Kiran, Shaan and Bhavna were impressed with the strawberry ice cream that I picked up on my last visit to Red Barn Milk Co. located in the unincorporated community of Ringoes, located within East Amwell. That was in July. That's how much we don't eat take out during COVID times.
Yesterday we all felt like we needed "something". So, except for myself, I ordered pints of ice cream for each of us. I ordered a chilli dog, potato salad, and soft-serve strawberry ice cream cone for pickup. The ice cream is made with non-homogenized milk and cream from Brown Swiss and Holsteins cows at Hun-Val Dairy in Hunterdon County and is the only ice creamery in New Jersey using local dairy.
Double Brook Farm and Brick Farm Market supply the beef, bratwurst, hot dogs, chicken patties, veggie patties, rolls, buns and more. The ingredients are all locally sourced from New Jersey farms; mostly from Hunterdon, Mercer and Somerset Counties.
Ringoes is the oldest known settlement in Hunterdon County. John Ringo's Tavern on the old Old York Road in Hunterdon County was the meeting place for the Hunterdon Chapter of the Sons of Liberty which was formed in 1766.
Scouting for barns, bridges and buildings in East Amwell and West Amwell Townships has been challenging. Many of the narrow country roads, the ones where the barns are located, are not mapped on Google Maps. I used Google Map's satellite view to find objects and bridges, but could not get addresses. It was impossible to use Google Street View to virtually scout many roads that looked like they might have farms with barns.
Earlier in the week while Bhavna and I went searching for a new trial, we drove around some very narrow country roads that we had not driven before. On some of the streets, we found barns that I thought were interesting. I took photos with my iPhone, so I could use the GPS data to find the barns later.
My goal was to photograph the barns near the golden hour. I thought the light would look good on the red of the bar.
The property at 9 Gulick Rd was challenging to photograph. Gulick Rd is very narrow. I parked almost in the ditch and quickly set up my tripod at the back of the CUV. I was not able to fit the whole scene into one frame. Well, I could have, but I would have had to trespass on the property on the other side of the road.
My position on the side of the road created problems for passing cars, so I quickly fired off a few frames and left for the next stop.
The Amwell Ridge Farm is on Google Maps, but the location on Google Maps does not map to the physical on Rocktown Road. Rocktown Road was even more narrow than Gulick Road. Bhavana yelled at me to get out of the road as a car approached.
For this project, photography is the fun easy and emotionally rewarding element. The research and preparation are the boring and unrewarding parts.
I’ve come to realise how much work is involved in planning the Barns, Bridges and Buildings project. I’m familiar with the larger Hunterdon County townships such as West Amwell Township and East Amwell Township that are close to where I live in Montgomery Township. To minimise long driving distances on these small county and township road, I have tried mapping out bridges and historic buildings in the Amwells. However, I am frustrated in my efforts to find useful sources of information at the township level.
I have used the links provided in the post, but the information on the National Register of Historic Places and Bridge Hunter is not organised by townships. This makes shot planning much more challenging. I have clicked on link after link, finding subjects that meet my interest only to discover that it’s an hour away, but wondering what else I can photograph to make the long drive worth it.
I am now compiling a list of townships in Hunterdon County to research what significant or historic bridges, barns and buildings might be found in each. The additional challenge will break that township down further to the unincorporated community. For example, in Montgomery Township, there are several historically significant unincorporated communities: Skillman, Belle Mead, Harlingen, Blawenberg and the borough of Rocky Hill. Two of these unincorporated areas have postal zip codes, but postal codes do now map to township borders. Postal codes are for the convenience of the US Postal Service.
Breaking down East Amwell Township, I found the following areas: Ringoes, Werstville, and Amwell.
Photography is the fun, relaxing and emotionally rewarding element of this project. The research and preparation are the tedious and unrewarding parts.
I have decided that the furthest I will drive is thirty minutes or 25km. Based on mapping data, that puts East Amwell, West Amwell, Lambertville, and the lower end of Flemington into range. There are over a dozen, historically significant unincorporated communities within those limits some of which have just one listed historic property. Google Street view along some of the roadways shows what might be other historic buildings, but Google Maps reveals nothing about those buildings. Searching Google has not proved fruitful.
I want more than just a snapshot of the subject. I will need time to walk around the property, looking for interesting angles and points of view. This is necessary to do onsite, as Google Stree View only shows views from the roadway and only at the time of year the Google Maps car drove the road. I have found interesting bridges only to discover via Google Street View that the roadway on either side of the bridge is narrow, street parking is not allowed, and access to the riverbank is impossible without trespassing on a homeowners property. I don't want any interaction with the local police. I guess it's possible to knock on a door, explain the project and hope the homeowner gives permission. But if they do not, the trip has been wasted.
One of the photographers on the project suggested using this letter to get access to tricky locations.
Hello Hunterdon County Neighbor, My name is Lauren and I am part of a select few photographers that are working on a project for the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce. We are tasked with taking pictures for our project of "Barns, Bridges and Buildings of Hunterdon County". Every photo submitted becomes part of the archive which will be shared with the Hunterdon Historical Society and be featured in an online gallery. Certain selected outstanding photographs will be recognized and the photos published in the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce magazine, “Hunterdon Living” as well as an ebook of selected photos.
Although photos can be taken from public access points such as roads, I would like to obtain your permission to enter your property boundaries in order to take photos from different angles to include ground and aerial perspectives. If you grant permission to allow myself access to your property for this project, can you please fill out the attached form and then contact me so I can follow up with you to arrange pick up of the form and talk with you about and restrictions or concern you may have.
I am unable to guarantee submission of pictures taken on, around, or of your property. However, if a picture is submitted, and selected, I will be happy to provide you a digital copy of the picture selected, along with a limited use and print release form.
Thank you for you're time and consideration of allowing myself access to your property. I am hopeful in being able to include any of your Barns, Buildings and Bridges to this photo project for Hunterdon County.
Very Respectfully, Lauren McCallum-Young My contact information is: Cell: XXX-XXX-XXXX (text or call) Email: XXXXXXXXX
I could modify that to a shorter form that would fit on an index card.
My name is Khürt Williams. I am working on a project for the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce and The Photographers Group. Our goal is to photograph the "Barns, Bridges and Buildings of Hunterdon County" for inclusion into a historical archive. May I have your permission to access your property boundaries in order to take photos from different angles? Cell: 609.865.3380, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I had hoped to the website of the East Amwell Historical Society as a starting point for information, but other than Clawson House, I found no useful information. The website mentioned several historic buildings such as Peacock’s General Store in Wertsville, Van Lieu’s General Store, and a few churches and schools some of which were destroyed, and one which is now a house. I could find no addresses for any of these buildings.
There is so little information available from a Google Search that when I type in Ringoes, New Jersey or Wertsville, New Jersey, I get one Wikipedia link with nothing but links to real estate listings for the remainder of the page. Google Street view for Historic Wertsville is utterly useless. In desperation, I have now taken up skimming through Google Map's Satellite view of East Amwell Township hoping to find that needle in a haystack.
Even though I did not know it at the time, I have driven through Historic Rocktown on way to the Prydes Point Trailhead. Historic Rocktown is a 25-minute drive from my home. I noticed the older looking buildings and country home along Rocktown Mill Road but I found no information regarding what these buildings are/were. There is also no parking on the narrow Rocktown Mill Road making photography challenging.
It has been especially challenging finding barns to photograph. Short of driving aimlessly around Hunterdon County, I have no plan.
The town of Lambertville is just beyond the 25km radius I set for myself. However, it is full of photographic opportunities; assuming I could find an evening or weekend when the streets are empty of visitors and shoppers.
While the project is a worthwhile effort, I think that the time frame is much too short for me to effectively research each town, find buildings, barns, and bridges of interest, plan the shot by the time of day (golden hour, blue hour) I think is appropriate, figure out the how and where to park, scout the location in person, and photograph the subject. In my experience, these types of projects are multiyear endeavours which require multiple visits to the same location.
All of this will limit the scope of what I can accomplish before the July and August deadlines. Am I overthinking this? Is the goal to photograph "recognizable" barns, bridges and building or just photograph whatever you find whether you know what's in the photograph?