Friday, April 27, 2012

All Roads Lead To Spotsylvania

     When students of the nineteenth and twentieth century visualize our nation's past, it generally resides in black and white or sepia toned images of captured light and shadow. The photographic process was largely limited to such monochromatic renderings until the past fifty years or so. The three photographs included here are from the collection of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. The first was taken just three years before the establishment of the park, and probably depicts one of the simple, dirt farm lanes that led to the interior of the main battlefield, land still owned at the time by subsistence farmers such as the Landram family who had tilled the soil since long before the Civil War. My personal belief is that this shows the lane that came off of Brock Road, approximately one and a half miles from the Spotsylvania Courthouse area, shortly before a now removed entrance and exit of Anderson Drive, one of the park access roads built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid 1930s. Clear traces of this lane still run through the woods, bisecting the final Confederate line as it did in May 1864. 
Back of image states, "Spots. field 1924"

     "Brock Rd looking N.W.", dated December 1935, taken just before the Kodachrome process made color photography more accessible, although relatively expensive, for the general public. This view shows the slight bend in the road before the Trigg Farm, beyond the trees on the left. Brock Road had retained much of its old time character in this area, still a narrow, two lane connector between neighborhoods, not far from its utilitarian appearance in 1864. 
     This view, also dated December 1935, shows the intersection on Brock Road, of Shady Grove Church Road, now known as Robert E. Lee Drive. When visited today, the new, "Courthouse Bypass" crosses Brock Road along the horizon line at right.

2 comments:

Pat Sullivan said...

These are great photos, John. I know those sections of Brock Road well.

Russ Edwards said...

Always interesting to see those photos. The work he did which later became the foundation for the parks base map is intriguing to read.