My title might suggest I was meeting someone at Radnor Lake, but my meeting was actually with the fading evening light. My wife would tell you I was with my mistresses. Either the twins, OM1 no. 1 and OM1 no. 2 or Miss Mamiya. Actually I spent time with all my mistresses during these Radnor Lake visits. There is not much daylight after work during this time of the year, but I try to make the most of it when I can find the time. Radnor Lake is one of my favorite places to visit. It is like an oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle of roads and freeways. Arrive early and watch the wildlife come alive. Listen to the birds talk to each other and watch out for little Bambi crossing your path as you trek through the park. If you’re lucky, you might catch a Bald Eagle fishing in the lake. You will almost always find a Great Blue Heron gliding across the lake or standing stoically on the shore. As the day progresses more and more people arrive. Runners, walkers, families, photographers and painters are just a few patrons of the park. I have found that no matter how many people are present, it is still a peaceful atmosphere.
Radnor Lake has an interesting history. It was the first official designated State Natural Area in Tennessee. If you go back further to the early 1860’s, you will find that this area witnessed furious fighting between the Confederate and the Union soldiers during the Civil War. Radnor Lake’s location between Nashville and Franklin put it right in the middle of vital transport routes during the war. Later during the early 1900’s, the L&N (Louisville & Nashville) railroad bought several acres of land in this area. L&N had just completed a rail road from Decatur, Alabama to South Nashville and needed a water supply to support their steam engines at the nearby Radnor Yards. The plan was to build an earthen dam along Otter Creek to create a reservoir in the basin. A valve was placed at the dam to control the water flow. Over 1 million gallons of water was drained from the lake daily. This valve is still in the park.
As time continued, technology advancements in diesel engines started the demise of the steam engine. L&N finally sold the land to a local developer. Care takers, Jesse and Carrie McElyea were hired to take care of the property. Jesse and Carrie were private investigators. They raised blood hounds on the property. They used these hounds to find escaped convicts and to find missing people. In fact, Jesse was killed during one of these searches. Carrie, also known as Mrs. Mac, continued to take care of the land for 19 years after her Husband’s death. She died at the age of 94 in 2007.
After the reservoir was built, wildlife started to flourish in the area. Radnor Lake became a favorite spot for birds. It became evident that this was becoming a wildlife sanctuary. From that point, private citizens, organizations, scientist and universities started a campaign to protect and preserve the land. Over the years, this campaign raised enough money to purchase the property for 3.4 million dollars and thus, the Radnor Lake Sate Natural Area was established in 1973. Today the park expands over 1300 acres. You can find out more about Radnor Lake here.
A Peep into Radnor Lake
It seems during a lot of my outings, I always come back with a story of meeting someone. The following photos were taken on a different day than the previous shots. During a walk along the shore line, I saw a lady painting. I initially walked passed her, but decided that the light was fading fast and that finding an interesting landscape shot at this point would prove futile. I figured a shot of the lady painting would be the best shot of the evening. I turned around and approached the lady and asked if I could take a look at her painting. She was very nice and soft spoken. She introduced herself as Georgia. After I brief chat about her painting, I asked if I could have her portrait. She smiled and appeared bashful, but reluctantly, she said yes and started to pose, but I told her to just continue what she was doing.
Georgia is a member of the Chestnut Group. They are a group of artists with a mission to preserve land through generous contributions from the sale of their artwork. They have formed partnerships with many land conservation agencies. You can find out more about the group here. As we continued to talk, we got around to talking about photography. As we all know, painting was the original photography. I always admired people who could draw and paint. I drew and painted when I was a kid, even in my teens, but I would not exactly call it art. As our conversation continued, I found out that Georgia knew her way around the darkroom. If my remembered correctly, she still has an enlarger. I did not want to interrupt her anymore. She looked so peaceful making the strokes on the canvas with the back drop of the water and foliage. I asked her if I could have one more shot.
The Original Photography
The pictures in this post are best viewed in the lightbox below. Click an image to view.