Ghost town on Halloween

So as previously mentioned, I took Halloween off because I had some PTO I needed to use up by the end of 2014, it was a Friday, and no one else in my department had taken it. I like Halloween but normally don’t do anything with it other than watch a scary movie and eat candy, but I decided this Halloween was the perfect time to re-visit the ghost town of Rodney, Mississippi. I went there about a year and a half ago with my friend Trish, but we didn’t have much time because we’d met for lunch, wanted to shoot the Windsor Ruins after Rodney, and were going home the same day. So I’ve always meant to go back, and this trip I didn’t schedule anything else that day and got a hotel room in Natchez, so if could get there around noon I’d have 3 or 4 hours. And I brought lunch with me, too.

Rodney was quite an important town for most of the 19th century and was just a few votes shy of being the capital of Mississippi Territory. Quite a lot of important people in the Natchez area were originally from Rodney, including the Nutt family, one of the sons of whom built Longwood, the famous unfinished plantation in Natchez that I toured earlier this year on a previous visit. But after the Civil War the river changed course, then there was a cotton weevil blight during the 1930s, and it was pretty empty by the end of WWII. There are still a handful of people living there today, a few new-ish houses surrounded by a town of decayed old buildings. I live in a pretty rural area and understand the appeal of peace and quiet, but this is like a whole other level. None of the roads leading into/out of the town are paved, and it’s miles from anything. Just to get a tank of gas or a carton of milk would take more than an hour.

Trish and I managed to find it last year, but I always felt like that was luck more than skill and I didn’t want to leave anything up to chance this time. The Presbyterian church is on the National Register of Historic Places in Jefferson County, MS on account of it was fired on by a Union gunboat during the war–there’s an old cannonball embedded in the front. I was able to find the GPS coordinates for it and plugged them into my Garmin. It took a more circuitous route than I remembered, I think because it was sticking to mapped/named roads–I remember looking at Trish’s Garmin (we have the same model) last time and seeing the car just kind of floating in the middle of a blank whiteness, which was a little eerie. Anyway, it got me there in the end. It looked more overgrown than I remembered, but maybe that’s just because it was the first week of March when we went last year and still pretty wintery.

Mt. Zion Baptist Church

Mt. Zion Baptist Church

Mt. Zion Baptist Church

Mt. Zion Baptist Church

Presbyterian Church

Presbyterian Church

house parts

second floor

I shot some film too, but I haven’t gotten it back yet.

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Lomographers of Acadiana: Mini Mississippi Road Trip

These are just a few digital shots; I also shot most of a roll of Fuji Neopan, Kodak Ektar, and medium format Velvia, but I didn’t finish any of the rolls. Hopefully I can do that this weekend and send them off to Dwayne’s on Monday.

Oh, and I shot a pack of Silver Shade in my SX-70 that looks GORGEOUS. I complain about The Impossible Project–although they’ve made some improvements to the Color Shade, it still has exposure problems and needs a half hour to develop. Although I appreciate that they are working on improving it, rather than just resting on their laurels because enough hipsters were willing to shell out money for the original sub-par film. Apparently they were scanning it and making corrections with PhotoChop, which, what? Do you not understand what INSTANT film is supposed to be?? But the Silver Shade I have no problems with, I love every photo I’ve ever taken with it. My oldest ones are about 18 months old now, and I haven’t noticed any fading, discoloration, or crystallization.

Yesterday my friend Trish and I roadtripped into the Natchez area of western Mississippi; Trish is self-employed as a massage therapist and has to work most Saturdays, so she doesn’t come to many of the regular meetups. I wish we saw each other more often, because she’s probably the only other childfree atheist in Louisiana.

PICT0654, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

We had lunch at Mammy’s Cupboard just outside of Natchez, on US 61. This… is not progressive, I admit it. But they have really good pie, so I made myself enjoy it as kitsch.

Our first stop was the “ghost” town of Rodney in Jefferson County, although there are still a few people living there, and we actually saw a UPS truck deliver a package, which kind of blew my mind. To get there you have to drive through the campus of Alcorn State University (the first land grant college in the US, built during Reconstruction to educate freed former slaves, which makes it an interesting place in its own right), then take this narrow unpaved road that’s kind of tacked onto the end of a parking lot. You go down for a couple of miles–and I mean DOWN, like the road was blasted through low hills. It’s really weird. Then turn right, go a couple more miles, and suddenly you come out into the town.

I didn’t take many digital photos here, just a few pictures of the 2 churches.

PICT0655, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

The inside of this church is pretty much gutted; the pews are still in there but they’re all knocked onto their sides, and the walls have been stripped down to the lathing. And I wouldn’t recommend going inside during summer, because I saw like a hundred wasp’s nests stuck to the rafters.

PICT0657, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

This Presbyterian church is on the National Register of Historic Places and there’s been a little restoration on the inside.

PICT0656, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

It was fired on by a Federal gunboat during the Civil War and there’s still a cannonball sticking out of the front. The story is that some Federal soldiers tried to attend services (the preacher was said to be a Union sympathizer), Confederate soldiers arrested them, and the USS Rattler started blasting away.

Then we went to the Windsor Ruins, which are only about 15 minutes away. They’re the remains of the largest antebellum Greek Revival plantation in the state. The plantation grew cotton and was so large that part of it was in Louisiana. It survived the war, only to burn down in 1890. The only thing left is the columns, plastered brick with metal finials and a few scraps of wrought iron balcony railing connecting some of them. It was wonderfully eerie to come upon them suddenly, standing all alone, propping up thin air.

PICT0661, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0662, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0660, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0668, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Here’s a couple of the Silver Shade Polaroids.

It was a lot of hours in the car yesterday–3.5 hours to get to Natchez and almost another hour to Rodney (although Trish did all the driving and we left my car at the restaurant)–but so worth it. And Natchez itself looked really interesting, I plan on going back there some day.

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