We have often travelled Lower Creek Road as an alternate route to visit my son and his family who live in Freeville, a village named for the activity of the Underground Railroad. After noticing this sign in passing for years, this week we stopped on a glorious autumn morning to capture it. I had packed the Sony Alpha 700 dslr for just such an opportunity.
Just off the road, under a maple tree in full autumn color (yellow), ground covered with fallen leaves (brown) on a fine early October morning, the sign reads, “New York, UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, HOME OF WILLIAM HANFORD AND WIFE ALTHA C. TODD, WHO SHELTERED FUGITIVE SLAVES ON THE WAY TO CANADA AND FREEDOM, STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT 1932”. These dark blue background, bright yellow letter signed are found throughout this region and much appreciated.
On a Tucson November 2005 afternoon, after my volunteer work for the University of Arizona, CALS college, alumni board of directors, in the mid-afternoon I headed for Sabino Canyon with my photography kit.
With a 25-pound pack on my back, walking from the parking lot I looked up at the incredible rock formations of the Santa Catalina mountains. It took some time to set up the tripod (at that time I was using a cheap swivel head on adjustable aluminum legs) with a 200mm telephoto lens (Canon L-series EF 200mm USM) I grabbed this shot of the hoodoo fringed peaks beyond the foothills (f16, 1/30, ISO160). The lower sun angle made the formations pop out.
Hoodoos in the Hills
That is Window Peak, at the head of Ventana Canyon. Among the hoodoos is a spectacular rock arch, or window, not visible from this direction. “Ventana” is window in the Spanish language.
You call those strange formations of upright rocks “hoodoos. Some people believe the fantastic shapes were created by spirits, today the explanation is wind, water and time create hoodoos from rock of the right stuff. It is a wonderful experience to wander among hoodoos, though unsettling because some of these large rocks are seemingly in danger of falling over at any moment.
Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset
I have a mental list of photographic “to do’s” and the gathering clouds, typical for a Tucson November day, reminded me an awesome desert sunset was on this list, so I packed up to head for the east side of Tucson for a shot looking toward the Tucson Mountains (on the west side).
Clouds gather at sunset above a ridge serrated by saguaros.
Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset
Sabino Canyon House
Before we move on, this is a fascinating image of a typical southern Arizona house perched on a ridge at the mouth of Sabino Canyon. In this image the viewer sympathizes because the telephoto lens gathers the majestic rocks around the tiny structure.
Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset
The house is perched on a Santa Catalina foothill ridge running east west, a wall of picture windows facing south with a view across the Tucson valley toward Mount Wrightson of the Santa Rita mountains, 42 miles distant. Summer thunderstorms gather on this peak, wreathing it with lightening. These times, evenings and night, the view pays for the inconvenience of this distant, hot ridge. Another time to be there is for sunsets.
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
October 5, 2014 found Pam and I at Keuka Lake after my son completed the Wine Glass Marathon. Here we are at the finish line in Corning, home of the Corning Glass Factory. You may know it from your set of Correlle dinnerware.
Afterwards, Pam and I made it up to the Dr. Frank Winery for a tasting followed by dinner at a local restaurant. Here is a photograph from the same viewpoint, using the “zoom” setting of my Sony DSLR A700. The view is more interesting than the winter shot of “Keuka Lake Winter I” from the autumn clouds and the burst of late day sun on the eastern lake shore.
This is the juncture of the “Y” shaped lake where the two arms joint the long foot. The pointed high headland is the point where the two arms meet. We are looking north here. The western arm, on the right, is unique in that the water is flowing down into the juncture. In Keuka Lake the water flows in two directions. The flow of lake foot and eastern arm is in the opposite direction, Keuka Lake empties at the top of the eastern arm, eventually reaching Lake Ontario.
Here is the eastern view, from the overlook, looking over a vineyard ready for harvest, covered with fruit and leaves. Every once in awhile there is a loud “bang” from a noisemaker used to discourage birds from feasting on grapes. The buildings along the shore are summer cottages, Keuka is lined with them.
The same view, from our December 2018 visit. The vines are bare, the fallen leaves cleared, the vine roots covered under banked earth to protect them from the cold.
Pam and I, enjoying wine after the 2014 Wine Glass Marathon. Cheers!!
In this Part 03, some contemporaneous people are introduced, more information on the environment provided, some previous residents named and imagined.
To understand the full beauty of a place, it is necessary to live it, to experience the seasons, approach the land from different aspects; pass the same place many time, noticing overlooked features, enjoying old favorites. We did our best in this single day and took the exploration of this Antrim County coast slow, savoring all the views we noticed as this is a once in a lifetime experience. Imagine our amazement to find Scotland so close at hand. In the past, on a fine day the trip across the North Channel, up eastern Kintyre peninsula shores to Campbeltown at the head of Campbeltown Loch, was easier than a land crossing to a closer town.
I picked Campbeltown because my great great grandfather, a sea captain, emigrated from Scotland to County Louth where my great grandmother, Anne Campbell, married John Mills. In this way Captain Campbell escaped persecution for his Roman Catholic faith.
Late in her life, Anne Mills posed for this portrait. I can tell great grandmother Mills is facing north from these clues:
— the press of the eternal east wind on her dress, against her left left and flowing away from the right.
— the sun shadow on her cheek. It was around noon. With the sun, at this latitude, in the south the shadow from her right cheekbone is darker than the left.
A few miles before Loughan Bay, at Coolranny, are informative placards describing the area. I thought the white flowering trees, or shrubs, on the slopes were Hawthorn. On revisiting my capture of the placards I learned these are a different plant named Rowan Tree, aka Mountain-ash. This wind stressed specimen is an typical example of Rowans on this coast, stunted and little more than a bush. This individual is slanted westward from a constant and stiff east wind, as with Anne Mills’ portrait. Residents, past and present, of this coast know this damp, persistent wind well. Note the lack of blossoms on the east side, blossoms that ripen to small dark red fruit called poms (also called rowans). The leaves turn red in the fall. More time, for the fruit to form and leaves to turn, was necessary for me to be certain my identification of this, as a Rowan, is correct.
On this day, Friday, June 6, 2014 I did two rounds of shooting the cottages. The first, handheld, with a Sony Alpha 700. Upon returning to the car for the Canon, Pam was talking to a friendly sheep farmer who pulled up in a large tractor pulling a tank. It turned out we parked below the turnout for his sheep enclosure built on the hill west of Torr Road. His flocks grazed the surrounding land. He and I talked, too briefly, about the hard lives of the people who lived here.
The Coolraney placard, up the road, claimed the cottages were deserted in the 19th century. I found evidence, in the 1901 Irish Census, of three Roman Catholic families, 19 men, women, children, living on Loughan Townland. In Part 02 of this series, setting the stage, Loughan is sized at 112 acres, a single photograph captures Loughan entire. These families had nowhere else to live, in Loughan, other than the cottages.
The smallest, and poorest, the poorest of the poor, family was 32 year old Mary Corbit and her two children, 10 year old Mary and Robert, 2 years. The Corbit family lived in a one room, stone walled, house with a wood or thatch roof. Unlike the other families they had no outbuildings, structures to house livestock or to support a farm operation. The house owner was Marj Delargy.
Here is a single room house among the ruins, four low walls, the east/west with intact gables, the stones collected from the hillside. The west wall higher up the slope, the floor now thick with fern.
Little Mary most certainly took care of Robert for part of the day. Did Mary, with Robert along, gather rowans, and other forage?
Mary Corbit: head of household, occupation laborer. There is a footnote to Mary’s “Marriage” entry as Married, “husband at sea.” The “C” of her census signature exactly like my mother signed her name Catherine.
Mary Corbit and her children were not listed in Loughan Townland for the 1911 Census.
….to be continued….. Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills, All Rights Reserved.
About that mysterious stone structure featured in this video. Over the years I have pieced together its purpose. When the ranch was active, a canal followed the contours from upper Reavis Creek to fill a pond down the hill from the house — I was shown the canal and walked it 2005. The structure was razed in the 1990’s, all that remains is the concrete foundation slab and, when I was there 2005 – 2008, scattered remains of the tile flooring. I am sure the pedestal above the house supported a water tank for a gravity water feed (“indoor plumbing”). Here is a link to more info about that site. The article does not discuss the water system.
For me, the romance of a place is settled in exact knowledge as much as a feeling. Starting with a recollection of the ruined cottages making such an impression we found a parking place and hiked into them loaded with photography equipment, three years later returning to use the photographs, bringing back a rush of memories and feelings, it is a matter of using the set of photographs from that day to build the location.
This much I knew, going in: we were touring Antrim Glens entering at Cushendall, after visiting Glenariff Forest Park, proceeding up the coast through Cushendun to Torr Head. A fortuitous encounter with a village of abandoned farm cottages (“ruins”) happened somewhere in between.
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There was a photograph of a notable church prior to the ruins and a fine view, from a place named Greenhill, afterwards.
Here is a picture of the terrain with the three pushpins:
A fine church just off Torr Road, to the west. I found the location in Google Maps, marked as “church”. Google earth showed buildings at the location, this set the “church” pushpin. Associated with the church, using the date/time stamp, were images of signage naming Coolranny townland.
A sign identifying a location as “Greenhill” was after. Neither Google Maps or Earth lists this as a place. It took hours searching web sites of Irish townlands before I found the reference. Greenhill is not a townland; it was listed as a place on one of the maps. Just above the notation was Torr Road, two unique bends in the road. I used these bends to identify the turnoff where I photographed the “Greenhill” sign.
For reasons to be explained later, it is important to know the name of the ruin townland. The place name sign presented in post 1 was a clue (“Loughan an Lochan” — or Loughan Bay), as well at the web site (see link below) listing Irish townlands. The web site map names “Loughan Bay.”
With this information I was able to peruse Google Earth, found the turnoff and the ruins!
See the above Google Map image sized to approximate the Loughan townland boundaries.
The scenery was jaw dropping lovely the entire time, so I captured view and view. Here are two landscapes time stamped just prior to the church, views including Coolranny and Loughan townlands with Torr Head in the distance.
That is Torr Road….
……a bit further along. It is possible to locate the ruin site from the Google Earth picture. There is a signature grove of bushes on the slope below the ruin site, sandy beach along shore. In the landscapes, Loughan Bay is cradled in a curve of coast.
Here is a photograph from our day touring the Glens of Antrim. While making our way up the coast to Torr Head a group of stone walls resolved into ruins. A cluster of cottages on grassy slopes above the Irish sea above Loughan Bay. This is the townland of Loughan. Along the road are wonderful signs providing in handsome carved letters the place name in english and gaelic. Here a signed only provided a gaelic name: “Loughan an Lochan”…near enough to meaning “Loughan Bay” in English. The bay is a shallow scallop shaped indentation of the coast, a margin of narrow sand strand.
Ruins are spread across the slope. Immediately before the views are traces of a foundation above the grass. Beyond the top of a gable, an entire gable to the left. On the far ridge, just visible, is an entire structure with doorways, gables, walls.
Across the Irish Sea, 13 miles distant, is the Mull of Kintyre. In faint outline, rising above the horizon, find the highlands of Islay more than 30 miles. Both are tips of peninsulas jutting from Scotland.
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