Thursday, December 29, 2022

One More Trip To The Delta

I recently made a quick trip down to Stuttgart to retrieve the pictures that the Arts Center of the Grand Prairie had been so kind to display for the last month. After carefully loading 33 framed prints into the back of the car (and not dropping any of them!), I made a little drive around town looking for stuff to photograph. I drove by the large Riceland facility, which was busy as always that day. On the outskirts of the factory was this metal shop with a rusty and faded sign. The metal building was reflected in the large rain puddle.


Nearby was another old shop, which also had a rusted metal front. I promise that I did not block the shop driveway to take this picture.


While I needed to hurry to get back home, I did make a quick detour over to DeVall's Bluff to get a few pictures of the old St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church. The church was built in 1912, but closed in 1986 when the last parishioner passed away. It was then abandoned and left to the elements.


About 10 years ago the building was purchased by a local community member who was able to get the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The church was also listed as one of the state's most endangered historic places by the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas. Hopefully the old church can be saved before time and weather take their toll on the building.


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Two Rivers

It was another dark and foggy night, so I headed over to Two Rivers Park to try to get a few pictures. The two rivers in the park are the Little Maumelle River and the Arkansas River, and the park sits right at the spot where the two rivers meet. A bridge crosses the Little Maumelle River, which usually provides views of the Arkansas River and the I-430 Bridge. But that night the fog was so thick that most of the bridge dissolved into the fog.


And the view from along the bridge. Surprisingly, there were a few other people out walking the bridge that night.


The thick fog began to break up, and drift down the river. Here you can see the I-430 Bridge briefly illuminated by the lights of a passing ambulance.


I headed across the bridge and followed the trail, until it went beyond the lights into the inky darkness of the forest.


And the same view reflected in a large puddle. I was startled by a bunch of deer that nonchalantly walked across the trail while I was trying to take pictures here.


Most of the fog had dissipated, so I headed back to the car. I stopped for one last shot, looking back over at the I-430 Bridge and the clearing fog.


Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Smyrna Church

Just outside of Searcy is the Smyrna Church, which holds the claim as the oldest documented church building in the state. The one room Greek-revival church was built in 1856, and is one of only a few churches that are still standing in the state that were built before the Civil War.


According to local legend, in the early 1800s there weren't many churches built in the area so the many different congregations would share a "union church." Each week, a different congregation (like the Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists) would each take turns leading the sermons. One week, the preacher giving the sermon announced that the Methodists weren't going to heaven (which is a little rude). So in response, the Methodists left the union church and decided to build their own, thus creating the Smyrna Church. The church was in use until the 1970s, and was then donated to the city of Searcy. The church was been fully restored and preserved, and can even be rented out for weddings.


Saturday, December 17, 2022

Into The Fog

We've had a lot of foggy days and nights recently, which makes for some really neat conditions for photography. So one night after getting the kids to bed, I grabbed the camera and tripod and headed out again to try to get a few pictures. The first stop was the Big Dam Bridge, which had red and green lights for Christmas that seemed to fade out into the thick fog.


I wasn't the only one out there. There was some strange creature lurking in the water that would swim around and then crash into the water, creating a huge splash. I'm not going to lie, it scared the crap out of me the first time it happened. I'm not sure what kind of creature it was - an otter, a beaver, or something like the Loch Ness Monster?? I managed to get a little video of it with my cell phone:

After that I decided it wasn't best to continue lurking by the river so I headed downtown. The first stop was at MacArthur Park and the old Little Rock Arsenal. The arsenal was built in 1841 and is one of the oldest buildings in the city.


From there I headed over to the intersection of Capitol and Main Streets, which is the location of the city's Christmas tree. The tree was overshadowed by the Union Plaza Building, whose lights shined bright in the fog.

Oh Christmas Tree

And a wider view of the tree with the sculpture "Helios."


For some reason there weren't very many people out and about on a gloomy and foggy night, so I managed to get a shot from the middle of Capitol Avenue without having to worry about being run over.


And one more shot of the Union Plaza Building, which was loosely inspired by this photograph by Edward Steichen of the Flatiron Building.


It was starting to get late so I hurried over to the Junction Bridge. This is the view from the top of the bridge (taken by the elevator, I did not climb to the top!).


And the view from along the bridge.


And a shot of the bridge from the riverbank. Was a little surprised at how still the water in the river was, which did make for a nice reflection.


I made one more stop, at the Arkansas State Capitol.


I walked around the grounds, and then ended up crawling along the wet pavement to get this shot of the Capitol reflected in a large puddle.


It must have been a slow night for the Capitol security guards, since a state capitol police car parked nearby and watched me while I innocently walked around taking pictures.


And a shot of the front, which you can see the blue "PEACE" letters that hang in the small circular windows. The lights were first added during World War II, and have been a part of the capitol's holiday light displays ever since.


The state capitol police must have gotten bored since they drove away. So I took advantage of the lack of nearby cars and got one last shot from the middle of Capitol Avenue before finally heading home.


Monday, December 12, 2022

Capitol Fireworks

Arkansas' state government isn't always that great (and next year's legislative session is sure to be a doozy), but one thing that it does right is the annual fireworks show at the State Capitol in December. The fireworks fill the sky just before the 200,000 or so Christmas lights on the building are switched on for the first time. It's a fun tradition, especially if you have kids. So Jonah and I headed out there and we found a good spot in the lawn in front of the capitol.

The show starts with a few speeches from various politicians (much to the dismay of all the kids in the crowd), and then there is a big countdown to the start of the fireworks. Except this year there was a little hiccup in the plans. The computer that runs the lights and fireworks apparently decided to freeze up just when the show was supposed to start. So after the countdown everything went dark and then......nothing happened. For about 15 minutes everyone stood waiting in the dark as the kids got more restless and the adults made jokes about the state forgetting to pay its electric bill. But eventually they got everything working and the rest of the show went off without a hitch....


Saturday, December 10, 2022

Clearing Fog

There is just something special about foggy days and nights. The way that light is diffused, and tall buildings fade into the deep mist. So the other night it was nice and foggy out, and after getting the kids to bed I grabbed the camera and tried to get a few pictures. I headed downtown and made a quick stop at the State Capitol:


But while I was there, the fog started to break up and dissipate. I hurried over a nearby parking deck and tried to get a few more pictures before it was completely gone.


The remaining fog was being blown away by the wind, which created some neat streaks in the sky during long exposures:



And one last shot, of the stately Cathedral of St. Andrew (which was built 1881). Just behind it is the Donaghey Building, which was built in 1926 and was Little Rock's first "skyscraper."


Monday, December 5, 2022

Fall In The Delta - Part 2

When I left Stuttgart I took the scenic way back, which took me through the small town of Humnoke. Along the edge of town is a lake, which is filled with cypress and tupelo trees (and mosquitoes, presumably). I pulled over and literally got this picture while looking through the window of the car.


I headed west but made another stop near the small town of Coy. There was a small collection of silos, surrounded by grass that had turned a deep shade of orange.







Just down the road sat this shell of an abandoned building. Wonder what this used to be?




I made another quick stop down the road in the small town of England, which has this neat old abandoned house. It looks like vines of poison ivy are climbing up the sides of the house, its leaves turning orange for autumn.


I headed towards Keo, and then went to another small lake that is filled with cypress and tupelo trees.





And then I had just enough time to make one last stop before I needed to be back home. So I decided to hurry over to Scott to try to get a few pictures of Pecan Alley, a road that runs through some old and massive pecan trees. The trees were once part of a large plantation and are over 100 years old.