I first began noticing our disappearing landscape in high school. A barn that I passed by every day in Patmos had fallen in, and I was sad to see it go. Somehow I wished that I could have saved it, so that it existed somewhere other than my memory. It didn’t dawn on me until my third year in college that I had the power to save and document these relics through a camera’s lens. For three years now I’ve been driving across Southwest Georgia in search of landmarks, abandoned buildings, and urban legends, and taking thousands of photographs. Many of said photographs have ended up here, to share them with you, lest the features they represent be forgotten.
Quite simply my purpose is to document the past (and perhaps present) in Southwest Georgia. Time wears on so many things and in the course of 50 years the landscape can change dramatically. Just in my lifetime I’ve seen buildings crumble, lakes dry, and areas flooded. It is my hope that these photos will be passed on to others in the future who didn’t have the chance to see these striking features themselves.
IMPORTANT SITE RULES:
I DO NOT answer comments that are accusatory or spiteful. Sometimes the facts I post are wrong, it is NOT because I have a personal vendetta against anyone, it is simply how I have heard them myself. If you wish to correct me, do so in a manner that is conducive of what an adult would do, not a teenager or child; then I will be responsive. I have spent years compiling this information to make it available, so insulting me will most likely get you ignored. If you persist you will be banned from commenting on the website.
Do not accuse me of a crime, if you see your property and wish to have it removed please say so on this page, and it will be removed. I do not break and enter nor do I step foot on property with ‘no trespassing’ or ‘keep out’ signs posted. I am very up to date on Georgia law regarding abandonments and trespass law, I know what’s legal and what’s not. Accusing me of criminal activity will get you banned from posting comments, as legally this is slander.
I welcome open discussion, but this is not a place for ‘trolling’ or ‘cyberbulling’. We are adults, we should act as such. If an argument is started by a commenter (directed at me or any other user) said commenter will no longer be allowed to post. (This does not include general disagreements about history, as long as they stay within the limits of respectability.) Petty arguments are not welcome, this is a place to remember and respect our shared past.
I am personally more than happy helping others with genealogy and local events, but please understand that I am a full-time student in college and have very little time at my disposal. Sometimes a search might come up dry, please don’t hold that against me (I really did look). I also can not promise dates for local events, as I live in Newton and and spend most of my day at school, the ‘goings on’ in other towns usually fly under my radar. Please note that I can not look up any genealogy resources for CALHOUN COUNTY, as they have neither a history book nor cemetery registry.
Q & A:
What to you take photos of?
I photograph physical features like lakes, ponds, cliffs, and forests; as well as cultural features like cemeteries, houses, and churches.
Does what you’re doing have a name?
Yes, many call it Rural Exploration or RUREX for short. It is an offshoot of Urban Exploration (URBEX) and is the documentation and exploration of abandoned buildings, farms, and generally places where you’re not supposed to go.
So what you’re doing is illegal…
Yes and no. Ask anyone involved in this hobby and they’ll admit to trespassing at one time or another. That doesn’t mean that we’re vandals! The URBEX/RUREX motto is “Take only photos, leave only footprints”. I follow that religiously and do not steal or vandalize any of the things I see, that would be disrespecting the location. Generally speaking however, I always ask for permission before entering a building or scouting a field. I also never ‘break and enter’, I only go places with unlocked doors and easy access.
Is it dangerous?
Yes, very; there are many hazards that come with old buildings…namely asbestos. Flyable asbestos and bird droppings when inhaled can cause considerable problems (pigeon lung, cancer, ect.), so I usually wear a face mask to filter out the particles. One must also be aware of the structural damage to the building, falling through floors or having a roof cave in could be deadly. Animals love abandoned places as well. I have come across many snakes, wasps, bees, and other unsightly animals…not to mention owls, hawks, racoons, and deer. Believe it or not HUMANS also pose a threat. Squatters can be an issue, thankfully I’ve never met one, but the risk is still there. Being a woman I am also subject to lots of harassment from men when I’m in low income areas, this is never fun. Proper precautions ALWAYS have to be taken, these risks should be taken very seriously.
Have you ever been caught?
Yes, by both landowners and police. Usually they are ok with my photo taking once I’ve explained myself.
What are your feelings about abandoned places?
When I go into an abandoned building I get a rush, it’s an adventure! I also see that most abandoned places hold pieces of people’s lives. When a house is abandoned it is usually first looted and vandalized, leaving only personal items. These items, more than their valuable counterparts, tell the story of someone’s life. I find myself wondering who the person was and what their life was like. The same goes for scouting cemeteries. Its sobering and emotional for me.
Why don’t you have any pictures of Albany? Isn’t it SOWGA’s district capital?
Yes it is, and I have none on this page because Albany is a metropolitan city, therefore falling into the URBEX category. This blog focuses on RUREX. I do, however plan on creating a blog focusing on Albany and Thomasville.
Do you go alone?
Most of the time yes, I do however take partners who are willing. And when I say willing I mean willing to spend the day getting filthy and crawling into scary holes.
What’s you’re favorite place?
I don’t have one.
Can I go to the places you have photographed?
Sure if they are in a public area. No if they are on private property. Do as I say and not as I do, never go on private property without permission. Remember this blog is not a tour guide.
Do you ever check out urban legends/U. F. O. sightings/haunted places?
Yes I do. I write them up as I visit.
Do you have other photography webpages?
I see some features, like cemeteries and churches are tagged as ‘Black’ or ‘White’, what does that mean?
It simply means that the church/cemetery served either the Black/African American or White/Caucasian communities. Self segregation in the deep South is not uncommon, and the races seem to stay apart in matters of church and burial. This is not always the case, but it is generally the norm in rural areas.
Have you ever found a dead body?
I get this one a lot, not not yet…but again, the risk is there. EDIT 2014: Yes, it was unpleasant. Open grave, potential vandalism I’d guess.
Do you ever tag to say that you’ve been there?
NO! That is disrespecting the landowner and property. This should NEVER be done. I do see it often, however, usually in the form of ‘Profane Poets’ (people who tag all sorts of profane things on the walls.)
What if the feature you wish to photograph is gone?
I simply photograph the location for posterity.
A Note on Private Property:
Please keep in mind that this blog is not meant to advertise for any private property. All of these photos are posted here for educational purposes and I have gone to many lengths to express this. I have been very fortunate to have gotten permission from either landowners or managers to take these photographs and I am very thankful. Out of respect for the landowners I will not provide addresses or telephone numbers for any of the land you see here. I will not give any tips on how to sneak in on any land or reveal potential access points. I keep this project alive through trust, and I intend to keep it that way. If you want to explore these places you’ll have to do the leg work like I did, sorry! Keep in mind that plantations are very private and do not tolerate trespassers, most get caught and get sent to jail. It’s just not worth the risk.
If you have any other questions, or would like to go with me as a group please feel free to leave a commit on this page. If you would like to go on an outing with me I will let you know the location and what you’ll need. (i.e. boots, flashlight, facemask) Don’t forget the camera! These scouts usually last all day and have to be worked around school and the like. Keep that in mind.