Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Silos: A Star Wars Story

On a cold but clear night recently, I headed out to Scott to make another attempt at star trail photography. It's one of my favorite things to do, since it reminds me a bit of film photography and working in a darkroom. To capture the star trails moving across the sky requires the camera taking continuous photos for a few hours. You never know how it will turn out until you start combining all those pictures together in post (like watching a print start to form in the developer tray in the darkroom). It's fun, and doesn't require any smelly darkroom chemicals.

This shot was taken by a row of metal silos near Scott, looking north. I was out there for two hours taking pictures, but I ended up making a mistake and wasn't able to use all of those pictures (the lens fogged up in the cold weather). But here is the end result, with the stars slowly streaking across the sky above Scott...


Thursday, March 18, 2021

Bridge Into The Fog

Thick fog still hung over the city, so even though it was starting to get really late I made one more stop at the Clinton Park Bridge by the Arkansas River. It is a great place to visit in foggy weather. The fog mingles with and amplifies the bright LED lights on the bridge. The result is surreal, as the night sky lights up with colors. It looks like the setting of some sort of science fiction movie.




The bridge was built in 1899 for the Choctaw and Memphis Railroad, and was called the Choctaw Bridge when it was built. The Choctaw Station, which was the original rail station, stil stands. It is now used by the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.



The bridge would be acquired by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad and would be renamed the Rock Island Bridge. In the 1960s, part of the bridge was removed and a lift span was installed in order to allow for barges to pass underneath.



The bridge would next be acquired by Union Pacific in 1983, after Rock Island declared bankruptcy. The bridge was decomissioned, and sat unused. In the 1990s, Union Pacific wanted to demolish the bridge. But amazingly, the bridge was saved after protests by the governments of Pulaski County, Little Rock and North Little Rock.


In 2011, a $10.5 million rennovation was completed and the bridge was converted into a pedestrian span. The bridge now serves as the eastern end of the Arkansas River Trail, which stretches all the way to Pinnacle Mountain.



It was starting to get late (it was getting close to midnight), so I hurried to get a few more pictures. I headed down to the shore and got this view of the bridge reflected in the river.


These were taken on a Saturday night and there were a few groups of drunk people who were singing and laughing while walking on the bridge. I couldn't see them, but the noise they made drifted through the fog.


And one last shot before I drove home, of the bridge dissolving into the thick fog....


Monday, March 15, 2021

Downtown Fog

After taking pictures of the fog at the State Captiol, I headed deeper into downtown Little Rock to get a few more shots. The fog was heavy, probably the thickest fog in at least the last few years. The deep mist shrouded and hid the tall buildings of the skyline, and obscured everything in a gray void. Author Hal Borland wrote: "There it is, fog, atmospheric moisture still uncertain in destination, not quite weather and not altogether mood, yet partaking of both." He could have very well have been writing about the fog that night.

My first stop was Union Station, which was built in 1921. The old station looked transformed in the fog, and resembled the setting of some old film noir movie from the 1940s.


The next stop was the Pulaski County Courthouse, which was built in 1887. The Stephens Building in the background disapearred into the fog, with only the lights at the top giving any evidence that a building is there.


Walking around the corner brought this view of the side of the Pulaski County Courthouse Annex (which was built in 1914). The golden light is from one of the few remaining sodium vapor lights that have not yet been replaced by LED lights.


Across the street from the courthouse annex is Robinson Center, which was built in 1939. The lights on the columns shined brightly against the fog.


And a fisheye view from under the columns, with the courthouse annex in the background.


And another fisheye view, this time looking down Markham Street:


And from there I drove around a bit, and made a stop by the First United Methodist Church. This church was constructed between 1896-1900, and houses a congregation that dates back to 1833.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Capitol Fog

It was another foggy night, so after getting the kids to bed I grabbed the camera and rushed out to get a few pictures. The first stop was the State Capitol, which looked a little eerie in the thick fog...


Construction on the capitol began in 1899, on top of a hill that was previously the site of the state prison. After years of delays and political wrangling, it was completed in 1915.


The beam of light hitting the capitol dome here is from a spotlight, and not (as I had hoped) the light from an alien ship transporting some of our craziest legislators back to their home planet.



Monday, March 8, 2021

A Foggy Night

After taking a few pictures at the Baring Cross Bridge, I hopped back in the car and drove over to Riverfront Park to get more pictures before the fog dissipated. This was on a Friday night, and it was surprising to see people out and about, walking to the bars along Clinton Avenue. Even with vaccines, it's still strange to see people in groups (most everyone was masked when walking around, at least).

I walked over to The Belvedere, which provided this view of the fog and the Main Street Bridge.


The Belvedere was built in 1986 in commemoration of the sesquicentennial of Arkansas' statehood. I'm assuming that the building was named after the 80s TV show Mr. Belvedere.

The current Main Street Bridge was built in 1973, which was then significantly altered in 1998 due to construction on the expanded Statehouse Convention Center. But the first Main Street crossing was built in 1897 and was then known as "The Free Bridge." That bridge was demolished in 1924 to make way for a newer bridge, which would then be demolished for the current bridge in the 1970s.


From there I walked over to the Junction Bridge, which is an old rail bridge that has been coverted into a busy pedestrian bridge. The first Junction Bridge was built in 1884, and was actually built right on top of the old "little rock" bluff that gave the city of Little Rock its name. Unfortunately, the bridge construction resulted in parts of the bluff being dynamited away and then unceremoniously dumped in to the river (historic preservation wasn't really a thing back in the 1800s). The bridge was rebuilt in the 1970s in order to allow for changes in river traffic after the completion of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. Rail traffic on the bridge ceased altogether in the 1990s, and after years of sitting idle the bridge was finally converted into a pedestrian bridge in 2008.


Thursday, March 4, 2021

Baring Fog Bridge

Of the six bridges that cross the Arkansas River at downtown Little Rock, three of those were built for rail travel. And of those three bridges, only one is still actually used as a rail crossing. That bridge would be the Baring Cross Bridge, which is now used by the Union Pacific.

The first Baring Cross Bridge was built in 1873, and was the very first bridge to span the river in Little Rock. The Baring in the name was because funding was provided by the British bank Baring and Company. People aren't entirely sure where the Cross part of the named comes from. One theory is that it was because the street closest to the bridge in downtown Little Rock is Cross Street (or it could just be because they thought "Baring Cross" sounded cool). Along with rail traffic, the bridge also had a track for people and cars (along with a toll for crossing the river). Unfortunately that bridge would be destroyed by the great flood of 1927. The flooded Arkansas River washed most of the bridge away, despite efforts to weigh the bridge down by parking rail cars filled with coal along the tracks. The bridge was rebuilt and reopened in 1929. The bridge underwent changes in the 1960's when it was adapted with a lift span, which allowed the bridge deck to lift up and allow river barges to pass by.

On a recent foggy night, I headed down to the river to try to get a few pictures of the bridge. Since the bridge is said to be one of the busiest river crossings in the country, I didn't have to wait long for a train to cross the bridge. So here is a shot, with the lights from a passing train cutting through thick fog as it crosses the historic bridge.


Monday, March 1, 2021


The town of Carlisle, in Lonoke County, was incorporated way back in 1878. And recently while driving through Carlisle, I made a few stops at some older and interesting old buildings there. This old shop or garage sits near the center of town.



Just outside of town is this cemetery, where grain elevators loom in the distance behind grave markers.


And north of Carlisle is this old home, abandoned and empty.


This is another one of those places that you wish you knew its history. When was it built? Who lived there?


And a big thanks to Laurie Skillern on Instagram (@laurieskillern) who shared with me the location of this house.


On the way home I drove down this dusty dirt road, which ran through the flat Delta land by these metal silos...