Monday, August 20, 2012

Death on the River

A young man died in the River last night, here about 200 yards from our front porch. His name is Jarvis Willis; he was 23 years old. He and his friend had been swimming down near the curved steps behind CSU's Theatre Department, and he went under and did not come back up. His body was recovered just north of the Dillingham Street Bridge.

My thoughts are with Mr. Willis's family this morning. This is the fourth drowning in the Chattahoochee in a month. As more and more of us are drawn to the River, we need to remember her power.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

New Part Open! Phenix City Side!

A brand new part of The Riverwalk is open -- from 13th Street north to (and a little bit past) City Mills Dam -- on the Alabama side.  The great thing about this section is that even though it's in the middle of the cities, it's remote. It's a part of the river that not many folks have seen.  Well, the folks who work in the big ol' TSYS building have seen part of it out their windows, and the folks who live in  the housing project there on First Avenue have seen it because one building of their complex looks out over it, and the few folks whose homes back up to it on the Phenix City side have seen it -- but for the most part this part of the river has been publicly inaccessible. Since it's close between two non-navigable dams (City Mills and Eagle and Phenix), boats haven't even been in there.

For as long as I've known Fred (and that's a pretty long time) he has frequently been inclined to wax nostalgic about childhood romps on the Alabama side of this part of the River -- about exploring the rocky riverbank with his boy cousins and Sin City pals. But for years and years this part of the riverbank has been so "grown up" that nothing but cats and snakes could get to it. Now, though, the rest of us can get a glance.

Warning:  Don't go by yourself; it's still pretty "grown up" and sketchy. You'll see:

City Mills on the right; City Mills dam.

City Mills dam. Better look at it now, 'cause it's about to be "breached" (That's a euphemism for "destroyed".) for the Whitewater Project.

Sorry about the bad photos, but I walk in the mornings, you know, and the light was not right for taking easterly photos. I need to go back in the afternoon, but that's not when I like to walk.

Looking south from City Mills dam. There's railroad bridge that I didn't even realize existed (though I should have.)

Some guy is walking across the railroad bridge! See him? He's the tiny figure to the right of the smokestack. And that's the smokestack at Eagle and Phenix.

I thought this graffiti was interesting.

A good snake (a dead one), about four inches long. Looks much bigger, don't it?  Snakes do that -- fool you.

There are lots of kudzu hidey-holes on this part.

And wildflowers. I assume that this part will be landscaped, and when it is, I hope that at least some of the existing plant life is saved.

I love this little red-blooming vine. Don't know the name of it.

Poke Salad!

Another kudzu kave.

There are several big trees, and they've been marked. I hope this means that they're being saved.

City Mills, defunct for a long time. I understand that parts of this building are the oldest mill buildings in the area.

Mullein, a healing plant. Folks used to make poultices out of it. I think it's beautiful.

It freaked me out to be so close to the dam. You can look right down on it!

Looks like the kids found this new part of The Riverwalk before I did.

I kept thinking that duck might go over the dam.

There are some big damn rocks along in there.

There's that guy again.

And here's some other guy.

Apparently we were not welcome to explore up that road.

That's the ugly TSYS building across the river.

So new it's not even finished.

Construction on the Georgia side for the Whitewater Project.

The Mott House, engulfed by TSYS, and before that by the part of Muscogee Mill that got torn down to build TSYS.

That's the 14th Street Bridge that's being worked on.

These Latino guys were hard at work, on their hands and knees, obviously, scrubbing the sidewalk with rough brushes. We asked why, and one of them answered, in his Spanish accent, "Making it white!"  My god. Wouldn't a pressure washer have worked?!?!  It was hot as double hell out there, and these guys were on their hands and knees, scrubbing concrete -- and earning wages.

City Mills.

There are two ways to access this new part of The Riverwalk. The easiest way is to cross from Georgia into Alabama on the 13th Street Bridge, take an immediate right, and park your car right there in that dirt lot that is across the street from the defunct strip mall. Take the few steps onto The Riverwalk, and walk north.

The other access point is at the north end, and getting there affords a bit of an adventure through an interesting Phenix City neighborhood.  Here's how to do it:  Cross from Georgia into Alabama on the 13th Street Bridge. Take that immediate right onto First Avenue and keep driving for several blocks. You'll drive underneath the railroad bridge and past this:

When you get to 19th Street, take a right.  You'll come to this intersection (but I'm coming from the wrong direction in this photo):

First Avenue and 19th Street in Phenix City.  This is an interesting neighborhood.

There's this little parking lot there at First Avenue and 19th Street.

This access ramp leads down from the "parking lot" to The Riverwalk.

Now, back to the neighborhood --

A block or two away. Fred says he used to play "up under" this house -- that he had a friend whose grandmother lived here, and he would visit his friend there.

I became fascinated with this house, for some reason.

 Okay, I can't resist leaving you with some more photos of that other building you know I fixated on:

I wish we had a screened-in bbq pit like that. Everybody needs one!

I'm thinking about going over to get a Fish Plate tomorrow.

I was curious as to why "Toy's" deserved an apostrophe and nothing else did.

A neighborhood church, one of at least ten thousand that dot the landscape of Phenix City.

Thanks to friend John Lupold for alerting us to the fact that this new part is accessible.