Oh, Ohio

You’ve got some windy plains, Ohio, and some weird insistence on ditches on the sides of your minor roads which makes pulling over to explore something interesting near impossible. You’re a lot like your neighboring states of Michigan and Pennsylvania–flat in places, hilly in others, part pastoral loveliness and gritty, forgotten industry. When I think of you I think of traffic tickets and Chrissie Hynde, but this is neither here nor there.

My friend Jane and I took off late Wednesday afternoon and drove to Mansfield, Ohio, which is just past halfway between Detroit and Pittsburgh, stopping on our way because the light was kind of awesome to shoot things that struck our fancy. Oh, but that wind! It made standing still to shoot a little tough.

so windy!
(not where we stayed)
one of Sarah’s chickens (or hens, or ? I don’t claim to know much about fowl)

We stayed Wednesday night in an upstairs room and alcove in a farmhouse in another small town about 10 miles from Mansfield with a very nice couple named Ron and Sarah. We ate black bean burgers at a nearby restaurant and actually went to bed around 9:30. Which is just crazy.

In the morning Ron fed us breakfast of homemade bread and jam with eggs fresh from their chickens and regaled us with stories about the house and the area. I can’t get enough of that stuff, and I hope I didn’t annoy him with all my questions. I could have spent the day bugging Ron, but we had to get on our way.

Ohio is wet. I mean really, really wet.

We were there mainly to go on a photography tour with about 40-some other people of a prison that was built in 1904. It’s been closed since the 1990’s and has been the site of a few movies (it’s fairly famous for one in particular, The Shawshank Redemption), has a reputation for being haunted, yada yada. But before we got to the prison, we took a little spin through downtown Mansfield, which is a bit hilly and charming and weird and frankly, a place I’d like to get to know a bit better. We didn’t have a lot of time, though.

look at that sexy back end
crumbled steps leading to an abandoned house (or church?)

But on to the prison. We went on this exact tour last year and were in it not for the movie thing or the haunting business, but for the crusty, peely, yummy textures, lovely lines and light. Plus, even with 5 whole hours there last year, there were rooms we missed and we were on a mission to get to those spots.

movie room
cell block, shadows

The place is now run as a historical site by a bunch of really nice, knowledgeable volunteers, who were so terrific they jumped out of our shots, helped us find our way, and answered tons of questions. These people really love this building and are serious about its preservation.

shower room
Facts on File, 1974 (the top book) and red chair
magazine stand and peeling paint

The library was apparently the prison hospital at one time.

chair, light and shadows in solitary confinement
THE red gurney
(very former) phones
might have been the room where guards oversaw the phone conversations–the phones are just on the other side of that low wall

And after about 4.5 hours of lugging tripods and camera bags around, we had our fill and headed out. With stops, of course. Missed a turn and came upon this abandoned factory, and with the puffy clouds and blue sky and the wild wind whipping through the buildings making the most foreboding clanging sounds, well, who could resist?


And a final stop at a cemetery, view towards a farm.


Rural Ohio has a thing for putting cemeteries on hills. I imagine there is some purposeful reason for this, but I appreciate it for the vistas. Again, the sky–gorgeous!

And that was it–just under 24 hours in Ohio.

6 thoughts on “Oh, Ohio”

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