Kodak Ektar in the Smena 8M

Sabine Pass Light

Lafourche Parish

Grand Isle

Cheniere Caminada Cemetery

Cemetery

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Sabine Pass Light (wide angle, B&W)

Sabine Pass Lighthouse

Sabine Pass Lighthouse

Sabine Pass Lighthouse

Sabine Pass Light (Diana F+)

So, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that abandoned lighthouses (at least in Louisiana) are my photography white whale. They are very hard to get close enough to to take a good photograph, because since the Gulf coast is always changing, they tend to very quickly become cut off from land access. I’ve tried to photograph this particular lighthouse, which is right on the southwest Louisiana/southeast Texas border, a couple of times.

Well, a couple of months ago I found out by chance—from a Yelp review, of all things—that Cheniere Energy, which owns the land that the lighthouse is on, has made their “road” (really just a pair of tire ruts) out to it open to the public. I checked in with the security shack at the entrance, showed a photo ID, and was escorted to the gate at the start of the road. I was told not to photograph the energy facility and to be sure I checked with security when I left, but allowed to proceed down the road unaccompanied.

I took a lot of photos from a distance, because I kept thinking this road is going to run out, this is probably the closest I’ll get; then I’d get back in my car and keep going. Turns out I was able to drive pretty close, to about ¼ of a mile away from the lighthouse, then I was able to walk most of the rest of the way. There’s water surrounding it and you can’t get close enough to touch it, but I was able to take photos from close enough that it filled the frame.

I had really good weather for it, it was warm but not hot that day, and not too humid. A member of the Facebook group that I help mod (Abandoned Louisiana) went the next weekend and said they were eaten alive by mosquitoes, but I made it out with just a couple of bites. Also it hadn’t rained in a few weeks, so I was able to drive my Nissan (which does NOT have four wheel drive) down a dirt track without risk of getting mired. So yay, that’s one more thing I can cross off my photography bucket list!

Sabine Pass Light

Sabine Pass Light

Sabine Pass Light

Sabine Pass Light

Sabine Pass Light

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Sabine Pass Battleground, Texas

Sabine Pass Battleground

I drove to Sabine Pass a few weeks ago, just for the day, it was the first time I’d been in Texas since driving out to Louisiana from California in 2010. Interestingly, this is right in the area where my mother grew up; although my maternal grandmother’s family has lived in the same area of south Louisiana for several generations, my grandparents lived in Port Arthur, Texas for many years and their three eldest children were all raised there. I think Sabine Pass was its own town when my mother was growing up, but now it’s within the city limits of Port Arthur.

I primarily wanted to see the Sabine Pass Light, which is actually on the Louisiana side of the Pass. But all the online directions I found direct you to the Texas side, I think because there’s no longer actually any road on the Louisiana side. The Light was de-activated in the 1950s, and the last private owners donated it to Cameron Parish in the 1990s, and of course they haven’t done shit with it. If a hurricane came along and wiped out the road any time since then, I doubt they bothered to fix it. But I may try to get there from the Louisiana side, or at least see how close I can get, because I couldn’t get close enough to get any good photos from the Texas side.

However, I don’t count the day wasted, I drove around and found some other interesting things to photograph. I like that drive too, it’s straight down LA-82 (and then TX-82) for most of the way. It’s a highway, but it’s a 2-lane rural highway with pretty scenery, and to get across the Calcasieu River I took the Cameron Ferry. Louisiana used to have dozens of ferries; nowadays I think there are 8 of them left. You can take I-10 to get there, but it goes so far out of the way that it doesn’t actually save you any time.

One of the places I found was the Sabine Pass Battleground. There was a Civil War battle fought here. I liked the contrast between the little shell-scarred bunker, and the weird modern machinery hulking in the background. Sabine Pass is like that, it’s very rural but surrounded by refineries and everywhere you look there’s refinery towers or oil-drilling equipment looming over you.

I recently read a book called Visit Sunny Chernobyl, in which a journalist, inspired by the titular trip to Chernobyl, decides to visit the world’s most polluted places. One of those places is Port Arthur. (If the Keystone XL Pipeline ever gets built, the American end is going to come out in Port Arthur.) But even with all the refinery crap cluttering up the scenery, it doesn’t really LOOK polluted, at least not in Sabine Pass. The sky was blue, the vegetation was all healthy, and there were birds everywhere. Not all pollution is immediately visible, I guess. It’s not anything obvious like oil spills or smog, but you know it’s there when you look at the cancer rates for the area. Chernobyl is beautiful too, according to the book I read. The flora and fauna are all flourishing in the area. But people who go there have to wear radiation detection badges, and can only stay so long.

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