Thursday, December 31, 2009


It is difficult to distill a year's worth of photos into 10 favorites. In fact, chances are very good doing this job at another time could result in different choices. Nevertheless, here they are in only somewhat random order. Choices also were made to present a balanced panel of images crossing the wide spectrum of photographic techniques. We hope you enjoy this review as much as we enjoyed the year in which they were created.

I like to think of the above picture as an enchanting image with the sun's rays painting this rocky slice of geologic time at Old Man's Cave in the Hocking Hills. Lady friend Sue and I enjoyed the solitude of this moment; reflected nicely by her being a singular, human presence in the composition.

A Great Spangled Fritillary very cooperatively enjoyed breakfast on these Canada Thistles early one morning along the driveway. Much of the sizzle in this picture comes from the critter's being backlit by strong sunlight. Exposure was carefully adjusted to avoid over-exposure which under exposed the background of fairly dark pine needles, rendering them black. Sometimes it really pays to tote the camera along.

This picture was done with a macro lens likely just inches from the water droplet on the leaf. The lens was set to shoot at a distance that made a nice composition then the camera was moved very gently back and forth until super sharp focus was achieved. Note the very shallow depth of field (plane of sharp focus). This is a 100 mm digital lens, very close to the subject with a fairly wide aperture--all of which choices minimize depth of field--a useful creative tool.

This picture succeeds because it pushes the limits. I zoomed the 200 mm digital lens and took a light reading of the spot lit area of the arena. The exposure was done at 1/20th of a second at f/5.6 and an ISO of 800. I panned the camera at precisely the speed the horse was running as the shutter was released. It helped to be witnessing some exquisite horsemanship at a premier horseshow in Columbus.

Just a post-card like view of the Shenandoah Valley from high above along the Appalachian Trail. Anyone with a point and shoot camera could make nice images here. The biggest challenge is getting to the higher elevations with hiking being the principal means of locomotion.

I like caves. This one is in the LuRay Caverns of Virginia and shows how nicely the sense of light and dark can be maintained with the proper exposure without the flash. I hand-held this shot at 1/8th second, f/4.5 and ISO of 1600 by sitting on the floor and solidly supporting the camera on my upright knee--and squeezing the shutter release.

I liked the choreography of the Canada Goose flight juxtaposed over the real violence of the bird's defense of its breeding territory which was actually taking place at the moment. The shutter speed of 1/400th of a second was sufficient to stop the bird but left it's wings a blur suggesting the speed of its flight.

A wise Snowy Owl. He was more concerned about the apparition with the big "eye" staring at him (me) than the nice things his handler was telling the crowd about his habits and habitat. The photo also serves to illustrate the easiest way most photos can be improved. Get up close and crop all extraneous stuff from your composition.
The neon tube was part of a permanent display at the Columbus Museum of Art. I was enjoying its very simple light, shape and color when this fellow crudely stopped in front of me and pondered the display with a p0nderous shake of the head. I could imagine hearing the exclamation "Duh...". Me too, pal! Not the display, rather, his dose of uncivilized behavior.

I included this photo because it takes a peek at the gritty side of life. Those are the hooves of a calf trying to be born. The rope is attached to a winch which itself is secured to a barn post. I'm not sure of the intent of the farmer's phone call. Is he discussing this perplexing challenge with a veterinarian, or, does the photo reflect a certain casualness that some folks might find uncomfortable under the circumstances?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Fogeyisms will be taking some time off for a leisurely visit with friends and family in Florida. Coming up Thursday will be our annual selection of our favorite photos from the past year. There may or may not be anything else published until we return. Hopefully we will have some reports on frolicking on sun-drenched beaches intermingled with musings of other sub-tropical adventures.

Then again, we may do absolutely nothing but relax on a beach somewhere down there and ponder sea shells, or other visual delicacies. Please stay tuned.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Please accept this image as our way of wishing you the very best during the holiday season and throughout next year. The picture was made at Kingwood Center last year and is a photo of a Christmas tree done entirely with gold decorations. The unusual photo effect is the result of zooming the lens during a slow exposure. --Terry

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

at Malabar Farm

A tour guide at Malabar Farm shows guests through the bedroom once used as the homeymoon suite by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall after their marriage there in May of 1945.

That wedding remains as one of the premier social events ever to take place in the Mansfield area.

Visitors were participating in a holiday open house one recent weekend at the former home of Pulitizer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield. Guides indicated the Bogart's would recognize the room yet today as it was decororated just as it appeared in 1945. 

Saturday, December 19, 2009


There are a couple of stories loitering in today’s blog.

One involves two aging geezers who are starting to push the envelope a wee bit—and enjoying every minute of it.

You see, about 4 years ago I rode my bicycle 65 miles one day during the week I turned 65. Now, already, birthday number 70 is coming up next fall and I want to do the same thing; 70 miles of bicycling one day near my 70th birthday.

This time I will have a serious riding companion in the form of Ken Johnson of Bellville who turns 70 just a week or so behind me and who eagerly embraced sharing the ride.

We just discovered this mutual interest so we are embarking on a conditioning program in preparation for the challenge it represents--especially for me.

Ohio winters pretty much shut down comfortable bike riding from now until those first mild days of spring so our task is to not only retrain our current level of conditioning but build on it so we can tackle the endurance venture we have set for ourselves.

This brings me to the second story here. Ken has a miniature version of a fitness club of his own in his basement. And, while it contains some very spiffy exercise hardware, lots of our planned conditioning work will involve very simple exercise tools like most of us already have or can easily concoct around the house.

That’s story number 2.

The heart of Ken’s fitness gym is a multi-purpose contraption. It can exercise about everything you want exercised. From a web site of similar appliances I discovered a modern home gym could cost easily $850 or more. Lots more.

Toss in a weight bench and a set of weights, a rowing machine and, well, you get the picture.

We will gladly take advantage of Ken’s machinery as we launch our conditioning program. But, lots of exercise also will be done with home-contrived appliances which he also has in abundance.

There’s a pulley hung from a floor joist with a bar on one end and adjustable weight loads on the other, for example. There are lots of exercise contortions possible with that rig alone.

How about his simple set of steps where we can climb, or stand still and flex our antique, Achilles tendons, both till our heart’s content?

A simple rubber line with handles around a pole allows lots of exercise to happen; inexpensively.

Then, picture this: a short rod with hand grips and free turning wheels in the middle. Just get down on your knees with the wheeled gadget rolling slowly away from your outstretched arms—but don’t touch the floor with your body. Then pull yourself back up onto your knees. Think of push-ups with a wheel on a stick.

Think of pain.

When you get good at that exercise, imagine trying it with just your toes and the wheel touching the floor.

So, there you have it; a couple of geriatric adolescents launching on a mildly improbable goal for senior citizens with an eclectic mix of hardware at our disposal.

We hope you will come along for the ride. Vicariously, of course.

Ken Johnson shows this rookie (top photo) the technique of exercising with his wheel-on-a-stick. That’s a name I imagined as I began to realize how challenging it was going to be duplicating his demonstration.

In the lower photo he is using his home gym machine to replicate sit-ups; a marvelous exercise for those troubling bulges that appear around the waistline when we are not otherwise careful.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bicycling companion Ken Johnson of Bellville is the picture of pleasure as he glides through innumerable repetitions of stair-stepping on his exercise machine. While Ken is in excellent condition, this rookie to formal exercise is launching on a conditioning regimen aimed at the two of us completing 70 mile bike rides when we turn 70 within weeks of each other next October. Please tune in Saturday and begin the adventure with us.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


The space shuttle Atlantis recently completed a 12 day mission to the space station; resupplying and delivering spare parts. As the shuttle departed the station they took the image above. Visible are numerous modules (crew work and living areas), the trusses that hold the station together and the long, wing-like solar panels that provide power.

The station continues to be home to five astronauts representing NASA, the European Space Agency, the Russian Federal Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. It orbits the Earth 17 times each day at an altitude of 250 miles on average. The curvature of the Earth is visible in the background.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

This view (above) is looking north at the Mansfield Blockhouse, newly renovated in South Park on the city’s west side. In the lower photo, Bob Carter (left) shares his ample knowledge of the blockhouse’s history with visitors during a recent Sunday open-house.

And a peek at our early history

On the 13th of August 1812 Levi Jones, a storekeeper in Mansfield, after helping with some land clearing east of town and walking home, was attacked and shot by Indians. Friends heard the commotion of the attack and found Jones dead on a trail through the woods.

He also had been stabbed and scalped.

When news of this killing reached town, “All the inhabitants immediately took refuge in the blockhouse.”

At sundown that day, a volunteer named John Chapman, bareheaded and barefooted headed toward Mt. Vernon to summon help. He was better known as Johnny Appleseed.

After the war of 1812, the blockhouse, then located near the present site of the court house, was serving both as a court room and a jail. By 1827 Mansfield’s population had increased from the eight or nine families that were reported to be here in 1810 and plans were laid for the construction of a new courthouse on the town square.

When Johnny Appleseed made his run through the woods to Mt. Vernon only a trail existed between Mansfield and there.

Lewis Leedy wrote about his life here in those days. “Wild animals were plenty,” he explained. “We had difficulty to keep the wolves from killing old dog Bounce. We frequently had to get up and chase them from our wigwam and wagon.”

“Bears, deer, wildcats, coons, opossums, skunks, rattlesnakes, copperheads, and snakes generally were plenty....” **

Remnants of that original blockhouse remain a noticeable part of the renovated blockhouse that stands to this day in the city’s South Park.

During a recent open house celebration of the renovation it was a moving experience to watch local historian Bob Carter point to the actual logs that remain as part of the renovated structure.

Imagine, if you will, those hand-hewn timbers actually being witness to the earliest history of Mansfield’s existence.

**A Pioneer History of Richland County, Ohio by Gen. Roeliff Brinkerhoff, Mary Jane Henney, Ed. Published by the Richland County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, 1993.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Recently, the Richland County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society hosted an open house to celebrate the reconstruction of the Mansfield Block House. It now sits in a more visible location in South Park, can be seen from Brinkerhoff Ave, and is just south of the park's picnic pavilion. While it is not generally open to visitors it remains an historical, visual treat.

Members of the society, some in period costume, hosted visitors during the openhouse (top photo) while historian Bob Carter (small photo) told guests of the block houses' history. Please stop by Saturday for our story about the event.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


This stunning view of the International Space Station was shot by astronauts from the space shuttle during its recent re-supply mission. The sun creates hexagonal lens flares as it sparkles through the blackness of space and highlights the curvature of the earth which arcs through the horizontal center of the image.

The flat panels extending to the right of the image are part of the station's solar arrays which capture the sunlight and provide power to the station. The large, tube-shaped structure in the lower left is part of the main body of the space station where the crew lives and works.

Overall the station is often described as being about the size of a football field. The sky is black because of the absence of any of earth's atmosphere at this altitude of some 250 miles above our planet. The blue sky we are accustomed to seeing on sunny days on Earth is the result of sunlight refracting through the water vapor in that atmosphere. (Photo by STS-129 Crew/NASA)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Explosive fire boils from the chamber of a 12 gauge Benelli shotgun as Traci hits a “bird” in the sport of hand-thrown clay pigeon shooting. Note the spent shotgun shell appearing to fly just above her head. Brother Eric is pictured (below) as he pulverizes one of his many birds that day. That’s his spent cartridge flying above the gun’s muzzle while a puff of dust and some bits of the peppered clay target are visible to the far right.

And the ageless sport of clay “pigeon” shooting

I could imagine Normal Rockwell smiling as he contemplated the scene.

The setting was deep in the rolling hills of sparsely populated Perry County where this old farmstead was still the dwelling of family with several lifetimes of memories there.

It was Thanksgiving Day and the kitchen oozed that potpourri of smells a Pilgrim would write home about.

Sister Patsy was the host that day and Sue, my lady friend, and I plus Sue’s grown son Eric and her daughter Traci with grand daughter Makenna were the lucky guests for a traditional celebration.

Earlier that morning Makenna and I hoofed it about a ½ mile up the gravel road and delivered a newspaper Patsy shares with the neighbor fellow. They do things like that down in those hills.

After dinner and an abridged nap by yours truly I joined both generations of younger folk as we toted a pair of shotguns and a box of clay pigeons to a nearby field where we reviewed rules of shooting safety, and, techniques of actually hitting the clay targets in flight.

Eric pawed the weeds with his toe as he apologized for forgetting the target thrower then redeemed himself with an admirable job of pitching the birds by hand.

Tracy and I blazed away in rotating groups of three shots then I made a feeble effort to toss the targets so Eric could enjoy a few cycles of this enjoyable shooting sport.

Turned out he was better at throwing them himself, then shouldering his shotgun and pulverizing the clay targets at a highly commendable rate.

In fact, while we didn’t keep actual count, Tracy was smacking the “birds” at a very high rate of hits herself—an outstanding feat for a lady with zero recent practice.

She reluctantly admitted Eric probably did hit more than she did.

Me? The only thing I managed to shoot was, well, the shotgun.

Makenna, 11, even took a whack at her first ever attempt to hit a clay pigeon. It took her several minutes to forgive us for the thump of recoil that was a bit more than she expected.

But, it wasn’t long until we were warming up inside.

Makenna was sharing her modeling clay creations with her appreciative audience.

And, we spent my first Thanksgiving in recent memory—without a football game on a TV.

Can’t wait to be invited back next year.

The small inset photo is a close up view of a clay pigeon. The little "birds" are made of very fragile, baked clay-like material and resemble a Frisbee of about 4" diameter. When thrown, usually by a machine, they sail through the air and explode when hit by shotgun pellets.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Traci and daughter Makenna, 11, my ladyfriend Sue's daughter and grand daughter anticipate the roar of the shotgun as Makenna had her first experience shooting at a family farmstead on Thanksgiving Day. Please stop by Saturday while Fogeyisms takes a peek at this marvelous substitute for television on that delightful holiday.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Max and I were enjoying a sun drenched hike around the pond one recent day when the image of the cattail jumped into my camera.

We decided this one must be a grandpa with its glowing white whiskers. In a botanical sense it is. This is the age when the sausage-like flower disintegrates into dense, cottony fluff from which the seeds disperse into the wind.

Human grandpas sometimes sense a similar disintegration at this stage of the life cycle—don’t we, grandpas?

Typha, as the plant genus is known, exists mostly in the Northern Hemisphere and is known to the British as bullrush.

The cattail plant has a wide variety of parts that are edible by humans. The rhizomes (roots) are a pleasant, nutritious and energy-rich food source; or so they say.

The disintegrating heads are used by some birds to line their nests. An Indian name for Typha meant, “Fruit for papoose’s bed.”

The plant also can be used as a source of ethanol in fuel.

It spreads rapidly around ponds and lakes and is an important part of the process of open water bodies being converted to vegetated marshland and eventually dry land.

The cattail plant should not be confused with the phrase cat o’ nine tail which is a type of multi-tailed (nine to be exact) whipping device that originated as an implement for severe physical punishment in the British army and navy.

Ain’t it amazing what you sometimes learn when you stumble over a bit of visual curiosity.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


The day we visited the Columbus Museum of Art recently they were suffering a partial power failure.

The absence of lights is a significant problem when the title of your art show involves illumination.

Regardless, and to their great credit, officials there discounted admission cost to zero and welcomed visitors with a caution to travel gently through the dimly lit show.

Actually, I thought the conditions were a perfect way to display Dale Chihuly’s marvelous, mostly transparent or translucent art form.

Colorful glass, creatively backlit with theatrical-style lighting can offer viewers a powerful, visual experience, and, to a limited extent that was achieved by the museum under that day’s electrical challenges.

In the above photo Chihuly’s Glass Forest #3 was one of two stunning examples of his genius in glass. The pieces being illuminated from within in a dark setting made for a visually arresting experience.

The centerpiece of the show Mille Fiori (below) also survived the debacle of the power failure and teased the visual sense with 56 feet of a glowing, garden in glass.

I can only imagine the intense visual quality of this show if museum officials were to recognize the flavor of presenting all the pieces of this marvelous exhibition in totally dark settings lit with a genius similar to their creation...

...which, by the way is exactly how they are presented in the show’s brochure.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


One more peek

Saturday we conclude our visit to the Columbus area display of the world-class art work of Dave Chihuly with a story on our visit to that city’s museum of art.

Their show was entitled Chihuly Illuminated.

Except, illumination was limited on the day of our visit by a partial, power failure in the building.

Nevertheless, as you can see above, the creations of this master in glass can be truly arresting visual experiences regardless of the challenges of their display.

Please stop by.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

With a new camera lens...

Just splashes of color remain in Ohio's woods this time of year.

The evergreens are, well, ever green but the deciduous trees stand virtually naked as winter stalks our calendar.

The little spots of color remaining, however, are like scattered treasure waiting to be found by a beachcomber.

A tiny oak seedling (top) is proud of its colorful, adult-sized leaves which adorn its woody skeleton just a foot or so tall in the very basement of the under canopy while rays from a lazy sun paint the leaves with back-lit translucence.

The close-up (right) takes on an abstract life of its own and shares its strong geometric shapes in a pallet of highly muted colors. It's really a near-sighted view of the trunk of a towering Scotch Pine at eye level.

My old, everyday, walking-around Canon lens on the digital SLR camera failed recently so I replaced it with Canon's new 17-40mm, f/4 L model. They regard it as a super-wide angle at the top of their line.

Taking it for its first hike recently was like getting acquainted with a new friend.

Then, a day or so after the above material was posted to the queue for publication we took another walk around the woods and the image below made itself available.

This is another low angle view, this time of a young beech tree sapling loitering under the towering pines. It is waiting for the canopy to open so it, too, can grow into a towering adult. Meanwhile, it is content to smile at onlookers with its winter-long sprinkle of golden-tan leaves.

The woods certainly is an every-changing tapestry of visual delights.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


For the next five months the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus will sparkle with the world-class, glass artistry of Dale Chihuly.

The conservatory is nestled on 88 acres of parkland just east of downtown and began its life in 1852 as the site of the county fair. By 1874 it was the site of the Ohio State Fair.

Inspired by the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 the city built its anchor, horticulture building there.

A glass and steel structure in the grand Victorian style, it was modeled after that world fair’s Glass Palace and remains today the signature structure of the conservatory—a fitting venue to display the creations of Chihuly; himself, a virtuoso in glass.

Sprinkled throughout this massive complex, its re-created desert, its rainforest, its courtyard—everywhere! you will discover artistry in glass like you have never seen it before.

Imagine all of the color possible in nature’s kaleidoscope presented for your pleasure in mass and shape and forms--some recognizable, some known only to the imagination of the artist, all capable of vibrating your visual sense to the core.

For more than 40 years the display of Chihuly’s mastery has spanned the globe from Venice to Jerusalem to New York to Luzerne.

“A dominant presence in the art world, Dale Chihuly and his work has long provoked considerable controversy as part of the art/craft debate. However, with exhibitions such as his recent show at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, (San Francisco) there can be little doubt that his lasting contribution to art of our times is an established fact,” explains Davira S. Taragin, Curator, The Detroit Institute of Arts.

The exhibition will remain at the conservatory until March 28, 2010.

Do yourself a favor.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Franklin Park


Visitors to the conservatory (above) wander through a “Cave” at their East Broad Street location in Columbus where the overhead sparkles with the back lighted works of glass done by world-class artist Dale Chihuly.

Please stop by Saturday when Fogeyisms will take you on a tour of this stunning display.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


In the current program Chihuly in Columbus, the city becomes the first major one ever to present Dale Chihuly’s works of glass art simultaneously at a conservatory and a museum.

An exhibition of his artwork at the Franklin Park Conservatory in 2003 and 2004 drew a record number of visitors. Most of the pieces were later purchased by the conservatory and is the largest collection owned by a conservatory or botanical garden.

That full collection was put on view once again in July 2009 at the conservatory along with new work by the artist in an exhibition entitled Chihuly Reimagined. This show anchors a two-part exhibition in Columbus along with a display at the Columbus Museum of Art entitled Chihuly Illuminated which opened in September.

Please stop by this weekend when Fogeyisms will first visit the exhibition at the conservatory to be followed by a story next weekend on the exhibit at the museum.

In the above photo, lady friend Sue Brooks enjoys a piece from Chihuly Illuminated at the museum earlier this month.

Visit: for show dates.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

in a land of enchantment

Once again, thank you God!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


In the Hocking Hills State Park--

The bedrock in the area of the Hocking Hills State Park was deposited more than 350 million years ago in the form of a delta of a warm, shallow sea that covered what is now known as Ohio at that time.

Subsequent millions of years of uplift and stream erosion have created the awesome beauty seen today.

Glaciers never reached this park area of Ohio but their influence is still seen there in the form of vegetation growing in the gorges. Towering eastern hemlock, for example, tell of that cool period of more than 10,000 years ago.

Evidence of Ohio’s ancient Adena culture shows man first inhabited the park’s cave-like recesses more than 7,000 years ago.

Indians of the 1700s gave the park its name by their calling the river Hockhocking. White settlers first arrived after the Greenville Treaty of 1795 and Hocking County was organized in 1818.

The scenic geologic features of the area were well known by the 1870s and the first land purchase by the state in 1924 was of 146 acres and included the Old Man’s Cave area. Today the park and nearby state forest total more than 11,500 acres and are regarded as Ohio’s premier natural showcase.

Lady friend and dance partner Sue Brooks (pictured) recently joined me in an exploration of the Old Man’s Cave area of this huge park/forest. Please stop by Saturday for a visual excursion through this enchanting land.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Twenty four stars were representative of the US flag in 1831 and are shown above in the glow of a single candle in the community room of Oakland Lutheran Church of Mansfield decorated as a colonial inn of that period.

On a recent series of weekends church members did “A dinner Theater of Historic Proportions” where each performance was done for an audience of about 30 folks who dined on a meal of that period while being treated to snippets of local history from that long-ago time.

The cast was led by church minister Paul Lintern who played Jacob Zeiters owner of the Oakland Inn in those days. Zeiters moved here from Boston in 1815 to help his wife’s sister with their family farm after the sister’s husband died. Zeiters built the inn after the farm failed in the recession of 1818.

Also dining with us was Mansfield’s mayor of the time, James Gilkison played by Mike Briggs. Mansfield had been a village for just 3 years back then and had 300 residents.

Richland County was then the largest county in Ohio at 900 square miles. Uniontown was on the county’s east border—later to be named Ashland.

News of the day was slow to get here but folks ultimately learned Robert Fulton had developed the steamboat. Of course, they knew Andrew Jackson was president and some had an idea the country’s population was almost 13 million; about the same as Ohio’s today.

About 3 and a half million were slaves which would lead—some 30 years later—to what we now know of as our Civil War.

We dined by candle light and were served by church members in period costumes. The meal of beef and chicken and potatoes and cabbage and pie and apple crisp was served family style and the plates went around more than once.

It was fun to salt slightly with the tiny spoon from the little glass container while enjoying a glass of cider quite likely traceable to a fellow who took the name Appleseed as a Mansfield resident for 25 years back then.

Zeiters and the mayor told of the construction of the county’s third courthouse on the village square. It was bricks and mortar and two stories tall and replaced earlier blockhouses that served that purpose.

Folks seemed proud of it back then but an audience member from down in the valley near the Clear Fork speculated the old-timers of the period wondered which would last longer the fancy new building or its log predecessors.

Of course, if you take a peek in South Park of Mansfield you will see a well preserved blockhouse from that colonial period which remains standing to this day.

Kudos to church and cast members for a delightful evening!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Volunteer conductors (above) on the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, Nelsonville, OH share a few whoppers while folks board the passenger cars for a 2-hour, 22 mile round trip train ride from Nelsonville to Logan. Guests enjoy the sights while riding in one of two double deck passenger cars (lower right). The ladder-like object was used for luggage storage when the car was in regular railroad passenger service.


I was mesmerized by the swaying motion of the train cars while the little excursion railroad trundled along its course in the Hocking Valley which, itself, was resplendent in its fall pallet of vibrant colors.

I enjoyed the near hypnotic motion as memories of train rides from my long-ago childhood rekindled themselves. Riding the train was a very common form of cross-country travel back then.

I wondered where the clickity-clack of the rolling wheels had gone. That day there was just the hum of steel rolling on steel when I remembered modern track beds were constructed with miles of seamless track, not the antique variety with noisy joints all along the course.

Today, this fastest growing excursion railroad in Ohio is operated and maintained totally by enthusiastic volunteers.

Ladyfriend Sue Brooks was askance when she pondered the train also being driven by a volunteer—a fact I later found out was true, and, a 22 year-old one at that.

As the enchanting ride continued the announcer told us about honeycomb kilns visible to passengers on the left that were part of the valley’s industrial past. He described the virtually dormant town of Haydenville as we rolled through; its vibrancy as a community obviously long gone.

Today, rather than the noise of smoke-belching industry, the valley prides itself as the home of Ohio’s most marvelous collection of natural, and geologic artifacts like Old Man’s Cave and Conkles Hollow and the Cantwell Cliffs.

As we started our return trip I remembered it’s really difficult to turn a train around. These folks solve that problem with an engine on each end. That just requires a little careful coordination between the two.

Some seats in our double deck car also were reversible. The back simply arced over the seat bench and riders could turn around and ride going forward in both directions.

Nearing the end of our ride our little train shared a 30 minute stop at Robbins Crossing, a log village from the 1840s on the campus of the Hocking technical college.

At that stop I met our engineer for this leg (see top photo below). He commutes on weekends from Charleston, WV to enjoy his railroading hobby. I chuckled when I was preparing to shoot the middle picture below and discovered we had truly reached that end of the railroad line.

The 1840 era village of Robbins Crossing gave train passengers a restful peek at life in a pioneer village (below). Yet this year there will be Santa trains, a North Pole Express and a New Year’s Eve excursion with a brief stop before midnight where visitors will be able to enjoy a fireworks display.