The Old Roads

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geek-nerdAnyone who knows me at all knows that I’m quite the geek. But I’m also a nerd, and yes, there is a difference. Geeks are generally experts at something, particularly something technological, while nerds are a bit overly intellectual and completely obsessed.

I’m a history nerd, particularly obsessed with the highways and byways we don’t travel anymore — the ones that wind along impossible ridges, through tiny downtowns and over bridges that have seen better days. We don’t travel them anymore because the transportation departments built new roads — first new, improved versions of those old roads, sometimes several iterations, and later interstate highways often far from the original route.

I’m also a camera nerd, and those two go together quite well. I’ve been traveling some of those old roads, photographing as I go. Sometimes I use a Canon t2i Rebel, and other times I just whip out my iPhone and shoot through the windshield. Sometimes both.

I’m creating a series I’m calling The Old Road — the highways we don’t travel anymore since they built the new ones. If you like, you can follow my progress here, or buy prints here.

The ultimate goal, though, is a book. Or books. I have no idea how it’ll end up, but as it turns out, there is one volume ready for purchase. It’s called Underwater Highway. Its images come from old US25E between Morristown and Newport, Tennessee, along the French Broad River at a place called Dutch Bottoms. The construction of Douglas Dam flooded the bottoms in the 1940s, and this stretch of the highway went underwater. I remember seeing glimpses of it, and the silos from the farms that once filled the rich bottom land, as a child — sometimes more of it, sometimes less, depending on the water level. Recently, the water was lower than I’ve ever seen it, and I was able to walk out onto a highway that’s been underwater for most of 70 years.

underwaterhighwayfull

This is completely a vanity thing, but if you’d like a copy of Underwater Highway, I’d be happy to get one to you. It’s a 22-page hardcover book with full color photos and text describing the area, and it’s yours for $45, including shipping. Don’t feel pressured, though. It won’t hurt my feelings if you skip this offer and wait for the whole project to be completed.

If you would like one, just click this handy Paypal link, and thank you.


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