Expedition to the Wilds of Huntsville

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by roryglasgow, Dec 28, 2001.

  1. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    My father-in-law, Bill, took my son and I on a little expedition to see what we could see of the foundations of an old sawmill that used to be located a little north of Huntsville. The Pinedale Sawmill had a company town and was serviced by a tram road. The mill is located on private property behind a barbed wire (bobwar) fence, and there were a lot of weeds grown up around the place. The only thing we could see was this stone that Bill says was part of the mill's foundation. It's kinda funny that the area is now covered in trees!

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  2. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    The Quarry, part 1

    A little way down the road is an old quarry. They no longer quarry stone from there any more. It has filled in with water. A local gym teaches diving lessons there. In many places the water appears deep blue. I'm not sure of the depth, but it has a reputation among the younger kids as being "bottomless." The whole thing is fenced in to keep people from going down there and getting themselves drowned, but I got a few shots from the fenceline to share here. In this first picture you can see the water on the far side of the trees. There is a sheer cliff on this side, so the water is really pretty far away. You can see a cliff on the other side, if you look at the picture just right...

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  3. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    The Quarry, part 2

    In this picture, you can see a little bit of the cliff on the far side. The quarry is narrower here than in the previous picture. In the foreground are two large loblolly pines. There is a little road that runs around the edge of the quarry, and you can see some of it behind the second tree.

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  4. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    The Quarry, part 3

    There is the shallow end, which is why the water is green. I thought this was a nice shot.

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  5. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    Tram Road, part 1

    After a little bit of driving and educated guessing as to its location, we found part of the foundation for the old tram road that serviced the area sawmills. It's hard to tell in this picture (my digital camera doesn't take the clearest pictures), but if you look at the center you will see that you are looking down a "lane" surrounded by trees. This "lane" is actually elevated above the surrounding area.

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  6. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    Tram Road, part 2

    Standing in the same spot from where I took the picture above, I turned around 180 degrees and took this shot of the road, which follows the course of the tramway for a little distance.

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  7. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    Tram Road, part 3

    And this shot was taken at the other end of that section of road. Here you can clearly see the lane, bordered by youngish pine trees. That's a bobwar fence in the foreground.

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  8. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    Tram Road, part 4

    A little distance away is Old Tram Road. This road parallels or runs over the course of the tramway. The rise visible in the middle of this picture is the tramway. The dark square in the lower left is the side mirror on the truck--to give you a sense of scale...

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  9. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    Tram Road, part 5

    And here the tramway road runs off into the distance (towards the areas in the first three pictures). You can see that it has been cut down and smoothed over by the property owners. At several points along Old Tram Road, you can see where the rise has been cut or has eroded away. You can still make it out in aerial photos of the area.

    Here is a link to TerraServer that shows a topographical map of the area where I photographed the tramway. Click on the "Image" link next to "Style:" and you can make out the ridge on the ground.

    http://terraserver.homeadvisor.msn.com/image.asp?T=2&S=14&X=78&Y=1064&Z=15&W=1

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  10. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    The End!

    I hope to soon get together with my father-in-law again and go looking for some of the other sawmills in the area. Palmetto was a fairly large operation near Oakhurst, which is a few miles to the east of Huntsville.

    I hope y'all enjoyed the pics!

    -Rory
  11. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Cool pictures Rory!
    Isn't it funny how after you get into model railroading, you start noticing things like geology, & the color of various depths of water?
    I love taking little field trips like that, too. I tend to notice all those things too. And I've become a nut for older architecture, both urban, & rural. Plus I love digging up the history of a place, such as a quarry, a sawmill, a factory, or a town. It's funny how a simple little hobby can open up so many windows through which one can view the world.
    I can tell it's given you some modeling ideas, too.:cool:
  12. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    Yes, Charlie! I have been noticing more details in things. I didn't realize it at first, but I was looking at things (buildings, roads, forests, etc.) more and more closely. Yeah, model railroading has led me to seek and appreciate the little details even more. I've learned quite a bit about various industries that I probably would have known nothing about if it weren't for my hobby. But by far the most interesting aspect to me has been learning a location's history and how the railroads affected the community.

    We really had a good time today, just looking around. There's a lot of history in this area, and its kinda neat to think "people used to work here...this wasn't just a quiet, lonely forest, but a busy community." If you don't look carefully, you'd probably never know...

    -Rory
  13. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Rory,
    Thats a nice set of modelling photo's friend, "Where's the sawmill"? has it gone!!

    Shamus
    [​IMG]
  14. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    The sawmill has long gone. It was just a bare foundation when my father-in-law was a kid (1950s). In the first photos you can make out a square block near the center of the picture. The entire area surrounding the block is chocked with dense woods. The sawmill is now a forest!

    Like the sawmills you have portrayed on your layouts, these were semi-permanent operations that were disassembled when the timber played out. In those days they stripped the whole countryside bare. Most of the locals didn't care for the pine trees (most thought they were useless and took up valuable farm land), and the lumber companies were all too eager to make as much of their products as they could in what was then a seller's market. The population of Texas was growing rapidly, and there was tremendous need of building materials. There were sawmills of various sizes, ranging from on-demand family operations to corporate sawmill towns, all over the countryside. Consequently, nearly all of the forest that we see today in this region is second-growth. And because loblolly pines grow so fast, much of the evidence of the existence of these mills has been erased by the trees themselves!

    -Rory

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