't carried away by the mosquitoes). When I got home, I found some cortizone and then combined the nearly 200 pictures from that night together to create these star trails. The camera was looking due north towards Polaris, the North Star.

StarStaX_IMG_5866-3-IMG_6036-2_lighten version 2-2

Friday, July 28, 2017

Delta

After leaving Stuttgart, we decided to hit a few other neat spots that were nearby. One spot was this old church, in the small town of Humnoke. The church is abandoned, and the walls are beginning to lean in precariously. There's no telling how much longer it will be standing.

IMG_5619-2

South of Humnoke is this silo, which is easy to spot since it is the tallest structure for miles.

IMG_5658-2

We then went by this abandoned church near the town of Scott, which was guarded by a thick congregation of dragonflies and wasps.

IMG_5678-2

We visited another church down the road that was also abandoned and empty. The outside is in rough shape, and it looks like it may also collapse sometime soon. The interior had been gutted, but this old electric organ had been left behind.

IMG_5692-2

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Riceland Hotel

At five stories, the Riceland Hotel is still the tallest building in downtown Stuttgart. On a busy Saturday morning, cars cruised down Main Street in front of the hotel, and people visited the shops and stores that sit in the neighboring buildings. But the Riceland Hotel was quiet, it is home now only to stray cats and a few occasional pigeons that fly through the windows that aren't boarded shut.

I was recently given permission to go inside the old hotel and take pictures, so I headed down to Stuttgart earlier this month. The once-grand Riceland Hotel opened way back in 1923, and was for several decades the center of social life in Stuttgart. But the hotel closed in 1970, and has been left empty and abandoned. But through the cracked paint and plaster, you can still find signs of the hotel's former grandeur.

IMG_5181-2

This was taken in what was once the hotel's lobby. When it was open, the hotel hosted several celebrities, including Ernest Hemingway, Joseph Pulitzer and Clark Gable.

IMG_5152-2

IMG_5150-2

This was taken in a room next to the lobby, which was once the hotel's coffee shop.

IMG_5126-Edit-4

The hotel was designed by George R. Mann, the same architect who also designed the Arlington Hotel, Little Rock Central High School, the Pines Hotel, the Albert Pike Hotel, the Pulaski County Courthouse and the Arkansas State Capitol.

IMG_5231-2

IMG_5244-2

The building has been victim to a lot of graffiti and vandalism lately, some of which was pretty awful (I tried to avoid as much of it as I could in the pictures).

IMG_5247-4

IMG_5287-2

IMG_5361-2

IMG_5597-2

IMG_5317-2

Most of the windows in the building are boarded up, which made taking pictures difficult since it was very dark in many of the rooms.

IMG_5322-2

IMG_5389-2

IMG_5426-2

IMG_5443-2

Despite being abandoned and left to the elements for so long, the building did seem to be in decent shape. There was, however, some considerable water damage on the fifth floor because of some holes in the roof. It had actually stormed just before we arrived to take pictures, and rain water was percolating throughout the building.

IMG_5454-2

IMG_5469-2

This is part of the old elevator machinery that sat in a room at the very top of the building.

IMG_5535-3

I was a little nervous stepping out onto the roof, since there was so much water damage. But there was this view, looking out towards Stuttgart. Back in the olden days, there was a rooftop garden here that offered dancing on Friday nights and was advertised as being "cool and above the mosquitoes." According to local legend, a party here in the early 1960s got so out of control that a piano was thrown from the roof by a group of drunken revelers.

IMG_5524-2

And one last shot from inside the hotel, looking down from the top of the staircase.

IMG_5583-Edit-2-2

Although it has been empty for decades, the Riceland Hotel still occupies a prominent spot in downtown Stuttgart. There have been talks of renovations to the hotel recently, so hopefully something can happen to help save it from further deterioration. It's a long shot, but the building is well worth preserving.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

4th of July

We had some free time during the Independence Day holiday, so we ventured down into Hot Springs. It was hot and sunny, and Central Avenue and Bathhouse Row were busy and crowded with people. I tried to take a few pictures, and ended up with this shot of the Quapaw Bathhouse, which was built way back in 1922.

IMG_4675-3

On the 4th of July, I headed to downtown Little Rock to try to get some pictures of the fireworks show over the Arkansas River. I had planned on taking pictures from the top of a parking deck, but everything there was locked and shut (probably to keep people from going up there to watch the fireworks, I guess). So I ended up heading to the Clinton Park Bridge, which stretches across the river by the Clinton Presidential Library. It wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be, and it was a fairly good spot to see the fireworks.

IMG_4975-2