Russia’s Wooden Churches Are Vanishing

I was recently turned on to a story out of Russia. It seems their characteristic wooden churches (architectural wonders) are falling by the wayside due to natural disasters and lack of maintenance. Truly a shame to such beautiful buildings.

Be sure to visit http://www.richarddavies.co.uk/woodenchurches/ for Mr. Richard Davies website and for information on his new book ( “Wooden Churches – Travelling in the Russian North “) about the churches. Here is an excerpt of the story and a link to the full story and video. I added a gallery as well of some beautiful churches still standing as well. Maybe if we all turn our attention to this matter we can make a difference. Enjoy!

“The wooden church, one of Russia’s unique architectural treasures, is in danger of extinction. Once dotting the landscape by the thousand, years of harsh weather, fires, war and neglect have not been kind. Today, some 200 churches remain, most dating from the 1700s and located in the northern regions of Arkhangelsk, Karelia, and Vologda. ”

Full story is here http://www.rferl.org/media/soundslide/24564914.html

As always, great praise and thanks to all the photographers featured here. Excellent shots!

Get involved in this cause! The loss of these building would be a irreversible cultural loss.

Advertisement

Maine Lost Towns

I have spent 2 years so far reaching into the remotest areas of Western Maine to find towns that not just anybody travels through. These places offer great intrigue to me from their historical value. I put together a gallery of some of my work so far.

Abandoned In Weld, Maine

Here are some images of a visit I had to one of the best roadside abandoned structures I have seen so far in the state of Maine. Both the house and barn are full of history and have a certain aura about them.

The Hemlock Bridge Of Fryeburg, ME

Tucked away in a spot of the Fryeburg woods in Maine is a living relic of the bygone past. Known as the “Hemlock Bridge”, it is the oldest Paddleford Truss System bridge in the state of Maine. Maine once had many covered bridges and know only lays claim to 8. The beauty of this bridge is not even the bridge itself but its great surroundings. Bordered by fields on two sides and wood on one the site sits on a once very important road. Now the area is all but abandoned, the road does not even get winter maitenance. It is because of this that the bridge has been preserved to the point it is now. Nothing can explain the calm and serenity associated with the bridge and the surrounding area. One can only visit to see.

Abandoned Maine

I myself work as a delivery driver here in the state of Maine. It allows me to see the countryside and all that it holds. A mainstay of the landscape here are abandoned buildings of all sorts. Some have been abandoned what seems 100 years. They can be anywhere, center of town, middle of the woods, they are everywhere. Here are some that I have saved. Check them out.

Fort Baldwin – A Piece Of Maine’s Military History

img_1789

I recently visited to document Fort Baldwin in Popham Beach, ME. For those going down to take a look this is a lengthy drive down the penninsula. The site is extremely well preserved and one can walk through almost all of the buildings to explore. Sadly the fire tower was not open at the end of the path. Here is a Wikipedia roundup of it………….

Fort Baldwin, a coastal defense land battery near the mouth of the Kennebec River in Phippsburg, Maine, United States, was named after Jeduthan Baldwin, an engineer for the Colonial army during the American Revolution. The fort was constructed between 1905 and 1912 and originally consisted of three batteries, all of which were removed in July 1924:

  • Battery Cogan with two three-inch guns. Named in honor of a lieutenant in the 5th Continental Infantry during the American Revolution. Cogan, who had also been quartermaster of the 1st New Hamsphire Regiment, died August 21, 1778.
  • Battery Hawley with two six-inch pedestal guns. This battery also housed the fort’s original observation station and electric equipment. Named in honor of Brigadier General Joseph R. Hawley who served with distinction during the American Civil War.
  • Battery Hardman with one six-inch pedestal gun. Named in honor of a Captain in the 2nd Maryland Regiment, Continental Army during the American Revolution. Hardman was taken prisoner at Camden, South Carolina and died while a prisoner of war on September 1, 1780.

During World War I, Fort Baldwin and Fort Popham held a garrison of 200 soldiers including the 13th and 29th Coast Artillery.

During World War II, between 1941 and 1943, D Battery, 8th Coast Artillery protected Fort Baldwin and its Fire Control Tower that could radio the precise position of enemy vessels to batteries in Casco Bay.

 

Boobytown

For some time now I had the knowledge of a mysterious part of Maine’s varied history, this time from Lewiston. I lived almost my entire life in the tri-state region of Massachusetts so upon reading this story I never acted on actually going for an actual visit. I cannot even tell you now that I have been there, I haven’t. What I can tell is the unusual stigma attached to a village in Maine by the name of Lower Dallas.

In the mid 1800’s the prosperous city of Lewiston in Maine had an innovative and at the same time bastardy plan at the same time. The roll call for welfare was quite large during this period. The city needed a way to turn the tide of people depending on the system. Someone, I do not know who, came up with the idea with shipping them off to what is known as Lower Dallas just east of Rangely in the northwest corner of the state. These people were hard up while living in Lewiston and after the move to Lower Dallas things only got worse. Stories of people running off into the fields to eat dandelions raw were the norm. Of all of these welfare afflicted Lewstonians the most prominent family was the Bubiers thus the towns name of “Boobytown” came into being.  The Boobytowners were always known by the people of Rangely as honest and fair trading partners and always had the utmost respect for them. Sad that such a quality of people was shipped away in favor of saving a few dollars (in today’s money mush more).

Today if you can find the way to the location of Lower Dallas you will find a virtual ghost town, complete with newspapers from the period around WW 2 on the floor of some of the structures. It is in these ways that Maine is trully unique as if someone leaves the forest locks it up until later discovery. Last heard, the is only one descendant of the Bubiers still living near Boobytown, Virgil Bubier. If anyone is looking to go there I hear he is one of the best people out there with the history of the place.  It’s an understatement to say that a general feeling of paranormal activity also prevails here according to reports, which can only be imagined with the history of these people stolen from their home. I hope in the future more attention can be brought to this incident in Lewiston’s history and the whole state of Maine in general. I can only hope this article keeps alive the drive for people to find out more about it.

I want to give special credit to Art Sordillo and Yankee Magazine for this other, somewhat related article, definitely a good read.

http://www.outtakes.com/45th/45thnopics.html

The World’s Tallest Wooden Skyscraper

woodsky

Where else would the world’s highest wooden structure be located other than “The Wooden City” (which, as the arboreally astute among you may know, is Archangelsk, Russia)? Archangelsk did not only earn its nickname for the town’s numerous wooden dwellings but also for its wooden port building, wooden streets and…
The World’s Tallest Wooden Skyscraperhttp://travel.spotcoolstuff.com

Images And Reflection On Two Of Maine’s Mid Coast Forts

148863741

Earlier in the year I visited both Fort Popham and Fort Edgecomb, both in the mid coast region of Maine. Fort Popham being especially interesting as being in the area of the Popham Colony site, the second English settled colony in the America’s. Here are summaries of the both the fort and colony from Wikipedia.

“The Popham Colony (also known as the Sagadahoc Colony) was a short-lived English colonial settlement in North America that was founded in 1607 and located in the present-day town of Phippsburg, Maine near the mouth of the Kennebec River by the proprietary Virginia Company of Plymouth. It was founded a few months later in the same year as its more successful rival, the Jamestown Settlement, which was established on June 14, 1607 by the Virginia Company of London in present-day James City County, Virginia, as the first permanent English settlement in the present United States.

The Popham Colony was the first English colony in the region that would eventually become known as New England. The colony was abandoned after only one year, apparently more due to family changes in the leadership ranks than lack of success in the New World. The loss of life of the colonists in 1607 and 1608 at Popham was far lower than the experience at Jamestown.

The first ship built by the English in the New World was completed during the year of the Popham Colony and was sailed back across the Atlantic Ocean to England. The pinnace, named Virginia of Sagadahoc, was apparently quite seaworthy, and crossed the Atlantic again successfully in 1609 as part of Sir Christopher Newport‘s 9 vessel Third Supply mission to Jamestown. The tiny Virginia survived a massive three day storm enroute which was thought to have been a hurricane and which wrecked the mission’s large new flagship Sea Venture on Bermuda.

The exact site of the Popham Colony was lost until its rediscovery in 1994. Much of this historical location is now part of Maine’s Popham Beach State Park.”

“Fort Popham is a coastal defense land battery at the mouth of the Kennebec River in Phippsburg, Maine, United States. It is located in sight of the short-lived Popham Colony and, like the colony, named for George Popham, the colony’s leader. During the American Revolution a minor fortification stood on this site; in 1808 the federal government built a small battery derisively known as an “embargo fort” on this location as part of the second system of fortifications that guarded the coast. It remained manned until 1815, and saw minor action during the War of 1812.

Construction of Fort Popham was authorized in 1857, but did not begin until 1862 when the Union became nervous about the Confederacy’s newest naval ship design, the ironclad warship, and its possible effect on Bath Iron Works and Maine’s capital city of Augusta, which is located less than 20 miles (32 km) up the Kennebec River. The fort was built from granite blocks quarried on nearby Fox Island and Dix Island. It had a 30-foot (9.1 m)-high wall facing the mouth of the Kennebec River and was built in a crescent shape, measuring approximately 500 feet (150 m) in circumference.

Fort Popham’s armament consisted of 36 cannons arranged in two tiers of vaulted casements. Each cannon weighed roughly 25 tons and fired solid shot, each weighing almost 480 pounds. The back side of Fort Popham was built with a low moated curtain containing a central gate and 20 musket ports.

In 1869 construction at Fort Popham stopped before the fortification was completed. The fort was garrisoned again after additional work was performed during the Spanish-American War and World War I. Construction of Fort Baldwin on the headland above Fort Popham began in 1905 with longer-range guns, which eventually rendered Fort Popham obsolete. The fort, located two miles (3 km) from popular Popham Beach State Park, is now open to the public.”

Fort Popham is a well maintained site and easily accesible. The scale is really quite different than Fort Edgecomb. Fort Popham has immense passages and a broad parade ground. It was never completed and never fired a shot in all the time of its active service.

Fort Edgecomb is quite different as it’s construction is that of a blockhouse. The vista from the hill it sits atop provide a good watch over the bay. The day I went actually was quite cold and the wind afforded it to be a bit colder. Here is the WIkipedia entry about it.

Fort Edgecomb, built in 18081809, is a two-story octagonal wooden blockhouse and restored fortifications located on Davis Island in the town of Edgecomb, Lincoln County, Maine, United States. It is also known as Fort Edgecomb State Historic Site. On October 01, 1969, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and on December 22, 1991, its boundaries were increased to create an historic district.

The fort was built as part of the U.S. second system of fortifications, guarding the then-important port of Wiscasset. Thomas Jefferson‘s Embargo was not popular with American merchants, and it is said that the only time Fort Edgecomb’s cannon were fired was in salute at James Madison‘s inauguration (or, less tactfully, to celebrate his lifting of the Embargo).

During the War of 1812, this post saw considerable activity holding British prisoners of war, many of them brought to Wiscasset harbor by American privateersmen. In 1814, Fort Edgecomb became the center of American preparations to invade mid-coast Maine. It remained manned until 1818, and was reactivated during the Civil War.

Although both of the forts were built in the same time period they are vastly different in design. Fort Edgecomb a traditional blockhouse and Fort Popham an imposing structure towering high. Both forts are open to the public and I believe Fort Edgecomb has tours inside at scheduled times.

The Trains Of Eagle Lake And The Allagash Wilderness

 

15939332

You are walking in the woods and suddenly, there in a clearing are two locomotives, rusted and aging but trains all the same.

This is the case in northern Maine in the Allagash wilderness, once one of the top foresting areas in the country. Trains were once used to haul all of the timber out of the forest farther southward to be shipped to far places. It was a very lucrative business. Thanks to The Department Of Conservations Of Maine website they put together a amazing historical narrative of the trains.

“There are not a lot of places in the world where you can be hiking through a remote wilderness and suddenly stumble upon rusting locomotives. One of the things that makes the Allagash so fascinating is the possibility of a sudden discovery of remnants from a bygone lumbering industry. For example, you could be walking through the wild forests of northern Maine and then suddenly you’re staring down the nose of two steam locomotives.

For those lumbering operations still driving logs south from Eagle and Churchill Lakes to Penobscot waters, the Eagle Lake and West Branch Railroad replaced the Tramway. In 1926 this railroad ran from the Eagle Lake end of the tramway thirteen miles to Umbazooksus Lake, which connects to the West Branch of the Penobscot River via Chesuncook Lake. Edouard “King” Lacroix’s Madawaska Company purchased a ninety-ton steam locomotive in New York and converted it from coal to oil burning for this operation. To haul the large supply of oil needed for the train, the company leased a Plymouth gasoline engine from Great Northern Paper. The oil was brought in barrels by truck from Greenville to Chesuncook Dam. From there, a scow would carry the barrels to the terminal end of the railroad on Umbazooksus Lake.

During the winter of 1926-27, Lombard tractors hauled all of the materials for the railroad from Lac Frontiere to Churchill Depot, then across Churchill Lake to the shore of Eagle Lake. This included the fifteen hundred foot trestle for Allagash Stream, steel rails, loaders, two gas-powered switchers, sixty train cars, and the two one hundred ton locomotives. King Lacroix, however, never got the railroad into operation because the Great Northern Paper Company bought his operation early in 1927. On June 1, 1927, the railroad made its first successful trip as the Eagle Lake and West Branch Railroad.

To load the train cars on the Eagle Lake end of the line, logs were drawn along two conveyors that raised them up twenty-five feet over a two hundred twenty-five foot length. With a forty-horse power diesel engine powering each conveyor, a cord of wood could move from lake to car in just ninety seconds. Each twelve-cord car could be filled in eighteen minutes. Operators soon discovered that the time it took to neatly pile the logs into the cars horizontally made the practice inefficient, so they resorted to just dumping them in as they fell from the conveyors. The cars were built with a twelve-inch tilt in them so that when they drove out onto the unloading trestle at the Umbazooksus end (where the tracks were tilted six more inches) an operator could knock loose the pins holding back the car wall hinged at the top and most of the load would tumble out into the water. A little picking and prodding of the remaining logs and the train was on its way back for another load.

Since the round trip over the curvy road made a single-train operation too slow and inefficient, the company used two trains of ten cars each, with a passing track in the middle so the empty car on its return route could pass the full car headed in the other direction. The trains of twelve cars each ran on the road both day and night stopping only ten minutes to service the steam engine. While this happened, the Plymouth engine pushed a set of loaded cars away from the conveyors where the locomotive could hook up to it. The Plymouth then took the empty cars, just back from their run, and pushed them under the conveyors for loading. This system, along with the addition of an electric lighting system for loading the cars and storage towers to allow faster refilling of the trains’ water and oil, increased the log-hauling capacity four hundred percent. In an average week, more than six thousand five hundred cords of wood moved across the tracks.

The Plymouth engines at each end of the train route shifted empty cars around the yard while the locomotives refueled. Logs could not float away when too much bark gathered near the unloading trestle, so engineers designed a special scraper that was attached to the Plymouth by means of a pulley and anchor and this system scraped the bark out of the way. The railroad crossed over the northwest arm of Chamberlain Lake where it reaches toward Allagash Lake.

The most significant structure of this operation was the fifteen hundred foot long railroad trestle sturdy enough to carry both the train and its regular supply of heavy log cargo across this piece of water. Only a few remains of the trestle are still visible.

Aerial photographs from 1966 show that only one structure, the shed built over the locomotives, remained at the railroad site on the Eagle Lake end of the tramway when the Allagash Wilderness Waterway was created. While still owned by the Seven Islands Land Company on April 9, 1969, the Maine Forest Service mistakenly burned the shed, causing damage to some of the wooden elements of the locomotives (i.e. the wooden cab).  Both locomotives have also suffered from vandalism and souvenir hunters. Photos show the burned area on June 11, 1969

.

On August 16, 1969, the Maine Parks and Recreation Commission painted the trains to prevent further rusting.  In 1995, the boiler jackets on both locomotives were removed in order for asbestos surrounding the boilers to be removed and abated.

Members of the Allagash Alliance worked to right and stabilize Eagle Lake and West Branch Railroad Locomotive Number 1 and its Tender. Built in June 1897 at Schenectady Locomotive Works (4-6-0 stamped #4552), it was originally a steam locomotive but later converted to burn crude oil to eliminate the forest fire threat caused by cinders. Number 1 was purchased by Great Northern in 1926 and used to haul pulpwood in the Allagash area from 1927-1933.

ELWB Locomotive Number 2, and its tender, were built in December 1901 at Brooks Locomotive Works (2-8-0 stamped 4062). Number 2 was also used as a steam locomotive and later converted to burn crude oil. It was purchased by Great Northern in 1928 and used as the main engine for hauling pulp cars from 1928-1933. When the railroad stopped operating, both locomotives were relatively obsolete and not worth the cost of transporting them back out of the Allagash area. Instead, they were stored inside a shed at the Eagle Lake facility where they remain today.”

The fact they are so well intact is a benefit of their location. Far from the “accessible” world of human society they sit in the quiet of the vast northern portion of Maine. If these trains were say, in Augusta, they would have been picked apart by prying hands of vandals and souvenir seekers. The earth always reclaims things that are left behind as well as preserving them.

Any trip to see the trains must be well planned out and all must be accounted for including food, gas and survival gear. From Portland the trip can take two days or mor, depending on time of stay and conditions. Keep a head on your shoulders and you should be fine.

Credit on the photos to Rich Pace, RoadRunner and JonWillard all from Panaramio.com, the site which posts its images on Google Earth and Google Maps. Thank you.

%d bloggers like this: