Sunday, August 8, 2010
It was not the first time I had driven from south to north on Lincoln County Road 21, aka Klondike Road, which I entered south of Cornerville, Arkansas. I often try a road more than once, betting that I missed something the first trip or two. The bet paid off this weekend when I spied this battered old barn, which was hidden by a forest on my previous trips. In the time since my last drive here, the fearsome dozer and logging crew had leveled the surrounding forest to the ground, revealing an entire home place.
The home place buildings were spared the blade of the dozer. There is an old residence, the barn, and three outbuildings, all built in the early forties and now seriously deteriorated after being abandoned by human beings some time ago. This is not the first time I've encountered the phenomenon of an old home place still standing in the middle of a recently harvested forest. Someone wanted it saved.
Late afternoon sun splashed the landscape with the golden glow that makes photographers drool in giddy anticipation of dramatic images. I was not disappointed.
The north wall of the barn has collapsed, which means the other sides are not far behind. The shed on the south side of the barn is creeping toward its eventual total surrender to gravity. Despite its still plumb appearance, look hard: This barn is depending on spindly legs and living on borrowed time.
Gearhead Alert: The trolley and block mechanism for hoisting hay to the loft is more or less intact. These folks were serious about lifting hay and storing it efficiently. Most of the time all you see at the peak of a barn is one measly sheave, which translates to sore muscles at the end of a long day.
As I was wrapping up the shoot, a vehicle approached and I walked out to meet it. The driver, Phillip Tucker, had some relatives with him in his Blazer. I told them what I was doing and we became friends. They gave me a couple of leads on additional barns. They also said that scavengers had looted the house of about everything of value that was not bolted down — the reason for their curiosity about my presence.
This is the back of the house. Not unlike a lot of rural residences, two additions were made to the original structure. Phillip Tucker told me that many families had lived there. The house and barn were built in the early forties, so abandonment came much sooner for this place than many we have seen.
Old houses and barns stir our imagination and remind us that we should make the most of our temporary residence as citizens of this planet. Carpe Diem!
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Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog. — J. D.