Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A detour around Southern Coastal States

In October, I took a drive across of the states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. I headed south from Virginia in I-95 and close to Florence, North Carolina, got off the interstate and drove around the country roads. Abandoned farms with collapsing barns and rusting farming equipment were numerous and presented excellent photo opportunities and causing. I only wished that those broken down buildings with saddleback roofs could talk.
The towns are not in better shape, the only areas of activity are the crossroad roads at the center of town with sleepy traffic light (even them were slow in changing colors), with a couple of gas stations with signs advertising gasoline for exactly the same price; where is the competitive spirit?
Other businesses such as drugstores and barber shops were boarded up and for sale. Old tobacco warehouses are closed and crumbling down and usually one grocery store is open. One does not see much traffic or people walking in the streets. Where have all the people and industries gone? Not even Golden Arches!!!
Returning back to I-95 from the country roads, I continued on my way south towards Savannah, Georgia, where I first stopped at Fort Pulaski, in Tybee Island. It was completely built of bricks and offered no protection from the Army of Northern Aggression Parrot rifled cannons during the Civil War.
The Union forces took over the fort in April of 1862 in less than 7 hours
but Savannah remained in rebel hands until the end of the war. After visiting the fort , I headed to the city for the night.
I was in Savannah for the first time 30 years ago. The city lost its old run down looks and is now bursting with activity. The historical center of town had been gentrified with old houses restored to their former glories. One major difference in the architecture of Savannah when compared to that of Charleston, is that the original core of the former is dominated by row houses with no spaces in between, while detached
home separated by walls and gardens are predominant in the later.
Close to Savannah is Wormsloe Estate, famous for its Live Oak Avenue of more than 400 trees planted in the early 1890's. These avenues of oaks with the ubiquitous Spanish mosses are common throughout the south antebellum plantations, but this is the longest I have seen. The rest of this site is mostly ruins, the oldest one, the Tabby Ruins, dating back to the 1740's. What I found interesting was the walls left is that they were made of oyster shells mixed with lime, sand and water. The oyster shells came from the oysters eaten by the Indians, who threw them into piles called middens. This type of construction I have not seen in Virginia where wood was mostly used by the settlers in Jamestown.
While cruising around the city, I saw a sight familiar to astronauts in space, but in this case I did not need to get in a Soyuz rocket. I saw this huge compressed gas cylinder painted as the earth; continued to drive up the road but that image stayed with me...I have to return and photograph it. The steel planet was in the a yard of an abandoned house surrounded by a
brick wall. I peeked thru the rough iron gate and saw numerous feral cats all over the yard. Much to my surprise, the earth was not along, its faithful companion, the moon, was there too assuming the duty of a mail box. I was told that the tanks was built to store propane gas but the city in its wisdom prohibited its intended use due to safety concerns. Wonder who was the dreamer who created a planetary system out of an abandoned gas tank!
Stay tuned, I will follow with another blog going up the coast to Charleston,
South Carolina


jeannette said...

Thanks on taking us on your detour:) Enlighten me, what are saddleback roofs? The street with the oak trees is impressive!
Your post makes it obvious that each state has their own subculture...

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

What beautiful old buildings Jose. It seems so sad that they are abandoned like this and yes, one does wonder what happened to the industries. Are all the people moving to larger cities? These way off the beaten track places are always the best and most interesting to take as you come across some delightful scenery this way.

The boarded up windows in the third picture make an interesting pattern.

Good grief!! Are those actually canon damage to the walls or are they just falling apart from old age?

Georgia is one of the few States I have not visited but like so many of those southern parts, steeped in history. It is wonderful that they have restored many of the old houses but I guess every town now has to have the new modern “boxes” erected for people to live in too.

That Oak tree avenue is astonishing!! What a beautiful place. I can imagine it before the age of care, full of horse-drawn carriages. It must have been a splendid sight.

That is a novel way and a good use to put that old gas cylinder to work. :) A great idea. Some people are very creative.

I look forward to the next post on this trip as you always have intriguing pictures and information to go along with them. Thanks for sharing.

cdt said...

Oh, I'm jealous reading about the rural towns you visited in NC. I love photographing old buildings like that. Very cool Jose.