December 26 – McLean County basks in winter sun

Last winter for McLean County Courthouse

Exiting 2010 gives everyone a chance to catch a glimpse of something they won’t see again.  Yes, a year gone by, but so will be this stately seat of local government — the McLean County Courthouse.  It’s a health hazard. It’s been standing on the hill overlooking the Missouri River for 100 years.  It’s had a couple of upgrades but now it’s in such bad shape it is will be replaced. It took two elections for voters to approve the replacement, but by December 2011, this will not be the scene.  One of the last Romanesque courthouses will be gone.

Some places in North Dakota hang on even though they’ve outlived their usefulness. That’s the story with this abandoned farm house south of Washburn.  Though it’s been empty for decades, it still resists winter’s blows and snows.

Images of days gone by, captured by camera will be  increasingly rare. As courthouses and other stately structures give way to modern buildings, I hope to capture all I can of what once was.

November 15 McLean County courthouse destined for destruction

McLean County Courthouse — last days

For more than 100 years the McLean County Courthouse has stood in Washburn, overlooking the Missouri River several blocks below.  The county was organized in 1883 and the courthouse built in 1908.  It’ s one of three remaining old courthouses in North Dakota with the Romanesque styling.

Bats invaded the courthouse several years ago, and with the bats came the airborne health hazard of hantavirus.  Parts of the building have been closed off. Some of the county work has been moved to other buildings in town.  It took two votes before county voters agreed it’s time for progress.  Voters agreed to raze and rebuild the structure.  It’ll be gone in a couple years.

At night, it is a solid visual even in the snow. The eerie green lights give it an other-worldly appearance.  I hope to photograph it often before it’s gone.  A photo-tour inside the building I’m sure will be rewarding.

January 28

Straight plumes of steam over the Coal Creek power plant

January is mind-numbing cold in North Dakota.  The prairie looks like an ocean. The sun glows yellow as it sets, and on a windless day, the steam created by the warm moist air of the power plant turns in to a thick cloud.  The Coal Creek power plant near Underwood North Dakota stood bright as a silhouette.  I spied it as I was driving through northern McLean county, looking for images that will show you how North Dakota looks on this date.  Earlier in the day, shots were easier to find.

This abandoned farm house stood lonely under the full moon. This is a blue moon, they say as it is the second full moon of the month.  But it was also a very cold blue moon.  Imagine what it would take to get to the farm house when the lane is plugged with windswept crusty snow.

Even in the cold, there is beauty.  The snow is blue, the streaks are a variegated contrast of blue and gold.  And the full moon sits poised over the trees and old abandoned buildings of McLean County.