Excursion 4, Part 5 (Take Me to the River, Drop Me in the Water)

In which our intrepid hero continues his journey towards the mystical Ohio river…

I am no student of architecture but anybody who looks at enough buildings, or pictures of buildings, will eventually begin to pick up on certain architectural styles from certain eras.  That is certainly true for mundane residences and businesses.  Often you can look at a house and pretty much know when it was likely to have been built, just from its appearance.  Leaving aside signs of aging, buildings go through fads and trends just like anything else.  One such trend certainly appeared in the 19th century.  If one looks at early photographs of American towns and farmhouses, certain types of brick structures appear so often that they are often a signature—though it is true that in the 20th century some buildings were constructed in a “retro” fashion, inspired by or duplicating that earlier style.

[Remember that you can click on each photograph below to see a larger, better version]

I came across a cluster of old buildings accidentally, out of the corner of my eye, while basically just trying to find how to get off I-70 back onto U.S. 40 (they merge at times) at Old Washington (population 279, salute!).  The brick building below is one of them.  The style combined with the clear age of the building (bricks age in a very obvious way) makes me think that this building could date back to the mid-19th century.  It is actually a place of business today (see a couple of pictures down; it is a tanning/beauty salon).


I discovered that I am not the only person to have happened upon the interesting old buildings of Old Washington; somebody else has taken some nice photos of some of them. exc4pt5-2 exc4pt5-3 exc4pt5-4

Of course, much newer buildings begin to look old quite fast if care is not taken to maintain them.  I am not sure if this is some sort of junk or antique shop attached to the house, or just accumulated detritus. exc4pt5-5

Most mobile homes don’t decay in an interesting way, but the unusually red color of this abandoned home made me decide to grace this blog with its image. exc4pt5-6

I turned off the National Road at one point, to take a little zig down to the Ohio River.  Coming over a slight rise, I encountered this scene in the depression below me.  This is not uncommon in rural Ohio, where someone will own land on both sides of a road and will use one side of the road for a house and the other side for a barn or stable or equipment dump or junk yard.  This ramshackle example is just one of probably thousands. exc4pt5-7 exc4pt5-8

The next two photographs are a nice pastoral scene.  Growing up in El Paso, as I did, where most things are grey or brown, I am still struck—even after a quarter century of living in Ohio—of just how blissfully green Ohio can get. exc4pt5-9

Notice the tiny cows in the background.exc4pt5-10

I finally reached the Ohio River at the small village of Bellaire (population 4,278, salute!).   Once upon a time, a century ago, Bellaire was famous for its manufacture of glass products.  Like many towns in Ohio, today it is a mere shell of what it once was.  Its population peaked in 1920 at 15,061, meaning its current population is less than a third of what it once was.  Perhaps it was fitting, then, that one of my first glimpses of Bellaire was a massive cemetery, of which the below photograph shows only a fraction.


Any time a town has lost more than half of its population, it is almost guaranteed to have plenty of derelict or decaying buildings.  Still strong, though, is this bridge over the Ohio River.exc4pt5-12

One structure in Bellaire that has aged reasonably well is the First United Presbyterian Church. exc4pt5-13

A lot more houses and buildings look more like this, however.   The per capita income of Bellaire is actually below $14,000 and more than 27% of the population lives below the poverty line, sadly.exc4pt5-14 exc4pt5-15

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