The Horse Knows the Way

The beautiful rolling hills and bluffs that overlook the Wisconsin River Valley are breath-taking.  Dan and I started and ended a weekend photographing Southeastern MN and Southwestern WI and experiencing the artist community in and around Spring Green, WI. This land is part of the Driftless area, which was left untouched by the glaciers of the Ice Age millions of years ago.

Driftless area

Driving the backroads and taking in the country air will forever be a favorite of mine.  With every turn of the road, you may find an old barn, an abandoned farmstead, the Amish towns, interesting livestock, wildlife galore, or River valleys with breath-taking views…  Wonders for a photographer’s eye.

Some of the main attractions of this area today include Taliesin, which after 1937, was the estate of architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and House on the Rock.  We did not make it to Taliesin but we did visit House of the Rock.  As a child, I remember walking these halls and seeing the many collections that reside here.  As an adult, I was astonished and amazed that one man had this eccentric vision to create what we see today… The world’s most bizarre and immense collection of stuff.

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The Duluth, Missabe, and Iron Range Railway

Composite by Sometimes Interesting

Dan and I did not know the complete history behind the Duluth, Missabe, Iron Range Railway – until now.  In 2013, Dan and I came across an extensive abandoned building while in Two Harbors, MN; our hearts raced as we arrived on the site.  We were lucky enough to be able to photograph this location in all of its splendid decay. This building will be forever imprinted in our minds as it was our very first urban/industrial abandoned site.  We have mostly explored abandoned homes/farmsteads in the countrysides of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North & South Dakota.

A very talented writer and fellow blogger whose posts can be viewed at Sometimes Interesting, wrote an extensive piece on the Duluth, Missabe, Iron Range Railway; he has restored old life into these more recent photographs as seen below within the gallery and in Dan’s original post: [ Dan Traun’s original post from 2013-07-22].  We are deeply appreciative of the time and effort that Sometimes Interesting put into Ghosts of the Duluth, Missabe, and Iron Range Railway.

For fifty years the depot and roundhouse in Two Harbors sat abandoned, reminding of an era driven by coal and iron. The site was eventually razed, but not before photographers Dan & Cynthia Traun were able to visit and capture the buildings as they appeared in their final days.  Source: Sometimes Interesting

Sometimes Interesting is all about uncovering the history of the abandoned, forgotten, and unexplained.  Spend some time delving into this site; you will be absolutely captivated by the research performed and his writing talent.

Composite by Sometimes Interesting

The vibrations from the ghost machinery, the history that trickled from the deteriorating walls, the past whispers heard from the employees who worked in this magnificent historical building, have forever been silenced as these buildings are no longer standing.  All that will remain are the memories, photographs, and stories told through the many people who have been touched by its presence. Please enjoy my photographs taken from the exploration of this site below, stop and take a peek the images my husband, Dan Traun, had captured in  Dan Traun’s original post from 2013-07-22, then read the extensive history behind this magnificent building by visiting the site of Somtimes Interesting- Ghosts of the Duluth, Missabe, and Iron Range Railway.

Enjoy!

Chicagoland and the Hiawatha Cedar Rapids

According to Wikipedia –

On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was organized with a population of around 200.  Within seven years it would grow to a population of over 4,000. The City of Chicago was incorporated on Saturday, March 4, 1837 and went on to become the fastest growing city in the world for several decades.  Today, Chicago is the 3rd largest city in the US and is home to 9.5 million people.

We were fotunate to be included on a once in a life time trip while we photographed the Kremer family as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  The Kremer family had rented a restored 1940’s train car, the Hiawatha Cedar Rapids, and traveled the railways from Minnesota to Illinois.  The “Cedar Rapids” features a unique Skytop end, providing passengers a unique view of the country as they head down the railroad. We were honored to be included on this special occasion, what an experience (thanks again for the opportunity)!  Included in this post are a few images from the train itself and images from in and around Chicagoland.

Chicago is rich in the arts and architecture; we did not spend much time in the city during this trip, but we plan on returning someday!

Goosberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park: A Beacon of Light.

Goosberry Falls State Park is known for its amazing waterfalls and spectacular hiking trails. I would highly recommend getting out and exploring this area. The Gooseberry River falls over 1100 feet in 23 miles until it enters Lake Superior. Your choice of hiking trails leading to the Upper, Middle, and Lower falls all have their own surprises and beauty.

To know the history behind this beautiful landscape will explain it all. According to the MN state parks website:

Geology of the area between Goosberry Falls State Park and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Geologists have determined that about 1.1 billion years ago, the Earth’s crust began to split apart along a great rift zone now covered by Lake Superior. Huge volumes of lava flowed out onto the surface and cooled to form volcanic bedrock, mainly the dark type known as basalt. Several lava flows can be seen at the Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls and south of the Gooseberry River along the Lake Superior shore. The rifting also caused the flows to tilt gently toward the lake. These basalt lava flows, all along the North Shore, are also the birthplaces of Lake Superior agates.

About two million years ago, the Great Ice Age began as periodic glaciers (up to a mile thick) advanced into the region from the north. As they ground across the area, they changed the landscape dramatically, especially by excavating the whole basin now occupied by Lake Superior. About 10,000 years ago the last glacier melted back, allowing the basin to fill with water and starting the erosional process that creates the river gorges and waterfalls. Today, water, wind, and weather continue to shape the North Shore.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

In 1905, a November gale that Lake Superior is famous for claimed the ships Edenborn and the Madiera, among others, within miles of the Split Rock River. The lighthouse and fog signal building were completed in 1909 and remained as a steady beacon of light for ships until 1969. Even after the light was dimmed, the horrifying November gales took the Edmund Fitzgerald and her 29-crew members. The loss of the ship and its crew members are remembered every year on November 10, with a public program and the lighting of the beacon at dusk in remembrance.

Building Split Rock Lighthouse and the buildings on the property presented many obstacles. Hiking the path leading southwest down to Lake Superior will show you a glimpse into this amazing feat. The lake isolated the station, as there was no land access, all supplies and visitors needed to come by boat until 1934 when a road was built from the lighthouse to the Lake Superior International Highway.

Split Rock Lighthouse tram image
In 1915-1916 a much needed elevated tramway was built for delivery of supplies

We enjoyed our time spent hiking and photographing the Split Rock Lighthouse and the grounds of the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. To walk through the grounds and the restored 1920 lighthouse learning about the history of this property is intriguing to say the least. Listen to the life saving calls of the fog signal as heard today and of the 1920; to hear up close and personal was bone chilling.

Fog Signal as heard today:

Fog Signal as heard in the 1920’s

Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse will forever be, in my mind, a highly recommended stop if ever in the area.

Minnesota North Shore, Exploration of Two Harbors

After our walk around Cove Point Lodge, we headed back into Two Harbors, MN to take in some city scenery.  On our way, we noticed a sign alongside the road for “Cooter Pottery”.  Dan quickly took the sharp left onto the road heading us in that direction.  Off the beaten path and down a dirt driveway, we came to a creative hotspot that Dick and Debbie Cooter have built.  The kiln and pottery showcased here was absolutely amazing and the colors that Debbie used for her rug weaving was spectacular.  Walking into the showroom was to say the least; inspiring. A stop highly recommended!

A quote taken from Dick Cooter from his website.  To view the website and gallery click on the following link Cooter Pottery.

“My pots are fired in a 125 cu ft wood burning kiln inspired by traditional Korean kilns.  The pots I make are sturdy, bold, and reflect the processes of making them, simple decoration enhances the rich surface created by long wood fires. “

A quote taken from Debbie Cooter about Cooter Handweaving:

“I was introduced to rug weaving 27 years ago as a folk art.  The tradition using recycled clothing to weave and household items appealed to both my creative and thrifty nature.”

After spending some time photographing the Cooter Pottery grounds, we headed into Two Harbors and stopped to photograph the two lighthouses in the bay.  While driving around this quaint little town, our eyes laid upon the signs of abandonment in a large building not far from main street.  What we ran into that day required a trip back later in our vacation.  The buildings that we ran across was the old Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway 30 acre lake front property (DM&IR).  Oh my… My heart skipped a beat as the excitement poured into my body.  This was going to be a good!  We stopped for only a short period of time photographing just a small portion of this property.  The feeling these building put forth is far beyond any words that can spew out of my mouth.  Look for a post on this site in the near future as it has been recently demolished and is no longer standing.  We were extremely lucky to have noticed this gem when we did.

The next leg of our trip will bring you along with us as we tour Split Rock Lighthouse and the grounds of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

 

Winter Wonderland

According to Wikipedia,

The song, Winter Wonderland, was originally written in 1934 by Felix Bernard (music) and Richard B. Smith (lyrics). Throughout the years, it has been recorded by over 150 different artist!

When it snows, ain’t it thrillin’?
Tho’ your nose, gets a chillin’
We’ll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland.

Please enjoy some of the frolicking we have done in our little Winter Wonderland.

Winter Bliss

With our chilly winters and unreliable weather here in Southeastern MN and Southwestern WI, I still am proud to call this place my home.  I have been known to call my mother as the burning, frigid air passes through my nostrils while I am cleaning off my car after a fresh snow and ask, “Why would you raise a family in this state with this kind of weather?”   Truth be told, I love the four seasons.  I love the angle of the light in Winter, the green tip of the Tulip as at it pushes through the winter residue in Spring, the green, green, greenness of this land in Summer, and the beautiful array of color that Autumn can bring.  All seasons inspire me and continue to keep me here.

Sometimes the cold can force the body indoors and push you towards hibernation, just ask any Grizzly bear in the Northern Hemisphere.  However, Dan and I will still venture out and capture what we see in this amazing state.  Winter can add a spotlight to an item that is otherwise obscured in the thickness of the forest.  Please enjoy the images from this unseasonably warm Winter day as we traveled through rolling hills and farmland into the area of Augusta, WI.