Saturday, June 28, 2014

New Roads (and I just cannot make this stuff up)

I headed out bright & early this Saturday morning to spend a day shooting in the Virginia country-side with my shutter sister sidekick, Suzanne. We had a general plan and direction, but the day was beautiful and cool for June and we also decided to let the day unfold as we cruised the back roads.

Driving down Snickersville Turnpike we spotted an old red truck, every ready to stop for a photo op, Suzanne steered her mini into a gravel drive - realizing we'd entered someone's driveway I said this is someone's home we should probably move on - Suzanne jumped out & asked permission to shoot the truck from the woman we saw tending her chickens at the edge of the property. She said yes, and so begins an adventure.

This is the truck that lured us off the road. It's a 1951 Ford that was last used to deliver milk from Loudoun county dairy farms to Dulles Airport.

The couple, whose home we'd invaded were Paula Catan-Rose and Squirrel Monger (yes that is is his real name, he vowed it was on his driver's license and credit card, and that we could ask anyone in the area and they'd know who he was). The property was named Iron Horse Acres, due to the large number of iron horses (vehicles) that were on the property and waiting for Squirrel's attention. The sign was made by a neighbor's son of car parts and motorcycle chains.

We also met their dog Laptop--a rescue, Paula knew he was "older than dirt" but she wasn't sure exactly how old. Laptop came by his name because he likes to sit on laps. We also met Garfield, a great mouser who had been in more than a few scraps in his life--also a rescue.

Paula is fascinated with area history and she sent us out to find a town called North Fork--nothing of the town left now but she filled us in on the history. North Fork used to have a post office, general store, and a cobbler's shop on a corner--in addition to a few houses. Some of the houses are left but the cobbler's shop is long gone - Paula bought the 400 square foot piece of ground where the cobbler's shop once stood and planted it with tomatoes. She invites anyone in the area to stop and pick tomatoes - and to share with her any history they may know of North Fork and it's former residents. The cobbler's shop is important because it was a business owned by James Hicks. Mr. Hicks was born in 1845 and enslaved in the home of a Methodist minister until emancipation in 1865. James Hicks was a founder of the Loudoun County Emancipation Association and a business man. By 1900 he had clear title to a house, an orchard, and the cobbler's shop in North Fork. You can read more about James Hicks here:

This house is one of the buildings left in North Fork. It appears to be abandoned but there are also signs of construction around it so - hopefully - it is being restored.

We actually got lost trying to find North Fork, but thanks to modern technology (thanks Siri!) we found a location for North Forks Cemetery and that was our next stop after North Fork. The cemetery was associated with the North Fork Baptist Church which was established in 1835 (or 1868 depending on sources). By 1937 there was an Old and a New School Baptist churches with the cemetery laying between them. Now there is only the one church, the other was converted to a private residence and the cemetery is also owned by the same person - he allowed us to photograph in the cemetery as long as we didn't vandalize it.

The property owner did tell me to make sure and note the "most unusual grave of all the civil war graves in the state of Virginia." It is the grave site of the Holmes brothers - Charles and John. Both brothers fought in the same civil war battle, survived but were captured and imprisoned in the Point Lookout (Maryland) civil war prison widely known as the largest and worst of all the prison camps. Both brothers died in the camp and at the end of the war their bones were put into the same casket and shipped to their mother for burial.

There are always wonders to discover when setting out with a camera and an open mind.

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