Excursion 7, Part 2 (Urban Urbana)

In which our intrepid hero encounters a county seat…

What makes you love a place?  I grew up in El Paso, Texas, and though I have not lived there in over a quarter century, I am still possessive and protective of the place.  When I left Texas in 1988 to move to Ohio to go to graduate school, I really did not know what to expect.  Having grown up in the west, I had a number of prejudices against the eastern United States.  To the extent I knew anything about Ohio, I knew that it got very cold there in the winter and humid in the summer and that the state was part of the “rust belt.”  I also knew that it had none of the grandeur of western geography.  It had no mountains, no gorges, no big waterfalls.   When I arrived in Columbus, Ohio, I was pleasantly surprised (except about the humidity, which is indeed nasty).  But between then and now I somehow moved from being pleasantly surprised to loving the state.  I can’t say how exactly Ohio started to grow on me, but I know it started early on and I was soon defending my adopted state from the disapproving remarks of some of my stuck-up fellow graduate students.  I came to love the diversity of Ohio, the quiet beauty of the Midwest, the little places.  Over the years, more and more, it just seemed like home.

Leaving Mechanicsburg, I continued westward through rural west-central Ohio.  This is an area full of prosperous farms, one of the hallmarks of which are numerous and well-kept outbuildings.  This farmstead would seem to fit that description.

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I took this shot because I liked the fallen trunk silhouetted, more or less, against the sky.  The contrail may detract from the photograph a bit and I suspect there are many who would photoshop it out, but it was there when I took the picture.  I am trying to capture the reality, not idealized images.

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Just down the road from Mechanicsburg is the larger Urbana (population 11,793, salute!), the county seat of Champagne County.  Really, though, it is just a larger farm town.  That’s not a bad thing.  Unlike many of the towns in eastern and southern Ohio, which had economies based on manufacturing and which have seen their populations often shrink substantially, Urbana has held its own and then some, fairly consistently increasing its population.  That’s a good sign.  Robert Eichelberger, a World War II general who was one of Douglas MacArthur’s key lieutenants, was from Urbana.

Here’s a nice old building in the town—note the chute-like fire escape on the left.

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I particularly was intrigued by the brick decay in the back of this structure.   I’m quite curious what might make bricks in the center of a wall like that begin to fall apart.exc7pt2-4 exc7pt2-5

Here are a pair of quite old buildings, decaying interestingly.exc7pt2-6 exc7pt2-7

A rather decrepit residence here.exc7pt2-8

And here, although really this house would look much better with a simple coat of paint.  Don’t paint your house white unless you intend to keep it well-painted, because it is so visible when paint starts to wear off.exc7pt2-9

Of course, Urbana has a grain elevator.  They are ubiquitous here. exc7pt2-10

What was odd about this house was why they never bothered to paint the rear of the house when they painted the front portion.  Perhaps they couldn’t afford it, perhaps they couldn’t be bothered because it was less visible.  In the top photograph, the front of the house looks much more well-kept than its rear, but the second photo reveals the front ain’t all that great, either.exc7pt2-11 exc7pt2-12

Here’s a shot of Urbana’s traffic circle or “roundabout.”  A great many old Ohio towns have these in their town center.  Urbana’s town center is quite attractive.

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And Urbana offers only the brightest of ice cream shacks; in this case, “The Farmer’s Daughter Dairy Barn.”exc7pt2-14

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