MARDI GRAS - NEW ORLEANS, LOUSIANA

Mardi Gras, that maddest of all mad days when every man may be a king, or, if he prefers, a tramp or a clown or an Indian chief, and dance in the streets. 

New Orleans City Guide (WPA, 1938)

If you didn’t come to party, take your bitch ass home,” shouts the man selling t-shirts on Bourbon Street. He adds, “I have size sexy for the ladies.”

The main street for Carnival Season partying in New Orleans has a distinct aroma—a mix of sweat, crawfish, Daiquiri puke and just-starting-to-rot garbage. All around the senses are assaulted with beads thrown from above, shoes getting stuck to the sticky wash that covers the street, drummers drumming, people shouting and bursts of purple, gold and green. Mardi Gras has been taking place in New Orleans since before 1835. It is a time for the loud, the grotesque, the strange and excess. While this might sound awful, it is intoxicating. The season has lasted all these years because it is what you make it.

Everyone has a different experience because no one is in charge and the celebration spreads throughout the city. If you came to party, you will find one on Bourbon. I saw lots of tits, a couple asses, hundreds of hollow plastic legs dangling around people’s necks filled with red liquor, people tumbling after one too many and too many crazy outfits to count.

The balcony people taunt the crowds below. Some put fancy trinkets on fishing wire to yank the items out of greedy, eager hands. They lay in wait to judge who is deserving of the beads. Sometimes it requires a dance or a flash and sometimes they take pity on a cute nine-year-old who is getting quite an eyeful.

Just one street over, there is the opportunity for family friendly fare. Royal Street, which turns into St. Charles when heading Uptown, is filled with jugglers and street musicians, and is also the main parade route for the bigger parades. Smartly, the first couple rows of people have chairs and right behind, people set up ladders with elaborate boxes for children to sit in for a better view. There is definitely alcohol, but people try to keep it together a little more here.

Quintron and Miss Pussycat are playing at the Spellcaster Lodge with Jello Biafra in attendance and Big Freedia is bouncing at VASO. There are fancy balls with high society that are by invitation only and parades that are solely for the people who know where they start and stop.

It can also be a time for the political. Different Krewes head different parades, all with unique themes for the year. The Krewe d’Etat is known for its biting satire and this year was no different with floats criticizing the sex trade and prison system. The Zulu Parade, that goes through the neighborhood torn apart by the freeway, celebrated the life of Nelson Mandela this year.

For me, Mardi Gras was cruising the city by bicycle and taking in the sites and sounds. The majority of the time it was a delight. Walking and making photographs, I was moved to tears during the Talladega College Marching Band’s version of Get Lucky and was surprised to find how amazing it is to make eye contact with someone on a giant float and catching the beads thrown right at me. And I already miss the smell.

Mark Twain said: “I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi-Gras in New Orleans.” 

* * *

Tammy Mercure is a State Guide to Tennessee. She was named one of the “100 under 100: The New Superstars of Southern Art” by Oxford American magazine.

Follow on Tumblr at tammymercure or on her website, TammyMercure.com. Support her work at TCB Press.

RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
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RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
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RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
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RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
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RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
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RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…

—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.

In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  

Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.

While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.

During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.

With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   

After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.

Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.

 * * *

April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.

Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.

EDEN, NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina was strongly influenced by the “Great Revival” that swept the country after the Revolutionary War and lasted intermittently until the War between the States… This emotional preaching, interspersed with stirring hymns, induced physical manifestations known as “the exercises.” These included the phenomena known as jerking, wheeling, dancing, laughing, barking, and falling down.
—North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State (WPA, 1939)

Eden, North Carolina is a city in Rockingham County that nearly borders Virginia. It’s where the Smith and Dan Rivers converge. It began as a utopian colony founded by William Byrd II and was later sold to some planters by Byrd’s son to pay off his gambling debts.
Guide note: One of the best photographic gifts I’ve been given was a viewing of Tod Papageorge’s “Passing Through Eden" read alongside some passages from the book of Genesis. Since then, I’ve been struck with some depictions of this biblical state of mind.
* * *
Aaron Canipe is a State Guide to North Carolina. He was born and raised in Hickory, North Carolina and received his BFA in photography from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C. Aaron also helps operate Empty Stretch, a DIY-publisher and blog. He’s exhibited work throughout the South and has been published in the Washington Post and the Oxford American’s “Eye on the South” blog. Follow him on Tumblr at mysteriesmanners and see more work on his website, aaroncanipe.com.
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EDEN, NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina was strongly influenced by the “Great Revival” that swept the country after the Revolutionary War and lasted intermittently until the War between the States… This emotional preaching, interspersed with stirring hymns, induced physical manifestations known as “the exercises.” These included the phenomena known as jerking, wheeling, dancing, laughing, barking, and falling down.
—North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State (WPA, 1939)

Eden, North Carolina is a city in Rockingham County that nearly borders Virginia. It’s where the Smith and Dan Rivers converge. It began as a utopian colony founded by William Byrd II and was later sold to some planters by Byrd’s son to pay off his gambling debts.
Guide note: One of the best photographic gifts I’ve been given was a viewing of Tod Papageorge’s “Passing Through Eden" read alongside some passages from the book of Genesis. Since then, I’ve been struck with some depictions of this biblical state of mind.
* * *
Aaron Canipe is a State Guide to North Carolina. He was born and raised in Hickory, North Carolina and received his BFA in photography from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C. Aaron also helps operate Empty Stretch, a DIY-publisher and blog. He’s exhibited work throughout the South and has been published in the Washington Post and the Oxford American’s “Eye on the South” blog. Follow him on Tumblr at mysteriesmanners and see more work on his website, aaroncanipe.com.
Zoom Info
EDEN, NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina was strongly influenced by the “Great Revival” that swept the country after the Revolutionary War and lasted intermittently until the War between the States… This emotional preaching, interspersed with stirring hymns, induced physical manifestations known as “the exercises.” These included the phenomena known as jerking, wheeling, dancing, laughing, barking, and falling down.
—North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State (WPA, 1939)

Eden, North Carolina is a city in Rockingham County that nearly borders Virginia. It’s where the Smith and Dan Rivers converge. It began as a utopian colony founded by William Byrd II and was later sold to some planters by Byrd’s son to pay off his gambling debts.
Guide note: One of the best photographic gifts I’ve been given was a viewing of Tod Papageorge’s “Passing Through Eden" read alongside some passages from the book of Genesis. Since then, I’ve been struck with some depictions of this biblical state of mind.
* * *
Aaron Canipe is a State Guide to North Carolina. He was born and raised in Hickory, North Carolina and received his BFA in photography from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C. Aaron also helps operate Empty Stretch, a DIY-publisher and blog. He’s exhibited work throughout the South and has been published in the Washington Post and the Oxford American’s “Eye on the South” blog. Follow him on Tumblr at mysteriesmanners and see more work on his website, aaroncanipe.com.
Zoom Info
EDEN, NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina was strongly influenced by the “Great Revival” that swept the country after the Revolutionary War and lasted intermittently until the War between the States… This emotional preaching, interspersed with stirring hymns, induced physical manifestations known as “the exercises.” These included the phenomena known as jerking, wheeling, dancing, laughing, barking, and falling down.
—North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State (WPA, 1939)

Eden, North Carolina is a city in Rockingham County that nearly borders Virginia. It’s where the Smith and Dan Rivers converge. It began as a utopian colony founded by William Byrd II and was later sold to some planters by Byrd’s son to pay off his gambling debts.
Guide note: One of the best photographic gifts I’ve been given was a viewing of Tod Papageorge’s “Passing Through Eden" read alongside some passages from the book of Genesis. Since then, I’ve been struck with some depictions of this biblical state of mind.
* * *
Aaron Canipe is a State Guide to North Carolina. He was born and raised in Hickory, North Carolina and received his BFA in photography from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C. Aaron also helps operate Empty Stretch, a DIY-publisher and blog. He’s exhibited work throughout the South and has been published in the Washington Post and the Oxford American’s “Eye on the South” blog. Follow him on Tumblr at mysteriesmanners and see more work on his website, aaroncanipe.com.
Zoom Info
EDEN, NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina was strongly influenced by the “Great Revival” that swept the country after the Revolutionary War and lasted intermittently until the War between the States… This emotional preaching, interspersed with stirring hymns, induced physical manifestations known as “the exercises.” These included the phenomena known as jerking, wheeling, dancing, laughing, barking, and falling down.
—North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State (WPA, 1939)

Eden, North Carolina is a city in Rockingham County that nearly borders Virginia. It’s where the Smith and Dan Rivers converge. It began as a utopian colony founded by William Byrd II and was later sold to some planters by Byrd’s son to pay off his gambling debts.
Guide note: One of the best photographic gifts I’ve been given was a viewing of Tod Papageorge’s “Passing Through Eden" read alongside some passages from the book of Genesis. Since then, I’ve been struck with some depictions of this biblical state of mind.
* * *
Aaron Canipe is a State Guide to North Carolina. He was born and raised in Hickory, North Carolina and received his BFA in photography from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C. Aaron also helps operate Empty Stretch, a DIY-publisher and blog. He’s exhibited work throughout the South and has been published in the Washington Post and the Oxford American’s “Eye on the South” blog. Follow him on Tumblr at mysteriesmanners and see more work on his website, aaroncanipe.com.
Zoom Info
EDEN, NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina was strongly influenced by the “Great Revival” that swept the country after the Revolutionary War and lasted intermittently until the War between the States… This emotional preaching, interspersed with stirring hymns, induced physical manifestations known as “the exercises.” These included the phenomena known as jerking, wheeling, dancing, laughing, barking, and falling down.
—North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State (WPA, 1939)

Eden, North Carolina is a city in Rockingham County that nearly borders Virginia. It’s where the Smith and Dan Rivers converge. It began as a utopian colony founded by William Byrd II and was later sold to some planters by Byrd’s son to pay off his gambling debts.
Guide note: One of the best photographic gifts I’ve been given was a viewing of Tod Papageorge’s “Passing Through Eden" read alongside some passages from the book of Genesis. Since then, I’ve been struck with some depictions of this biblical state of mind.
* * *
Aaron Canipe is a State Guide to North Carolina. He was born and raised in Hickory, North Carolina and received his BFA in photography from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C. Aaron also helps operate Empty Stretch, a DIY-publisher and blog. He’s exhibited work throughout the South and has been published in the Washington Post and the Oxford American’s “Eye on the South” blog. Follow him on Tumblr at mysteriesmanners and see more work on his website, aaroncanipe.com.
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EDEN, NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina was strongly influenced by the “Great Revival” that swept the country after the Revolutionary War and lasted intermittently until the War between the States… This emotional preaching, interspersed with stirring hymns, induced physical manifestations known as “the exercises.” These included the phenomena known as jerking, wheeling, dancing, laughing, barking, and falling down.
—North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State (WPA, 1939)

Eden, North Carolina is a city in Rockingham County that nearly borders Virginia. It’s where the Smith and Dan Rivers converge. It began as a utopian colony founded by William Byrd II and was later sold to some planters by Byrd’s son to pay off his gambling debts.
Guide note: One of the best photographic gifts I’ve been given was a viewing of Tod Papageorge’s “Passing Through Eden" read alongside some passages from the book of Genesis. Since then, I’ve been struck with some depictions of this biblical state of mind.
* * *
Aaron Canipe is a State Guide to North Carolina. He was born and raised in Hickory, North Carolina and received his BFA in photography from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C. Aaron also helps operate Empty Stretch, a DIY-publisher and blog. He’s exhibited work throughout the South and has been published in the Washington Post and the Oxford American’s “Eye on the South” blog. Follow him on Tumblr at mysteriesmanners and see more work on his website, aaroncanipe.com.
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EDEN, NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina was strongly influenced by the “Great Revival” that swept the country after the Revolutionary War and lasted intermittently until the War between the States… This emotional preaching, interspersed with stirring hymns, induced physical manifestations known as “the exercises.” These included the phenomena known as jerking, wheeling, dancing, laughing, barking, and falling down.
—North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State (WPA, 1939)

Eden, North Carolina is a city in Rockingham County that nearly borders Virginia. It’s where the Smith and Dan Rivers converge. It began as a utopian colony founded by William Byrd II and was later sold to some planters by Byrd’s son to pay off his gambling debts.
Guide note: One of the best photographic gifts I’ve been given was a viewing of Tod Papageorge’s “Passing Through Eden" read alongside some passages from the book of Genesis. Since then, I’ve been struck with some depictions of this biblical state of mind.
* * *
Aaron Canipe is a State Guide to North Carolina. He was born and raised in Hickory, North Carolina and received his BFA in photography from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C. Aaron also helps operate Empty Stretch, a DIY-publisher and blog. He’s exhibited work throughout the South and has been published in the Washington Post and the Oxford American’s “Eye on the South” blog. Follow him on Tumblr at mysteriesmanners and see more work on his website, aaroncanipe.com.
Zoom Info

EDEN, NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina was strongly influenced by the “Great Revival” that swept the country after the Revolutionary War and lasted intermittently until the War between the States… This emotional preaching, interspersed with stirring hymns, induced physical manifestations known as “the exercises.” These included the phenomena known as jerking, wheeling, dancing, laughing, barking, and falling down.

North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State (WPA, 1939)

Eden, North Carolina is a city in Rockingham County that nearly borders Virginia. It’s where the Smith and Dan Rivers converge. It began as a utopian colony founded by William Byrd II and was later sold to some planters by Byrd’s son to pay off his gambling debts.

Guide note: One of the best photographic gifts I’ve been given was a viewing of Tod Papageorge’s “Passing Through Eden" read alongside some passages from the book of Genesis. Since then, I’ve been struck with some depictions of this biblical state of mind.

* * *

Aaron Canipe is a State Guide to North Carolina. He was born and raised in Hickory, North Carolina and received his BFA in photography from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C. Aaron also helps operate Empty Stretch, a DIY-publisher and blog. He’s exhibited work throughout the South and has been published in the Washington Post and the Oxford American’s “Eye on the South” blog. Follow him on Tumblr at mysteriesmanners and see more work on his website, aaroncanipe.com.

THE MOTELS OF GATLINBURG, TENNESSEE
Officially established in June of 1934, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was one of many parks permanently shaped by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. Not only did they strengthen the infrastructure of the park itself, the once small mountain towns bordering the park also saw quick changes as tourism to the now visitor-friendly parks boomed with the recovery of the economy.
The town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is one such town. In one year from 1934 to 1935, the visitors coming to the town to visit the park went from 40,000 visitors to 500,000 visitors. Over the next 15 years the price of land per acre went from $50 to $8000 an acre.
Certain areas of Gatlinburg look like a postcard from The Smoky Mountains I’d find in photo albums of my grandparents. Signs line up on the parkway with names like Old Creek Lodge, The Log Cabin Pancake House or the Sugarland Wedding Chapel. Parts of the main road in town, Eastern Parkway, look like a caricature of American Tourism during the 40s and 5’s and perhaps the most obvious evidence of this is in its motels. 
Scattered randomly amongst many chain-tourist traps such as Ripley’s and a Hard Rock cafe, these motels, lodges, chalets and inns have a certain empty stillness that makes it easy to imagine the cars, clothes and families that filled the town and park during the summers way before there were convention centers and Pucker’s Sports Bars. And while the comfortable beds of the new hotel down the street may be appealing, I’ll take a motel that looks like it’s out of a David Lynch movie and called Ogle’s Vacation Motel over a Hilton Garden Inn any day.
* * *
EE Berger is a photographer Detroit bred and Brooklyn based. She seeks out emptiness, solitude and peaceful moments and was recently selected as one of Photoboite’s “30 Women Photographers Under 30” for 2013. You can find her on Tumblr at eeberger.tumblr.com, and find her website at eebergerphoto.com.
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THE MOTELS OF GATLINBURG, TENNESSEE
Officially established in June of 1934, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was one of many parks permanently shaped by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. Not only did they strengthen the infrastructure of the park itself, the once small mountain towns bordering the park also saw quick changes as tourism to the now visitor-friendly parks boomed with the recovery of the economy.
The town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is one such town. In one year from 1934 to 1935, the visitors coming to the town to visit the park went from 40,000 visitors to 500,000 visitors. Over the next 15 years the price of land per acre went from $50 to $8000 an acre.
Certain areas of Gatlinburg look like a postcard from The Smoky Mountains I’d find in photo albums of my grandparents. Signs line up on the parkway with names like Old Creek Lodge, The Log Cabin Pancake House or the Sugarland Wedding Chapel. Parts of the main road in town, Eastern Parkway, look like a caricature of American Tourism during the 40s and 5’s and perhaps the most obvious evidence of this is in its motels. 
Scattered randomly amongst many chain-tourist traps such as Ripley’s and a Hard Rock cafe, these motels, lodges, chalets and inns have a certain empty stillness that makes it easy to imagine the cars, clothes and families that filled the town and park during the summers way before there were convention centers and Pucker’s Sports Bars. And while the comfortable beds of the new hotel down the street may be appealing, I’ll take a motel that looks like it’s out of a David Lynch movie and called Ogle’s Vacation Motel over a Hilton Garden Inn any day.
* * *
EE Berger is a photographer Detroit bred and Brooklyn based. She seeks out emptiness, solitude and peaceful moments and was recently selected as one of Photoboite’s “30 Women Photographers Under 30” for 2013. You can find her on Tumblr at eeberger.tumblr.com, and find her website at eebergerphoto.com.
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THE MOTELS OF GATLINBURG, TENNESSEE
Officially established in June of 1934, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was one of many parks permanently shaped by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. Not only did they strengthen the infrastructure of the park itself, the once small mountain towns bordering the park also saw quick changes as tourism to the now visitor-friendly parks boomed with the recovery of the economy.
The town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is one such town. In one year from 1934 to 1935, the visitors coming to the town to visit the park went from 40,000 visitors to 500,000 visitors. Over the next 15 years the price of land per acre went from $50 to $8000 an acre.
Certain areas of Gatlinburg look like a postcard from The Smoky Mountains I’d find in photo albums of my grandparents. Signs line up on the parkway with names like Old Creek Lodge, The Log Cabin Pancake House or the Sugarland Wedding Chapel. Parts of the main road in town, Eastern Parkway, look like a caricature of American Tourism during the 40s and 5’s and perhaps the most obvious evidence of this is in its motels. 
Scattered randomly amongst many chain-tourist traps such as Ripley’s and a Hard Rock cafe, these motels, lodges, chalets and inns have a certain empty stillness that makes it easy to imagine the cars, clothes and families that filled the town and park during the summers way before there were convention centers and Pucker’s Sports Bars. And while the comfortable beds of the new hotel down the street may be appealing, I’ll take a motel that looks like it’s out of a David Lynch movie and called Ogle’s Vacation Motel over a Hilton Garden Inn any day.
* * *
EE Berger is a photographer Detroit bred and Brooklyn based. She seeks out emptiness, solitude and peaceful moments and was recently selected as one of Photoboite’s “30 Women Photographers Under 30” for 2013. You can find her on Tumblr at eeberger.tumblr.com, and find her website at eebergerphoto.com.
Zoom Info
THE MOTELS OF GATLINBURG, TENNESSEE
Officially established in June of 1934, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was one of many parks permanently shaped by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. Not only did they strengthen the infrastructure of the park itself, the once small mountain towns bordering the park also saw quick changes as tourism to the now visitor-friendly parks boomed with the recovery of the economy.
The town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is one such town. In one year from 1934 to 1935, the visitors coming to the town to visit the park went from 40,000 visitors to 500,000 visitors. Over the next 15 years the price of land per acre went from $50 to $8000 an acre.
Certain areas of Gatlinburg look like a postcard from The Smoky Mountains I’d find in photo albums of my grandparents. Signs line up on the parkway with names like Old Creek Lodge, The Log Cabin Pancake House or the Sugarland Wedding Chapel. Parts of the main road in town, Eastern Parkway, look like a caricature of American Tourism during the 40s and 5’s and perhaps the most obvious evidence of this is in its motels. 
Scattered randomly amongst many chain-tourist traps such as Ripley’s and a Hard Rock cafe, these motels, lodges, chalets and inns have a certain empty stillness that makes it easy to imagine the cars, clothes and families that filled the town and park during the summers way before there were convention centers and Pucker’s Sports Bars. And while the comfortable beds of the new hotel down the street may be appealing, I’ll take a motel that looks like it’s out of a David Lynch movie and called Ogle’s Vacation Motel over a Hilton Garden Inn any day.
* * *
EE Berger is a photographer Detroit bred and Brooklyn based. She seeks out emptiness, solitude and peaceful moments and was recently selected as one of Photoboite’s “30 Women Photographers Under 30” for 2013. You can find her on Tumblr at eeberger.tumblr.com, and find her website at eebergerphoto.com.
Zoom Info
THE MOTELS OF GATLINBURG, TENNESSEE
Officially established in June of 1934, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was one of many parks permanently shaped by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. Not only did they strengthen the infrastructure of the park itself, the once small mountain towns bordering the park also saw quick changes as tourism to the now visitor-friendly parks boomed with the recovery of the economy.
The town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is one such town. In one year from 1934 to 1935, the visitors coming to the town to visit the park went from 40,000 visitors to 500,000 visitors. Over the next 15 years the price of land per acre went from $50 to $8000 an acre.
Certain areas of Gatlinburg look like a postcard from The Smoky Mountains I’d find in photo albums of my grandparents. Signs line up on the parkway with names like Old Creek Lodge, The Log Cabin Pancake House or the Sugarland Wedding Chapel. Parts of the main road in town, Eastern Parkway, look like a caricature of American Tourism during the 40s and 5’s and perhaps the most obvious evidence of this is in its motels. 
Scattered randomly amongst many chain-tourist traps such as Ripley’s and a Hard Rock cafe, these motels, lodges, chalets and inns have a certain empty stillness that makes it easy to imagine the cars, clothes and families that filled the town and park during the summers way before there were convention centers and Pucker’s Sports Bars. And while the comfortable beds of the new hotel down the street may be appealing, I’ll take a motel that looks like it’s out of a David Lynch movie and called Ogle’s Vacation Motel over a Hilton Garden Inn any day.
* * *
EE Berger is a photographer Detroit bred and Brooklyn based. She seeks out emptiness, solitude and peaceful moments and was recently selected as one of Photoboite’s “30 Women Photographers Under 30” for 2013. You can find her on Tumblr at eeberger.tumblr.com, and find her website at eebergerphoto.com.
Zoom Info

THE MOTELS OF GATLINBURG, TENNESSEE

Officially established in June of 1934, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was one of many parks permanently shaped by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. Not only did they strengthen the infrastructure of the park itself, the once small mountain towns bordering the park also saw quick changes as tourism to the now visitor-friendly parks boomed with the recovery of the economy.

The town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is one such town. In one year from 1934 to 1935, the visitors coming to the town to visit the park went from 40,000 visitors to 500,000 visitors. Over the next 15 years the price of land per acre went from $50 to $8000 an acre.

Certain areas of Gatlinburg look like a postcard from The Smoky Mountains I’d find in photo albums of my grandparents. Signs line up on the parkway with names like Old Creek Lodge, The Log Cabin Pancake House or the Sugarland Wedding Chapel. Parts of the main road in town, Eastern Parkway, look like a caricature of American Tourism during the 40s and 5’s and perhaps the most obvious evidence of this is in its motels. 

Scattered randomly amongst many chain-tourist traps such as Ripley’s and a Hard Rock cafe, these motels, lodges, chalets and inns have a certain empty stillness that makes it easy to imagine the cars, clothes and families that filled the town and park during the summers way before there were convention centers and Pucker’s Sports Bars. And while the comfortable beds of the new hotel down the street may be appealing, I’ll take a motel that looks like it’s out of a David Lynch movie and called Ogle’s Vacation Motel over a Hilton Garden Inn any day.

* * *

EE Berger is a photographer Detroit bred and Brooklyn based. She seeks out emptiness, solitude and peaceful moments and was recently selected as one of Photoboite’s “30 Women Photographers Under 30” for 2013. You can find her on Tumblr at eeberger.tumblr.com, and find her website at eebergerphoto.com.

JOY PROM - JOHNSON CITY, TENNESSEE

"Young man, there’s no need to feel down. Young man, get yourself off the ground" — pumps from the speakers, the trumpets blare and then — "It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A." — and hundreds of arms extend into the sky while red and blue lights flash from the stage.

Grace Fellowship in Johnson City, Tennessee, joined the Joy Prom movement in 2011 and are continuing to go strong along with other groups in Las Vegas, Charlotte and more. The guests of this prom range in age from knee-high to a grasshopper to older than 60 and have a range of special needs. Everyone at the event has the common goal of dancin’ their ass off and having a good time.

The night starts with the red carpet, where the attendees are announced and they enter dressed to the nines. Once at the party, you can get a horse drawn carriage ride, play Wii or air hockey, get your photo taken at the photo booth with a wacky mustache or big boa, or sit around and visit.

After dinner is served and all have eaten, the DJ starts the music. Some roll out to the dance floor while others strut — and everyone dances.

Like out of a movie, while Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is spinning one young woman hops on the stage and does the entire choreography without missing a beat. The crowd cheers and she is not without a dance partner for the rest of the night. Couples smooch and slow dance and many are spun during a fast number. The music is hit after hit and it seems like barely a minute has passed before the lights come up and it is time to go home.

Guide Note: If you or a family member has special needs, consider finding a Joy Prom near you to attend. If you have photography skills, have mean dance moves or have experience with food service, consider volunteering at the prom. (It’s the only time you’ll see me dance in public.)

* * *

Tammy Mercure is a State Guide to Tennessee. She was named one of the “100 under 100: The New Superstars of Southern Art” by Oxford American magazine.

Follow on Tumblr at tammymercure or on her website, TammyMercure.com. Support her work at TCB Press.

ARTESIA, MISSISSIPPI

ARTESIA, 55 m. (223 alt., 612 pop.), is the junction point of the main line of the Mobile & Ohio R.R. and its Columbus and Starkville branches. It takes its name from an artesian well N. of the depot. Unusually large quantities of hay are shipped from this point.
Between here and Macon the dominant features of the landscape are the HEDGES OF OSAGE ORANGE TREES planted in fence-like rows along the prairie’s edge. The highway runs like a narrow lane between their thorny, tangled branches. In winter these prickly trees are etched grayly against the sky, but in summer they burst into smooth green leaves and pale yellowish blossoms, which are replaced by orange-like inedible fruit. Many of these hedges were planted more than a century ago and constitute the pioneer planters’ mark upon the land. They confined stock and kept prying Indians out of cornfields, and they conveyed to neighbors theidea that the land encircled by the thorny fences was private property. Sometimes called bois d’ arc (Fr., wood of the ark), these trees, according to legend, furnished the sturdy wood out of which Noah built the ark. When lumber is cut from the trees, the tough wood often breaks the teeth of the saw.
—Mississippi, A Guide To the Magnolia State (WPA, 1938)

Many of the bois d’ arc trees still line the streets and fields of Artesia, though most are too big to be considered hedges. A lot of the trees have been replaced by metal barbed wire and chain-link fencing to mark changes in ownership and usage. The rail road that runs through town now is operated by Kansas City Southern (KCS). The big junction that was there in the 1930s is little more than a switching yard with three sets of tracks. The population, too, has decreased to 435 people, and will likely continue to drop. 
That doesn’t mean the people who are there aren’t happy to live in Artesia. Early in the morning people are out walking in the sun and the warm weather—enjoying the day and the quiet peace of the town. Like so many places in Mississippi, nature dominates—whether it is strolling down main street or venturing into the forest.
* * *
David Jones is a State Guide to Mississippi. While going to school, he lived in five of the Southern states, from Virginia to Texas. Currently he can be found traveling the highways and back roads of Mississippi, helping people out when he can and exploring the hidden treasures of the state. You can find him on Tumblr at woodprof.tumblr.com.
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ARTESIA, MISSISSIPPI

ARTESIA, 55 m. (223 alt., 612 pop.), is the junction point of the main line of the Mobile & Ohio R.R. and its Columbus and Starkville branches. It takes its name from an artesian well N. of the depot. Unusually large quantities of hay are shipped from this point.
Between here and Macon the dominant features of the landscape are the HEDGES OF OSAGE ORANGE TREES planted in fence-like rows along the prairie’s edge. The highway runs like a narrow lane between their thorny, tangled branches. In winter these prickly trees are etched grayly against the sky, but in summer they burst into smooth green leaves and pale yellowish blossoms, which are replaced by orange-like inedible fruit. Many of these hedges were planted more than a century ago and constitute the pioneer planters’ mark upon the land. They confined stock and kept prying Indians out of cornfields, and they conveyed to neighbors theidea that the land encircled by the thorny fences was private property. Sometimes called bois d’ arc (Fr., wood of the ark), these trees, according to legend, furnished the sturdy wood out of which Noah built the ark. When lumber is cut from the trees, the tough wood often breaks the teeth of the saw.
—Mississippi, A Guide To the Magnolia State (WPA, 1938)

Many of the bois d’ arc trees still line the streets and fields of Artesia, though most are too big to be considered hedges. A lot of the trees have been replaced by metal barbed wire and chain-link fencing to mark changes in ownership and usage. The rail road that runs through town now is operated by Kansas City Southern (KCS). The big junction that was there in the 1930s is little more than a switching yard with three sets of tracks. The population, too, has decreased to 435 people, and will likely continue to drop. 
That doesn’t mean the people who are there aren’t happy to live in Artesia. Early in the morning people are out walking in the sun and the warm weather—enjoying the day and the quiet peace of the town. Like so many places in Mississippi, nature dominates—whether it is strolling down main street or venturing into the forest.
* * *
David Jones is a State Guide to Mississippi. While going to school, he lived in five of the Southern states, from Virginia to Texas. Currently he can be found traveling the highways and back roads of Mississippi, helping people out when he can and exploring the hidden treasures of the state. You can find him on Tumblr at woodprof.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
ARTESIA, MISSISSIPPI

ARTESIA, 55 m. (223 alt., 612 pop.), is the junction point of the main line of the Mobile & Ohio R.R. and its Columbus and Starkville branches. It takes its name from an artesian well N. of the depot. Unusually large quantities of hay are shipped from this point.
Between here and Macon the dominant features of the landscape are the HEDGES OF OSAGE ORANGE TREES planted in fence-like rows along the prairie’s edge. The highway runs like a narrow lane between their thorny, tangled branches. In winter these prickly trees are etched grayly against the sky, but in summer they burst into smooth green leaves and pale yellowish blossoms, which are replaced by orange-like inedible fruit. Many of these hedges were planted more than a century ago and constitute the pioneer planters’ mark upon the land. They confined stock and kept prying Indians out of cornfields, and they conveyed to neighbors theidea that the land encircled by the thorny fences was private property. Sometimes called bois d’ arc (Fr., wood of the ark), these trees, according to legend, furnished the sturdy wood out of which Noah built the ark. When lumber is cut from the trees, the tough wood often breaks the teeth of the saw.
—Mississippi, A Guide To the Magnolia State (WPA, 1938)

Many of the bois d’ arc trees still line the streets and fields of Artesia, though most are too big to be considered hedges. A lot of the trees have been replaced by metal barbed wire and chain-link fencing to mark changes in ownership and usage. The rail road that runs through town now is operated by Kansas City Southern (KCS). The big junction that was there in the 1930s is little more than a switching yard with three sets of tracks. The population, too, has decreased to 435 people, and will likely continue to drop. 
That doesn’t mean the people who are there aren’t happy to live in Artesia. Early in the morning people are out walking in the sun and the warm weather—enjoying the day and the quiet peace of the town. Like so many places in Mississippi, nature dominates—whether it is strolling down main street or venturing into the forest.
* * *
David Jones is a State Guide to Mississippi. While going to school, he lived in five of the Southern states, from Virginia to Texas. Currently he can be found traveling the highways and back roads of Mississippi, helping people out when he can and exploring the hidden treasures of the state. You can find him on Tumblr at woodprof.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
ARTESIA, MISSISSIPPI

ARTESIA, 55 m. (223 alt., 612 pop.), is the junction point of the main line of the Mobile & Ohio R.R. and its Columbus and Starkville branches. It takes its name from an artesian well N. of the depot. Unusually large quantities of hay are shipped from this point.
Between here and Macon the dominant features of the landscape are the HEDGES OF OSAGE ORANGE TREES planted in fence-like rows along the prairie’s edge. The highway runs like a narrow lane between their thorny, tangled branches. In winter these prickly trees are etched grayly against the sky, but in summer they burst into smooth green leaves and pale yellowish blossoms, which are replaced by orange-like inedible fruit. Many of these hedges were planted more than a century ago and constitute the pioneer planters’ mark upon the land. They confined stock and kept prying Indians out of cornfields, and they conveyed to neighbors theidea that the land encircled by the thorny fences was private property. Sometimes called bois d’ arc (Fr., wood of the ark), these trees, according to legend, furnished the sturdy wood out of which Noah built the ark. When lumber is cut from the trees, the tough wood often breaks the teeth of the saw.
—Mississippi, A Guide To the Magnolia State (WPA, 1938)

Many of the bois d’ arc trees still line the streets and fields of Artesia, though most are too big to be considered hedges. A lot of the trees have been replaced by metal barbed wire and chain-link fencing to mark changes in ownership and usage. The rail road that runs through town now is operated by Kansas City Southern (KCS). The big junction that was there in the 1930s is little more than a switching yard with three sets of tracks. The population, too, has decreased to 435 people, and will likely continue to drop. 
That doesn’t mean the people who are there aren’t happy to live in Artesia. Early in the morning people are out walking in the sun and the warm weather—enjoying the day and the quiet peace of the town. Like so many places in Mississippi, nature dominates—whether it is strolling down main street or venturing into the forest.
* * *
David Jones is a State Guide to Mississippi. While going to school, he lived in five of the Southern states, from Virginia to Texas. Currently he can be found traveling the highways and back roads of Mississippi, helping people out when he can and exploring the hidden treasures of the state. You can find him on Tumblr at woodprof.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
ARTESIA, MISSISSIPPI

ARTESIA, 55 m. (223 alt., 612 pop.), is the junction point of the main line of the Mobile & Ohio R.R. and its Columbus and Starkville branches. It takes its name from an artesian well N. of the depot. Unusually large quantities of hay are shipped from this point.
Between here and Macon the dominant features of the landscape are the HEDGES OF OSAGE ORANGE TREES planted in fence-like rows along the prairie’s edge. The highway runs like a narrow lane between their thorny, tangled branches. In winter these prickly trees are etched grayly against the sky, but in summer they burst into smooth green leaves and pale yellowish blossoms, which are replaced by orange-like inedible fruit. Many of these hedges were planted more than a century ago and constitute the pioneer planters’ mark upon the land. They confined stock and kept prying Indians out of cornfields, and they conveyed to neighbors theidea that the land encircled by the thorny fences was private property. Sometimes called bois d’ arc (Fr., wood of the ark), these trees, according to legend, furnished the sturdy wood out of which Noah built the ark. When lumber is cut from the trees, the tough wood often breaks the teeth of the saw.
—Mississippi, A Guide To the Magnolia State (WPA, 1938)

Many of the bois d’ arc trees still line the streets and fields of Artesia, though most are too big to be considered hedges. A lot of the trees have been replaced by metal barbed wire and chain-link fencing to mark changes in ownership and usage. The rail road that runs through town now is operated by Kansas City Southern (KCS). The big junction that was there in the 1930s is little more than a switching yard with three sets of tracks. The population, too, has decreased to 435 people, and will likely continue to drop. 
That doesn’t mean the people who are there aren’t happy to live in Artesia. Early in the morning people are out walking in the sun and the warm weather—enjoying the day and the quiet peace of the town. Like so many places in Mississippi, nature dominates—whether it is strolling down main street or venturing into the forest.
* * *
David Jones is a State Guide to Mississippi. While going to school, he lived in five of the Southern states, from Virginia to Texas. Currently he can be found traveling the highways and back roads of Mississippi, helping people out when he can and exploring the hidden treasures of the state. You can find him on Tumblr at woodprof.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
ARTESIA, MISSISSIPPI

ARTESIA, 55 m. (223 alt., 612 pop.), is the junction point of the main line of the Mobile & Ohio R.R. and its Columbus and Starkville branches. It takes its name from an artesian well N. of the depot. Unusually large quantities of hay are shipped from this point.
Between here and Macon the dominant features of the landscape are the HEDGES OF OSAGE ORANGE TREES planted in fence-like rows along the prairie’s edge. The highway runs like a narrow lane between their thorny, tangled branches. In winter these prickly trees are etched grayly against the sky, but in summer they burst into smooth green leaves and pale yellowish blossoms, which are replaced by orange-like inedible fruit. Many of these hedges were planted more than a century ago and constitute the pioneer planters’ mark upon the land. They confined stock and kept prying Indians out of cornfields, and they conveyed to neighbors theidea that the land encircled by the thorny fences was private property. Sometimes called bois d’ arc (Fr., wood of the ark), these trees, according to legend, furnished the sturdy wood out of which Noah built the ark. When lumber is cut from the trees, the tough wood often breaks the teeth of the saw.
—Mississippi, A Guide To the Magnolia State (WPA, 1938)

Many of the bois d’ arc trees still line the streets and fields of Artesia, though most are too big to be considered hedges. A lot of the trees have been replaced by metal barbed wire and chain-link fencing to mark changes in ownership and usage. The rail road that runs through town now is operated by Kansas City Southern (KCS). The big junction that was there in the 1930s is little more than a switching yard with three sets of tracks. The population, too, has decreased to 435 people, and will likely continue to drop. 
That doesn’t mean the people who are there aren’t happy to live in Artesia. Early in the morning people are out walking in the sun and the warm weather—enjoying the day and the quiet peace of the town. Like so many places in Mississippi, nature dominates—whether it is strolling down main street or venturing into the forest.
* * *
David Jones is a State Guide to Mississippi. While going to school, he lived in five of the Southern states, from Virginia to Texas. Currently he can be found traveling the highways and back roads of Mississippi, helping people out when he can and exploring the hidden treasures of the state. You can find him on Tumblr at woodprof.tumblr.com.
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ARTESIA, MISSISSIPPI

ARTESIA, 55 m. (223 alt., 612 pop.), is the junction point of the main line of the Mobile & Ohio R.R. and its Columbus and Starkville branches. It takes its name from an artesian well N. of the depot. Unusually large quantities of hay are shipped from this point.
Between here and Macon the dominant features of the landscape are the HEDGES OF OSAGE ORANGE TREES planted in fence-like rows along the prairie’s edge. The highway runs like a narrow lane between their thorny, tangled branches. In winter these prickly trees are etched grayly against the sky, but in summer they burst into smooth green leaves and pale yellowish blossoms, which are replaced by orange-like inedible fruit. Many of these hedges were planted more than a century ago and constitute the pioneer planters’ mark upon the land. They confined stock and kept prying Indians out of cornfields, and they conveyed to neighbors theidea that the land encircled by the thorny fences was private property. Sometimes called bois d’ arc (Fr., wood of the ark), these trees, according to legend, furnished the sturdy wood out of which Noah built the ark. When lumber is cut from the trees, the tough wood often breaks the teeth of the saw.
—Mississippi, A Guide To the Magnolia State (WPA, 1938)

Many of the bois d’ arc trees still line the streets and fields of Artesia, though most are too big to be considered hedges. A lot of the trees have been replaced by metal barbed wire and chain-link fencing to mark changes in ownership and usage. The rail road that runs through town now is operated by Kansas City Southern (KCS). The big junction that was there in the 1930s is little more than a switching yard with three sets of tracks. The population, too, has decreased to 435 people, and will likely continue to drop. 
That doesn’t mean the people who are there aren’t happy to live in Artesia. Early in the morning people are out walking in the sun and the warm weather—enjoying the day and the quiet peace of the town. Like so many places in Mississippi, nature dominates—whether it is strolling down main street or venturing into the forest.
* * *
David Jones is a State Guide to Mississippi. While going to school, he lived in five of the Southern states, from Virginia to Texas. Currently he can be found traveling the highways and back roads of Mississippi, helping people out when he can and exploring the hidden treasures of the state. You can find him on Tumblr at woodprof.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
ARTESIA, MISSISSIPPI

ARTESIA, 55 m. (223 alt., 612 pop.), is the junction point of the main line of the Mobile & Ohio R.R. and its Columbus and Starkville branches. It takes its name from an artesian well N. of the depot. Unusually large quantities of hay are shipped from this point.
Between here and Macon the dominant features of the landscape are the HEDGES OF OSAGE ORANGE TREES planted in fence-like rows along the prairie’s edge. The highway runs like a narrow lane between their thorny, tangled branches. In winter these prickly trees are etched grayly against the sky, but in summer they burst into smooth green leaves and pale yellowish blossoms, which are replaced by orange-like inedible fruit. Many of these hedges were planted more than a century ago and constitute the pioneer planters’ mark upon the land. They confined stock and kept prying Indians out of cornfields, and they conveyed to neighbors theidea that the land encircled by the thorny fences was private property. Sometimes called bois d’ arc (Fr., wood of the ark), these trees, according to legend, furnished the sturdy wood out of which Noah built the ark. When lumber is cut from the trees, the tough wood often breaks the teeth of the saw.
—Mississippi, A Guide To the Magnolia State (WPA, 1938)

Many of the bois d’ arc trees still line the streets and fields of Artesia, though most are too big to be considered hedges. A lot of the trees have been replaced by metal barbed wire and chain-link fencing to mark changes in ownership and usage. The rail road that runs through town now is operated by Kansas City Southern (KCS). The big junction that was there in the 1930s is little more than a switching yard with three sets of tracks. The population, too, has decreased to 435 people, and will likely continue to drop. 
That doesn’t mean the people who are there aren’t happy to live in Artesia. Early in the morning people are out walking in the sun and the warm weather—enjoying the day and the quiet peace of the town. Like so many places in Mississippi, nature dominates—whether it is strolling down main street or venturing into the forest.
* * *
David Jones is a State Guide to Mississippi. While going to school, he lived in five of the Southern states, from Virginia to Texas. Currently he can be found traveling the highways and back roads of Mississippi, helping people out when he can and exploring the hidden treasures of the state. You can find him on Tumblr at woodprof.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
ARTESIA, MISSISSIPPI

ARTESIA, 55 m. (223 alt., 612 pop.), is the junction point of the main line of the Mobile & Ohio R.R. and its Columbus and Starkville branches. It takes its name from an artesian well N. of the depot. Unusually large quantities of hay are shipped from this point.
Between here and Macon the dominant features of the landscape are the HEDGES OF OSAGE ORANGE TREES planted in fence-like rows along the prairie’s edge. The highway runs like a narrow lane between their thorny, tangled branches. In winter these prickly trees are etched grayly against the sky, but in summer they burst into smooth green leaves and pale yellowish blossoms, which are replaced by orange-like inedible fruit. Many of these hedges were planted more than a century ago and constitute the pioneer planters’ mark upon the land. They confined stock and kept prying Indians out of cornfields, and they conveyed to neighbors theidea that the land encircled by the thorny fences was private property. Sometimes called bois d’ arc (Fr., wood of the ark), these trees, according to legend, furnished the sturdy wood out of which Noah built the ark. When lumber is cut from the trees, the tough wood often breaks the teeth of the saw.
—Mississippi, A Guide To the Magnolia State (WPA, 1938)

Many of the bois d’ arc trees still line the streets and fields of Artesia, though most are too big to be considered hedges. A lot of the trees have been replaced by metal barbed wire and chain-link fencing to mark changes in ownership and usage. The rail road that runs through town now is operated by Kansas City Southern (KCS). The big junction that was there in the 1930s is little more than a switching yard with three sets of tracks. The population, too, has decreased to 435 people, and will likely continue to drop. 
That doesn’t mean the people who are there aren’t happy to live in Artesia. Early in the morning people are out walking in the sun and the warm weather—enjoying the day and the quiet peace of the town. Like so many places in Mississippi, nature dominates—whether it is strolling down main street or venturing into the forest.
* * *
David Jones is a State Guide to Mississippi. While going to school, he lived in five of the Southern states, from Virginia to Texas. Currently he can be found traveling the highways and back roads of Mississippi, helping people out when he can and exploring the hidden treasures of the state. You can find him on Tumblr at woodprof.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info

ARTESIA, MISSISSIPPI

ARTESIA, 55 m. (223 alt., 612 pop.), is the junction point of the main line of the Mobile & Ohio R.R. and its Columbus and Starkville branches. It takes its name from an artesian well N. of the depot. Unusually large quantities of hay are shipped from this point.

Between here and Macon the dominant features of the landscape are the HEDGES OF OSAGE ORANGE TREES planted in fence-like rows along the prairie’s edge. The highway runs like a narrow lane between their thorny, tangled branches. In winter these prickly trees are etched grayly against the sky, but in summer they burst into smooth green leaves and pale yellowish blossoms, which are replaced by orange-like inedible fruit. Many of these hedges were planted more than a century ago and constitute the pioneer planters’ mark upon the land. They confined stock and kept prying Indians out of cornfields, and they conveyed to neighbors the
idea that the land encircled by the thorny fences was private property. Sometimes called bois d’ arc (Fr., wood of the ark), these trees, according to legend, furnished the sturdy wood out of which Noah built the ark. When lumber is cut from the trees, the tough wood often breaks the teeth of the saw.

Mississippi, A Guide To the Magnolia State (WPA, 1938)

Many of the bois d’ arc trees still line the streets and fields of Artesia, though most are too big to be considered hedges. A lot of the trees have been replaced by metal barbed wire and chain-link fencing to mark changes in ownership and usage. The rail road that runs through town now is operated by Kansas City Southern (KCS). The big junction that was there in the 1930s is little more than a switching yard with three sets of tracks. The population, too, has decreased to 435 people, and will likely continue to drop. 

That doesn’t mean the people who are there aren’t happy to live in Artesia. Early in the morning people are out walking in the sun and the warm weather—enjoying the day and the quiet peace of the town. Like so many places in Mississippi, nature dominates—whether it is strolling down main street or venturing into the forest.

* * *

David Jones is a State Guide to Mississippi. While going to school, he lived in five of the Southern states, from Virginia to Texas. Currently he can be found traveling the highways and back roads of Mississippi, helping people out when he can and exploring the hidden treasures of the state. You can find him on Tumblr at woodprof.tumblr.com.

US ROUTE 80 EAST, TYBEE ISLAND, GEORGIA

Tybee Island, which is a V-shaped sand bar running 3.8 miles along the Atlantic and 2.5 miles up the Savannah River. Its flat surface is broken by a few small sand dunes. 

Georgia: A Guide to its Towns and Countryside (WPA, 1940) 

* * *

Cait Kovac is a state guide to Georgia. She spends her time traveling with her two pit bulls, Matilda and Zeke, exploring and photographing the south. You can follow her at caitkovac.tumblr.com and see more of her work at caitkovac.com.

JEFF DAVIS PIE - SOUTHERN FOODWAYS

According to family legend, my grandmother found the recipe for Jeff Davis Pie printed on a sugar bag just after she married. Since then, this depression-era Southern specialty, which tastes like a pecanless pecan pie, hasn’t missed a single family holiday. There are plenty of increasingly complex variations — ranging from roadside-fave lemon chess pie to Momofuku’s elaborate Crack pie — but this is the one to go to when you’re short on time, skill and/or ingredients — or when you just want something simple and sweet.

Guide Notes: How to make Jeff Davis Pie —

3c - Sugar
1c - Butter
1T - Flour
1/4t - Salt
1t - Vanilla
4 eggs - beaten lightly
1c - Milk
  • Cream sugar and butter.
  • Add flour, salt and vanilla and beat well.
  • Add eggs (beat first) and mix.
  • Add milk and mix well.
  • Makes 2 pies, use 9” pie crust.
  • Bake at 450 for 10 min. Reduce heat to 350 for 30 min. or until filing is firm. 

* * *

Brenna Brock is a State Guide to Texas who grew up in the western part of the state, but soon left for Austin in search of trees, hills, and occasional precipitation. When she’s not shooing varmints out of the garden, trying to cook native plants, or indulging her cats’ every whim, she’s probably chasing after something with a camera. She posts a photo nearly every day on Tumblr at Mr. Cake’s Photo Adventures.

PARADES - THE SOUTH

I love a parade;
The tramping of feet,
I love ever beat
I hear of a drum.
I love a parade;
When I hear a band
I just wanna stand
And cheer as they come!

from “I Love a Parade” by Harold Arlen (1932)

I love a parade (and a rainy night, but that is a different tune altogether). It is a snapshot of the cultural landscape of a town. It marks the passing of the year with the 4th of July, Veterans Day, and Christmas, as well as countless city festivals unique to themselves.

There are the staples of a parade: a representation of the military,
marching bands with pulsating bass drums, the Shriners, some horses,
classic cars, politicians handing out trinkets, area churches, candy,
and the street sweeper to bring up the rear.

Within that formula, there is an opportunity for personal expression.
I’ve seen an electric company rig a float to pour out fake snow as it
passes (which was brilliant in the moonlight), Shriners dressed as
clowns in bright zoot suits, and a pack of Great Danes dressed like
elephants.

It is also an indication of a what is in the air in general. The tone
of political themed floats will vary based on the proximity to an
election and often citizens will pay the modest entry fee and decorate
their car with a more personal political statement. Pop culture is
also represented. For the past two years the amount of Grinch’s in any
given Christmas parade is staggering. The latest Grinch film was
released in 2000 and is now in the parthenon of regularly scheduled
winter viewing.

And there is an air of unpredictability that only a live event brings.
Motorcycles are driving in weaving patterns that seem impossible at
those speeds, horses get skittish, tumblers flip above concrete, and I
believe with all my heart that the Shriners who drive the flying
carpet buggies love terrifying children of all ages.

There has been a steep decline in communal gathering places. Town
squares are a thing of the past, malls are closed and boarded up, and
churches have started to live stream sermons for people to watch at
home. Parades still get crowds to set down chairs early — to line the
route regardless of weather.

Cheers erupt as certain groups march by
and everyone is waves and smiles. As long as the band plays on, I will
continue to love a parade.

* * *

Tammy Mercure is a State Guide to Tennessee. She was named one of the “100 under 100: The New Superstars of Southern Art” by Oxford American magazine.

Follow on Tumblr at tammymercure or on her website, TammyMercure.com. Support her work at TCB Press. 

DIG YA’LLS OWN CRYSTALS - STORY, ARKANSAS 
"Yeah it only takes about five hours to get there". That’s what everyone I talked to said. 
We arrived in Story, Arkansas, eight hours after leaving Nashville. Granted, we hit traffic. And someone had to stop and pee a lot. But, much to our delight, our cabin (aka condo made of wood) was well-equipped to handle all three colorful personalities in our camp. We had everything we needed to eat and drink, which is what we’re always mainly focused on doing. 
But this trip was also about digging for crystals. Arkansas has the largest reserve of quartz next to Brazil (Brazil being number 1). Lake Ouachita (WAH-SHEE-TAW) — the lake our place was near — features one of the biggest crystal veins in the world. There’s also a very rare jellyfish frolicking in the water.
The story goes that the Army Corp of Engineers made this lake for its hydro-electric power, water source, and wildlife conservation. But another reason was to preserve the crystal underneath it. There’re many uses for quartz — and as we’re rapidly depleting our natural resources — it’s no wonder the government wants to protect this gemof a lake. After all, we use quartz in everything from watches, microphones, radios, and computers. And some people just think they’re pretty — which is why we’re here. 
After a lengthy search online for the best mines to dig, we found Gee and Dee’s, an old ma and pa shop where you can pay to dig your own crystals. We got up Saturday morning and and called to let Gee and Dee know we were heading their way. After about a 15 minute phone conversation, Dee told us that the mine was shut down but we could dig in their front yard. Sounded weird but ok. We still wanted to get back in that mine and dig.
We arrived at Gee and Dee’s greeted by two sweet dogs and Dee herself. She called me Antarctica although I was certain she was talking to Renae, my friend who was sporting a faux polar bear vest ensemble (perfect for mine digging).
The yard was beautiful. It was like Superman’s crystal cave threw up on a yard. But we also wanted answers. Why couldn’t we dig in the mine?
Dee explained that back in late June of 2010 there was a flash flood that came through early one morning and killed at least 20 people while they were camping in the Ouachita State Park. Noted as the Albert Pike Flood, it caught national headlines and President Obama even offered federal help. The national attention shed light on the mines there, as well. So, the government came in and implemented new codes and laws for the miners making it impossible for the “working man’s miner” (Gee and Dee) to adapt and conform. That’s another way of saying that the couple didn’t have the monetary resources to make huge scale changes to abide by the new regulations and stay open. Dee was even caught digging on her own land and fined.
Nobody was getting in that mine. With heavy hearts we combed through Gee and Dee’s yard collections grabbing anything that even slightly interested us. We learned from Gee about the nature of the rocks and how they form, about the history of their mine, and what the future holds for them.
“I will have to sell my mine to the government — that’s all I can do,” Gee said.
There was a sound to his voice that made you feel what this man was going through. Having mined for 54 years that’s all Gee knew. He said crystals were more addictive than cigarettes (they both smoked a pack each while we were there). He had a true passion for mining — you could see that plain by the marks on his hands. I knew came to realize all this when I saw the huge heart-shaped crystal he pulled and carved for Dee. This was a gentle man in love with his life and his rocks. 
The visit ended with Gee showing us his private collection in the back shed. We bought some sacred pieces there, said our goodbyes and were soon on our way.
* * *
Tennessee State Guide Lindsay Scott is an East Nashville based photographer, writer, drinker and ponderer. You can find her on any random night, porch sitting with a side of story telling and a camera in hand. Follow her on Tumblr at lindsayscottphotography.tumblr.com or on her website, lindsayscottphoto.com.
Zoom Info

DIG YA’LLS OWN CRYSTALS - STORY, ARKANSAS 

"Yeah it only takes about five hours to get there". That’s what everyone I talked to said. 

We arrived in Story, Arkansas, eight hours after leaving Nashville. Granted, we hit traffic. And someone had to stop and pee a lot. But, much to our delight, our cabin (aka condo made of wood) was well-equipped to handle all three colorful personalities in our camp. We had everything we needed to eat and drink, which is what we’re always mainly focused on doing. 

But this trip was also about digging for crystals. Arkansas has the largest reserve of quartz next to Brazil (Brazil being number 1). Lake Ouachita (WAH-SHEE-TAW) — the lake our place was near — features one of the biggest crystal veins in the world. There’s also a very rare jellyfish frolicking in the water.

The story goes that the Army Corp of Engineers made this lake for its hydro-electric power, water source, and wildlife conservation. But another reason was to preserve the crystal underneath it. There’re many uses for quartz — and as we’re rapidly depleting our natural resources — it’s no wonder the government wants to protect this gemof a lake. After all, we use quartz in everything from watches, microphones, radios, and computers. And some people just think they’re pretty — which is why we’re here. 

After a lengthy search online for the best mines to dig, we found Gee and Dee’s, an old ma and pa shop where you can pay to dig your own crystals. We got up Saturday morning and and called to let Gee and Dee know we were heading their way. After about a 15 minute phone conversation, Dee told us that the mine was shut down but we could dig in their front yard. Sounded weird but ok. We still wanted to get back in that mine and dig.

We arrived at Gee and Dee’s greeted by two sweet dogs and Dee herself. She called me Antarctica although I was certain she was talking to Renae, my friend who was sporting a faux polar bear vest ensemble (perfect for mine digging).

The yard was beautiful. It was like Superman’s crystal cave threw up on a yard. But we also wanted answers. Why couldn’t we dig in the mine?

Dee explained that back in late June of 2010 there was a flash flood that came through early one morning and killed at least 20 people while they were camping in the Ouachita State Park. Noted as the Albert Pike Flood, it caught national headlines and President Obama even offered federal help. The national attention shed light on the mines there, as well. So, the government came in and implemented new codes and laws for the miners making it impossible for the “working man’s miner” (Gee and Dee) to adapt and conform. That’s another way of saying that the couple didn’t have the monetary resources to make huge scale changes to abide by the new regulations and stay open. Dee was even caught digging on her own land and fined.

Nobody was getting in that mine. With heavy hearts we combed through Gee and Dee’s yard collections grabbing anything that even slightly interested us. We learned from Gee about the nature of the rocks and how they form, about the history of their mine, and what the future holds for them.

“I will have to sell my mine to the government — that’s all I can do,” Gee said.

There was a sound to his voice that made you feel what this man was going through. Having mined for 54 years that’s all Gee knew. He said crystals were more addictive than cigarettes (they both smoked a pack each while we were there). He had a true passion for mining — you could see that plain by the marks on his hands. I knew came to realize all this when I saw the huge heart-shaped crystal he pulled and carved for Dee. This was a gentle man in love with his life and his rocks. 

The visit ended with Gee showing us his private collection in the back shed. We bought some sacred pieces there, said our goodbyes and were soon on our way.

* * *

Tennessee State Guide Lindsay Scott is an East Nashville based photographer, writer, drinker and ponderer. You can find her on any random night, porch sitting with a side of story telling and a camera in hand. Follow her on Tumblr at lindsayscottphotography.tumblr.com or on her website, lindsayscottphoto.com.