Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Spot the Differences: Then and Now

This photo baffled Dusty D for days! I knew it was Frog Island, and the photo is labeled as Scovill's Lumber Yard, taken in 1895. Well and good.

But it didn't make a bit of sense. I saw the water--clearly the river--so logically the bridge in the background is Cross Street Bridge. Clearly the viewer is looking SOUTH from Forest Avenue down the river, so, er, that bridge that looks nothing like Cross Street Bridge is, uh...wait, what is that gigantic factory on the left? If you're looking south from Forest, wouldn't it be smack in the middle of the trainyard? And it's too big to be the Thompson Building...uh...(mass confusion!)

The answer came to Dusty D when she looked again at the bridge. You can see it's on an angle--just like the modern-day railroad bridge at Forest. Hmm, so that means you're looking NORTH from Frog Island...but...the river is in the wrong place!

I finally realized it's not the river. It's the old millrace.

Dusty Diary immediately leapt on her bike with a copy of the old picture and sped to Frog Island. I stood on the southeast side of the track and held up the photo in front of me.

It matched perfectly. The railroad bridge, now behind some trees, is in the precise same spot. The lumber yard was indeed on the east side of Frog Island, just as the old map had said. And now, when you walk on the east half of the gravel running track, you are literally walking on water.

Onetime water, anyways. On the 1895 plat map, you can see the 1895 photographer's location (red), the RR bridge (blue) and the big underwear factory (yellow).

My experience with this photo was a graphic example of what I'd experienced before--how one small, easy error in perception, when trying to track down as elusive a quarry as history, can get you turned around 180'.


Jen said...

Just found your blog - and I love it! I love history, and am researching (albeit slowly) an abandoned house that has 'haunted' me from the moment I saw it - and I think I was 6 when that moment happened.

Dusty D said...

Dear Jen: Thanks for visiting!

I'd love to know more about the house you're researching. That's amazing that it had such an impression on you at such a young age. I do think that different houses have definite different "moods" or emotional impressions. I toured one historic home recently that was for sale that I loved by day...but I knew it would spook me a bit (a lot) by night, for no identifiable reason. It just had a lot of presence. Later I found out that one former owner had died in the home, which might have played a lot on a new owner's imagination even if it didn't cause any effects in reality.

Jen said...

Here are some photos:


So far all I have turned up are a few old maps, and it looks as if someone named John C. Potts owned that property.

This house has been boarded up since my Grandma moved out to where she lives - and that was years before I was born. I'm 27.

Dusty D said...

WOW, what an elegant old beauty! The woodwork is amazing! And it really has a presence--if I came across it I'd want to explore it as much as I could.

Do you know who owns the property? As you know property ownership is usually searchable either through the county government or through its website. Any chance of your buying it?

I can't believe anyone didn't salvage that exquisite stained glass window! Surely the window can't be allowed to fall into ruin--what a gem!

Thank you for the pix! I can see why this house is so attractive. An old beauty.