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Over the past few summers I have tackled the National Road, the Oregon Trail, and I've motorcycled to the Arctic Circle (Yukon) and Alaska. In the summer of 2013 I tackled Illinois Route 1. Starting on the south side of Chicago, Illinois 1 is the longest state highway, meandering south until it ends in Cave In Rock, Illinois, on the banks of the Ohio River. Once again, I operated with the assistance of Verizon Wireless, using an Apple iPhone and Nokia Lumia 928 to make all photographs.

In good hands

Posted: July 23rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: General posts | No Comments »

Frankly, I met Bob Wilson because of my incompetence. My writing partner on this project, Joe Gisondi, and I had met Rob Edwards at the Edgar County Courthouse in Paris, Ill., the week before. I took a few good photos, but after witnessing the extent of Joe’s interviews and the thoroughness of his reporting, I knew I needed to return for more visual reporting.  (photos below)

(Editors Note: I will be posting a link to Joe’s writing for this project when the project is completed. I can make a photo, but my writing does not hold a candle to his prose).

So, I came back early on a Friday morning, and found Wilson underneath one of  two artillery pieces “guarding” the courthouse. This is the same courthouse that, despite our post-9/11 world, does not have metal detectors at its entrances. Honestly, it’s rather refreshing. With a warm face and a soft tone, Wilson was soon filling me in on everything there is to know about the courthouse: the secrets of its sandstone construction, and the reason the courthouse’s dome is actually a shell of tin and not stone. (It’s because the interior construction is made of wood, which couldn’t handle the weight).

Wilson had also shown me the minute hand that had fallen off last winter — impaling itself on the guard rail during business hours near the most used entrance. They’re not sure how they are going to re-attach the six-foot hand, especially since bids have been rather high and because access is limited to rappelling or using a very large crane. Occasionally, Wilson is assigned people who have to serve community service.  He’s agreed to hold the bottom of the ladder for anyone willing to climb up and re-attach the hand. So far, no takers.

In addition to Wilson, the “new guy” on the block is Edwards.  Working at the courthouse less than six months, Edwards is a decorated Vietnam and Iraq War veteran. Both times I visited the courthouse, Edwards was hard at work in some dark corner, attending to the thousands of square feet of marble flooring.  The embodiment of  the American work ethic, Edwards was actually born in England and later became a naturalized citizen.

Clearly, the Edgar County Courthouse is in good hands.


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