Excursion 50, Part 1 (The Fiftieth Excursion)

Most blogs fizzle out after a few months.  So too do most attempted hobbies.  So I consider it remarkable that I somehow have managed to keep doing both for some years.  I write this in July 2016, more than four years after I started the blog, but the excursion I write about took place in late September 2015, so I still remain behind—but am trying to catch up.  Fifty is a big fat round number, so it seems like an opportunity to pat myself on the back a little bit.  That’s a lot of trips around Ohio, many thousands of miles clocked, and the past few years have given me an opportunity to explore and learn about my state in ways that I had never imagined.

[Remember that you can click on each image below to see a larger, better image.  Also, the EXIF data for each image contains GPS coordinates that you can use to locate the exact place where the photograph was taken.]

Few people read this blog, or see the images, but this just makes it special when someone does see something they might like.  Over the past several years I have gotten better as a photographer, I think—all one has to do is to compare images from the early excursions to images from more later excursions.  This is due to better cameras. the use of post-processing software, reading books about photography, more attention paid to composition, and many little lessons learned—all of them learned the hard way.  For someone who was never remotely interested in photography in his life, I think my little collection of photographs is not so bad.

I have had a lot of experiences in these excursions, from being involved in a car chase to getting stuck in the mud on the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere to meeting and talking to a host of interesting people.  These excursions also get me, increasingly reclusive the older I get, out of the house and into the world once in a while.  And the blog also allows me to share my love of Ohio, the adopted state where I have lived now for the past 28 years.  It would be nice to get another 50 excursions recorded here.

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On this 50th excursion—which I think I will render here in three parts—I headed east from Columbus to the nearby town of Newark, then headed generally northeast all the way to East Liverpool and the Ohio River.  After taking some photographs in East Liberpool, I headed south and did the same for Steubenville, before packing it in and heading home.  Just before reaching Newark, I took this photograph of an old school, the Union Township Central School, which was built in 1917.  Students have long since ceased passing through its doors, but someone is still mowing the lawn.

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Soon I reached Newark itself.  Newark is a small city or large town, depending on how one wants to think of it, about a half hour’s drive east of Columbus.  It has a population of 47,573 (salute!).  Oddly, considering how close it was to Columbus, it was pretty much unexplored country to me.  Newark is a reasonably well-off place, benefiting from its location in Central Ohio and its proximity to Columbus, which it serves as a bedroom community of sorts, as many people who live in Newark commute to work in the Columbus area.  In that fashion, one can have the benefits of small town life as well as the job prospects of a large city.  But I suspect that within the next 30 years Newark will have seamless merged with the Columbus metropolitan area.

Above is a building originally used as some sort of small manufactory or workshop.  Newark, it turns out, has historically (and to the present day) been a manufacturing town, with many different industries having, or having had, factories in the town.  The above building is now a bath and kitchen supply showroom but I was unable to determine what it used to be.

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Here is a building that looks like a classic factory—but it hasn’t been one for some time.  Seemingly since the late 1980s, it has been used as a warehouse for a trucking and distribution company called Mid-State Systems.  If you know what this site was before that, please let me know.

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This is just the first Newark building I showed you, but looking at it from the other direction.  Very solid-looking.

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And now we are back to the nearby former factory, looking at one of its exterior walls.

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Another shot of the one-time mystery factory.  Many factories have come and gone in Newark over the past 140 years or so.

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Newark, a very attractive place, has lots more than just old factories.  One thing it has is the Sparta Restaurant, a rather distinctive looking place.  This is a non-profit “business” designed to provide employment for former inmates.  The building itself, erected in 1903, has housed everything from restaurants and bars to hardware stores and candy shops in the past.  Now it is a good place to get chicken and waffles.

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This elaborate and fortress-like building, known as the Louis Sullivan Building, is now a law office, but once it was the home to The Home Building Association Company.  This bank building was built in 1915 by architect Louis Sullivan.  It was only the Home Building Association for a dozen or so years, then it joined with another bank to become the Union Trust Company. After an equivalent period, it joined with yet another bank and the building was sold.  In the 1940s, the “Sanitary Meat Market” ran its operations here, then for a quarter century, it was the home of Symon’s Best Jewelry. For a few years after that, in the early 1980s, it was a savings and loan—then for another quarter century, until 2007, it housed Tiffany’s Ice Cream Parlor.   I don’t know quite why I don’t care for this history; it seems reasonable that over the course of a hundred years, a building would have multiple tenants.  I guess I just like the idea of a building being built and always being used for its original purpose.   It is an emotional, rather than logical, reaction.  This building though, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Downtown Newark is full of attractive old buildings, though, and what is more important, buildings typically in use rather than abandoned.  Here a bit of construction mars the scenery but it is still nice to see these well-kept structures.

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One final shot from Newark before we head out into the countryside, a shot of what was the Sam Alban Furniture Company, though there is also a sign that cryptically says ‘Arensberg,” which I think is a local pharmacy chain.  It may occupy what used to be the Sam Alban company, which went out of business in 2008 (many decades after its opening in 1935).  It was a victim of the Great Recession of 1908.   The old sign on the side of the building was probably an ad for the 1930s-era Mazer Cigar Company out of Detroit.

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Here is an image of an old White Motor Company diesel tow truck.  The White Motor Company, based in the Cleveland area, was one of the earliest automobile companies in the U.S., building its first cars in 1900.  During World War I, their trucks were widely used and the company eventually stopped producing cars.  After various struggles in the 1970s, the White Motor Company went bankrupt in 1980 and Volvo eventually acquired many of its assets.  I could not find a compendium of all White makes and models, so I am not sure of the year of this vehicle.

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Just a short distance away, I saw this ramshackle residence and the tantalizing glimpse of an old car parked out front, but there was no way for me to get a better view or shot—not without going onto the property.  I needed a drone!

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This odd little cottage/cabin was at a crossroads about six or seven miles northeast of Newark.  Every now and then I see buildings like this and they never fail to provoke curiosity.  They seem too tiny for more than one person to live in, but they do look like tiny residences, rather than some sort of shed or shack.

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Here was a nice little barn against the backdrop of a nice little hill.

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We have definitely moved from the industrial to the agricultural, haven’t we?   That’s what this arch represents, as well, though I did not know it at the time—I took a photograph of it because it was dynamic and unusual.  But this appears to have been the entrance to what once was the Sharon Valley Stock Farm, the domain of one of the preeminent horse breeders in the United States, Col. George W. Crawford (1845-1915). Crawford bought a farm outside of Newark, Ohio, in 1879 and began to raise horses, eventually specializing in Belgian and French draft horses. Crawford made over 70 trips to France and Belgium in his lifetime, to obtain new stock as well as to sell his highly respected horses–one estimate from the early 1900s suggests he paid more than $10,000,000 in buying and selling such horses (including freight). In 1908, Crawford was “presented” at the court of the King and Queen of Belgium and King Leopold later knighted him as a Chevalier D’Orde D’Leopold. In the last years of his life he sold many horses to France, Belgium and Italy for the war effort.   I guess if I had done all that I’d have build a damn arch, too.

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When I was looking at this image, after I had taken it, it seemed to me that the contrasts might make it a good black and white image, too, so I tried processing it as one, and I think it comes out even better in black and white.

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One thing you may notice if you drive around a lot of hilly pasture land is that many of the hills seem almost terraced.  This is because cows tend to walk out to graze in a line and, over time, they wear paths or even long “steps” into the side of pasture hills.  Here is an example of the cows walking out in a line to graze somewhere.

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Another shot, to capture them against the horizon.

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Here is an old house that must have been occupied not too terribly long ago, judging by the satellite dish.  Of course the lawn is mowed.

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As I neared Coshocton, Ohio, a town I have been in many times, I came across something I somehow missed all those earlier times, something called “Historical Roscoe Village,” which is a “restored” hamlet that used to sit along the Ohio and Erie Canal.  It largely faded away as railroads replaced canals but in the 1960s folks in Coshocton got the idea of restoring some of the old buildings in the area that still stood.  Essentially it is now a local tourist destination, with a few shops, some activities and tours, and a small museum.  Kids can watch “living history” exhibits such as a blacksmith shop, a doctor’s office, and a school.

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East of Coshocton is the village of West Lafayette (population 2, 321, salute)!.  Like many villages in this area of the state, it was a center for enamelware and pottery. For some reason, the dateplate and the surrounding brickwork on this Main Street building attracted my attention.

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The West Lafayette Police Department is very small, as we can see.

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In this last shot, for this entry, I provide another “backs of things” photograph.  Nothing is very remarkable here, but what I liked about this angle was the ability to capture the “fake sides” that so many buildings erected in the late 1800s and early 1900s possessed, to make them seem taller than they really were.

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