Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Forest Service’

When Debbie and I arrived at Hodges Gardens State Park it was raining heavily.  So nice.  This marked the 2nd day consecutive day of significant rainfall  for the Sabine/Natchitoches Parish area, which brought the first measurable precipitation to most of the area in more than a month.  Triple digit midday temps were traded for upper 70s.  We met at 10am, and the rain continued heavily for the next hour and a half.  I caught glimpses out the window from time to time, and the rain appeared to fall in tender pieces and sheets across the large open field in my view.

The historic aerials were awesome.  With coverage of most of Sabine Parish, we spent a little time matching up adjacent shots.  For our purposes, I am thankful that our site is centered around a 225 acre lake.  This water body made finding our area of interest within the greater coverage area much easier.

1959 U.S. Forest Service aerial images. Lining up adjacent photos.

With low vegetation and a flyover date of March 1959, these were excellent images.  As we finished lining up images (2’ x 2’ each), I set up the scanner and laptop.  Although I had set up the scanner’s software on my desktop computer back at the office, I failed to install it onto the laptop that we found in the office earlier that morning.  So, (Laptop + scanner) – scanner software = no scanning.   Lesson learned here: check and double check equipment/technology (especially any units being used for the first time) before heading to the field.

Thankfully we were able to capture some decent images of the aerials with our camera.  Although we plan to meet up with the images owner later to resume scanning, it was important that we captured copies in some form while we had the images present.

Hope you enjoy the aerials below.  These were saved from the dumpster several years ago when a young man was cleaning out a storage unit his father owned.  After the U.S. Forest Service ended an office unit lease from the image owner’s father, these were left in a pile on the floor.

1959 U.S. Forest Service aerial; near Hornbeck, LA. We photographed every 2' x 2' image of interest without a flash. In case logistics delay scanning these originals in the future, these camera images will be quite helpful in our understanding the early layout of Hodges Gardens.

1959 U.S. Forest Service aerial image. Note the main lake and airstrip at Hodges Gardens in the top right. The three northwest to southeast running lines in the left half of the image, in increasing distance from the lake, are: a utility line, U.S. 171, and a railroad track.

1959 U.S. Forest Service aerial; detail of lake and main gardens area, just two (2) years after its' opening to the public. Note triangular entrance area at top left, bridge to Flag Island (named Nandina Island at this time) at bottom middle (circular island), and the Hodges' private residence on House Island at middle right. The smaller structure at water's edge on House Island is a boat dock. Designed for accessibility, a ferry was set up to transport family or guests from the mainland to the island dock. An underground tunnel and elevator system was available to bring any persons from the dock into the house (perhaps into a basement room, as the island's elevation slopes upward in the middle).

Read Full Post »

Monday and Tuesday were exciting days.  I caught up on phone calls with a few more helpful folks.  As mentioned earlier, Debbie and I have been looking for historic aerial images of the Hodges Gardens area.  Since we have yet to find any historic/original maps or construction/design plans for the site, a good quality aerial photo could be a great tool for understanding the original design and layout of the Gardens.  Internet searches and phone calls finally provided some help.

Hodges Gardens Manager Kim Kelly mentioned a name a little more than a week ago—a local individual who (or whose dad may have) has some historic photos of Hodges Gardens taken from an airplane.  I was not sure who captured these photos–perhaps they were taken by these individuals or by friends who spent time flying for leisure or work.  Whatever the instance, a phone call was definitely worth my time on a lead like this.

Given the man’s phone number, I left a voicemail outlining my request, and he returned my call later Tuesday morning.   I mentioned Kim’s name, and he said that he and Kelly went to high school together.  I told him we were interested in images taken sometime between the 1940s and late 1960s.

As the Gardens were originally developed 1950-1957, photos from the late 40s’ would show us pre-development character while 60s’ images would obviously provide some details on the character after establishment (as most all the trees present today were planted during the 1950s, the pines would still be low enough to see some ground level detail through the 1960s, if any such quality images existed).

Much to my excitement, I learned over the phone that the aerial images were captured by the U.S. Forest Service in 1959:  perfect!  As Kim was previously interested in the images, we agreed to all meet at her office at Hodges Wednesday morning.

Read Full Post »