Peacock Road

Peacock Road
Canon PowerShot S95
2011

This is a nearly forgotten old alignment of the National Road in Ohio, still open to traffic. But as you can see, it gets very little of that. These bricks were laid in the 1910s or 1920s.

Photography, Road Trips

Photo: Peacock Road, a part of the National Road in Ohio

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History, Photography, Preservation

Goodbye Rife’s Market

Word reached me the other day that Rife’s Market, in the Grandview neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio, has closed. It was a five-aisle mom-and-pop grocery that would have been a throwback even 30 years ago. Fortunately, I photographed it in 2012 while it was still operating.

Rife's

I was shooting Kodak Tri-X in my Pentax ME with a good old 50mm f/2 SMC Pentax-M lens. My goodness, could I ever shoot that combo happily for the rest of my life. I got some good, gritty shots of Rife’s. My friend Alice and I walked by midafternoon, and then again at dusk.

Rife's Rife's

Curiosity took us inside. The butcher counter and produce section were right up front, filled with Ohio meats, fruits, and vegetables. Wandering the aisles for a minute, I found some Ohio-made potato chips. I love a good chip, so I bought a bag of each brand. One brand, Gold’n Krisp, was fried in lard. Oh lordy were they delicious.

Rife's

I hear that Rife’s owners were ready to retire, but didn’t want the family store not to remain in the family, so they closed it. It’s got to be a ton of work to run such a store, for probably meager profit. But I imagine the family knew most of their customers by name. While I know not the first thing about the grocery business, and would probably stink at it, being part of a community’s fabric in that way appeals to me deeply.

Rife's

How may stores like this could possibly remain around the country? Not enough, to be sure.

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Peacock Road

Indiana definitely has some cool old alignments of the National Road and US 40, all of which I shared on Monday. But if there were an old-alignment contest on the National Road, Ohio would win. When the road was new in the early 1800s, especially in the rough, hilly terrain east of Zanesville, it had little choice but to snake its way along. But in the 20th century’s middle years, the road was leveled and straightened. It left a whole bunch of old alignments behind.

This one is known locally as Peacock Road, and it’s just a short distance west of Old Washington. These bricks were laid in 1918 to make the National Road suitable for military transport. More than 75 continuous miles of brick was laid on Ohio’s National Road, making it the longest brick road in the nation at the time. The road is 16 feet wide with six-inch concrete curbs on each side. But you can hardly tell – thanks to being bypassed for decades now, Mother Nature is slowly taking over.

 

Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

Captured: Peacock Road

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Stories Told

How the modern potato chip was ruined, and what you can do about it

I love a good potato chip. And good ones are hard to find.

That’s because most chips today are just salt and crunch. We want our salty snacks, but we don’t want them to be too bad for us. Most chipmakers have responded by frying in so-called “good oils” low in saturated fat and trans fat, such as corn, sunflower, and canola. It’s a shame, because what results is a dry chip with little potato flavor.

Yes, I said dry. A chip fried in saturated fats lacks no crunch, yet has a certain moisture to it. It is similar to a good pie crust, where the flaky layers melt in your mouth. Aw heck, most of you probably have no idea about that, either; who makes pie crusts anymore?

I have discovered that the fine people of Ohio are still serious about their chips. The state boasts ten companies that make them. The best known of them is probably Mikesell’s, of Dayton, which distributes its chips across much of the Midwest. Theirs were the best chips at the grocery store until they stopped frying them in pure peanut oil a few years ago.

Fortunately, Ohio has other chips up its sleeve. While I haven’t tried them all, I’m not sure I need to because I’ve tried and fallen hard for these two:

Ballreich

The first is Ballreich’s, made in Tiffin, which is about an hour southeast of Toledo. Their best-known chip is wavy, or “marcelled,” in Ballreich lingo. They’re a little thicker than your everyday chip, and they actually taste like potatoes. But because they’re fried in a combination of partially hydrogenated oils, they also melt a little in your mouth. They’re a little greasy, but not overbearingly so. They are a supremely satisfying chip.

Goldnkrisp

The other is Gold’n Krisp, of Massillon in northeast Ohio. Be still my beating heart, but they are fried in soybean oil and lardCan I just say that I have the deepest respect for that? When I bit into my first Gold’n Krisp chip, my knees buckled and I moaned slightly, so delicious were they. It was almost a spiritual experience. They manage to be less greasy than the Ballreich chips with no loss of great potato flavor. Unlike Ballreich, Gold’n Krisp makes only these flat chips.

You can buy fresh Ballreich chips online here. I’ve done it twice; they arrive well boxed and unbroken. Gold’n Krisp hasn’t joined the Internet age, but I gather that they take orders at (330) 832-8395. You’ll pay a good deal more for these chips than you will for that bag of Lay’s at the supermarket, especially because of shipping. And you generally have to order them several bags at a time, so perhaps it’s best to stock up for your next party or cookout. But my goodness, what chips.

In an age where we don’t want our snack foods to be too unhealthy, we’ve squeezed all the life out of them. I say eat fewer chips – but when you do eat them, eat really good ones. Ballreich’s and Gold’n Krisp should be at the top of your list.

I used to write about fried chicken here, too. Favorites here, here, here, here, and here.

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Preservation, Road Trips

The last drivable National Road S bridge closed due to heavy trucks

You can’t drive over any of Ohio’s historic National Road S bridges anymore.

The last S bridge still open to traffic crossed Salt Fork about four miles east of Old Washington in eastern Ohio’s Guernsey County.

Salt Fork S Bridge

A natural-gas boom in the area has brought an increase in heavy-truck traffic. Many drivers have been ignoring the posted 3-ton limit on this bridge.

Salt Fork S Bridge

Wishing to keep these trucks from damaging this already deteriorated bridge, members of the Ohio National Road Association approached the Guernsey County Commissioners last Wednesday asking that the bridge be closed. The commissioners moved swiftly, passing a resolution that afternoon and erecting barriers the next day.

Salt Fork S Bridge

This S bridge was built in about 1828 and is one of four complete S bridges still standing on Ohio’s portion of the National Road. (See the other three here and here.) One S bridge also stands on the National Road in Pennsylvania; see it here. All of them are closed to traffic. S bridges were built to allow a road to cross a river or stream at a right angle, which made the bridges less expensive to build and maintain.

There are discussions in Guernsey County about restoring the bridge and making the site into a park.

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Read everything I’ve written
about the National Road here.

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Photography

Captured: Rife’s Market

Rife's

I visited my friend Alice in Columbus, Ohio, the weekend before last. We ended up taking in the galleries, thrift stores, and specialty shops along Grandview Ave. and 5th Ave. near the Upper Arlington neighborhood. Rife’s Market stands on the southeast corner of 5th and Grandview. It’s a real throwback – meat and produce in the front, a handful of shallow grocery aisles in the back. We went in mostly to have a look, but when confronted by a giant display of Ohio-made potato chips I couldn’t resist and bought a snack bag. I love a good potato chip. Most of what’s available at the grocery these days is all crunch and salt. You should be able to taste potato, too, and the fat used for frying should impart a slightly creamy mouth feel. I liked the little bag of Ballreich’s chips so much I went back later for a full-sized bag to take home. I also bought a bag of Gold’n Krisp chips, as the ingredient list on the back said they are fried in a blend of vegetable oil and lard! My arteries are cursing me, but holy cow are these chips delicious.

Twilight had fallen as I left Rife’s and headed for home. My Pentax ME hung around my neck, with the 50mm f/2 lens attached and some Kodak Tri-X 400 inside. That good Pentax glass and fast Kodak film let me make the most of the available light for this shot. I love how the grainy Tri-X makes this photo look like it could have been taken in 1962, not 2012.

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