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West 6th St. Bridge, Racine

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Alexandar Eschweiler is a name familiar to most anyone with an interest in architecture in S.E. Wisconsin.  His work includes the Wisconsin Power and Light Building in downtown Milwaukee.

Charles S. Whitney may not be as recognizable a name to architectural historians in Milwaukee.  Whitney came to Milwaukee in 1919 after receiving his Civil Engineering degree from Cornell University.  He worked for Eschweiler as an engineer until 1923, when Eschweiler brought his three sons into his practice.  Whitney moved to New York and became a partner in Ammann and Whitney, an engineering and design firm that became world famous and is known for designing the Walt Whitman Bridge and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York.

Whitney designed the West 6th Street Bridge in Racine in 1928.  The bridge is notable for its Terra Cotta bas relief panels. The Neptune styled faces on the side of the bridge provide outlets for storm water collecting on the deck of the bridge.

My Fire Lookout Tower Obsession Continues

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Monahan Lookout Tower

The Monahan Lookout Tower was constructed in 1934 on a site approximately 35 miles northwest of Eagle River, Wisconsin.  This tower is 100′ tall and is capped with a 7’x7′ cabin.  The Monahan tower was listed in the National Lookout Tower Register in 2004.

Turtle Creek Stone Arch Bridge

Turtle Creek (Tiffany) railroad bridge

Built in 1869, this bridge was constructed of stone quarried in east-central Wisconsin.  The 5-span, 387 foot bridge is located near Beloit in south-central Wisconsin.  A Chicago engineer named Van Mienen designed the bridge for the Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company.  Van Mienen’s work was reportedly inspired by a stone arch bridge in Campiegne, France

Seminary Woods

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I came across a very intimate scene during a hike over the weekend.  This is, as far as my limited skill at tree identification takes me, a Beech tree that has grown slowly while it’s much larger companion (oak?) has surrounded the smaller tree with new growth.

This photograph was taken in Seminary Woods in St. Francis, Wisconsin.  This is the oldest urban forest in the state.  The photo was shot with a 4×5 view camera using a 6×17 roll film back on 120 black and white film.

Camping Solitude

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Camped in the Chequamegon National Forest west of Westboro, Wisconsin.  The moon was three-quarters full and, when not blocked by the forest canopy, cast a lit edge along the flowage.


I hiked on the Ice Age Trail east from Forest Road 108 and followed a semi-primitive lobe trail to the south.  The trail rimmed a bog that opened as a small lake.


The head of this small plant is suffering from Uncombable Hair Syndrome, otherwise known as Albert Einstein hair.

Sand Cliffs

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Photo of sand cliff erosion on Lake Michigan shoreline using 4×5 black and white sheet film.

For the Love of the Trip Itself

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Total eclipse photo taken with cropped sensor camera, 300mm lens and 1.4x teleconverter.  

I got behind the wheel at 3:30 in the afternoon Thursday, August 17th, looking forward to the drive to an undetermined location in Nebraska along the center point of solar eclipse totality occurring on Monday, August 21st.  Not much was planned, except to get through Iowa as fast as I could – on my way out and coming back.  I packed cameras, a drone, beer, some Steinbeck and Stegner to listen to and camping gear.

Friday, August 18th – Niobrara River Valley

Northeastern Nebraska’s border is defined by the course of the Missouri River. Highway 12 in this region takes you through part of this  Missouri River watershed.  The town of Niobrara is located where the Niobrara River flows into the Missouri.  Wetlands surrounding the town contain buildings, vehicles and other items left to retire – some after flooding.

Verdel, Nebraska

Verdel, Nebraska was incorporated very early in the 1900’s as the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad extended it’s line west into northern Nebraska.  Verdel’s population skyrocketed to 140 in the 1910 census – obviously calling for a jail, like any large Nebraska town of that era.   Today, 30 residents remain in this town on Nebraska Hwy 12.

Verdel’s downtown area hasn’t been the same since the Dew Drop Inn was demolished after being flooded in 2011.  Homes and other buildings in town have been “let be”.

Monowi, Nebraska – population 1

No kidding, this town is made up of one inhabitant, Elsie, who is mayor, librarian, and bartender at the Monowi Tavern.

Near Dunning, Nebraska – The Sandhills

Driving from the northeast to the central region of Nebraska, you’ll see more of these old buildings along the highway.  I’m grateful that there’s nobody in any great hurry to take these structures down.

The Sandhills – Ranching on Grass-Topped Sand Dunes 

The Outer Limits Tavern – Sidney, Nebraska

I drove through Sidney, Nebraska the night of the 18th with almost 1,000 miles into the trip.  The Outer Limits Tavern is just north and west of Sidney.  I opened up a couple of Hamm’s in the parking lot – it was past bar-time at the Outer Limits.

Saturday, August 19th – Sterling, Colorado

Sterling is about 40 miles south of the Nebraska border and offered an available hotel for two nights.  Sterling had a Western Sugar production and distribution facility that has been abandoned.  Strangely, the agitators were still spinning in the storage silos.

The area around the old sugar facility is used as a resting place for this old Ford military bus.

And a variety of classic left-for-dead items.

Sunday, August 20th – Alliance, Nebraska

I had originally planned to view the eclipse in the Sandhill region outside a small town call Tryon.  The weather forecast was dicey, so late in the week I decided to drive west and view the eclipse at Alliance – directly on the center of the line of totality.

Alliance is the home of Burlington Northern – Santa Fe’s largest distribution center.  It’s the pass-through for a constant string of coal shipments coming from coal fields near Gillette, Wyoming.

I had found a truck shop owner’s field that had been opened up for visitor camping.   The next day was Monday – totality was to begin at 11:54 am.

Monday, August 21st – on the road in South Dakota

I had driven for only 1 or 2 miles of Interstate up to this point of the trip.  I wasn’t going to give into the temptation of 80 mph speed limits on South Dakota freeways.  I’m glad I found my way by two lane state highways.

The sun had been a super-star on Monday.  It gave me a final thrill as it set on the South Dakota Badlands.

Tuesday, August 22nd – Missouri River Valley – South Central South Dakota

This is the Bijou Hills area of South Central South Dakota.  Drive through the center of the state on Interstate 80 and you’ll see Mitchell S.D. and endless fields.  Or you could drive through the southern part of the state and you’ll see the Bijou Hills.

And sunflower fields that, from the air,  look like the inside of a petri dish.

Wednesday, August 23, US Hwy 18 in Iowa

Driving through Iowa is normally a struggle with no cell phone service, non-stop tasteless anti-abortion billboards, and Casey’s Gas Stations.  My plan was to get on Hwy 18 as soon as I could after spending a day at the Snake River Recreation Area in South Dakota.  I’ve never traversed Iowa on Hwy 18 and I thought the change would be good.   I drove through places in Iowa like Dicken’s Pit, Road’s End Prairie, and Monona.  Much better.  I found more abandonment – and became fascinated by rural Iowa electric water pumps.  Does the handle wave up and down while it’s working?

I stopped in Monona, Iowa in order to view the sunset above abundant cornfields.

I enjoyed the trip despite being interrogated by Burlington Northern security, State Patrolmen, local cops and local citizens who were wondering what I was doing, especially when I was using my 4 x 5 view camera or drone.  The locals I met in Nebraska and South Dakota were warm, generous, and curious people.   But, I noticed one thing common to Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa that puzzles me….rural towns seem to survive with just a Dollar General store and a Subway restaurant.  I’ve got to go back and ask how they do it?

Manhattan Architecture

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A residential architect complained to me that Frank Gehry is all surface and no substance.  Well, I suppose if I had to live in this building I’d be much more critical.  I don’t, so I can enjoy the skin stretched over the form of the IAC Building perches along the Hudson on the west side of Manhattan.  I wasn’t looking for this building, but just drove to it and couldn’t make it past without stopping to shoot it.  From the other side of the Hudson it looks like a ship with three sails.  Up close it’s all about the contour and light, off and through the skin of the building.  ” ….all surface” is right…. but it’s beautiful.

Jean Nouvel designed this condominium across the street from Gehry’s office building.  The two seem to have been created without an awareness of the other’s presence.

The Guggenheim

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You might guess from previous posts that I am inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s work.  While recently in New York City on a business trip I happened on the Guggenheim Museum in the Upper East End of Manhattan.  What a thrill.  The building is like none other you’ll see, especially as it shouts out to you from the sea of similar to one another buildings.  It’s no wonder Wright and his creation were so controversial when the museum opened up in 1959.

Twenty one influential artists signed a formal protest and refused to exhibit in the building.  They claimed that the intent of Wright was to overshadow the art is was displaying.  In 1992 the rectangular addition was added behind the  Guggenheim’s spiral strip beehive.

The controversy has ended and the Guggenheim is regarded by most today as an example of creative genius.

As striking as the building is on the outside, the inside of the museum is bold, beautiful, and elegant.