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Archive for the ‘Abandoned Houses/Buildings’ Category

Ashland, Kentucky & John Prine


I never win anything! Except… John Prine tickets in Ashland, Kentucky.

A FaceBook friend turned me on to a radio contest in Morehead, Kentucky to win tickets to the John Prine show in Ashland so I signed up thinking, “Here’s just another way of someone getting my contact information, to be used to fill my spam box for the next 10 years”. But no, I actually won. As I said, I never win anything like this so I was really excited. I mean, John Prine, and I won something.

So the debate started. Who should I take? My wife, who knows not one John Prine song? My son, who loves John Prine? My buddy Ken, who is such a fan he’s seen John Prine before most of us knew who John Prine was? Ken’s seen his share, Michael has had his share of free shows with dad, so once I made Betsy a “best of John Prine” CD and she thought it was “good”, the wife was the choice!

Unfortunately, since I was honest and asked about bringing in my camera, and turned down, you don’t get to see any shots of the actual show. But if you’ve been here before and read any of my posts, you know I shot images along the way. Since I’ve driven the AA highway dozens of times most of the shots are from right around and in Ashland. I really didn’t have a ton of shooting time but thought I’d share what I did end up shooting. Of course there’s a Mail Pouch Barn. But there’s also some shots of the Paramount Theater, the venue the show was at. The Paramount was an awesome theater that I would have loved to shoot interior shots of, but again, they wouldn’t allow me to take my “professional” camera in even though there were hundreds of people shooting during the show, with “amateur” cameras. There’s also a few shots of downtown Ashland as well.

Here’s the entire gallery. Enjoy!

Brick and Mortar Canvas


Alexandre Farto

I love old brick walls. Even better than an old brick wall showing it’s age with slight deterioration is an old brick wall with an old hand-painted sign on it. If you’ve browsed my galleries at all you’ve probably ran across some of my images capturing these old marks in advertising history. Every time I find a sign on an old brick wall I find myself wondering about it’s history. Who painted the sign, Is the company represented in the sign still in business, are there other signs hidden beneath the visible sign?

Today I ran into a sign (maybe best described as artwork) that may very well be the subject of a photographer wondering the same things in the future, I wonder today. Driving through downtown Cincinnati I ran into a sign being created right before my very eyes. Portuguese-born Alexandre Farto has been commissioned by BLDG, a Covington based studio, to create Cincinnati’s own original “Urban Structure” as Alexandre describes his art.

VHILS is the tag name of Portuguese graffiti/street artist Alexandre Farto (1987—) He gained prominence when his work of a face carved into a wall appeared alongside a picture by street artist Banksy at the Cans Festival in London in 2008. Not long ago, street artists were objects of scorn, stigmatized to the point of risking jail time in order to smear their messages in alleyways and on overpasses. Lately, however, with a growing public appreciation for all things graffiti, urban communication is no longer such a target of public disdain, but rather is increasingly being appreciated as high art.

Here’s the rest of the gallery. Enjoy.

BLDG will be hosting a release event Friday, April 15 from 7-11 PM. For additional information visit the BLDG website.

Almost Heaven, West Virginia


I’ve been wanting to make a run to West Virginia for quite a while. If you’re a regular on my blog you read in my last post that I headed that way a few weeks back but missed it by a few counties. Finally I decided to go for it on the last Saturday in January. Whenever I go out on one of my photo trips I try my best think about the cost of gas and plan the trip accordingly. This was not one of those well thought out trips! The first three hours were spent driving out route 32, which I had done just the weekend before.

Although I planned this trip to shoot six Mail Pouch barns I had located, as usual I found some other great shots along the way. I ran across the scene above on this old dirt road I probably shouldn’t have been on to begin with. After all I drove through a creek to get to it. I also ran across the Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande, Ohio. When I saw the sign along Route 32 I thought about a Bob Evans menu I had seen of the Bob Evans logo painted on the side of an old barn so I figured I’d drive the few miles off the main path to check it out. Unfortunately I was let down. Either the barn I had seen on the menu was somewhere else or Photoshop trickery.

Even though I’m glad I finally made my West Virginia trip and had some good captures I have a feeling the “Mountain State” is still on my short list for the next trip. I think it will end up a weekender.

Here’s the entire gallery. Enjoy!

Not Quite West Virginia


Southeast Ohio Barn

I’ve been wanting to take a trip to shoot West Virginia’s Mail Pouch barns ever since one of my boys gave me a book of Mail Pouch barns in West Virginia shot by Steve Shaluta for Christmas. Last Saturday I was packing up to venture off to “Almost Heaven… West Virginia” when Betsy reminded me we had a “date” at 7:00 that night! So much for West Virginia. Since I already had long johns, 3 shirts, 2 pair of socks and my hiking boots on I decided to head out, with no destination.

I thought I had shot every Mail Pouch barn within a hundred or so miles from home but soon learned not so! I decided to head out Ohio Route 32 east since I hadn’t been out that way. I ended up hitting Highland, Pike, Jackson, Scioto and Adams counties, shooting 6 Mail Pouch barns including re-shooting one that I had shot way back in 2000. That was my first Mail Pouch photo, long before I became obsessed.

Although my goal is to shoot Mail Pouch barns, I usually end up running across so many other great scenes that catch my eye. Those usually end up being the better shots of the day. Like the shot above. I discovered this barn and bails of hay driving up a steep hill in Adams County. It’s one of those shots that just appear. It’s scenes like this that keep me going out on my day-long drives.

By the way, one week later, yesterday,  I made my trip to West Virginia. But since I only hit 2 counties I plan a return weekend long trip soon.

Take a look at the whole gallery here. Enjoy!

First German Reformed Church – Cincinnati, Ohio


First German Reformed Church along Freeman Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio

I’ve been wanting to get into this Church along Freeman Avenue in downtown Cincinnati for a couple of years now. I actually went to shoot it about a year ago very early on a Saturday morning. I ended up not going in because as I approached the entrance I noticed fresh prints in the snow. As much as I enjoy shooting these old buildings, it’s not worth what may have been awaiting me in there. Of course it could have been my imagination I suppose. Still yet, I chickened out!

Having this place in the back of my mind ever since, I jumped at the chance to go shooting with another local “Abandoned” shooter. As a matter of fact this shooter happens to be a sort of a mentor of mine. I’ve appreciated his work for a while and always thought it would be great to shoot with him. After becoming FaceBook fans I would throw out the occasional comments on his shots and he asked about my stuff as well. All said and done we decided to meet up last Sunday and go shooting. I told him I had been wanting to shoot this Church for a while. Although he had shot it in the past we decided to meet up. I was excited about getting into this place. So much so that I “abandoned” my wife for part of the day… her birthday! Hopefully I made up for it later that day!

Once inside, I decided this place was worth the wait. I was surprised at the condition. Yes, it was beat up but I expected a lot more destruction. I actually only saw one bit of graffiti in the whole place. We were there about an hour, although I would like to have stayed longer. I’m not overly happy with what I came out with. I forgot to take my remote shutter release which is not a good thing in such low light and the fact that it was rather cold didn’t help the situation. I suppose I’ll just have to take another trip some time.

I want to thank my shooting friend for meeting up. I’d like to do it again sometime. I haven’t asked him about using his name so for now he’ll just have to remain a mystery.

Here’s the entire gallery. Enjoy!

Grahn Brickyard


I spent last Monday through Sunday living out of my camper on top of Poppy Mountain in Morehead, Kentucky (my 12th year of insanity). I don’t want to get into exactly what Poppy Mountain is in this post as I’ll be writing another post in a bit on my “Poppy Experience”. I will say however that half way through my stay on the mountain I was ready to drive down the hill just to see some signs of “normal life”.

Typically during my annual fall trip, I’ll go into Morehead for supplies, but this year I didn’t have the pleasure of getting off the mountain to escape until Saturday when I just had to get out of there. So I decided it was a good opportunity to go shoot some photos. Earlier in the week I had talked to some locals about abandoned buildings in the area and someone had told me about the “partially abandoned” Grahn Brickyard in Grahn, Kentucky. I wasn’t so sure about shooting a partially abandoned building but I thought I’d give it a shot.

Grahn, Kentucky is due east of Olive Hill on KY 182 and it consists of about a dozen houses, a closed general store, the brickyard and a post office. I’m not sure why but it seems the post office is the Saturday morning hangout in Grahn because as I pulled into town there was a crowd of about 10 people “hangin” in front of the post office. At first I assumed I had driven through during the postal rush hour, but when I went past the town and was forced to drive 3 more miles to turn around, the same 10 people were in the same positions as before. Made me wonder if the Grahn Prom is at the Post Office as well! That was rude, I know!

All small town jokes aside, Grahn was awesome. I finally found the brick factory and very cautiously drove down the “do not enter” drive. Since experience has taught me to walk up to places like this with my truck door open as an escape from pissed off dogs I slowly walked towards the entrance to the factory. After hanging there for a bit I was just about ready to call it quits and retreat when a guy walked out between 2 of the kills and asked what I needed.

James was a hesitant guide at first, but after I shared my passion of “the days gone by” with him he welcomed me to the “yard”. James was a proud employee of the yard. Not a man of many words, just enough for me to understand I had ran across a hard working, proud of his life’s accomplishments type of man. He was what I love about meeting total strangers in the middle of Kentucky. He was strong, he was what we need more of today!

Our first stop was the employee lunch room. James decided the first stop of my tour had to include a 10 year old xeroxed newspaper article of the company’s history that was proudly posted on the lunch room bulletin board. Thinking I wouldn’t have James’ attention for long, and he had left the room for me to read the article, I shot photos of the article instead of reading it on the spot. I ended up regretting that later as James referred to the story along our tour and I felt I had betrayed him. After all he had trusted me in his world and I didn’t have the decency of taking it all in.

I’m not sure if James decided he had work to do or if he sensed I wanted to freely roam the yard, but after my company history lesson he had disappeared. Thinking I had free reign of the place I was shooting what I thought was interesting outside when James reappeared. He asked if I wanted to see the “factory”. Apparently this wasn’t only a “fired” brick factory but also a “formed” brick factory. He took me to the second floor revealing what I can only imagine was thousands of custom brick and block forms. What amazed me more than the molds everywhere I looked, was the fact that there were recently formed blocks drying. How could this little backwoods factory in the middle of Kentucky actually have an order of any significance? My curiosity got the best of me and I decided to ask James that very question.

Now I could continue this post with all kinds of great adjectives trying my best to describe the Grahn Brickyard but I think it would be best to go out with a lesson from James…. when I asked James “Who the hell would buy bricks and blocks from the Grahn Brickyard in Grahn, Kentucky when they could get them at half the cost elsewhere”, James in return asked me “My uncle has made his living building houses for people in these parts, so why wouldn’t he buy bricks made from people in these parts?”. Lesson learned… thanks James!

Click here to view the entire gallery. Enjoy!

Another Preble County Ohio Road Trip


Back in June I did a “Photo Trip” up in the Preble County, Ohio area. If you missed that story you can check it out here.

I thought that I had covered Preble County pretty well until Betsy and I went camping with some of our friends a few weeks back. We camped at Natural Springs Resort outside of New Paris, Ohio and as usual I took a day and went for a “photo trip”. Again, I skipped church! We were camping with some friends from Betsy’s church, Saint Catherine’s and being the “good Catholics” they all are they packed up and went to mass on Sunday and I hit the road.

I only had one goal for this trip. The Geeting covered bridge west of Lewisburg, Ohio. But as luck would have it, my covered bridge shots would not be so easy to come by on that day. As I drove the 40 miles to the bridge the sky darkened as I drove into a storm. It had been quite a while since that part of Ohio had rain but the rainless streak was about to end. Mere moments before I got to the bridge the rain hit. I parked just off the side of the road and ran to the cover of the bridge with my gear to wait it out. After a half an hour of watching a downpour I decided to chance it and grab a few shots. As you’ll see in the gallery I didn’t do so well in capturing the bridge. So after a 40 mile drive and waiting out a rain storm I got nothing. I’ve posted some of the shots, but they’re not the best covered bridge shots I’ve ever done.

The drive back actually turned out to be the highlight of the day. I ran across a Mail Pouch barn that I didn’t expect. Always a good thing in my book! I also found an abandoned farmhouse, again, a good thing! But what turned out to be the find of the weekend was an Obama barn! I’ll try my best to leave out my political leanings but I can say that I found a sign that “counteracted” the Obama barn! Check out the gallery and you’ll find it!

Here’s the entire gallery. Enjoy!

Mount Vernon Ohio Road Trip


A few weeks back I drove up to Mount Vernon, Ohio to visit the mission trip team from First Christian Church in Fort Thomas. My son, two sisters, three nephews and a niece were on the trip so I thought I’d go up and help put on a picnic for them after a hard days work at a Habitat for Humanity house they were working on.

I decided that I’d take the “long way” and see if I could find some stuff to shoot. Good choice as I found a few Mail Pouch Barns, a covered bridge, an Ohio Bicentennial Barn, and a very cool old church at Bethany College. At one point I drove a half an hour off my route to shoot a Mail Pouch Barn, only to discover it had been “taken” by hurricane Ike. That would be the photo that looks like a pile of lumber!

All in all, it was a great day. Got to visit my hard working and dedicated family members and the rest of the mission team, as well as adding to my Mail Pouch collection.

Here’s the entire gallery. Enjoy!