Dells Mill and Museum, Augusta Wisconson

Dan and I awoke this particular morning with the intention of visiting Dells Mill and Museum in Augusta, Wisconsin.  We had just returned from a recent trip to that area when we learned that one of the few remaining gristmills was just a hop, skip, and a jump to where we were photographing.  After visiting Pickwick Mill and Schech’s Mill in South Eastern Minnesota, we were excited to visit another historic mill and mark that one off of our list of places to photograph near home.

The day was bright and shinny and full of photographic opportunities.  Once inside, we were taken back by the monumental size of this mill and were able to soak in some of its history.

I would highly recommend a stop at this historical site; 2014 will mark its 150th year anniversary.  Take in the sites and the sounds of this old mill and if you are lucky enough, Gus Clark will play a tune for you.  Gus was not only talented, but he was the friendliest museum proprietor and guide around!  Thanks Gus for the knowledge and the wonderful song- I only wish we would have had video rolling.

From the Wisconsin Historical Marker Plaque at the Wisconsin Dells Mill in Augusta Wisconsin

The Dells Mill

Water-Powered grist mills ground the wheat that dominated Wisconsin’s Civil War-era economy. Built in 1864, the mill was one of the server serving area farmers. After wheat production moved westward, owners adapted the building to mill flour and grind feed.

A trip to the Dells mill could be an all-day family affair. Farmers often fished the millpond to pass the time. The millpond also provided a source for the winter ice harvest. A store, hotel, and school grew up nearby to serve the growing community

Creating a mill pond required the building of a dam to flood upstream land. The Wisconsin Territorial Legislature enacted legislation enabling dam construction in 1840.

Built along the dells of Bridge Creek, the base of the mill was carved into the sandstone bedrock. massive hand-hewn timbers secured with wooden pegs make up the structure of the Mill. Water turbines powered the milling process. A concrete dam replaced the original log structure in 1919. Dells Mill, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, operated continuously until 1968

Dells Mill and Museum map

The Dells Mill Museum is open May through October 10 am to 5 pm
The Dells Mill Museum and Historic Properties
E18855 County Road V Augusta, WI 54722
715-286-2714

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The Amish of Augusta, Wisconsin

A world without automobiles, telephones, and computers?  I could not imagine life without all the accommodations.  However, Amish communities thrive without today’s technology and the headaches that come along with it.  From sunrise to sunset, they are a hard working group.  They use the land and all it has to offer without the machinery that we see today.

According to Wikipedia:

“Amish lifestyle is dictated by the Ordnung (German, meaning: order), which differs slightly from community to community, and, within a community, from district to district. What is acceptable in one community may not be acceptable in another. No summary of Amish lifestyle and culture can be totally adequate, because there are few generalities that are true for all Amish. Groups may separate over matters such as the width of a hat-brim, the color of buggies, or other issues

Bearing children, raising them, and socializing with neighbors and relatives are the greatest functions of the Amish family.  All Amish believe large families are a blessing from God.”

This particular Amish settlement in Augusta, Wisconsin was founded over 30 years ago and is 6 church districts in size.  Roughly ¾ of Wisconsin’s forty or so Amish settlements consist of just 1-2 church districts. Wisconsin has been experiencing high levels of in-migration as nearly 30 Amish settlements have been founded over the past two decades.

The Amish are known for their beautiful handmade quilts, baskets, furniture, and many other items. In their communities you will often find bakeries, furniture or cabinet making shops, quilt shops, as well as general stores with unique items.

If you are ever in the area, the Woodshed, in Augusta, Wisconsin specializes in Amish antiques and woodworks and offers tours through a nearby Amish settlement. Visitors can savor mouthwatering homemade candy and baked goods, watch furniture makers and visit the Amish sawmills in this area. This tour also offers the chance to visit horse breeders and harness makers.

Augusta, Wisconsin

On this particular morning, Dan and I had discussed traveling to the area of Augusta, WI.  The sun was shining and the weather was perfect for a photography outing, so we packed up the car with photography gear (and the girls) and headed on our merry way.

Augusta WI map

Augusta, Wisconsin is a small community situated between rolling valleys in central Wisconsin and is part of a region known as Chippewa Valley.  The area is beautiful, full of river valleys and streams, rolling hills, marshes, forests, and bountiful farmland.  We were also drawn to this area due to its Amish settlement and Dells Mill (both of which will be mentioned in later posts).

On this day, we were lucky enough to spy not only one, but two, abandoned farmsteads, a thriving Amish community, and a new industry popping up in this area.  The outcome was a fun filled day of a variety of photography, a realization of the impact of man’s consumer needs, and two very tired pups.  Please enjoy the first of three posts regarding this area.  This post will focus on the two abandoned farmsteads we just happened to stumble upon this day.

ATTRACTIONS IN THE AREA INCLUDE:

Amish Tours at The Wood Shed 
(715) 286-5404, 105 West Lincoln Street (Hwy 12 East), Augusta, WI 54722

Dells Mill Tour – Water Powered Museum Tour
(715) 286-2714, Museum is 5 miles North on County Road V, Augusta, WI 54722

The grey between

The grey between

The “grey area”, referring to an area having characteristics of two extremes.

I have yet to set out with the sole intention of capturing black and white images; I don’t necessarily set out to capture images of color either. Some say that you must have a different mind set when capturing black and white images since the color to grab attention is absent. Others need color and find black and white images lacking feeling or punch.  Personally, I am drawn to both color and black and white photography; both can evoke feelings in my mind.  However, a strong black and white can send shivers up my spine any day.

Did you ever think that the colors in a photograph can actually make someone look at it over and over again or possibly turn-off the viewer?  Just as music builds mood, colors can also help create mood. I have found a lot of literature written on this subject- color creating mood- and it interests me greatly.

Sometimes I know that the image that is presenting itself in front of me will make a great black and white image; other times I know that color will be beneficial to the image, or could the image captured look good in both color and black and white… Hmmm.  Either way, color or the absence thereof, can create mood or emotion in an image if the lighting or subject is powerful.

The image that I am presenting today was captured at an abandoned farmstead. Left behind, was a portion of a Singer Sewing Machine that probably felt a lot of material pass through its grasps in its day.  The machine that made dresses, hemmed pants, repaired holes, or made curtains for the house, was left behind to rust with time.

The way that the light was shinning in from the side casting shadows behind the machine was moving.  I believe a gasp escaped my mouth when I first saw her sitting there reaching out to be photographed.


Maybe I will set out one day with the sole intention of photographing black and white.  Paying attention to the light and shadows, textures and patterns, composition, contrast, or trying to capture raw emotion in a look- That may just turn out to be a great learning experience.   But wait… Can’t I do that with color too?