Saturday, January 23, 2021

Revisiting A Delta Church

Over the last few years, I've been working on a project to document the architecture of the Arkansas Delta. Primarily, it has focused on abandoned structures, which are a valuable but fleeting record of the vibrant culture and troubled history of the Delta. Recently I've been wanting to revisit a certain old church that I got a few pictures of before, one that has stuck out in my mind ever since. I've been worried that the building has deteriorated, and might not be standing for too much longer. But getting a fisheye lens for Christmas provided the perfect excuse to drive over and check in on the church, and a chance to get a few more pictures.

The condition of the church hadn't changed much since my last visit. A good chunk of the roof is missing, but the damage is somehow contained to one side of the building. The result is a strange view where one half of the church is in ruin, and the other seems to still be in decent shape.


Oftentimes it's hard to find any information about some abandoned places, like this old church. I have searched but haven't found anything about what type of church it was, or when it was built, or who built it. The biggest mystery is what happened here. What caused the church to be in this condition?


There are two pianos that have been left behind. How long have they been sitting here? The keys are dirty with dirt and debris. How long has it been since they were used to play a song?





The church was probably once filled with people, who were there every week. Where did they go?



This just emphasizes the tragedy of abandoned places. People must have devoted untold years of their lives to this church. To help build it, to worship here weekly. To have attended countless weddings and funerals here. When this church is gone, all that time and effort is lost. There is a significant section of the church's roof that is missing. How long will it be before it finally succumbs to the slow drag of nature and gravity? And who will mourn it, once it is lost?


As I headed back towards home, I drove under a dark gray sky that seemed to press upon the flat landscape of the Delta.


I made a quick stop to get a few pictures of this old abandoned building, which looks like it was a home or maybe apartments at one time. Now it appears the only life in the building are the vines that are slowly taking over the structure.


Parked nearby was this old car. I guess I can't say it was "Found On Road Dead" since it was a GMC.


And one last shot - taken along a lonely stretch of road. This tree stood tall along the pavement, a passive witness to the occasional cars driving under it and the lazy clouds passing above it.


Wednesday, January 20, 2021


Just east of North Little Rock (if that makes sense), is the small town of Scott. Fewer than 100 people live in Scott now, but the little community contains a plethora of old and historic buildings. That includes this old church, which has long been abandoned. I've been wanting to get pictures here for while, but it is so overgrown in front that the building is almost impossible to see (let alone get close to) most of the year.


Just above the door is a sign that reads: "Mine House Shall Be Called An House of Prayer For All People."


The front door of the church was rusty, but open.


And the inside of the church. Tiles from the drop ceiling have fallen onto the scattered pews below, along with stray insulation and other random debris. Plastic flowers by the altar give a fake and fleeting glimpse of life inside the dust-covered interior of the sanctuary.


Heading south from Scott, you pass through "Pecan Alley," a road lined with century-old pecan trees.


And one more shot of the road, this time taken while using the new fisheye lens.


Since I was in the area, I decided to visit a few other abandoned churches that I've stopped at numerous times before in the past. The first church is still in decent condition, even if the bushes are overgrown and the open door allows wasps and critters free access to the interior of the church.


The other church is in worse condition. Unfortunately, it looks like the roof could imminently collapse (I wasn't brave enough to go inside).


The church was once called "Paradise Church."


And one last shot, of a set of metal silos that were reflected in the waters of a large rain puddle.


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Fisheye Little Rock

I was able to get out last weekend to try to get a few pictures in downtown Little Rock with the new fisheye lens. This was Sunday afternoon, and the streets were empty and things were quiet. I didn't have to worry about finding parking by the Pulaski County Courthouse, even if the parking meters were all expired.


A few blocks away, just off of Capitol Avenue, was this reflected view. But wow, someone really needs to clean that window...


And then one last shot, of the old Little Rock Arsenal Building in MacArthur Park. Although it was the weekend, construction workers were busy with the rennovations of the Arkansas Arts Center next door.


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Smyrna Church

Just outside of Searcy is the Smyrna Church - a quaint old wooden church that is actually the oldest church in Arkansas. The church was built in 1856, and is one of only five churches in the state that were built before the Civil War. The church is so old, that it's believed the lumber to build it came from trees that first started growing in the 1600s.


The church was built for a Methodist congregation, who worshipped in the church until the 1970s. The church has since undergone a massive restoration, and was been gifted to the city of Searcy. It's now a popular spot for weddings.


Monday, January 11, 2021

Bald Knob

Most people know Bald Knob since it's one of those amusingly-named Arkansas places (like Blue Ball, Toad Suck, Possum Grape and Weiner). Bald Knob was actually named after a bald knob - a large outcropping of stone that was a landmark back in the olden days. The town was founded in the 1870s, with development sparked by the rail lines passing through. Today, the town has a population of about 3,000. The center of town has a good collection of older buildings.


On the other side of the building is this old ghost sign, long obscured under a coat of paint but now being revealed as the paint chips away.


A few blocks away is this old movie theater, boarded up and abandoned...


And next to the old train station was this old hotel, which is also closed and abandoned. It's a shame that it's closed, since it appears it did once have fancy amenities like satellite TV.


Thursday, January 7, 2021


Last year, when I was writing about my favorite pictures from 2019, I wrote “I’m looking forward to what should be an interesting 2020.” I said that because we had just found out that Caroline was pregnant. But I had no clue that we were all about to get ourselves into in the strange and turbulent year that was 2020.

We welcomed baby Elliott to the world in August, and having a baby in the middle of global pandemic was definitely unique. But he is healthy and happy, and Jonah has thrived in the role of being a great big brother.

Despite lockdowns and social distancing measures, I did attempt to get out and take a few pictures. It meant finding places that would be devoid of people, and adapting to wearing a mask (which still causes the viewfinder to fog up on the camera). 2020 was definitely not the year that anyone expected it to be, but here are some of my favorite pictures taken from a challenging and truly interesting year.

Blue Light District
Big Dam Bridge, North Little Rock, Arkansas.
It was a cold winter night with a thick fog, which picked up and carried the blue lights from the bridge out across the river. This was taken in the glory days of January, before having to worry about having on a mask or keeping a proper distance from anyone else.

Magnolia Falls
Magnolia Falls, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
Waterfalls in Arkansas are becoming increasingly more popular and more crowded. In order to avoid the crowds over the weekend on this visit to Magnolia Falls, I decided to start hiking right before sunrise (which meant leaving home at 3:45 AM to get there). But it was worth it, there wasn’t anyone else there and the falls are amazingly beautiful.

Han Silo
Near Stuttgart, Arkansas.
These metal silos sit along a dirt road deep in the Delta. A few fluffy clouds were drifting through the thick heat and humidity that day.

Lorance Creek Natural Area, Arkansas.
I was too late in the season to catch the autumn leaves on the many trees at Lorance Creek. But that did leave the chance to see some of those fallen leaves trapped in the current of the creek, slowly swirling in the shallow waters of the swamp.

Balanced Rock Falls
Balanced Rock Falls, Buffalo National River, Arkansas.
This unique little spot sits near the Buffalo River. A huge boulder is somehow perched over the waterfall, looking like if you were to move an ancient relic nearby, the rock would dislodge and start rolling towards you like in an Indiana Jones movie.

Bridal Veil
Bridal Veil Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.
We had booked a quick trip to Oregon in February, and somehow managed to squeeze in the trip before everything stopped in March. It was a blessed time when we could ride on a plane, eat out in a restaurant, and be around other people.

There was a good crowd of people here at Bridal Veil Falls, one of the hundreds of waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. This is the view of the Bridal Veil Creek, just below the falls (you can see the spray from the falls at the top of the photo behind that massive moss-covered boulder).

Lower Smith Falls
Lower Ken Smith Falls, Buffalo National River, Arkansas.
It is a long hike through Hawk Hollow to reach Smith Falls (especially if you’ve fallen out of shape like I have). And so of course, about halfway through the hike the sun came out and there were bright blue skies overhead. Which is not the ideal conditions for waterfall photography. Luckily Smith Falls was still mostly in shadow when we got there, with a beam of light from the sun shining through the trees above the 72 foot-tall waterfall.

Slippery Hollow
Slippery Hollow Natural Area, Arkansas
This area has to be one of the most aptly-named places in the state (joining the ranks of the waterfall named Falling Water Falls). The hollow has several springs, which have turned most of the rocks here into a slick moss-covered Slip 'N' Slide.

Short Beach
Short Beach, Oregon.
Portland is a great city to visit, thanks to its perfect location. A short drive east takes you by the massive waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. A short drive west brings you to the Pacific Ocean. This rocky beach sits below Cape Meares and is where a small creek runs in and meets up with the ocean. It’s a nice place to sit and enjoy the view.

Elaine, Arkansas.
These fields here really look no different than any other soybean or rice field in the flat lands of the Delta. But they have a deep and dark history. It was near this field where the Elaine Massacre started in 1919, which resulted in the murder of hundreds of people. I’m not sure if it was my imagination, but there was an eerie feeling in the air here.

Hodgson Water Mill, Missouri.
In the summer, we booked a cabin in the Ozarks for a few days as a sort of “isolation vacation.” It was also the last time we’d be able to make any sort of getaway before the baby was born. The cabin was located near the Arkansas-Missouri border, and I had time to slip over and get a few pictures at the beautiful old mill. It’s said that this is the most photographed place in Missouri (I’m sure that the Gateway Arch or Busch Stadium get more pictures), but no one was keeping track of how many pictures were taken while I was there.

Portland, Oregon.
One night while in Portland we stopped to get a few pictures of the White Stag Sign, which was built in 1940 and greets people driving across the Burnside Bridge. It is an iconic part of downtown Portland, and one I wish that Little Rock could copy with their own version (if I won the lottery or was an eccentric millionaire I would totally build one and donate it to the city).

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
There are several homes along this scenic little dirt road, except it’s not the easiest place to reach. To get here, you have to ford Big Piney Creek. But it is scenic enough for the effort when you have this view from your front yard.

Little Rock
Little Rock, Arkansas.
It had been a rainy day, and right at sunset the sun broke through the storm clouds and produced this pastel-colored sunset over downtown Little Rock.

Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.
I know this is a cliche photo of a touristy landmark, but Multnomah Falls is one of the most iconic and breathtaking waterfalls in the US. It’s definitely worth fighting the crowds (at least it was when this was taken, before Covid really struck) to see it in person.

This Old Horse
Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
A horse grazing in a field by a massive old and abandoned home. I would love to see what the inside of this house is like.

Six Finger Falls
Six Finger Falls, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
A storm dumped a lot of rain at the end of October, which gave us waterfalls and fall colors at the same time (a rare treat). This was a 15 second exposure, taken as it was getting dark.

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
We ended up spending more time taking pictures of this road than anything else that day. It passed through the Ozark National Forest and had a nice little bit of fog too.

The Buffalo
Buffalo National River, Arkansas.
In real estate they say the most important thing is Location, Location, Location. Well this Ashe’s Juniper tree has situated itself in an amazing position, overlooking a scenic bend in the Buffalo River.

Hot Springs
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.
This was taken from the rooftop of The Waters Hotel, where a bar allowed a chance to get a few outdoor and socially-distanced drinks. It also provided a view of this great sunset over Bathhouse Row and Central Avenue.

Sunny And Chair
Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
This old blue recliner sits on the sprawling front porch of an abandoned home. Judging by the thick coating of dust and dirt, it looks like it’s been a long time since anyone has sat down for a spell here.

Haw Creek
Haw Creek Falls, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
Haw Creek Falls are just a few feet tall, but for what they lack in height they make up in length. The waterfall stretches across the creek, and was matched with some good fall color.

On The Buffalo
Buffalo National River, Arkansas.
Golden evening light bathed the gnarled trunks of the old Ashe Juniper tree, which overlooked the calm waters of the Buffalo River.

Arkansas State Capitol, Little Rock.
The annual fireworks show at the State Capitol is one of the best holiday traditions in the state. Luckily the state went ahead with the show this year, but they did away with the ceremony and kindly asked people to wear masks and social distance. I have to admit it was a good change, because in years past the ceremony and speeches could drag on a bit too long.

Mills On Wheels
Cedar Creek Grist Mill, Washington
This place has been on my photography bucket-list for years, and I was luckily able to make a quick drive over into Washington state to get a few pictures during our visit to the Pacific Northwest. On our way home, at the airport in Portland, we started seeing people wearing masks. It’s crazy to think back at how much has changed since then. 2020 will always be thought of as a memorable year. Hopefully 2021 will be too, but for all the right reasons.

Thank you again for anyone who reads these posts and looks at these pictures. I hope you all have a great and healthy new year!