Excursion 3, Part 5 (Rivers and Shacks)

In which our intrepid hero finds himself over a river without a paddle…

On my excursions—which don’t really have any specific endpoint—I drive and take pictures until my enthusiasm begins to wane.  Then I turn around and start heading back, either through more back roads or via faster routes, depending on my patience.  I’ve noticed though, that no matter how I drive back home, I always take far fewer pictures on the return leg of the journey.  Psychologically, I suppose, I have already switched into “get home” mode…

[Remember that you can click on the photographs below in order to see larger, better versions]

Often you can tell a structure is ruined long before you get to it.  That was the case with the below building.


Was this originally a small church?   Hard to say. exc3pt5-2

I felt I had to take a picture of this farmstead simply because it was in such contrast to what I had been seeing.  In so many other places, this land would have been full of grass constantly mowed by a riding mower.  Here, what would have been a lawn, or even a pasture, is nothing but scrub and weeds.  It is ill-kept and looks it.  A dismal dirt track leads from the road up to the house and barn.  The area almost looks blighted compared to so many other parts of Ohio. exc3pt5-3

I think this is the Muskingum River, as I was beginning to make my way back.  I didn’t make note of where I was, but this is the best guess.exc3pt5-4

I should remind readers, for the record, that I am a landlubber and creature of the desert.  Until I was 17 years old, the largest body of water I had ever seen was Elephant Butte reservoir in New Mexico.  I am quite unfamiliar with the trappings of oceans, lakes, and large rivers—which is why they fascinate me so.

One thing I discovered in my journeys through Ohio is that major rivers often have their shores populated not only with houses, as one might often expect, but also a strange creature for which I do not even know whether or not there is a word, but which I will call the river shack.  These are smallish to tiny buildings which range from well-constructed to less-than-ramshackle, built along a river bank.  They are for that weekend fishing or boating trip to the river, a place to store gear, to rest or fish from, perhaps even to sleep in—for a time, anyway.   The blue shack below is one of the more crude such structures I’ve seen (we’ll see plenty more in future blog entries).exc3pt5-5

One might think from perusing my pictures that every building in Ohio is a wrecked farmhouse or old city building.  Certainly, prosperous rural farms or large mansions are not well represented here.  But also under-represented are mobile homes, though they are extraordinarily common in rural Ohio.  But they tend to look the same and, when they commence ruining, don’t do so very interestingly.  I did want to document the below mobile home, however.   I liked the jeans hanging on the clothesline as well as the line of tires acting as a berm for the dirt driveway.  Alas, I could not get a good angle from which to photograph, nor could I linger, as there were people around, so I had to settle for this image, which contains a reflection from the windshield.exc3pt5-6

At first glance, this small building just looks like a smallish rural house; it even has that stereotypical Ohio lawn.  On closer inspection, however, you can notice an odd lack of windows, which kind of gives you that creepy, “this must be where the serial killer takes his kidnap victims” vibe. exc3pt5-7 exc3pt5-8

This is another odd type of structure you sometimes find—occasionally as a river shack, sometimes elsewhere, as here.  It consists of a sort of shell for a trailer, creating a combined trailer/shack.   I am not sure if this was a remote little vacation home for someone or if this was actually a permanent residence.exc3pt5-9 exc3pt5-10

This small house is an interesting specimen.  It is actually an abandoned house, only starting to go to ruin.  With the neatly manicured lawn, it still looks reasonably well kept up.  A new house is not too far away.  This is quite common in rural Ohio—people will build a new house on the property without ever tearing down the old one.  I guess it saves money, but the old houses will go to ruin.exc3pt5-11

Now we enter the hamlet of  Philo, Ohio (population 733, salute!), a tiny community along the Muskingum River south of Zanesville.  I liked this brightly built house quite a bit.exc3pt5-12

Here’s Philo’s post office, which I show here not because it is unique in any way but rather the reverse.  I do not know this for a fact, but anecdotal evidence suggests to me that the U.S. Post Office has several boilerplate building plans for small post offices like this and uses them over and over again, because you can find this building in many places other than Philo.


Across the Muskingum Rover from Philo is another hamlet, Duncan Falls (population 1,200, salute!).  Duncan Falls is so named because there were some falls here originally, but what they might have looked like is impossible to tell today.  Dams and locks have long altered the Muskingum River, which was navigable along much of its length.


Today, this little dip in the river, only a few feet high, constitutes the only “falls” that Duncan Falls seems to have any more.  As waterfalls go, this is less than impressive.  But I will say that the sound this rushing water makes at this location is so relaxing and beautiful that it would just be wonderful to have a house on the banks, in which to drift off to sleep with the sound of the river coming in through an open window.  It’s a great sound. exc3pt5-15

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