I've added a link to their website in the City Links section of my website and I strongly suggest you check out their site. If you read this blog via one of the websites that syndicates my content, please visit my site directly at www.bismarckmandanblog.com for city links and other bonuses.
The direct link to the Bismarck Historical Society is www.bismarckhistory.org.
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It was a sunny September day in 1965. I didn't exist yet, but my friend's dad did...and so did his camera. Lawrence Welk and his orchestra flew into Bismarck to, as James Grimstad put it, a "royal turnout."
I haven't much to say about the event, since I wasn't there (or anywhere), but I do have to pay tribute to my friend's dad Jim. I barely knew him before he passed away of Alzheimer's, although I had the opportunity to know him better. It was only after his passing that I realized he and I were such kindred spirits. It seems he never went anywhere without his cameras over the years, and has left an astonishing and irreplacable photo legacy. Now I really regret not getting to know him better and talking about his photos with him, helping him relive the moments he captured.
Through an enormous gift of grace, I've been entrusted with much of that legacy and hope to preserve it in its entirety. You'll see many more peeks into Bismarck history through his lens here on my blog throughout the years, as he has decades of unique photos of memorable events. His work will live on.
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I got off work to an awesome sky today. The clouds were pretty amazing, so I did what works best: head for high ground and see what develops! I found myself at the University of Mary this time around. I was just going to stop in the parking lot, but I found that the large cross at the edge of the hill was a good point of view.
The neat thing about the sky at this particular time is that the clouds look like they're going around the cross, like when you put your hand in running water or something similar. It was a pretty cool catch!
Part of the photographic formula is a nice camera. Another part is an eye for an attractive photo. I tend to attribute the biggest part of the formula, however, to just simply being there. I was there tonight. Then it was home for a tremendous honey-do list, which tonight was marathon woodworking in our home improvement project.
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I've posted a few sunset photos from this vantage point: the post at the north border of Double Ditch Indian Village, perched atop the cliff. It's a popular point of view for local photographers, and I've run into a few there. But it brings up the question of what this area looks like from below.
It's been a while since I've been down at the bottom of these cliffs. Back in the 1980s there used to be a big sandbar island in the middle of the river here, and we'd have big parties out there in August to say goodbye to friends before everybody left for college. We'd have a generator and sound system, volleyball nets, and boats ferrying people to and from the shore. Those were the days. So I decided to find the old foot path down to the river and poke around a little before sunset.
Wow. The path has eroded some. A lot, actually. It's at the south end of the road now, which used to be the midpoint of the park when the road looped all the way through. Despite having a few grand worth of camera gear on my back, I decided to skate down the trail anyway. I managed not to tip over and only got a little bit muddy at the bottom, where natural drainage brings water down to the river from the hills above.
Wow, I came down that wearing a pair of Airwalks? I'm braver than I thought! I figured I'd come up with a plan for getting back up the hill later, since I didn't even have enough traction to get down gracefully. Getting back up this way seemed highly unlikely.
Of course, that's when I noticed a trail nice enough to call wheelchair accessible coming down from the other side of the ravine! It wasn't exactly visible from where I came down, and seems to be relatively recent since there's a little signage area at the top, part of the "new" park. I haven't spent much time hoofing around the park since they took the road out, so it had escaped my attention until now. At least now I know how I'm getting back up!
The water was calm that day, my friends. There were actually a lot of graceful ripples lapping at the shore, and that is a REALLY nice sound. I had my iPod in my pack, but this time I left it there. It was a nice little meditation walk this time, something I haven't done in way too long. The sky wasn't really doing anything of note, so I decided to head north and investigate the shoreline along the park.
The Missouri River is low right now, as you can see. I had no problem walking on recently solid ground among fallen trees and other debris, but nothing really mindblowing. I did see some beverage cans that were old enough to be the pull-tab type from the 1970s, a C02 cylinder from a fountain pop dispenser, and a rusty 55 gallon drum. There were a lot of interesting tracks, too.
Of course, this wouldn't be Double Ditch without any of the fabled cars at the bottom of the cliff! The grass was really tall, but I spotted at least three of them. There might even be some trim pieces on a couple of these that would be worth something on eBay. Did I just give you some ideas?
Remember that post I told you about? Here's how it looks from a hundred feet below. of course, I zoomed in so it was actually visible in the shot. Considering the condition of these cliffs, I'm going to be a little more reluctant to stand right at the edge!
About this point, the sun was a distant memory over the horizon and I was getting cold. I didn't have any gloves, was wearing only a light jacket and could see my breath. That's what happens sometimes with these spur of the moment trips, I guess! I worked my way back, hands stuffed firmly in my coat pockets to keep warm, and walked easily up the established trail. I cranked the heater in my truck, dodged deer all the way back into town, and called it an evening. While I didn't really come away with any jaw dropping photos, I still call the trip a success; it's an angle of Double Ditch I've been meaning to see for a long time.
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I get asked a lot how in the world I can post so many photos and babble so much. I think to the old adage: "How do we do it? Volume!" Seriously, though...I carry my camera everywhere and I know where to look. This is the convergence of those two things.
This lone chimney sits on a little parcel of land south of Bismarck and is for sale if you're interested. I've driven past it several times, even taken a few photos, but none of them really thrilled me. Today I think I got a slightly more interesting photo. I like the starker shadows of the fall sun, the golden grass and leaves, topped off by the dark blue skies (thanks to a polarizer filter on the lens).
The "volume" I joke about is that sometimes I'll get several really cool shots, and just hang on to them for a while. For instance, I have lots of Fallen Farms photos (and haven't posted any in a while...hm...) and fall foliage. I like to share them, but sometimes I just pace myself because I'm too busy being a daddy and a freelance video guy to get out with the camera on a regular basis.
Bismarck has so many places like this. Sometimes they're better than others, and it is a matter of being there at just the right moment. These days I'm so busy I can't begin to explain, but I take tiny moments here and there to work in a photo where I can. It may be on the way to work or back home, in between errands, or I might get up early or stay up late. But when you've got the photo bug, you make time!
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