Posts Tagged ‘South Dakota’

Heartland 4 – Nebraska – Little Ruins on the Prairie

July 19th, 2016

A Drive Through The Heartland 4

Nebraska – Little Ruins on the Prairie

Midwestern Stories of Rust, Decay, Blight and Collapse

Keith Round Barn Under Tornado Sky, North Platte, Nebraska, 2015 by David Leland Hyde.

Keith Round Barn Under Tornado Sky, North Platte, Nebraska, 2015 by David Leland Hyde. (Click image to see larger.)

(Continued from the blog post, “Heartland 3 – Starke Round Barn, Red Cloud, Nebraska.“)

European settlers continued to pour into New England, Southern and newer states in the young American republic in the 1800s. German and Scandinavian farmers from Pennsylvania preceded most other original colonial states in the move to the first frontier, which we now know as the Midwest. They bumped west in wagons, by horse and later by train in search of good farming land.

Good farmland they found in the Midwest, with plenty of rain and the ideal climate for a plentiful yield, despite cold unproductive winters. The soil was also rich West of the Mississippi, but when the woodland and grassy fields gave way to dry grass and sage prairie West of the 100th Meridian in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas and Eastern Colorado, the rain ran out. The rain ran out in fact, but not in wishful thinking. Land boosters successfully sold potential new homesteaders on the confabulation that rain follows the plow. Miraculously, it did for almost half a century, a period later discovered to have been abnormally wet.

Interior, Burned House, Franklin, Nebraska, 2015 by David Leland Hyde.

Interior, Burned House, Franklin, Nebraska, 2015 by David Leland Hyde. (Click image to see larger.)

This century the water chickens have come home to roost. Water is growing scarcer and scarcer in the most westerly portions of the Midwest. Changes in farming technology have also taken a toll on the small farmer. With the rise of big, centralized agriculture, small rural farming towns are losing population all over the country. This affects even more communities in the Midwest because of the proportionally larger number of towns supported by farming.

We have all seen in the national media about urban blight in Detroit, Chicago and other Rust Belt cities, but decay is rampant in urban areas nationwide, as well as in rural areas and small towns in Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Indiana and Nebraska. Those last two states: Indiana and Nebraska suffered most in the Midwest. Both states are full of boarded up small towns, abandoned farms and even whole villages that no longer exist, as in no buildings and little sign of occupation on the land. This trend has been under way for 30 or even 50 years, but has been most acute in the last 10.

Defunct Texaco Service Station, Riverton, Nebraska, 2015 by David Leland Hyde.

Defunct Texaco Service Station, Riverton, Nebraska, 2015 by David Leland Hyde. (Click image to see larger.)

In the town of North Platte, Nebraska I first noticed the trend most. According to the National Register of Historic Places and several other guidebooks, at least four round barns supposedly exist in the city of North Platte. Interstate 80 runs through the newer part of North Platte, the Union Pacific Railroad runs through the older part of town and the entire city is situated between the South Platte and North Platte Rivers near the confluence. Despite its location on the traffic lanes from several eras, in the west-central part of Nebraska and the west-central part of the U.S., North Platte has at least partially fallen on hard times. Though new buildings are still popping up downtown, older homes and stores farther out are sinking into disrepair and falling down.

Abandoned Buildings and Pepsi Vending Machine, Inavale, Nebraska, 2015 by David Leland Hyde.

Abandoned Buildings and Pepsi Vending Machine, Inavale, Nebraska, 2015 by David Leland Hyde. (Click image to see larger.)

Out of the four round barns in the city of 25,000 population, only one still stood when I was there in 2015: The Keith Round Barn. It was overgrown with dark windows blocked or boarded up from inside and a roof with sections open to the sky. I could not approach the barn or get within 50 yards of it because it stood in back of a farmhouse in the process of being rebuilt, with a cable that blocked the only open space passage to the barn.

Occasional tornadoes and the regular blasting wind, extreme winters and broiling-humid summers wreak great havoc on houses and farm structures, especially on roofs in the Midwest. Many other towns had receded much more than North Platte. The smaller towns in the south-central part of Nebraska such as Macon, Franklin, Riverton, Inavale and others were either partially or almost completely abandoned. In Franklin I stopped to photograph a home that had burned several years before, but remained standing in its burned out state.

Abandoned Farm Near Fairbury, Nebraska, 2015 by David Leland Hyde.

Abandoned Farm Near Fairbury, Nebraska, 2015 by David Leland Hyde. (Click image to see larger.)

The towns of Riverton and Inavale were particularly hard hit by changes in farm sizes, methods and fortunes that have contributed to bleak periods in the local economy. Farther east on US Highway 136, not far from Fairbury, I found an entire farm abandoned. The barn hung by two walls as the other two walls were about to fall, the windmill spun in the wind drawing no water, the outbuildings were gloomy, dark and rotting into the ground, the main farm house with the roof nearly collapsed had one wing crushed to the ground and everything had been overgrown with hemp, kudzu, tall grass and willows. The only living beings still around were grazing cows and one bull that I had a standoff with I will share later. Even Beatrice, Nebraska, which for the most part was well painted and in good repair, when I was there included many boarded up homes and businesses.

Northwest Perspective, Western Barn With Sheds, Abandoned Barn Near Fairbury, Nebraska, 2015 by David Leland Hyde.

Northwest Perspective, Western Barn With Sheds, Abandoned Barn Near Fairbury, Nebraska, 2015 by David Leland Hyde. (Click image to see larger.)

Any country is only as strong as its heart. If this view of the Heartland is any indication, our society is in deep trouble. Yet, I also found much reason for hope in the Heartland. Detroit and other rustbelt cities are rebounding, each at a different pace. Detroit is not only rebuilding its auto industry, it is also diversifying industries. Artists have taken to inhabiting and painting up inexpensive neighborhoods and currently the Motor City pulses with an art renaissance. More on Detroit in future blog posts in this series and in my nonfiction book-length narrative with working title, “A Drive Through The Heartland.”

(Continued in the next blog post, “Heartland 5 – Elijah Filey – Barn Builder, Mason and Founder of Filey, Nebraska.”)

My Favorite Photographs of 2015

December 29th, 2015

Jim Goldstein at JMG Galleries Blog has once again put together his blog project for hundreds of photoblogs to show a selection of photographs from the year. Last year I labeled my review blog post, “Best Photographs of 2014.” For that year, “Best” fairly described my picks because I did review every image in each genre and ran them off against each other to select what were best in my opinion. However, “Best” does not always apply to images that you choose yourself. Perhaps a stock agency or a magazine or a gallery would choose “better” images than you would yourself. Whether it is a stock agency, magazine or gallery doing the choosing, may be more the point. Each of these uses would chose different images that would be “best” in its particular situation. Different uses demand a different selection.

In a year like 2015 where I approached 10,000 total exposures, there may be several “10 best Photographs,” lurking within the 10,000 made, depending on the project and purpose. Therefore, this year I have called these “My Favorites.” Early in 2015 I gathered more images of the Northern Sierra, specifically Eastern Plumas County, to round out my Sierra Portfolio that will split into a Northern and Southern Sierra Portfolio as I begin to assemble portfolios and build a new website for my own photography. Currently I have just two portfolios on PhilipHyde.com after the 25 Image Portfolios of my father’s well-known photography that influenced more than one generation of landscape photographers.

My old friend Topher called me to announce he would marry Kori on the Blue Moon at the end of July on the white sandy shores of Lake Michigan at Meinert Park Beach. I decided to drive up to the West Coast of Michigan for the wedding and continue to photograph barns around the Midwest as I had started to do in Northern California. Every country is only as strong as its heart. I traveled to the heartland to take our pulse as a country and to photograph barns, farms and the dying small farm culture that is leaving small towns heartless across the land. Industrial cities are also in ruin in the midwest, but besides ruin and decay, hope, rebirth and rebuilding are also evident across our agrarian and rust belted center. My trip filled up with obstacles and small and large disasters, to the point where “A Drive Through the Heartland” makes a good travel narrative, currently in progress, as well as a series of informational blog posts about various sections of my trip or stories I discovered along the way. As soon as I have one draft of my travel journal, I will get back to directly working on my book about my father’s life and work in conservation photography of our national parks and wilderness.

Near the end of the year back home in California I photographed more landscapes for my Portfolio One and other portfolios, as well as more historical barns and round barns to upgrade my California Barns Portfolio to be revealed in 2016 with my new website. In 2016, I plan to take the emphasis off of making photographs and put it on marketing them more.

Misty Sunrise, Millpond, Graeagle, California by David Leland Hyde.

Misty Sunrise, Millpond, Graeagle, Eastern Plumas County, Northern Sierra, California by David Leland Hyde. Photographed this sunrise on the way to the Lakes Basin Recreation Area, but got caught here a bit too long and missed the best light up at Lakes Basin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D. H. Day Barn From North, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan West Coast by David Leland Hyde.

D. H. Day Barn From North, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan West Coast by David Leland Hyde. Most people photograph this barn from the south or from the southwest near the national park service road. It varied from pouring to steady rain. I wore my rain gear and managed to keep my camera dry long enough to walk all the way around the field to make images from all sides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round Barn Near Conroy, Iowa by David Leland Hyde.

Round Barn Near Conroy, Iowa by David Leland Hyde. This barn is usually hard to find, but fortunately I asked at just the right building, when I first arrived in town. I made it to the barn in short time. The owner even drove up near the end of my photography session, just in time to give me publishing permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Cowgirls, Harlan Ranch, Indian Valley, Plumas County, Northern Sierra, California by David Leland Hyde.

Three Cowgirls, Harlan Ranch, Indian Valley, Plumas County, Northern Sierra, California by David Leland Hyde. I was happily photographing the Harlan Ranch Barn from the road, when two young cowpersons who had been riding a horse in a nearby corral approached me and asked if I would photograph them. Their mother nearby saw more or less what was going on. I made close to 20 frames of the girls, who also recruited their friend to total three cowgirls in most of the photographs. Talking with their mother afterwards, she said she liked the photographs and the whole idea as it kept the girls entertained for a little while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Moment In Hansen Wedding Ceremony, Lake Michigan, Meinert Park Beach, West Coast of Michigan by David Leland Hyde.

Moving Moment In Hansen Wedding Ceremony, Lake Michigan, Meinert Park Beach, West Coast of Michigan by David Leland Hyde. The wedding photographer was also present and doing a great job getting the “money shots” of the main players in the wedding. I meanwhile focused on either the whole wedding party and audience, or the whole scene including the setting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dogs, Farm Hand, Horse, Overlees Farm Near Franklin, Nebraska by David Leland Hyde.

Dogs, Farm Hand, Horse, Overlees Farm Near Franklin, Nebraska by David Leland Hyde. During my entire 10,000 mile, 14 Midwest State journey, I worked to incorporate not just picturesque barns, but the land, people, animals, equipment and overall culture of small farms and dairies. This was one of my better successes with the surrounding culture, which seemed to come and go out of my images depending on how much I focused on getting more than just the barns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children on Shore of Midsummer Pond Near Oberlin, Ohio by David Leland Hyde. At one farm, the lady at the house said I could photograph the barn, even though she was not the owner. She went back in the house and left me, a complete stranger, with her children. They followed me around while I tried to photograph the barn. At first the kids were a distraction, but then I just told them to go ahead and play between the barn and camera, which produced a number of great images. With no encouragement at all from me, they led me down by their favorite ponds and played while I made a few more images of them and the ponds. After about 45 minutes, I walked back by the house and the woman waved from inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amish Teenage Brothers and Horse Cart Near Holton, Michigan by David Leland Hyde.

Amish Teenage Brothers and Horse Cart Near Holton, Michigan by David Leland Hyde. Amish people do not pose, nor will they give permission to photograph them if they are asked for it. However, if they happen to be passing by and you capture them going about their regular routine as part of another photograph, they do not object. These boys with whom I exchanged names upon meeting them, were all under 18 except for the oldest. I mentioned what I had learned about photographing Amish. They said they could pose if they wanted to and that it was up to each person to interpret their faith in that regard. While they drove by, I photographed and made a number of good images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cloudy Sunset, Olsen Barn, Lake Almanor Near North Fork Feather River, Chester, Northern Sierra, California by David Leland Hyde.

Cloudy Sunset, Olsen Barn, Lake Almanor Near North Fork Feather River, Chester, Northern Sierra, California by David Leland Hyde. I drove to Lake Almanor four different days and stayed into the evening waiting for a good sunset, but this one from the first evening after the Feather River Land Trust day tours, turned out better than any from subsequent nights. The Feather River Land Trust used this photograph of Olsen Barn in their campaign to acquire the land and begin to restore the barn. The FRLT completed the land purchase transaction in October and by November we had the first meeting for a stewardship committee to research how best to restore the barn. I am researching the pros and cons of being on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barn Skeletons in Soybean Field Near Oslo, Minnesota by David Leland Hyde.

Barn Skeletons in Soybean Field Near Oslo, Minnesota by David Leland Hyde. I was on my way off the main US Highway toward another historic barn when I looked back and saw these barn remnants dappled by late sun through the trees. I made a number of exposures at different focal lengths, but chose this one as my favorite as it includes all three barns and some of the setting, but also gives a sense of the immense size of the large barn.

Stage From Balcony, Historic Eastown Theater, Detroit, Michigan by David Leland Hyde. Alas, the iconic theater is no more. It was demolished this year. My photograph may become historically significant someday, especially if I am one of the few to make prints.

Stage From Balcony, Historic Eastown Theater, Detroit, Michigan by David Leland Hyde. Alas, the iconic theater is no more. It was demolished this year. My photograph may become historically significant someday, especially if I am one of the few to make prints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hole Broken in Wall, Screw and Bolt Factory, Gary, Indiana by David Leland Hyde.

Hole Broken in Wall, Screw and Bolt Factory, Gary, Indiana by David Leland Hyde. I do quite a bit of street photography on the West Coast. I have always wanted to photograph the ruins of the Midwest and Eastern Rust Belt. Gary, Indiana was one of Lake Michigan’s thriving industrial centers for many decades, but has fallen into disrepair with loss of over half of its peak population at a rate exceeding 22 percent per decade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psychadelic Wall Mural, Chicago, Illinois by David Leland Hyde.

Psychadelic Wall Mural, Chicago, Illinois by David Leland Hyde. Driving past this wall along an elevated roadway in Chicago, all that meets the eye are murals as far as you can see. This one caught my eye with the bright variety of colors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shawn Lee Opening the Door to Urban Renewal Through Art at Artist Village, Detroit by David Leland Hyde.

Shawn Lee Opening the Door to Urban Renewal Through Art at Artist Village, Detroit by David Leland Hyde. Shawn Lee said the ruins of Detroit are old news and overblown by mainstream media. He said the relevant story now is the rebuilding of Detroit. He took me to see downtown gentrification and thriving upscale neighborhoods, but showed me recovering middle-class neighborhoods too. Artist Village is one place that encourages artists occupying low rent studios and helping to re-establish neighborhoods. Recovery is evident on other fronts as well. All over Detroit, neighborhood gardens are helping to rebuild communities and economically reclaim the city street by street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Racing Team Practice, Stanford Red Barn Equestrian Center, Stanford, California by David Leland Hyde.

Racing Team Practice, Stanford Red Barn Equestrian Center, Stanford, California by David Leland Hyde. Meanwhile, with the wealth of dot.com startups and new innovations in technology, the Stanford area will continue to grow richer for a long time to come, possibly until the land goes under the ocean due to climate change.