Excursion 15, Part 5 (Happy Trailers)

In which our intrepid hero uncovers a little Lost City…

My opinions about mobile homes and travel trailers is decidedly mixed.  While I like the idea of being a hermit crab, going around with your house on your back, taking all of your conveniences with you, I find that the practical reality is less than the ideal.   Because of little things like plumbing and electricity, you aren’t really free but still tethered to campgrounds, and having to deal with things like hooking up sewage, etc., does not appeal to my lazy nature.  Although I admit that they seem to be great for cooking meth in.

My family owned a house trailer for a while, but we never took a vacation in it.  At the time (1977), my father, then a union welder, couldn’t find work in El Paso, so for close to a year, he worked in Farmington, New Mexico (in far northwestern New Mexico), coming home on weekends.  Not long after that job was over, he sold the trailer.

The reason why I bring this up will become apparent to you in a moment.  For now, though, let me remind you that these photos are from the very last stretch of an excursion  to Steubenville on the Ohio River and back on August 6, 2013.  By this point in the journey, the sun was going down and I was experiencing what photographers call the “golden hour” for taking landscape photographs.


Luckily for me, I was driving through eastern Ohio at the time, which contains Ohio’s most interesting landscapes (we have no Grand Canyons or Rocky Mountains here in the Buckeye State, but must settle for more modest vistas).  Thus I was able to come across this tree silhouetted against the skyline of a hill.  This image is one of my favorites, because there is a lot more to look at than initially meets the eye.  Of course, you are drawn to the tree on the skyline, but then you start noticing the interesting textures in the image, including the texture in the sky as well as the texture of the cornfields.


The image also works very well as a black and white image.  I tried a number of different black and white conversions and a lot of them worked very well.  I wanted to display practically all of them, but common sense prevailed and I decided to present only two versions to you—a conservative but quite effective conversion (above) and a more “far out” conversion (below).


I confess that I find this particular version, though somewhat “unreal” looking, to be absolutely fascinating and I can just stare and stare at it.  I do note that this particular version, because it makes the foreground more clear, seems to create more of a feeling of depth than the other two images.


The terrain in this section of Ohio seemed to be unusually well-suited for black and white landscape photography.  Maybe the ghost of Ansel Adams was giving me a bit of a blessing.  I liked this hill with trees on the skyline and an unusually denuded face.


This photograph is another favorite of mine.  The terrain looks rather otherworldly and there are lots of interesting little details in it (like the trail left by the hay bales).  Even in color, it seems oddly monochromatic, so it was natural to convert it to black and white, below…


One of the aspects of getting into photography that most unexpectedly pleased me was black and white conversion.  I had more or less assumed that one simply removed the color from a photograph.  I had no idea that there was an entire universe behind it, and that one could create a black and white image in so many different ways, with such different-looking results.  Even something as simple as changing the saturation of different colors can have strong effects on the final black and white image.


Ohio is dotted with all sorts of what I guess you could call “settlements”—groupings of houses that are still too few to call even a hamlet.  Here’s one such, a crossroads settlement, with a fascinating dilapidated house at its center.

In terms of interestingness, though, I had no idea what I would soon encounter.  I was driving down the road when I caught something out of the corner of my eye.  Or the bottom of the corner of my eye; the woodsy terrain sloped down to a stream or small river and there seemed to be a little collection of travel trailers down there.  So I circled back and found the road leading down to them.


What I discovered, in the twilight, was a little trailer park that consisted entirely of the trailer-home hybrids that hold me utterly fascinated.  I have mentioned these numerous times in previous blog entries, because I am fixated on them.  These structures consist of travel trailers—not double wides or single wides but travel trailers—that are turned into permanent residences by melding them with some sort of permanent structure, almost like the big alien skeleton in the movie Alien is melded with his chair.

To find a whole cluster of them, no two alike, was nothing short of amazing.  Despite the extremely low light, I drove around this place taking pictures of all the trailer-cabins.  The pictures turned out very well for the low light.


I couldn’t really tell if these were permanent residences or basically vacation/summer residences.  I presume the latter, but I really don’t know.


You may disagree, but I find that some of these just ooze quaintness.


A lot of the places had Warner Brothers cartoon characters on them, for some reason.


And note that each one is painted a different color.  All of this makes me wonder if perhaps someone bought a bunch of trailers, created all these structures for them, and now they lease/rent them out.


Some are less appealing than others.


Here you can see a deck looking out onto the river.


The body of water may have been Wills Creek, because I eventually came across the Wills Creek Dam.  Ohio is full of long, low dams like these, typically with roads running across on top of them.  They are flood control dams.  I have come across a number of them, but have mostly been unable to take photographs because of traffic.  This was a rare exception.  In the above photograph you really can’t see much in the way of water, because it underneath the guard rail.


Here’s the control building for the dam, which was built in 1935 in the midst of the Great Depression.  A lot of these little dams were built in this era.  In 2005, this area flooded and water reached the top of the dam and spilled over.  You can just imagine from these photos how much water that had to have been.  Wills Creek flows into the Muskingum River.

4 thoughts on “Excursion 15, Part 5 (Happy Trailers)

    • Thank you very much for the kind words–I do have some photos from those counties that I will be posting in coming weeks and/or months!

  1. I really love your blog. I enjoy the combination of rural scenes, urban decay, and accompanying history. I like your comments on photography, as I’m a rank amateur with a Canon Point and Shoot, and that’s all I can handle.

    • Teresa, thank you so much for your kind words. It is great to get positive feedback! I started taking these photographs with a Sony point and shoot before I lost my willpower and got a more “high-powered” camera. But what I discovered was that you can take some pretty nice photos with point and shoot cameras these days; you just need some tender loving care. One thing that I did was buy some entry level books on photography and they helped me get up the learning curve quite a bit. You might look for some on Amazon! –best, Mark

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