At the dawn of aviation, flight was magical. Then, it became routine. Now, after months in lockdown, a view above the clouds once again feels pretty special.
For 28 years, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois was the site of the now-dormant Tevatron particle accelerator. For three summers during high school and college, I worked in the archives there, helping to catalogue, maintain, and restore the physical history of the place. (Given the time frame of today’s pictures—the early 2000’s—you’ll forgive the poor image quality.) I wanted to share a few images of the place (in particular, its enormous swaths of restored prairie) and try to convey to you the everyday feel of the place.
Perhaps the most salient feature of the lab is the prairie itself. Other than a berm over the accelerator, a few tangential buildings, and the main complex, the vast majority of the 6,800-acre site is natural midwestern landscape, dotted with disused farms and watched over by birds of prey.
The reason for the old farms and strange buildings is linked to the provenance of Fermilab: in the early 1960s, towns competed to be the site of the latest and greatest national lab. The town of Weston, Illinois won the honor, and in doing so, ceased to exist. The residents were bought out (by the choice of their village board) and the remnants of the village still exist on site as ancillary buildings (including the archives, where I worked.)
The farmland was largely restored to prairie, and the unique buildings of the lab were assembled. Among the fascinating sights at the lab are these Shinto-influenced power lines, designed by the lab’s first director, R.R. Wilson. (He was also responsible for the lab being finished on-time and under-budget.)
Wilson Hall, seen in the distance of this landscape, was named in his honor. Here you can see some of the lab facilities proper, including a beamline on the left of the image.
Today’s post comes courtesy of Piper J. Klemm:
Maggie Bracco and Alex Jayne’s Thomas Edison, Winners of the $10,000 Welcome Stake at the Showplace Spring Spectacular II at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois on June 13, 2013.
Chicago’s suburbs are filled with older train stations like this one. In an area where quaint, older homes are often knocked down to make way for McMansions, these stations are sometimes an area’s only link with the past. (Luckily, Hinsdale is better than most areas in this respect.) On a particularly dramatic and thunderstorm-ready afternoon, this particular train platform feels like it could be unstuck in time.
The midwest is a flat region, but the true two-dimensionality doesn’t hit you until you until you see the region from above. The tallest things for miles around will be water towers. Each town’s tower marks it, like a piece on the world’s most beige chessboard. Still, they have a certain beauty in the evening.
Walking through the forest with family on Christmas day always has a special crispness to it. The roads are deserted, the days are short, the trees are bare. If the weather is chilly, the whole experienced is sharpened with red noses and warm drinks afterwards. That was the experience on the day I took this photograph.
I’ve always abhorred airports. Actual air travel, if dull, is typically calm and uneventful. Airports are Purgatory-on-Earth where stressed travelers worry and fuss and cope with the imminent delay and cancellation of their flights.
Still, if I have to spend time in an airport, Chicago’s Midway is probably my favorite. It has by far and away the best selection of overpriced food (Potbelly’s sandwiches! Pegasus gyros!) and an at least tolerable amount of seating. In its own way, Midway is not entirely un-beautiful.
One of my earliest posts displayed the surreal beauty of Christmastime in the frigid suburbs of Chicago; given that much of the country is experiencing the balmy joy of summer, I thought a wee reminder of chillier times might be appropriate. (This photograph also continues what has apparently become a series, “Trees Next to Buildings.”)
This old pump links to an old well, and when I was a child, my favorite part of coming to this forrest was getting a chance to work the huge handle and get our just a little bit to drink. This pump is a water fountain you have to seriously commit to. In the time I’ve known about it, this pump has been repeatedly repainted; most recently, it was a chipped and dull red. When I returned to it as an adult, it was new, bright blue.
Today’s photograph comes from the same forrest preserve where I photographed the creek and frozen pond. The setting sun was eclipsed by the trees to my back such that only the branches far away from me picked up that lovely, golden hue. I really liked the way that contrasted with the dull trees and textured grass closer to me.