From Dave Brigham:
This is the third in a series celebrating the 7th anniversary of the blog (for links to the prior two installments, see the bottom of this post). This post covers 2012, which to date is the high water mark for The Backside of America with 92 posts.
I need to mention that Joe Viger has contributed some amazing photos and fantastic write-ups over the years, but I'll be linking to very few of them in this series. Why? Because Joe -- an amazing photographer who has served as a mentor of sorts to me in that regard, and a great friend I've known for nearly 30 years -- has changed the security settings on his Flickr account so that many of his photos that have run on this blog show up as broken links now. I will instead direct you to his wonderful online portfolio.
As regular readers of the blog are well aware, I've chronicled the former mill city of Waltham, Mass., quite a bit. I live in the next town over, so I find it easy to hit a few spots at a time as I drive through the city. Two weeks apart in January I posted about just such a two-bird-with-one-stone situation.
On January 13, 2012, I posted black and white photos (a rarity for me, and the blog) of Mt. Feake Cemetery in "Peaceful Rest." On January 27, 2012, in "Smoke On the Water," I told the story of Nuttings on the Charles, a boathouse that was used for roller skating, boxing, dancing and concerts.
(Mt. Feake Cemetery)
On February 25, 2012, a guy calling himself lostlosangeles shared "Gathering Nutrients" with us. A simple post, yes, but it seems so unreal, so Hollywood.
Kristen Smith takes great photos, and those she posted on March 1, 2012, in "Nice Little House" are no exception. A simple house, passed by countless times, finally lures one in. And a record is made for posterity.
It's no secret that I enjoy writing a good series. On March 22, 2012, I concluded a three-part write-up about Snow Hill in Dover, Mass. "Fresh-Air Salvation" is about an outdoor worship space, something that I, someone who does not practice religion, found very spiritual.
(Abigail Draper Mann Woodland Worship Center, the Dover Church)
Heidi Waugaman-Page posted a gorgeous photo of an old train by the roadside in Sunapee, NH, on April 14, 2012. In "Long Gone Train," she also shared a shot of a nearby garage.
The train is no longer there, nor is the spooky barn that David Burke shared with the blog in "Bakerville Barn" on April 28, 2012. That's why we shoot these places -- to document them for future generations.
(Bakerville Barn in New Hartford, CT)
The blog has lost touch with David Burke, which is really too bad, because he took some great photos. In his May 12, 2012, post, "Stanley Works," he shared an amazing shot of a shuttered Stanley Works factory in New Britain, CT.
Pete Zarria (a nom de plume; say it out loud) has benefited the blog in at least two ways: sharing fantastic photos, and covering a good portion of the Midwest, allowing us to fulfill a bit more of our nationwide mandate. On May 16, 2012, he posted a shot of a great old sign in Marshalltown, Iowa -- one of dozens he has shared with the blog over the years -- in "Advertising Ghost."
My May 18, 2012, post, "Aqueduct, My Friend," (yes, I enjoy writing headlines, and often use musical references) represents the most exciting type of Backside post for me, in that it is about a place that took me completely by surprise.
I'd driven past this stone marker numerous times before I finally pulled over and investigated. Click through the link above to see what I found.
On May 21, 2012, the blog ran the first installment of a week-long look at graffiti. That was the first and only time we offered up a series in that format. I'd like to do that again. "Graffiti Week, Part I" featured several shots I took at Cat Rock Park in Weston, Mass. Here again this represents something I love about exploring: I went looking for, and found, remnants of an old ski hill, but I found much more than I could ever have expected.
(Long-abandoned snack shack at Cat Rock Park.)
Pete Zarria takes a lot of photos of old service stations, some of them restored. He shared a few from Kansas and Illinois with the blog in his July 2, 2012, post, "Fill 'Er Up, Part II."
(Nicely refurbished gas station along Route 66 in Kansas.)
Those who have any familiarity with Cambridge, Mass., might be surprised to learn, as I was a few years ago, about the extensive canal system that once ran through the city that's home to MIT and Harvard University. In "Where's the Gondolier?" from November 5, 2012, I shot photos of the last remnants of that system, Broad Canal along Memorial Drive.
I have found countless spots to explore over the years by using Google Maps. Once such site was the "Old Rifle Range" that popped up one day as I looked online for places to wander. On December 4, 2012, I wrote about and shared photos of the range in Concord, Mass., that dates to World War I. "Concord, Part I: Old Rifle Range" was the first of a three-part series about the Boston suburb that was so important to the Revolutionary War effort.
Every year around Christmas on the Backside of America Facebook page I share the photo that David Burke posted on December 25, 2012, of a chimney in Canton, CT, with a Christmas decorations on it. You can see it at the "Merry Christmas" post, but not in real life. It was dismantled to make way for a shopping complex.
Here are the prior two installments:
Coming up next: my favorites from 2013, including a mural, long hidden from view, that surfaced temporarily before being dismantled; great stuff from the Midwest and Southeast by Pete Zarria; an amazing roadside religious icon; and a post about an important part of my childhood, revisited.