The house in the woods has eyes!

And a mouth.

Roscoe, MN Abandoned.  Roscoe is a teeny tiny little town that is no more, but once was, in the Southeast corner of Goodhue County.  

I was on my way home from Albert Lea yesterday and spied the broken remnants of house in some woods on the edge of a field.  It was a typical abandoned house.  It does very much look like it has eyes and a mouth…ooOOOoooo spooky.


Minnesota North Shore – Two Harbors Abandoned site

On our way back down the North Shore we stayed in Two Harbors.  Lou’s Fish House has some very tasty morsels for the smoked seafood connoisseur.  The smoked jumbo shrimp were fantastic!

If you are into architectural antiques, be certain to stop by North Shore Architectural Antiques and check out the inventory.  There are lots of interesting old pieces there to browse.  They offer a deconstruction service – three levels in fact.  I see this becoming more and more popular as society is taking to the repurpose, reuse, reclaim and recycle movement.

You can head down to the waterfront and observe a working ore dock by walking out on the break-water.  Also in the immediate vicinity are four locations operated by the Lake County Historical Society:  Two Harbors Lighthouse, The Depot Museum, Edna G. Tugboat and 3M Museum.

This is a great town to spend some time in.

Two Harbors AbandonedThe Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway (DM&IR) is a railroad operating in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin that hauls iron ore and later taconite to the Great Lakes ports of Duluth and Two Harbors, Minnesota. Control of the railway was acquired on May 10, 2004, by the Canadian National Railway when it purchased the assets of Great Lakes Transportation.


150px-Logo_of_the_Duluth,_Missabe_and_Iron_Range_RailwayThe Duluth, Messabe and Iron Range Railroad began in Two Harbors with a 6-stall wooden roundhouse, but it didn’t take long for the railroad to expand. By 1930, a machine shop, boiler shop, car shop, boiler house, storehouse, foundry, engine room and a 50-stall brick roundhouse blanketed the 30 acres of DM&IR’s lakefront property. 109 locomotives were maintained by the shop, half of which were overhauled annually, while 30 or so received light repair. The roundhouse and machine shop ran 24 hours, maintaining the fleet for both a long ore season and abusive timber season, in addition to limited passenger service.

Out of the 30 buildings that comprised the historic shops, 8 still exist today, although the roofs of many are failing catastrophically. Historic roundhouses and locomotive shops all over the Midwest have been destroyed, but these are still preservable, in spite of the damage. With a little social-historical consciousness and the desire to save those reminders of bygone days that mark the American timeline.


This site was absolutely fantastic!  I must say that it is my all-time favorite abandoned site to date that I have had the privilege to shoot.  The lighting inside was amazing and the graffiti outstanding.  I shot this location with my trusty Nikon D60 coupled with the Tamron 18-270mm @ 7.1 on auto ISO.  This is the camera that is by my side at all times.  You’ll notice the grain in the photos.  I think it adds character to the images.  I was going to process this location all in B&W, but the colorful graffiti, moss and other aspects of the building dictated otherwise. On some level I wish I would have spent more time and used a different camera, lens and tripod.  Different gear and more time would have allowed for a more complete exploration of the light and angles of this relic and captured some rock-solid exposures.  I think some really amazing HDR photography could be produced here.

4th of July Drive

DSC_4337It was a day like many others, except it was a holiday and no work – love those kind of days.  Nothing you have to do and no where you have to be.  You can never have enough we time.  I am very fond of we time with my lil grape crush, Cyn.  We very much enjoy our country drives.  Most often we simply wander until it is time to head back for home.  Most of the time we have no destination in mind – more so a general area.  Today was no different.  We took the back roads down toward the familiar Weaver bottoms and the Whitewater River.  It was a beautiful day, nice weather and great company.  The girls were with too.  They love a nice long car ride.

Here are some photos of our 4th of July drive.  More of the wonderful same country roads and scenery it affords.  Happy weekend all!

The Big Purge

It has been a long time coming now.  Backing up to the cloud takes time even with plenty of bandwidth.  My recent back up revelations have led to incessant purging of files.  It is a very long process.  2011, not a complete year (Aug – Dec), has been reduced to approximately 1000 shots retained; I am sure that could even be reduced further if I really had to.  I will leave some for a likely future last round of digital cleansing.  I guess when I first started to dig into photography I kept everything.  For the most part I am glad that I did.  When I look back it is very clear to me what worked and what didn’t.  I know a few more tricks in salvaging an image that was less than perfectly exposed, but that isn’t the ultimate goal.  Shoot and learn; shoot more and learn even more.

I am hoping with further review of subsequent years to see a style emerging; your style isn’t so readily apparent to you – at least it isn’t to me.  I have spent the last few years experimenting with many different things photographically.  It is interesting to look back at what you have shot. Remembering why you shot something is my biggest challenge (thankfully the memories are still fresh).  These are a few photos from 2011 that caught my eye while sifting through the nearly 4000 shots.

Abandoned Hunting – The Abandoned

Cyn and I had some time last weekend to do some abandoned hunting.  We drove through West Central MN (212), NE South Dakota and SE North Dakota.  We were amazed at the number of abandoned farms and homes still standing.  The first two images are two of many that “got away.”  The snow was somewhat of a hindrance.  Minimum Maintenance roads are nothing to mess around with this time of year.  The roads to several properties where minimum maintenance or simply were just not plowed.  GPS coordinates will come in handy for a return trip 🙂

The next few images are of an almost abandoned town in SD called Hammer.  There was one home there still occupied – not quite a complete ghost town yet.  Further along you will see that we did find a couple of abandoned homes that we could get to and explore (Montevideo and Big Stone City).  We both would have liked to get inside the 1911 brick schoolhouse in Louisburg, MN, but that just wasn’t possible.

It was a great few days to get away and capture rural decay and commit historic visions to pixels.  The post to follow will include all of the photos of all points in between the abandoned places.

Old Schoolhouse – Elgin, MN

I did the obvious Google search to no avail.  I haven’t had much luck locating any information on this old schoolhouse.  Cyndie and I spotted it last August while out on a drive.  At that time is was surrounded by corn.  It stands on the edge of a farmer’s field Southwest from Elgin, MN; off CO Rd 24 NE.  The interior wasn’t all that spectacular, but the chalkboard was interesting.  The chipped and pealing paint and vines certainly added texture to the old structure.

Round Trip to Lamberton

The path from Red Wing to Lamberton is long.  From the bank of the Mississippi River to the Southwest plains.  There were several towns in between here and there filled will all sorts of interesting things to photograph – New Ulm, St. Peter and Sleepy Eye to name a few.  We left early and allowed for some exploration, but we still had an arrival time to hit and winter days light only last so long.

One thing I noticed immediately in this neck of the woods (expansive fields actually) where the A.C.O. tile silos and block barns.  There were a number of them adorned with Adophy Casimir Ochs initials.   I have only seen a few silos that looked like these; not A.C.O.’s either, but very much the same.  There are so many in the area because Adophy Casimir Ochs located his brick  and tile company in Springfield, MN.  I have seen photos of these silos in North Dakota; that is quick a distance and likely an expensive rail transport in the day of dirt roads.

These hollow-tile silos are made of hollow, hard burned or glazed tile blocks reinforced typically by iron bands that fit into the mortar between the blocks or in grooves made in them.  With properly glazed block, air and moisture is not an issue.  The hollow space in the blocks protected the contents against extreme temperatures.

These silos and barns are magnificent structures standing the test of time and they elements.

Here are the photos from out trip.


Happy Merry Ho Ho Ho

Aaaahh the holiday seasons…what’s not to love?  Time off of work, lots of food and drink, spending time with family and friends – oh yeah and some time to get out and shoot.  Even though it was a short amount of time, it was photo-time non-the-less.  We shot our way from one holiday gather to another.  We didn’t have all day, but we were in familiar territory and only ventured off the beaten path a bit.

We envisioned a vague course East from the North metro toward Rice Lake, WI.  We deviated only slightly due to time constraints [you don’t want to be late for dinner].

It never fails, we usually stumble upon an abandon house or even two or more; this trip was no different.  Each find may not be superb one, but we always try to take a closer look anyway.  This one only contained a tattered hide-a-bed sofa.

The slide off of the work-site trailer house was a great find.  The pheasants were great as well.  I have put on many miles in recent times and haven’t seen near the numbers I did this day.

Happy belated holidays to all.  I hope they were as wonderful for you as they were for Cyndie and I (and the wieners).

North Dakota Safari

There wasn’t any “dune bashing” or any sort of off-roading at all on our trip to North Dakota.  There were roads everywhere.  We roamed about freely; pretty much uninhibited by obstacles with the exception of the “bridge out” signs in the middle of nowhere and the occasional pond/lake right in the middle of a road.  The GPS was rather amusing with its informative display of where we were driving.  Often it stated unpaved road or simply – Driving on Road.  You can truly find the middle of nowhere in ND.  I love it.

When traveling through the middle of nowhere don’t be surprised if you encounter a train of machinery blocking your way.  You can see the dust cloud miles away.  That is your hint to pull off and get out of their way.  Harvest time was in full gear when we were there.  The dust from the roads and the picking of corn and beans made for some interesting photos.  You can see the dust in the first of five panos I did on this trip.

Tatanka Wind Farm
Tatanka Wind Farm
Merricourt Wind Farm

I know I have used the term “dirt road” rather loosely; to include gravel roads, etc. – anything not paved.  We were actually on dirt roads in ND – black fertile dirt very compacted from grain trucks and other farming machinery.  These field roads were smooth.  In fact, they were often smoother-riding than some of the black top roads.  The weeds on these dirt roads were a bit tall in spots though.  There were several times that we stopped to shoot some wildlife and all you could smell was simmering grasshopper guts and burnt weeds.

Sunset South of Jamestown

There was plenty of wildlife between each town and abandoned place we happened upon.  I very much enjoyed my close encounter with a hawk and just the sheer numbers of them that we saw.  We chased around egrets for a while as well and stumbled upon some baby turkeys.  They are not cute at all – as most baby animals usually are.  Everyone of those puddles held an abundance of waterfowl with no shortage of goose poop.

This was two of the better days we have enjoyed out shooting in a while.  Great locations, weather and of course my company is always wonderful.

Binford, ND (Area) Abandoned Farmstead

After some much-needed rest in Jamestown, we set out on day two of our North Dakota abandoned hunt.  The Jamestown Reservoir provided for some lovely early a.m. scenery as we meandered away from the populated city and into the vast and open country of North Dakota.

There were numerous wetlands as we made our way west of the reservoir.  Some of which were not so wet, but extremely or completely dry altogether.  There wasn’t a shortage of wildlife despite these dry conditions.  There were still plenty of areas that still held water along with your typical fowl for this time of year.  Although this isn’t consider prime pheasant country, I was a bit disappointing that I only saw one the whole time.

With this type of scenery between abandoned farmsteads the miles just fly by.  I have several photos of all the points between here and there of this trip that will soon become our North Dakota Safari post.

We stumbled on this farmstead out in the middle of nowhere near Binford.  This must have been a musical household as there were sheet music strewn about the place.  There was also remnants of a piano at the bottom of a heap of yesteryear.  There was also a skeleton of an acoustic guitar on the second level surround by more sheet music.

Troy Larson and Terry Hinnekamp  of Ghost of North Dakota have a book project; if you are interested in abandoned buildings, history and photography please consider contributing to their effort.