Exploring TN Small Towns with Renee…
Yesterday morning, I met up with a photographer friend of mine, Renee Lowery, to do some shooting. We had identified some small towns to explore. I had a few on my list of TN Small Towns that I wanted to hit, Wrigley/Vanleer/Cumberland City, and she suggested Cumberland Furnace. Supposedly, there was an old train depot there and she wanted to check it out.
We hit Wrigley, population 281, just as the sun was coming up and the first thing that caught our eyes was an old church, the Wrigley Baptist Church. We drove through the town exploring other spots including the town water tower and a creek we drove over as we exited the small community.
It was then off to Cumberland Furnace and the old train depot. When we arrived, the light was not good for shooting the depot, but we discovered an old commissary that served the workers of the old iron furnace that supplied the army with cannon balls, gun powder and whiskey during the civil war. The commissary was locked tight, but we did have a view through a broken window. It was filled with years of memories, neglect and some old TVs! We are already working with the owner to get inside access to really shoot it properly. While tracking down the owner of the commissary, we came across a lot of nice views of the rural farmland that made up this area.
We then headed west to Vanleer, TN, hoping to discover some more interesting sights. We drove through the town of 400 residents, stopping to capture images here and there, spending a few extra minutes at an abandoned old flame embossed Rambler.
We stopped for a breakfast biscuit at a small gas station/restaurant and was told about a nearby road that had plenty of old abandoned houses that we might want to shoot. We made our way through town and along the road into a hollow that indeed had a few photo opportunities. We stopped at one old house that had seen better days but was in the middle of a stalled renovation.
The light was getting harsher and we still wanted to get north to Cumberland City, so we packed up and headed down the road. 4 smoke stacks and a billowing white cloud were visible over the hills and trees leading into Cumberland City. It was the TVA Cumberland Fossil Power Plant. This coal fire plant is situated on the backs of the Cumberland River which was lined with coal barges waiting to offload their cargo. We pulled our car to the shoulder of a fairly busy road to shoot the plant across a large pond.
When we got back to our car, one of the town’s 300+ residents, a TVA security officer, was pulling up. He was nice but wanted to know what we were up to. I showed him the images I had been taking today here and at the other small towns. I can only assume he wasn’t impressed because he asked for my id and went back to his car for a few minutes. Renee suggested I take a photo of our new found friend and I obliged. All was well, we were not on any “watch lists” so he let us go.