Lock Tender's Quarters

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lock tender
Restored Lock Tender's Home
Illinois and Michigan Canal near Morris, IL

In the mid 1800's, the Illinois and Michigan Canal was a vital link between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River - basically between the Atlantic Ocean and the rest of the country. Barges of goods were pulled by mules that walked on a path next to the canal. Changes in elevation were overcome by installing several locks. The locks would either fill with water or be emptied of water to allow the barges to travel the length of the canal. Each lock needed a tender or someone who would open and close the gates that held back the water.

This structure is a preserved lock tender's home and is located near Morris, IL. One of the two locks has been closed to show how it once operated.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas
Have a very Merry Christmas!

Driving Through a Winter Wonderland

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frosty trees
A Winter Morning on State Road 4
Near Salem Heights, Indiana

After a night of freezing fog, every surface in sight was covered with frost and highlighted by the early morning sun. This winter wonderland only lasted for a short time - until the sun warmed up the surfaces and the frost began to melt. It was truly a sight to behold; I just wish I could have parked somewhere so I could get a few better photos.

Abandoned Farm in Winter

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crib barn in winter
Abandoned Farm in Winter
December, 2007

A sunny afternoon following a 9 inch snowfall in a rural part of Cook County, Illinois highlights a deteriorating crib barn on an abandoned farm.

Crib barns were used to store corn, tools and the occasional tractor. The siding on the barn was set apart so air could circulate and keep the corn from rotting. Spacing the siding also let high winds pass through without blowing over the barn. The clapboards on the north side of this barn butted up against each other, probably to provide some shelter from the colder north winds.

The Promenade

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Light show at the Promenade
Bolingbrook, Illinois

Every evening from now until New Years Day, a music and light show plays at the new Promenade mall in Bolingbrook. Thousands of Christmas lights "dance" to the music as shoppers gather to watch the colorful spectacle.

The Promenade is just west of I 355, off of Janes Road and Boughton.

Walkerton Interlocking

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csx tower train
BNSF Freight Train
Walkerton, Indiana

A lonely, two storey, brick interlocking tower owned and operated by CSX stands empty in the small rural town of Walkerton, Indiana. This tower was once three levels, but was reduced to two several years back.

This building stands a few feet away from a double interlocking where two sets of parallel tracks intersect with one set. This line is still heavily used, almost every time I pass through Walkerton I hear or see a long train rolling quickly by these tracks.

I hope someone soon has the good sense to preserve this building before it's too late.

Door Prairie in Winter

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door prairie barn winter
Door Prairie Barn in December

A magical winter morning and I happened to find myself next to the nine-sided Door Prairie barn in LaPorte, Indiana. The overnight fog crystallized onto almost every surface, creating flocking on all of the tree branches. It was very picturesque just driving around town.

The owner of this barn has restored it and maintains it regularly, keeping it in terrific shape; thus it has become a landmark in LaPorte. He has also decorated it for Christmas with traditional wreathes.

Michigan City Light

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michigan city light
Michigan City Lighthouse on a cold morning

A cold, desolate morning in Michigan City, Indiana was the perfect time to capture the lighthouse on Lake Michigan. The rising sun creates a vivid image of the lighthouse against the deep blue water. Most of my images of this lighthouse were taken after noon, when the sun is above or behind the lighthouse, creating an image with washed out colors, so this was a treat.

Cold, Lonely Morning on Lake Michigan

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mt baldy on a freezing morning
Cold, windy morning at Lake Michigan
Mount Baldy National Lakeshore
Michigan City, Indiana

On the way to take care of a furnace situation, it was a cold and windy walk to the top of Mt. Baldy a 125 foot tall sand dune in Michigan City, Indiana. It snowed the night before and then got very cold, turning the sand along the shore to slippery ice. I managed not to slide into the water or off of the dune.

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washington beach in december
Washington Park Beach

The usually busy beach at Washington Park in Michigan City, Indiana was desolate. Not a single human being could be seen in any direction, not even in a car or boat. A terrific morning for photography aside from the high wind gusts and 9 degree temperatures!

Wish I had more time - I could have spent hours there! Maybe on winter vacation in a few weeks.

Ice Storm

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lantern ice
Ice forming on a lantern
December 1, 2007

The first ice storm of the season hit on Saturday, causing several minor delays and problems across the Chicago area. Driving wasn't exactly fun due to the icy conditions and crowded streets. It took us 40 minutes to drive about 6 miles!

Another storm is about to hit the area tonight, so I'm bracing myself for a long trip to work in the morning.

Toys for Tots Parade

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santa motorcycle
Santa Leads the Way

The annual Toys for Tots motorcycle parade got off to a rainy start on Sunday, December 2. A freezing rain storm the day before left the roads wet and slick, but rising temperatures helped keep them from freezing. No matter what the weather, the motorcycle riders turn out by the thousands to ride from the Dan Ryan Woods on 8300 south Western (the highest point in the city of Chicago created by the edge of the glacial Lake Chicago) to Foster 5600 north to deliver an unwrapped toy to the Toys for Tots drop off.

Toys for Tots collects toys each Christmas season to give to needy children, and the motorcycle parade certainly brings smiles to thousands of children.

At times, up to 30,000 motorcycles have participated in the parade, each with a gift and many decorated with garland and Santa Claus.

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thousands of motorcycles
Line of Motorcycles
Looking South
Western Avenue at 46th Street
Chicago, Illinois

This year, the warmer temperatures attracted hundreds of enthusiastic spectators along Western Avenue. Past years when the temperatures have were in the single digits, spectators were few or sitting by windows or in cars.

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parade train2
Santa Fe Railroad Float
Toys for Tots Parade