Saturday, September 6, 2014

September 6, 2014 - Tracy City, Abandoned Places

It's not just what you know, but also who you know. Our favorite Tennessee State Park Ranger came through for us again and took us around some of the less-visited spots that not everybody has access to today.

First stop, the ruins of an old sand plant outside Tracy City where sandstone was ground into sand and then transported to the Coke Cola bottling plant nearby to be made into glass bottles.

Next up, the abandoned cabins of Camp Mountain Lake near Grundy lake. I couldn't find any references on the web for why exactly the camp shut down but I did find this little bit of information about its founding:

Camp Mountain Lake was founded by Sewanee (The University of the South) football coach Horace Moore in 1946, and ran every summer until 1987 under his supervision. It drew children from all over the country, especially from the Southeast. Coach Moore's approach at the camp created a lasting affection among the campers and their families for both its director and the grounds of the camp.

This seems to conflict with the sign found inside the camp that credits the founding of the camp with George Reynolds. Based on this newspaper article, Mr Reynolds was the Director of the camp. It looks like the previous campers and counselors were having reunions as early as 2004, based on this Yahoo Group posting and (Colonel) Reynolds appeared to have been a member. Further poking around in the group indicates that Coach Moore passed in 2005 and there was a falling out among the members. I also found Coach Moore's Wikipedia entry but there is no mention of the camp.

Table practically set for a meal

Domino pieces on the floor of a cabin

"Tao of Pooh" in a bucket

Mattress, sink and cot frame- AM/FM radio on the mattress

Photo of a small child and book on cabin floor

Quite an impressive wardrobe in another cabin

Rusted metal cabnet

What appears to have been the gym

Craft workshop

Sign leaning against one of the buildings

This next building was a goldmine of interesting objects and left-behind art and craft projects. It had been the glassworks run by a Ed Russell. Attempts to find any information about Mr. Russell haven't been very productive- with the exception of the Yahoo Group I mentioned above. I can't find any evidence that he's still working with glass. The domain names that were listed on several business cards that we found in the glassworks are no longer maintained and up for sale. The winking cat spray-painted on the side of the building appears to have been his logo, but Google image searches don't turn up anything. I did have some luck using the Internet Wayback Machine. Let this be a lesson for everybody- what they say about anything you put out on the web being out there forever... it's true. From the archives of his website (similar text as I found above):

Ed Russell attended Camp Mountain Lake from 1972, when he was 9 years old, until 1978. He would return to the camp as a councelor and as the cook for Sewanee football team during their training at Camp Mountain Lake. Ed, his mother Esther, and many former campers speak of the sense of community and family that was fostered here.

Just inside the main door

Esther holds up a canvas depicting a glassblower

Prescription glasses on the floor of the shed

Discarded magazines and decal sheets with the winking cat logo 

Table of various glass art pieces, mostly undisturbed and unbroken

Banner at the back of the shed

More glass pieces, a furnace can be seen on the left

Weird mix of random VHS tapes

One of the glass furnaces

The other furnace surrounded by furniture

Mounted bear head near the entrance

Discarded canvases with works in various states of completion

Wider shot with the glassworks on the left
Our Ranger-Guide had to break off and see to some park business so we headed into Tracy City to grab something to eat. We usually stop at the Dutch Maid Bakery, but decided we wanted something with a little more meat to it. We tried the new "The Gizzard" restaurant because we had heard the menu incorporated many of the local features. I'm sure it might be a great place at a different time of day, but the lunch staff didn't seem too interested in acknowledging our presence so we moved on over to the Lunch Box. I had heard tales of the Mega Burger and after walking around in both the blazing sun at the sand plant and then nearly being washed down the hill at the old camp it sounded like something that Jake and I wanted to take part of.

Jake had a Mega Burger with bacon and I had a Mushroom Swiss Mega Burger. The patty was huge and came to the edge of the bun like it should. The fries were perhaps a little over-cooked but not burned. Everybody else had some version of burger or sandwich and I didn't hear any complaints. Service was nice and attentive. The place isn't much to look at, but it's clean and comfortable.

We met up again at Grundy lake but not before a quick hike down the Lone Rock Trail where Esther and I took some mushroom pics.

We also took a tour of our Ranger's recent land acquisition, an awesome 2.5 acres on a bluff, but I managed to not take any pictures of the view. Next trip.

All the pictures from the day are here

Friday, September 5, 2014

September 5, 2014 - LST 325

On Friday we drove over to Ingalls Harbor in Decatur to tour the LST 325, the "last of its kind". The LST (Landing Ship, Tank) 325 (production was so high during WWII that they didn't give the ships proper names) participated in several operations overseas, the most notable being the D-Day at Omaha Beach, Normandy. There's a wealth of information available online about the ship and I'm going to opt out of re-typing the tour guide brochure, but I will include two links: LST Memorial 325, the "official" site of the memorial when it's docked at home in Evansville, IN and the Wikipedia entry for LST 325.

Port side, with bow cargo doors open

Just inside the cargo doors

Equipment and gear displayed on the starboard side of the hold

This was an unexpected bonus. What you're seeing here is a diorama of The Battle of Peleliu, recreated out of Lego, made possible by Brickmania. I managed to find a little more information about the model on this website.

Main engine piston. Yikes.

Looking towards the doors from the back of the hold

The galley

Post office

One of the four single 40mm gun mounts

The bridge

From 1964 - 1999 the ship was part of the Greek Navy

On the deck looking aft

One of the "smaller" single 20mm guns

Close-up of the blade of one of the props displayed on the deck

Restored Navy truck (vehicle?)

Crew quarters - she held 104 enlisted men

Another shot of the bow cargo doors

We've been doing another round of house-sitting for friends that are out of town- always a relaxing change of pace. One of responsibilities is looking after their chickens, including two young chicks. The chicks have developed legitimate feathers during our stay.

One of two three cats

Might be a returned lost cat... might be a doppleganger

All the pictures from Friday are found right here.