Saturday, March 10, 2018

Stacks of Tires

At a local 1/2 mile racetrack called the Hawkeye Downs Speedway, there are several artifacts in storage from past seasons. Stacked with discarded race tires you can find the maintenance facility's stockpile of used or damaged tires.

Perhaps the intended purpose for keeping this amount of rubber on hand is to maintain a supply for various short term needs. Whatever the case, today the tires contain frozen water inside the form, reminding us that winter is still here officially for 10 more days.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Iceberg Right Ahead on Indian Creek

Ice breakup is such a bizarre scene but one that usually occurs during the end of winter on my section of Indian Creek.  Recent rain and warm temperatures help melt snow and fill creek beds. If winter is still present, the rise in water causes ice to break and float downstream. As the water recedes, the mini icebergs rest haphazardly.

Here's a wider view of the ice field. A few days later the frozen masses were all but gone. Fortunately none of these ice chunks struck any vessels, however someone should still stay on watch. The Carpathia is standing by...

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Battle of Nashville Bullets Found

In Livingston, Tennessee an antique dealer sold me these four Civil War bullets. He told me that he had bought them from a 90 year old collector who had dug these with a metal detector near Nashville before the property was commercially developed in the 1970s.

The 90 year old told him that these were most likely part of the Battle of Nashville which was fought on December 15–16, 1864. Union (Federal) troops defeated the Confederate Army of Tennessee and marked the end of major Confederate offensives in the Western theater during the Civil War. For now these bullets will reside in Iowa's 42N territory.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Looking for the Jailhouse Keys to Overton County, Tennessee

Back in the day if you found yourself as a guest in the Overton County Jail, chances are you might have seen these keys in action. While now part of the county's history museum in Livingston, these well-worn keys can still seal or open the doors to simulated incarceration or conversely, to freedom. It all depends on your outlook and, of course, bailability.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Holiday Lights of McMinnville, Tennessee

McMinnville, Tennessee is home to the Warren County seat. In the town's square, a running fountain and surrounding displays were decked out with the lights of the season last month.

Despite cold nighttime temperatures in the low teens during the Christmas week, the city display featured a full spectrum of color without a trace of snow.

Main Street's glow was a spectacular sight even for those foolish enough to venture out and photograph the displays in the freezing temperatures.

After seeing me and my tripod gear in or near the street, drivers in passing cars stopped in the middle of the road, rolled down their windows, learned out and snapped photos from their cell phones of the lite landscape. They had the good sense to keep warm and only were exposed for a few moments of the seasonally cold Tennessee weather.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Wreaths Across America and Other Memorials at Stone River National Cemetery December 2017

Today is the 155th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stones River in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Last week I visited the battlefield to see an adopted Iowa soldier's grave, Christian Brenner. He died following the Battle of Nashville and was later interred at Stones River.

Wreaths Across America, the national organization provides balsam wreaths with hand tied red bows for veteran's graves at participating cemeteries like the Stones River National Cemetery. This year was the second time that I have seen the wreaths placed, in part, within the Murfreesboro landmark.

According to the organization's website their goal is to annually provide wreaths to veterans' graves at all U.S. related cemeteries.

While Wreaths Across America provides a substantial amount of wreaths for Stone River, there is a budget and therefore not all graves receive a wreath. Knowing that Christian Brenner's grave (number 271) is located about two thirds the way from the entrance, his grave doesn't receive an annual wreath. So the 42N team purchased decorative white pine cones and placed them on his grave, having not been able to find a wreath at local floral stores on the day we visited. Nearby another Iowa veteran, I. Harrington, is also buried.  The team placed a white pine cone on his grave too.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Ingram's Stephen P. Venable Tug Works Late December on the Ohio River

The Ingram tug, Stephen P. Venable makes her way upriver near the Port of Paducah, KY on the Ohio River on December 23, 2017 in late afternoon. This view is from the Fort Massac area where the monuments to the past overlook the present day work boats. About a week later, arctic air passed through this area, leading to ice formations on the river and a halt to barge traffic on the Ohio for the moment.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Guarding the Indiana Military Museum WWI Trenches

Behind the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, Indiana, visitors can walk through a replica of the fighting trenches of Europe used extensively during WWI. To spice things up, my favorite Great War soldier has been added to the October 2017 image to stand guard. Had this been an actual photo of a soldier in the trenches of France, his cap would have been replaced by a regulation steel helmet. This soldier served in the AEF's 87th Division, 345th Infantry for the Service of Supply (SOS) unit. His primary duty was to guard German POWs as he was able to speak and understand the language.

Friday, December 8, 2017

USS Iowa BB-4 Part of Stereo Card...and History

Before the WWII battleship (now a museum) of the same name, the USS Iowa name was first bestowed to a new class of war fighting ships over 120 years ago. This photo was processed from a stereo card that yellowed through the years. I processed the scan and improved the overall condition of the image.

The Iowa was commissioned in 1896 and saw active duty off of Cuba during the Spanish American War including the battle of Santiago Harbor. It was the first US Navy ship to be named Iowa. Following de-commissioning in 1919, the ship finally served as a target platform off Panama Bay in 1923 and was sunk. The Universal Photo Art Company produced the original stereo card.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Locomotive 3006's Wanderlust Days Gone Since 1960

For 57 years (on December 18th) Burlington Northern's locomotive 3006 has sat idle at the Galesburg, Illinois depot. After completing 2.3 million miles of travel in its 30 year active lifetime, the 225 ton steam engine serves as the lead attraction at the train museum. With a little luck perhaps its steam boiler could roar back to service again and invoke wanderlust for me.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Glass Study from Creek Bed Artifact to Light Play Artwork

Yesterday while searching for arrowheads at nearby Indian Creek in southeast Cedar Rapids, I found this item sticking out of the creek bed. It is a jug top consisting of thick, pressed, clear glass which has been pitted and worn smooth from the abrasive environment. My glass expert tells me that the top is probably around 100 years old or so based on the non-screw top. While the glass appears to have bubbles internally it is actually pitted from exposure to water, wind, temperature, and mostly, sand abrasion.

I cleaned the glass and set it up in my makeshift studio for close-up work. I selected the top photo for my Instagram account and posted last night.

This morning I took another post production look at the glass top and decided to eliminate the golden color that originally illuminated the century old artifact. Out with the yellow and in with the blue. I was tempted to remove the rusty pit on both images but decided to let it show the wear from decades of exposure. If you like one image over the other let me know with a comment.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Late Summer Bee Rendezvous with Goldenrod

This bee has no problem with a snootful of goldenrod pollen. During these last few weeks of summer the goldenrod is in full bloom around the Midwest. At Hannen Lake park near Blairstown, Iowa there are large patches of goldenrod stretching around the park and surrounding pastures. Multiple bees were out in numbers doing their thing, spreading the pollen around.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eclipse over Fairmont, Nebraska

A total solar eclipse is something to behold. I have seen partial solar eclipses and thought highly of them, especially if the foreground had some interesting objects or the sun's surface had sunspots. This was my first visit to the zone of totality. It brought me to Fairmont, Nebraska where about 5,000 other eclipse enthusiasts gathered on Monday, August 21 to view the event.

The morning leading up to the eclipse was filled with clouds from a passing thunderstorm with periods of open blue skies. At totality the sky near the sun was mostly cloud free, which only accented the most wondrous sky event that I have witnessed.

Photos, films and video cannot do the totality event justice because of all the rapidly changing sky conditions, the crowd's reaction, and the grandeur of the what is being witnessed. To see the solar corona develop as the moon completely covers the sun is spectacularly unforgettable.

Do yourself a favor and make plans to see a total solar eclipse in person. For the US, that would be on April 8, 2024. I still have more photos of this event that I will post soon - more of what was happening with the crowds.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Fairmont Nebraska Welcomes Diamond Rings at Great American Total Solar Eclipse 2017

What a spectacular event! A total solar eclipse is something that everyone should experience. At a well planned, town hosted site in Fairmont, Nebraska some 5,000 people gathered from all over to see totality on August 21, 2017. I took several photos of eclipse enthusiasts and of course the two celestial orbs doing their dance, that I will post soon.

Here are the two best images of the diamond ring effect direct from Fairmont. The top photo occurred as the moon slowly passed in front of the sun leaving what is termed the diamond ring effect. It lasts only a few seconds but can be seen again as the moon pulls away from the solar disk about two and a half minutes later. 

Clouds had been around for most of the morning leading up to the total eclipse. Totality started out with little to no clouds but gained a few more wisps in just a few minutes. The bottom photo shows the exiting diamond ring effect with clouds acting as a frame. Look close and see the solar prominence, large, bright features extending outward from the Sun's surface at the noon to four o'clock position. 

One thing that I learned - even the best photos and videos cannot do justice to the totality experience. So many changes occur in the minutes or seconds before totality - like the rapid darkening of the earth's sky, the slight decrease in air temperature, the expansion of the solar corona and so forth. I'll get more photos posted as soon as I can.