Monday, August 17, 2009

Pine Bluff

Saturday was a typical Arkansas summer day – hot and muggy. Well I take that back, it was actually a bit cooler than normal, it was only 97 degrees outside. I had a big plan set for Saturday, a long drive that would take me down in the swamps and farms in the very bottom edge of southeastern Arkansas. As I stepped outside into the heat, I began to question it. Then as I drove farther and farther away from home, I decided to postpone that trip and try again later. No big deal really, it just meant that the insects, snakes and alligators at the swamps will just have to wait a little bit longer for the chance to eat me.

By the time I decided to turn around, I was in Pine Bluff. So I pulled off the freeway and took the opportunity to explore that city’s old downtown. Pine Bluff is an old river town (incorporated in 1839), built along the banks of the Arkansas River. In recent times, the town has fallen on hard times. And by fallen on hard times, I mean really it tumbled of the cliff of hard times. Several of the downtown buildings are abandoned, and parking lots are scattered with the broken glass remains of beer bottles. Several of the buildings are boarded up, but there was some life along Main Street. There was a big crowd at a clothing store called Super Bad, which I’m not sure if it was named after the film or just a comment on the quality of the clothes there. But beyond that stretch, the streets were quiet.
P8157106 bw

There was one other car in the parking lot at the old train station, which is now a museum. I walked around to the platform, just as a train was coming into the station. It was a freight train, so it didn’t bother to stop here. It just made its way on past, the whistle echoing across downtown.

P8157118sep copy
I did not loaf.

Across the street from the train station sat a fine old building, which was once a Masonic Temple. It didn’t appear to be in use now, which is a shame.
P8157120 copy

Next to the old Masonic Lodge was a jewelry store that was still open. There were two clocks on the front, including this huge old and weathered one hanging over the sidewalk.
P8157121 copy
I like the sign for the business in the background – if it was open I’d have gone in to get some fashion with an attitude!

I got back in the car and headed back down Main Street towards the old courthouse. The Jefferson County Courthouse was built in 1856 and is an interesting old building. Across from the courthouse was another neat old building, which helped in getting some other shots of the courthouse.


There wasn’t much traffic around here. I felt pretty safe enough to rush into the street to get this view of the front of the courthouse from the middle of the road.

From the courthouse I walked around a bit more, past empty parking lots and more abandoned buildings. Several buildings were being slowly devoured by nature, adding a small touch of life to the empty buildings.
P8157136 copy

I drove around a bit more, before eventually giving up and heading back home. This is the last shot of the day that actually turned out. I just got a picture and didn't stop to buy anything.
P8157149 copy


Drew said...

Positively Pine Bluff. Great city. Love the night life.

Zack Andrews said...

Great shots man, looks like an interesting place to take some photos.

Matthew Kennedy said...

Train shot is great. You might be surprised, I bet they still use that Masonic building. They tend to hang on to old historic places like that. My dad is a mason and the giant old building in Little Rock is quite impressive. You know old John Paul Hammerschmidt is a mason as well.

Windy Richardson said...

I've never been to Pine Bluff or really explored much of Southern Arkansas to be honest. Cool shots though!

I laughed at the part about everything will have to wait to eat you. Hope your trip to the swamps is nice (if that's possible) when you do make it down there!