Excursion 7, Part 1 (The Anchorhead of Ohio)

In which our intrepid hero embarks upon a journey to the mythical land of Troy…

Everybody who has ever seen the movie Star Wars knows the city of Mos Eisley, even if the name is not familiar.  That’s the city on Tattooine that Luke and Ben and the droids go to that has the funky bar with all the aliens.  It’s where they meet Han and Chewie and from whence they lit out on the Millennium Falcon.   But you know what?  It’s not the only place on Tattooine.  Brief references in the movie tell the viewer about another place, a much less exotic place, called Anchorhead.  It’s the place where all the moisture farmers go to buy a new clutch.  It’s a farm town.  Nothing happens there; it is only a place from which people depart.  “I can take you as far as Anchorhead,” Luke tells Obi-Wan.  “You can get a transport there to Mos Eisley or wherever you’re going.”  It’s a Greyhound Bus stop.  Well, Ohio has its Anchorheads, too.

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

I encountered one of these Ohioan Anchorheads on my seventh excursion, a trip meandering west across central Ohio, reaching as far as the town of Troy, on I-75 north of Dayton, before turning back.  Indeed, one such town on the first leg of my journey quite caught my fancy.

Of course, before I got there, I saw a few other things, too, including the below tree sculpture.  I see tree sculptures from time to time driving through rural Ohio, but usually small ones and by the time I realize what they are, I am often already past the place.  This one, however, obviously stands out:  a bear rearing up on its hind legs, with what are either bear cubs or misshapen genitals draped between its legs.  “Log” houses like the one behind the bear sculpture are actually fairly common in rural Ohio, but this it the first picture of one (I think) that appears in this blog, because I do not find many of them attractive and even the ones that are not ugly look out of place in an Ohio setting (I am used to seeing them in places like Colorado).  So I rarely feel an urge to photographically capture them for posterity.  The bear, though, tipped my sentiments in the other direction.

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By this time, May 9 (more than two months ago; I am always running behind with this blog), farmers were out and about everywhere preparing their fields and planting their crops. exc7pt1-2

Here is what seems to me to be a quite stately old and large farmhouse.  It is quite well kept up.exc7pt1-3

In western Ohio, which is dominated by flat terrain, often you may see little else but farm fields stretching out.  Sometimes you will see them for quite some distance, but most of the time your vision will be blocked by a treeline, as in the case below.  One thing that I regularly see, and which does puzzle me, is instances when farmers will leave a tree—large or small—standing in the middle of a field.  It doesn’t seem to make much logical sense, and yet it happens all the time.  The tree below is a nice one, with an interesting shape that makes it stand out against the backdrop of the field.  It is paired with another item that stands out in the flat Ohio terrain:  a power line structure. exc7pt1-4

The regular reader of this blog—assuming there is one other than myself—will have seen an example of this mysterious structure before, south of Columbus.  The sign on this building reads “SUB-DISTRICT No 2 GOSHEN TOWNSHIP.”  Townships are a weird little sub-county government level in Ohio (there are actually seven different Goshen Townships in the state, if you can believe it), which have only a few functions, often to run a fire department and once in a while police (though some of these exist only to run speed traps).  I’d like to know what function this 137-year old building originally had.

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This brings us to the “Anchorhead” that I alluded to at the beginning of this blog post:  the 200-year old village of Mechanicsburg, Ohio (population 1,644, salute!), whose motto (according to Wikipedia) is “Where Unity Means Progress.”  A thought we can all get behind, I am sure.  In a thinly populated and highly agricultural section of west-central Ohio, Mechanicsburg is the “into town” into which all nearby farmers go.

Its agricultural nature is evident immediately, as the first bit of town one encounters when approaching Mechanicsburg from the east is the Heritage Cooperative’s Mechanicsburg facility, a major regional farm coop.  It sells a variety of fertilizers, chemicals and supplies and provides grain storage and other services.   You can see the local cash bids for various crops posted in the window in the below picture (though many people will now go to their website instead).

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They even have a train engine to serve as a billboard of sorts.

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Of course, Mechanicsburg has an ice cream shack.  This used to have a big sign on the front that read “Indian Dairy Bar” with a big image of an Indian chief.  I am not sure if it has changed names or what.exc7pt1-10

The Heritage Commission facility was not what really drove home what a farming town Mechanicsburg was.  No, it was the sight below that did it—when I looked in my rear view mirror to see a massive tractor driving right down the main drag in town.  I positioned my camera to be able to take a shot of it when it went by.

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Mechanicsburg does have its share of interesting old brick commercial buildings, such as the below example, where a gussied-up storefront doesn’t quite match the side of the building.exc7pt1-13

I also liked the Second Baptist Church building.  Originally the site of a Methodist church (built in 1820), this structure was erected in 1858 and by the end of the 1800s had become home to the predominantly African-American Second Baptist Church.  The sign at the top front of the building reads “M. E. [Methodist Episcopal] Church, 1858.”

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I originally thought that the sign below was some sort of weird recess into the church’s wall, but that appears to be an optical illusion and a brick structure actually protrudes from the wall to house the sign.

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Here are some more fine Mechanicsburg buildings.  exc7pt1-16

I quite liked this large, somewhat Victorian-looking house.  The extra flourishes on the woodworking (in the columns, etc.) is what makes it, I think.

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This smaller house is fairly dilapidated, but its pleasing violet color still lets it stand out.  If it had some fixing-up, it could be quite a nice structure.

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