This morning was beautiful, nice puffy white clouds, blue sky and a hot little BMW to run around Omaha with until I picked up my car at Noon.
I decided to head to a residential area I had noticed yesterday and then head downtown. On my way, I detoured when I saw the train station signage. I hadn’t visited the station here back in 2006 when shooting for Amtrak, so I thought I might go have a look. I followed the sign that first sign, but never saw another that actually would get me there.
I soon realized that I was not going in the right direction, but I saw the absolutely coolest building, the Chicago Lumber Company. This was a great old building that looked like it could be a train station. I was lost, so I stopped and got a couple of shots of the building and thought I would go inside to see if they could direct me to the station. My real motive was to see if the inside was as gorgeous as the outside–it was! The ceiling was the old decorative tin with great skylights throughout. What a great place for a studio!
The gentleman there directed me to the train station and told me that I would probably find the old Burlington Station and Union Station, across the tracks from each other, more interesting than the newer, smaller Amtrak Station. I have noticed this in a lot of cities, that there are grand old train stations that get redeveloped, but push out the passenger train part of the operation.
The Burlington Station was magnificent, but in a state of suspended deterioration–maybe not all that suspended. Apparently, there are some efforts under way to make it into condos and shops. But financing or something is keeping it from being completed. Across the train yard was the old Union Station which is now a Museum. It was massive and all glittering white and I am sure that the two of them were an incredible sight in their day. There was a bridge that used to connect the two, passing over the train yard, but the bridge is now only a stub off the Burlington Station, stopping before it crosses any tracks. You can see where it probably used to connect to Union Station up on the second floor, quite some distance away.
While shooting there, I met Martin. I actually couldn’t remember which station was which, not having seen the sign on top of the Burlington Station yet, and called out to him if he knew. He couldn’t hear me from the distance, and the echo under the bridge there, so I walked over to him. He described to me how the Bridge used to connect the two and how wonderful these old building were in their day. He went on to tell me how he walks every day at his age of 88 and stays fit, unlike so many (was he looking at me!?!). Then he told me that today was his Birthday! We ended up talking for quite a while.
Happy Birthday Martin and thanks for all the great conversation!
Later, I went and got my truck from the dealer and pushed on into Iowa. I crossed the Missouri River at Plattsmouth. There I met, Louis, the toll bridge attendant–said he’s been here for 79 years. He was quite a character and told me about his Vietnam days and that he didn’t have any damn time to get his picture taken, that he had a job to do. Crossing the bridge, I was in Iowa.
This part of Iowa, well maybe most of Iowa ( and Nebraska for that matter) are fields of corn. I could probably notpost another photo for the next several days, other than the one here, and have most of what I will be seeing covered. I stopped in several towns along the way, including the home town of Folger’s Mrs. Olson.
The towns along here vary greatly in size and in one very small town, I was stopped by a guy that seemed to have already consumed his weekends allotment of beer. He wanted to drive my truck around the block–it wasn’t going to happen!–and then told me I could stay at his barn for the night for free. He would just keep me up drinking and talking all night. I thanked him for his wonderful offer and decided to push on. I also decided this wasn’t the time to seek a photo op!
I will report tomorrow with more details if it happens, but I may delay my trip another day and hang around this part of Iowa until Sunday. What’s another day or two behind schedule!