(Fucked) Up Ferguson Way

Sad Sequel to a Previous Post

I recently returned to Louis Bromfield’s beloved Ferguson Way only to find it decimated by the gas company. Right next to the pristine dirt road, a wide swath had been cut with heavy equipment over an old gas line.

Like other gas line clearings, this scar will be covered with invasive plants and the beauty of Ferguson way lost for generations, lost till mankind has vanished from the planet. Ironically, one of those invasive species, multiflora rose, was promoted by Bromfield himself.

Regardless, I’m sure the sight of Ferguson Way today would set him spinning in his grave.

Before –

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Ferguson Way depicted in an earlier post.

 

After –

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Ferguson way can be seen on the right, dwarfed by the decimation caused by Columbia Gas through what had been forest.

A passage from Louis Bromfield’s book “Pleasant Valley” –

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The damp green tunnel is now a muddy, debris-strewn swath of bare earth.

 

 

 

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If You Build It, They Will Succumb

Ball Diamonds on SR 603 Have Fallen by the Wayside

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The view from behind the third-base dugout – one of two abandoned softball fields along SR 603 near Mifflin, Ohio.

Many interesting things to see along State Route 603 in Ashland and Richland counties.

From its southern terminus at State Route 95, this two-lane blacktop road is poker straight and quite hilly. North of State Route 39, it becomes less hilly, but twists and turns around Black Fork of the Mohican River and Charles Mill Lake.

It’s on this stretch that State Route 603 passes the Wayside Inn and the abandoned softball fields opposite the bar.

I drove by there hundreds, if not thousands, of times on my way to and from work in the course of 17 years. The disused fields often reminded me of the Paul Simon song “Night Game.”

Here are the last two verses of the song. Paul Simon wrote it in 1975.

 

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The roads less taken and the cars that took them – Austin-Healey

My friend, Greg, and I saw several Austin-Healeys tooling around Loudonville yesterday. This morning I followed the signs — British flags mounted on wooden stakes — to Mohican State Park Lodge.

There’s a rally at the lodge this weekend. What a treat to have them here, all in one place.

Here are a few photos I took of these magnificent little beasts.

 

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Squirrel’s-eye view.

 

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The morning fog seemed appropriate for shooting British cars.
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Cliché headlight shot. Love the screen.

 

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I like seeing diamonds-in-the-rough at car shows.

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I saw one 6-cylinder model, but I love the simplicity of the older 4-cylinder engines.
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Gratuitous selfie. I particularly like the color scheme.

 

The Road No Longer Taken – Up Ferguson Way 2017

If you’re ever around Malabar Farm, head up Ferguson Way. But, unless you’re a guest of Pugh Cabin, don’t drive.

This road leads to a Ferguson Meadow, made famous by author, screenwriter and conservationist and host to the stars Louis Bromfield.

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The road no longer taken. On the right is the beginning of the old wagon road.

Doesn’t look like it but, at this point, you’ve come to a crossroads. On the right, is the original wagon road leading to Ferguson Meadow. If you were masochistic enough to follow it, you’d find yourself bushwhacking through a thicket of multiflora rose, another Bromfield legacy.

As the old wagon road progresses, it sinks deeper and deeper into the landscape. It was the product of the very practices Bromfield preached against — activities that caused erosion. The road became so eroded from use and weather that the banks along it are 15 feet high or more in spots.

Along Ferguson Way, closer to the Big House, is Pugh Cabin, which served as a filming location for the Shawshank Redemption. Its foundation is made of stones salvaged from the nearby ghosttown of Newville.

Other stories for another time.

What can I say about Clapperville?

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What can I say about Clapperville? Not much really.

Came across it in my travels this morning on a back road in Richland County Ohio.

Crude – non-official looking – signs claim a population of 26.

The house depicted in my photo is near one of the signs.

A Google search turned up little. Apparently there is a Clapperville Mormon settlement, perhaps in Iowa.

I’m open for suggestions.

Possum Run — Coolest Place in Ohio

They say Possum Run Road is the coolest place in Ohio. Literally.

Having lived just up the hill from there for more than 15 years, I’d be inclined to agree. According to my car thermometer, it’s always around 10 degrees colder down there in the winter.

Possum Run Road is also one of the coolest places in Ohio for spurnpikers. This two-lane blacktop twists and turns as it meanders through a valley between State Route 13 near the I-71 interchange and State Route 95. It’s one of the most scenic drives in Richland County.

 

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Flower power! Gotta love this Possum Run Road yard art.

It’s safe to say that most outsiders who use Possum Run Road don’t venture too far — at least not beyond Snow Trails Ski Resort.

 

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Snow Trails – A few twists and turns east of I-71 and you’re there.

 

Here’s a map:

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Possum Run Road starts off of State Route 13 by the Walmart. This store allows RV overnight parking. Unfortunately, for a lot of those folks, it’s all they see of Possum Run and the other scenic beauty our Mohican region has to offer. Note the road sign on the left side of the photo.

 

 

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The eastern end of Possum Run. On the other side of SR 95 it becomes Bunkerhill Road.

 

At the eastern terminus of Possum Run – northeast of the intersection – is the ghost town of Newville. You won’t see much of it. If you go one road east on SR 95, you might find a few foundation stones in the woods north of the Pleasant Hill Road bridge.

Newville was dismantled brick by brick when Pleasant Hill Dam was built in the mid 1930s. It was feared at the time that, when the lake filled in behind the dam, it would back up to the village during high-water events. This ended up being a miscalculation. It didn’t back up that far. Although, in all fairness to the project engineers, residents would have ended up with wet basements occasionally.

The next two photos are of Possum Run Church of God, which was disassembled and moved west by northwest to Possum Run Road.

 

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I call this the “crow-ly” trinity. This was the scene this morning when I drove by the church.

 

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I took this photo of the Newville Church a few years ago for my PowerPoint presentation on Ghost Towns of the Mohican River. Note the bird-like cloud formation.

 

Besides Snow Trails, Possum Run Road boasts another claim to fame — sort of. Hagerman Road, which was one of the locations for the classic film The Shawshank Redemption begins or ends there. Depending on how you look at it.

 

 

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Sad to report that Possum Run Greenhouse recently went out of business.

 

If you’re in a hurry, Possum Run is not the road for you. No need for a speed limit; the curves will slow you down. Another reason spurnpikers love it.

 

 

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Check out my other blogs:

Irv Oslin – Writing & Journals

and

Irv Oslin Photography

High-resolution prints of these or any of my photos are available on the latter blog or my Facebook Page.

 

More than just the home of the FFA jacket

State Route 95 – Destination Fredericktown

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Bicentennial flag adorns the window of a museum honoring the town’s newspaper heritage. I plan to go back and visit someday.

I’ve often taken State Route 95 when traveling to and from Columbus. Actually, it’s not much of a spurnpike; it’s the most direct route from the Mohican area to the state capital.

Nonetheless, it’s a scenic road with a few interesting small towns along the way. That includes Fredericktown. At one time, a sign on the edge of town boasted of it being the birthplace of the Future Farmers of America Jacket. For the non-agrarian souls among you, that’s the ubiquitous dark blue corduroy jacket with the huge gold FFA patch on the back. Kind of like country kids wearing their colors.

I’ve driven through Fredericktown many times, hundreds probably, and never stopped there. So early one Sunday morning, I grabbed my camera and drove there from my residence near Loudonville.

I was surprised to find how much was really there. I was not surprised that, like most small towns in Ohio, it’s a mixed bag of quaintness pockmarked with telltale signs of poverty.

Regardless, there’s much to recommend the place and worth taking time to explore.

By the way, these photos (and others) are showcased on my photography blog. High-res enlargements — sans watermark — are available for sale there.

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Driving into town from the south, an old feed mill serves as the gateway to downtown.
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One of the town’s Victorian houses, this one in disrepair, is reflected in the feed mill window.
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There are a lot of old houses in town, some restored, some not.
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A gargoyle stands guard at one of Fredericktown’s well-maintained properties.

 

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Main Street, where you can buy guns, learn to work in a nursing home, buy junk or get youself a tattoo.
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Bits of Main Street reflected in a junk shop window.
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Main Street apartments.
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Translation: Things are shitty here for some of us, but we’re making the most of it. Gotta like that.
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Off the main drag. Freddies is also the name used by the local high school sports teams. Makes you wonder how many Fredericktown residents actually name their kids Fred.
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They even have a Chevy dealership! (Right across the street from the bowling alley.)