There’s a new blog on the block, and I think a good number of you might want to add it to your blog reader. Created by “Kodachromeguy” and based in Vicksburg (I think this is the third photo/history blog from over Vicksburg way I’ve heard of lately–must be something in the water), it’s called Urban Decay:
This blog documents what remains when man abandons his buildings, homes, schools, and factories. These decaying structures represent his impact on his world: where he lived, how he worked, and what he built. But after they have been deserted, they still tell us about his dreams, his work, and his hopes.
Kodachromeguy is also a Life After People fan, a tv show to which as you recall I am also strangely drawn. One of his first posts shows several “after” pictures of today’s subject, the Mississippi River Basin Model, located in southwest Jackson. One of my (many) great regrets is that I never saw this model in action. The Model was a replica in miniature of the Mississippi River and its tributaries that guided the Army Corps of Engineers in its flood-control planning and predictions for about 50 years. Today they do everything by computer. I personally am still a believer in having a real live backup for when your computers get, like, flooded or such. Unfortunately, the Army Corps doesn’t agree with me–they abandoned the site back in the 1990s, as I recall.
The Model was placed on the Mississippi Heritage Trust’s 10 Most Endangered List in 2000:
The Mississippi River Basin Model is the largest small-scale working model in existence. The reason it is so large is simply because any scale model of the Mississippi River Valley will be large. Moreover, finding a suitable scale to properly model the various hydraulic events in the valley proved to be a challenge during the design stage of its construction. The resulting model covered several acres. A working scale model of the Chesapeake Bay is the only other similar model in the United States.
Started in 1943 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi River Basin Model is designed to study floods, drought and other weather events. The early excavation was carried out by German prisoners of war, who were captured in North Africa when Rommel’s Afrika Korps was destroyed by Anglo-American forces. Later concrete work [is] by local Jackson contractors. The model was completed and ready for use in the early 1950′s. Interestingly, a day on the river can be simulated in just 5.4 minutes using the model.
According to the postcard below, the model was a tourist site too, where engineer types could bring their dates and impress them with all their hydro-engineering expertise: “Open daily to the public Monday through Friday, with free guided tours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.”
Well, those were the good ol’ days. Unfortunately, while the site is now owned by the City of Jackson and there was talk a few years back about trying to do something with it, our friend Kodachromeguy found it wide open last month to anyone who wants to come on the property and the model itself becoming overgrown. I don’t know at what point it won’t even be a model anymore–presumably the concrete will take a while to deteriorate, but once trees and brush start taking good root, there won’t be a way back. It was designated as a Mississippi Landmark in 1993, but that doesn’t protect it from just sitting and rotting away,
Check out some of Urban Decay’s other posts, including some recent shots of Jackson’s Hawkins Field and the Naval Reserve Center, which, as far as I know, is still under threat of being shorn of large chunks of itself to become a records center for MDAH.