Last evening I evening I took a drive up the Great River Road (one of the great roads of America in my opinion) just north of Alton, curious to see how high the water was. It turns out that it was just several feet shy of the roadway. I suspect that it had already crested and was on its way down and the road may have been impassable only a little bit before. Even so, it was a strange feeling to have the wheels of my car almost parallel with the surface of the water. It almost looked like one was driving on the water. And I felt the power of the river like I have felt only a few times before. There were other pictures to be had along the water front, including a massive barge pulled up right against the side of the river by the road, but I left it too late to take my drive and the light was not sufficient, so these will have to suffice.
I am spending these roasting in 100 degree heat in the middle of Illinois and catching the last iteration of a music festival that I have enjoyed and which is very important to me. This is a sample of photos of seven bands from one evening. More to come later. For now, its off for more of circle pits and folk crooners.
I don’t specifically remember seeing this building in my childhood as I crossed the iconic McKinley Bridge, often with my dear Uncle Virgil. That is perhaps because at that time McKinley bridge demanded all of the terrified attention of a child, with its “outrigger” lanes added as an afterthought to the outside of the main bridge structure and its two-way-head-on-collision-waiting-to-happen traffic down the narrow middle. Each time one crossed the driver had to pick his poison, and pay for the privilege, it being a toll road.
Sometime after the bridge was closed and reconstructed and reopened in 2007, I began to take notice as this building was being prepped for demolition. Yesterday on my bicycle ride across the beautiful bike lane of the renewed bridge, I noticed that the demolition had made great strides and I stopped to take some pictures.
The scene below me was amazing. In some ways the cranes looked like miniatures. And one of them was parked right in the belly of the building. It was the building itself that was perhaps the most interesting, packed full of intricate structures like an organism being dissected. And all around the yard huge metal structures which had been removed and sorted looked like strange internal organs.
The building itself was once the Venice Power Plant, most recently operated by Ameren, which once was a coal fired plant and more recently was converted to oil and natural gas. And though it is sad to see such an old building demolished and have its architecture lost, it will be good to have that land restored, as I found that at least parts of it, and perhaps the whole, might be considered a brownfield site. And it seems like the folks at Spirtas are getting on with it.
I hope you enjoy the pictures. Be sure to enlarge the last one to see the arch and one pylon of the new bridge spanning the Mississippi in the background.
first glimpse of mountains
smudged above weary plains; my
heart set to skipping
flat in illinois
massed thunderheads awak’ning
first glimpse of mountains
Another poem and more explication here.
The title of this blog post comes from the beautiful but heartbreakingly sad song “Casimir Pulaski Day” from Sufjan Steven’s Illinois, which in my opinion is his masterpiece. Having wandered through the goldenrod on Sunday, I can easily see how one might take these to a heavily burdened friend to brighten their day. Curiously, though, while I thought a quick Google search would tell me what a 4-H stone is, there is no obvious artifact to which this might refer other than one guess that perhaps it refers to different types of precious stones that 4-H leaders get for for certain numbers of years served in the organization.
At any rate, if you like Casimir Pulaski Day, you may enjoy more Sufjan. And I should note that much of his work is far more exuberant and energetic. My favorite albums of his in order are: Illinois, Seven Swans, and Michigan. Oh, and as the season is quickly approaching, I cannot forget to mention Songs for Christmas. There will be a moment this Winter when I will be driving in the dark and listen to this and weep and be joyful.
At any rate, that is a very long introduction to these pictures with goldenrod either in the foreground or background, which will hopefully make you joyful.
The pictures for the two Tara Point blog posts are brought to you courtesy of my brother, who has far more of the social courage (something it might be handy for a photographer to have) to ask whether a picture might be taken than do I. And so we were able to get these view from the Tara Point Inn. The drive up, up, up from Godfrey is a doozy, but, my, the views are amazing.
I think staying here is something I will likely have to add to the list of things that are cost prohibitive which I would like to do at least once.