Willow Springs Historical Downtown


“Gas station looks kinda crowded.” A couple minutes go by, waiting in line. “Still looks too crowded.” A couple minutes after that, we’re at “Oh forget it. Let’s go into town.”

That’s how we discovered the historical district of Willow Springs, Missouri.

Buggies and Wagons, Willow Springs Historical Downtown

Buggies and Wagons, Willow Springs Historical Downtown

For Star Trek fans, it looked like a set from the Piece of the Action episode. Brick buildings still bear construction dates from 1896 and 1910. You get arch-top window gables, painted ads for buggies and wagons, and twisting red, white and blue in a barber pole, something I hadn’t seen since I was a kid (and I’m not telling how long ago that was). They were open too, but I didn’t go in for a haircut.

Joe's Barber Shop, Willow Springs

Joe’s Barber Shop, Willow Springs

It was a normal downtown on a normal day, with locals going about their normal business. No one took notice of camera-wielding travellers, except when the barber waved at me from inside his shop.

Big Smith Work Clothes, Willow Springs

Big Smith Work Clothes, Willow Springs

And it was a delightful diversion from the road, a chance to step back to a slower time. The only things missing were Model Ts, high-button shoes, and straw hats.

Road view, southern Missouri

Road view, somewhere in southern Missouri

Southern Missouri is gorgeous and green in spring, and it’s pleasantly free of the heat, humidity and mosquitoes coming in June. We got big, fat, fluffy clouds in the wake of the intense torrential rainstorm we’d just driven through in St. Louis. After visiting old college friends, we drove through Poplar Bluff, Carthage and Springfield on our way to Oklahoma.

St. Louis torrent

St. Louis torrent

There was an especially nice forest around Poplar Bluff’s Camelot RV Campground, and the place was quiet before the start of the busy summer season.

It was kind of funny to see a reproduction of an old-time poster for Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in the Donut House Bakery & Deli in Poplar Bluff. I hiked Henry Cowell on multiple occasions in California, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s pretty unknown if you live outside the San Francisco Bay Area, over a thousand miles away.

Inside the Donut House - Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Inside the Donut House – tables and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Shot Notes
All these shots came from Canon’s first version EF24-70mm f/2.8L lens on an EOS 5D mk II camera. There’s a bit of distortion between 24mm-35mm, and I knew I’d be tilting the camera with the tall buildings. It would have been nice to have my EF24mm f/3.5L TS-E’s lens shifts to eliminate tilted buildings in the camera. But I corrected in Lightroom after the fact, which cost me some resolution – and time. I was also shooting near noon, a definite no-no. Paying attention to contrast ranges and cropping tight to interesting subject details helped here. Picking early morning or late in the day for soft, warm light isn’t always possible when you’re traveling.

More Information
1. City of Willow Springs, Missouri, accessed from http://www.willowspringsmo.com/

2. Camelot RV Campground, accessed from http://www.camelotrvcampground.com/

3. Donut House Bakery & Deli, accessed from https://www.facebook.com/DonutHouseBakeryDeli/

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