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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Henley St. Bridge at night (Before it's reconstruction) - Knoxville

Henley St. Bridge at night

Brrrr. it was cold on the November night that I took this!

The Henley St. Bridge is also known as the Chapman Highway bridge. At one time, many people going to Gatlinburg from the west would pass through Knoxville and cross the Tennessee River here. It carries US 441 and TN33.

The all concrete bridge opened in 1931. The design has six open-spandrel dual ribbed concrete arches with six concrete deck girder spans, all of which is built on a concrete substructure. It's also the longest open spandrel concrete arch bridge in the state. The span is undergoing major renovations right now and this TDOT website has all of the updates.

Often, the spans are better lit than they were on this night, but I suppose nobody turned them on.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Franklin, NC Gem & Mineral Museum

Franklin, NC Gem & Mineral Museum

This museum is located in the old Macon County Jail in the heart of downtown Franklin, NC.

The area in and around Franklin, NC is known as the Gem Mining Capital of the World. Gem Mining is a popular tourist activity at many places, where you buy a bucket of dirt, pour some of the dirt into a sifter into a trough of running water. The water washed away the dirt, leaving behind some interesting rocks, hopefully including some rubies, sapphires or emeralds. The dirt in this part of the country must be the most enriched with precious stones, as there are many tourist spots that specialize in this activity here. If you're somewhere else that offers this activity, there's a good chance the bags of dirt came from one of the distributors near Franklin.

The kinds of gems and/or minerals you'd find in Middle Tennessee would likely be phosphate. While it's an important industry, the Phosphate Museum in Mt. Pleasant just doesn't sound as interesting as one about rubies and emeralds. (However, my mom visited the Phosphate Museum in July and liked it.)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Old Toccoa River Bridge - McCaysville, GA

Old Toccoa River Bridge - McCaysville, GA

Also known as the Bridge Street Bridge, this 1928 Camelback through truss bridge is only about 15 feet from the Tennessee State Line. When it was built, it carried Highway GA 5 with it's 149 foot span but a new bridge was opened in 1936 a block away to carry most of the traffic. When the Toccoa River crosses the state line into Tennessee, it becomes the Ocoee River.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The remains of the Thomas Hart Benton house

The remains of the Thomas Hart Benton house

The Benton family came from North Carolina in 1799 and he was a state senator in 1809. He got in a dispute with then General Andrew Jackson, injuring him. From there, Benton hastily moved to Missouri in 1815, where he became a US Senator in 1821 and an early architect of Manifest Destiny. This is just south of Liepers Fork on highway 46.

This is stop #15 on TNTrailsandByways.com Old TN Trail

Here is the historical marker:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Spring City, TN Depot

Spring City, TN Depot

The brick passenger train station in Spring City, TN was built by Queen and Crescent Railroad in 1908 along the line to connect Cincinnati and New Orleans. Later, this railway became a part of Southern Railway.

A friend of mine lived in Spring City for a short while, and he remembers the building was used as a library then. Today, it is home to the local chamber of commerce in one half and a museum in the other side.

Spring City, TN Passenger Depot

Monday, August 26, 2013

For Sale: County Courthouses of Middle Tennessee Poster

County Courthouses of Middle Tennessee Poster

I now have a poster available for purchase highlighting the county courthouse for each of the 40 counties in Middle Tennessee.

It is now available for purchase in my Zazzle store here:

or, if you want a bulk discount, or if you would like to purchase the image so you can print it on your own, send me a message.

Also, 38 of the 40 county courthouses seen here (plus most counties from East and West Tennessee) are available as post cards here:

This Rock City Barn may be disappearing soon!

Rock City Barn - Going away soon!

Here is an important note for those of you (who like me) wish to photograph as many Rock City Barns as possible before they become a thing of the past. This barn is located at the entrance to Sequoyah Caverns. Sequoyah Caverns is linked to Rock City as Clark Byers, the famous Rock City barn painter, first opened Sequoyah Caverns commercially and painted a few barns for them as well. Sequoyah Caverns is closing very soon! Labor Day 2013 will be the last day they're open. More Details can be found here.

Barbed Wire and Rock City Barn Honeysuckle and  a Rock City Barn

Before I took my cave tour, I had a chance to speak with the owner, and I mentioned I was first attracted to Sequoyah Caverns because of the Rock City Barn connection. He mentioned that after Sequoyah Caverns closes, this barn would be dismantled! Who knows how much time you've got if you want to see this one and can make the drive to Northeast Alabama. (In my case, it was my third visit.) After my cave tour, I made sure to see how many different interesting angles I could find for this barn.

Rock City Barn - Going away soon!

In one regard, I don't blame him - for his whole life, tourists have been crawling over the family's land. That's the tradeoff for making money in the tourism industry. Well, in a couple of weeks, the family wants to go back to the quiet way of life, and they probably don't want people like me coming back over and over. Besides, the barn has suffered tornado damage. I suggested he could probably find a buyer for it, especially if they were just going to discard the pieces. In retrospect, I should have offered to buy a piece of the roof.

37 Miles to Beautiful Rock City (2012)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Church of the Ascension - Cartersville, GA

Church of the Ascention

Episcopal church formed in 1844 - Cartersville, GA. The red entrance door really stands out.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Andrew Johnson Homestead - Greeneville, TN

Andrew Johnson Homestead - Greeneville, TN

Under the oversight of the National Park Service is the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site. In addition to his final house shown here, the National Historic Site also covers his Early home, his gravesite, and the visitors center which includes his tailor shop.

The Andrew Johnson Homestead is maintained to look as it did when he and his wife lived in the domicile from 1869 to 1875. Johnson had purchased the home in 1851. During the war years, the house was occupied by soldiers. It required renovations when the family returned to the house after Johnson's leaving the presidency in 1869. It is a Greek Revival two-story brick house.

The 1851-75 residence, built not long before Johnson purchased it, stayed in the possession of his heirs until 1942, the year the Federal Government acquired it. It had undergone considerable alteration throughout the years, including an extensive remodeling in the Victorian style in 1884-85. The National Park Service has restored and refurnished it to its 1869-75 appearance. It now consists, as it did then, of a two-story, brick main house and a two-story, brick ell at the rear.

The brickwork is Flemish bond on the front and common bond on the sides. A double veranda extends along the rear of the main section and the northeast side and end of the ell; the exposed basement level gives the effect of three stories on this side. The front of the house sits flush on the street. The structure contains 10 rooms: kitchen and storeroom (also servants' quarters) in the basement; parlor, dining room, and two bedrooms on the first floor, one of which rooms was possibly the original kitchen; and four bedrooms on the second. The rooms of the main block on the first and second floors are divided into pairs by central halls. Each floor of the ell contains two rooms, one behind the other and separated by a chimney wall; these rooms open onto the porches.

Andrew Johnson Homestead (alt view) - Greeneville, TN

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Pipe Corner of the South Neon Sign - Atlanta

The Pipe Corner of the South Neon Sign - Atlanta

One of my favorite vintage neon signs I've ever seen was placed by the Royal Cigar Company in downtown Atlanta. It's located at the corner of Forsyth St. and Walton St. at a place now called the Forsyth-Walton Building. Apparently, the Pipe store closed in the early 1990s. When it was working, the neon tubes represented smoke rings rising from the end of the pipe.

The day I took this photo, I saw the same sign on TV! It was the day after Thanksgiving and I was visiting my brother's family in GA. We started a family tradition by watching a Walking Dead marathon. In the very first episode when Rick goes into downtown Atlanta, he goes through this intersection while chased by zombies.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sequoyah Caverns - Closing soon

I thought I would mention this again, even though I did so a couple of weeks ago. This time I have pictures deom inside the Caverns to share.

Sequoyah Caverns

Sequoyah Caverns is closing real soon. Make plans to see it now if you want to ever see it. More details below.

The Ellis Family moved to this area of land along the base of Sand Mountain in DeKalb County, AL in 1841 and decendants have lived here ever since. Friends and family explored "Ellis Cave" and over the years found several Cherokee artifacts. One of the names inscribed on the interior wall is "Sam Houston, 1830" and while nobody can be certain if it's the famous Sam Houston, he lived with the Cherokee for a while and is said to have married one of Sequoyah's daughters. It is only speculation that Sequoyah ever visited here.

Sequoyah Caverns

The owners of the cave didn't work towards opening the cave commercially until the early 1960's. Clark Byers was the famous Rock City barn painter and after he retired from that, he looked to operate the cave as a tourist attraction. Just as he had done with Rock City, he painted a few barns advertising Sequoyah Caverns. (I have found 8 of them.) Byers spent a year installing walkways, handrails and lighting before they opened in 1964.

Sequoyah Caverns

What sets this cave apart from the others I've been to are the pools of water, along with the lighting. Ranging from the size of puddles to a lake in the center, the water, even though it is usually not very deep, reflects the ceiling to make the cave look even bigger and more spectacular. At one time, the cave was known as "Looking Glass Ceverns."

The owner is looking to retire soon. I spoke with him for a bit before taking the tour. The last day they will be open is on Labor Day, September 2, 2013. The cave is not for sale as the owner wants the property to stay with the family. (In fact, someone wanting to buy the cave called while I was there.) As he put it, the only way the cave will ever reopen is if one of the grandkids decide they want to operate it, but they're all about college aged right now and not interested. If this kind of thing interests you, now is your chance to see it.

Sequoyah Caverns Sequoyah Caverns

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Clanton Peach - Clanton, AL

The Clanton Peach - Clanton, AL

Located just off the Interstate between Montgomery and Birmingham is this impressive water tower shaped like a peach. With a height of 120 feet and a capacity of 500,000 gallons, the tower was built by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Company in 1992. It could hold a lot more gallons if it weren't for the peach pit on the inside (not really).

It seems like most of the peach farms in Alabama were located in this area here in Chilton County. While traveling I-65, there were numerous billboards for several different farmers markets, as well as other businesses that were "just past the big peach."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hammers of Winchester, TN - Old and New look

Hammers of Winchester, TN (2011)

When I was last in Winchester, in 2008, It was the first time I had ever been to Hammers. At the time, most of the entire block had been painted Dark Blue! Maybe they did that to convince people it was all the same store.

Since then, they have decided to change the look of the building back to the way it must have looked when the block was first built, and they have restored each individual storefront to it's original glory. On the far left is the reddish Knox Building, the next thinner segment with the green awning is the Jackson Shoes Building. Which building design do you prefer?

I had never thought of this store as a destination until I heard that my mom and a bunch of her friends got on a bus and visited this store after having lunch at a nearby mansion. I've heard this store described as one of those places where you never know what you'll find, but I know exactly what you'll find after making two visits. On the far end is women's clothing. The next segment is a toy store, the only part with an accessible upstairs floor. Next is home decor (My wife bought a rug). Next is crafts and fabrics, and is the only area with an accessible basement level. Next is a men's clothing section and finally is a tools & snacks area. It's kind of a hit-or-miss place.

Old Version:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tenn air guard plane, Nashville, Centennial Park

Tenn air guard plane, Nashville, Centennial Park

This takes me back to my childhood. Everytime we would visit Centennial Park, I would want to see the plane and the train. I have been told this is a F-86D/L Sabredog, all-weather interceptor version of F-86.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

See Beautiful Rock City atop Lookout Mt.

See Beautiful Rock City atop Lookout Mt.

The fine Rock City barn is seen along highway US64 in Cherokee County, NC just a few miles west of Murphy. One thing that makes this barn special is the sections of diagonal boards, which would make for a picturesque setting even if it wasn't a Rock City Barn.

This is over 80 different Rock City Barn I have photographed and uploaded to Flickr in my Rock City Barns set. People often ask me how I've found so many of them. I have drawn from many resources such as books and web sites and sometimes luck, but there's not really one "go to" place to find them all. Well, now on my website, I have tried to create a one stop source for the locations of all of the barns I've been to. On my Map of Rock City Barns page, I have plotted each barn on a Google Map.

See Beautiful Rock City atop Lookout Mt.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Tawny Frogmouth

Tawny Frogmouth

Podargus strigoides
Seen at Kentucky Down Under, this bird is native to Australia.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rock City's Moonshining Gnomes

Rock City's Moonshining Gnomes

This display has been seen along the Enchanted Trail virtually unchanged for several decades. On ebay, you can find postcards of a similar scene which dates back to the fifties, or earlier.

If you like photos from Rock City, I invite you to see my "Tour of Rock City" gallery.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Camera Nut - Dothan, AL

Camera Nut - Dothan, AL

Dothan, AL has earned the nickname of "The Peanut Capital of the World." Peanuts Around Town is a public art project organized by The Downtown Group, consisting of 5-foot-tall peanut sculptures decorated in various fashions and displayed around Dothan. I only spent about 30 minutes in Dothan on trip through town, but the Camera Nt was my favorite since I think of myself as a Camera Nut (although I am a not of the still image variety and not a video camera as seen with this nut).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dickel, TN Post Office

Dickel, TN Post Office

The George Dickel Distillery may not have the market share or the international name recognition of Tennessee's more famous Whiskey, but there's one thing they do have. The Dickel people are the only distillery to have their own functional post office. (At least, I think that was the claim.) From here, all mail is collected and sent to the nearby Tullahoma post office which also has the same zip code of 37388.

The George Dickel Distillery is located in Cascade Hollow, an otherwise rural area between Tullahoma and Normandy. Across the street from the distillery is the visitor's center which doubles as a gift shop that looks like a general store. The store also includes the post office in the back which has been there since the 1960s. When the post office was installed then, it was designed with retro furnishings to match the design of the rest of the store..

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Roaring River Falls

Roaring River Falls

As a photographer, I never want to actually admit that my pictures don't do something justice, but I'll have to own up to that here. This is one of those great places that most people don't know about. Once you know about it, finding it wasn't to tough, as there was an unsigned pulloff along the side of the road with a small bit of gravel parking. From there, the descent to the water starts down an old paved road or driveway which now has a barrier to prevent cars. Look for the trail and it's only a 5 minute walk from the car to get a great view.

Roaring River Falls

Roaring River Falls is also known as Crawford Mill Falls (based on the old mill that used to be here, and some evidence of it is still visible here) or Hardy-Reagan Falls (which is taken from the name of the nearby bridge where TN136 crosses the river). The Water drops about 13 feet and since it's late in the summer, there's not as much of it on this day as there would be during wetter times of the year. The area of the waterfall is about 80 feet wide here and I couldn't get far enough back to get everything in one shot. Perhaps the most impressive feature is the enormous backdrop which is a ~140ft. cliff made up of dozens of easily distinguishable strata of bedrock.

Roaring River Falls

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bedford Co. Courthouse at dusk - Shelbyville, TN

Bedford Co. Courthouse #1 at dusk

Located in Shelbyville, TN.
Built in 1935 after mob violence destroyed the previous courthouse, and the design was made to look similar to the previous one. Listed on the National Register of historic places.

Bedford Co. Courthouse #5 front at dusk
Bedford Co. Courthouse #3 at dusk, cupola featured

Sunday, August 11, 2013

H&C Coffee neon sign - Roanoke, VA

H&C Coffee neon sign - Roanoke, VA

This fantastic neon sign is in Downtown Roanoke, VA. A special plaque has been placed, not at the base of the building, but from a spot where the sign is easily viewable: The restoration and relighting of the H&C Coffee sign was a community effort funded through the generosity of the citizens of the Roanoke Valley and beyond. A Special tribute goes to Mark Jamison - "The Neon Man."

H&C Coffee company started in Roanoke in 1927, with the sign and local landmark erected in 1946. After non-functioning for a decade, the restoration was done in 2005 when the sign was also moved to a better location with the higher roof of the new art museum.

The Dr. Pepper sign and the H&C Coffee Sign

The sign is animated with neon and the scene cycles every 7 seconds. Briefly, everything is off. Then H&C COFFEE lights up (With the H& not working too well right now). Then, The Coffee pot lights up. Next, the the empty coffee cup, saucer and spoon come on. Finally, a stream of coffee alternates between upper and lower as if it looks like it is being poured and cup is full of neon coffee! It's a wonderful sign which definitely fits in the category of they don't make 'em like they used to.

Here's a video of the sign:

H&C Coffee neon sign daytime - Roanoke, VA

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Walnut Street Bridge at Night

Walnut Street Bridge at Night

The Walnut Street Bridge is a Six-span through truss bridge over the Tennessee River on Walnut Street. It opened in 1891 and is a length of 2,370 ft. The bridge was closed to auto traffic in 1978, sat in disrepair for about a decade and then was converted into one of the world's longest pedestrian bridges. Now, the bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. This photo was taken along the North Shore at Coolidge Park.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Things to see at the Fair: Swine

100 Things to see at the fair #13: Swine Barn

You can stroll the aisles and see all kinds of pigs and hogs, like this female. If you show up at the right time, you might see a pig owner trying to wash their pig in the pig shower, which involves the owner usually getting really wet.

One caveat, Compared to many of the other show animals, the swine are not treated like pets! Pigs can be stubborn and have to be strongly coerced to move sometimes, which might be upsetting to children (or sensitive wives, like mine) if you go during the judging.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Scenes from Thomas Park: Huntingdon, TN

Scenes from Thomas Park: Concrete Arch - Huntingdon, TN

The following text is taken from a sign at the park:
Thomas Park was established in 1906 by the Civic Improvement Club, a women's group whose primary objective was the beautification of their hometown. The Club took on the task of making the area on East Main Street around the train depot more enticing to visitors. The area was named Thomas Park in honor of Major John W. Thomas, Sr., president of the NCStL Railroad, 1884-1906. The concrete arch was erected in 1909 by the NCStL and remains today as a Huntingdon landmark. The train depot, located in the park until 1967, was the point where many young Carroll County soldiers boarded the train for destinations known and unknown in service to our country.

Scenes from Thomas Park: Caboose - Huntingdon, TN

Oral tradition holds that John Philip Sousa's band played in Thomas Park sometime just prior to World War I. The train transporting the band stopped at the Thomas Park depot to take on water for the steam engine. The passengers were required to disembark, at which time the band was persuaded to perform for the waiting passengers.

A later group, the Huntingdon Women's Garden Club, maintained the park and made major improvements in 1985. Improvements included landscaping and walkways funded by the family of Jimmie Lee and Georgia Taylor. The gazebo was funded by the O.B. and Lela Enochs family. In 1993, the Huntingdon Beautification Committee was formed and assisted in seasonal upkeep of the park. In 1995, CSX railroad donated the caboose, which was subsequently refurbished for display. Under the leadership of Mayor Dale R. Kelley, the Town of Huntingdon finally acquired legal title to the Thomas Park property from CSX in 1998. original bricks from the train depot were incorporated into the paved walkway in front of the caboose.

Scenes from Thomas Park: Floral Wagon - Huntingdon, TN

Further renovations to the park by the Town of Huntingdon in the year 2000 were also made possible by local donations. Carroll Bank & Trust, Trustee for The Wright Charitable Trust, contributed funds for the War Memorial monument, fountain and flag poles. The memorial honors all veterans and is inscribed with the names of Carroll County soldiers who died while serving in the wars of our country. Woodmen of the World Lodge #445 donated the first giant American flag to fly at the memorial. Friends and family of Danny and Joyce Carter donated two marble benches and two lampposts. Additional lamppost donations were made in memory of Dorothy Ellis and former Huntingdon Mayor Lee H. Chance.

Scenes from Thomas Park: Veterans Memorial - Huntingdon, TN

The successful renovation of Thomas Park is due these generous donations, to the vision and leadership of Mayor Dale R. Kelley and to the dedicated efforts of the Town of Huntingdon employees. We commend their talents and hard work in making Thomas Park a beautiful focal point of out community and historic memorial to our past.

Scenes from Thomas Park: Clock - Huntingdon, TN

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

In the News: Gray's Pharmacy Neon Sign in Franklin restored

Gray's Drug Store sign - Franklin, TN Main St.

This photo was taken in 2007, or about 4 years after Gray's Pharmacy went out of business in 2003. For those of you that prefer it when neon signs light up, there's good news! As of last weekend, the new owners, a restaurant known as Gray's on Main, has refurbished the sign where it now works again. Of course, this means I need to travel back to Franklin to get a new picture, but for now this old one will work.

Read the full story here:
Downtown Franklin Landmark Restored On Main Street

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chattanooga Skyline from Lookout Mountain

Chattanooga Skyline from Lookout Mountain

The best place in the Chattanooga area to see the skyline and downtown area is probably from Point Park, which is the northenmost tip of Lookout Mountain. Of course, the city doesn't have much of a skyline to look at as there aren't any featured, attention-grabbing buildings.

Monday, August 5, 2013

In the News: Sequoyah Caverns is about to close!

Visit Sequoyah Caverns barn

Sequoyah Caverns is a cave and tourist attraction in DeKalb County, AL. When the cave first opened commercially, they hired the famous Rock City barn painter Clark Byers to run the operation. I suppose barn painting was still a hobby of his as he painted several of these in the area. (By my count, there are 7 in and around the county.)

Entrance to Sequoyah Caverns

The owners of Sequoyah Caverns have announced their closing and it's less than a month away! The owner is ready to retire, and he says the caverns are ready to retire as well. THIS ARTICLE says September 2, 2013 is their final day of operation. Or you can read THIS ARTICLE from Caving News which also uses one of my photos of one of the other Sequoyah Barns. The property also includes the family farm, which has been owned by the same family since the 1840s. Part of the attraction includes their sheep and goats.

Visit Sequoyah Caverns barn

The Barn seen here and at the top of this post is located near the town of Valley Head, AL. Highway AL117 as it heads west out of town curves around a bend where this barn is visible. The last line mentions the barn is 6 miles away on US11.

Sequoyah Cavern Sheep