MONROE STATION | Niki ButcherBig Cypress National Preserve © 1991
Photographic Story Monroe Station was built in 1928 in conjunction with the building of the Tamiami Trail (Hwy 41). Realizing there were no services on the road he was building, Barron Collier built a wayside station every ten miles along the road. He hired some patrol officers who road motorcycles back and forth along the Tamiami Trail to help any stranded vehicles. These officers lived in the wayside stations. The wayside stations also had drums of gasoline, as well as convenience items. Monroe Station added a restaurant and a swamp buggy storage area. We had lived in southern Florida for about three years when I first saw Monroe Station. I wanted to photograph the building because of its history and fun, quirky character. However, it seemed that every time we went by the building on our way to Miami, it was surrounded by swamp buggies and men carrying guns. I couldn’t get up the nerve to stop and photograph it for fear of “those gun-slinging Southerners.” The day I took this picture, we planned to drive by as usual, but then I saw Marriages Preformed Here on a new sign, and I couldn’t resist. I jumped out of the car, quickly took the picture, and jumped right back into the car. Now, I laugh at myself and my fear of those “Southerners.” Many of those gun-toting Southerners turned out to be wonderful neighbors and friends. I learned that they generally only carry the guns during hunting season and that they have a remarkable friendliness toward strangers, that is, unless you are trespassing. I regret not being braver and going into the restaurant that day. Years later, after the building was closed down, I had the opportunity to glimpse inside. Every wall, as well as the ceiling, was covered with hundreds of business cards. What a fantastic photographic opportunity it would have been! The moral of the story is if you pre-form opinions about people and places, you may miss out on great opportunities! The Art of Hand Painting Black and White Photographs Niki prints her images on fiber-base black and white mat surface paper in the darkroom, then using Q-tips and cotton balls, she applies a thin coat of oil paint over the surface allowing the image to gently be seen through the oil paint. Archival Print Making Niki’s open edition gicleé artwork is printed on Sunset Bright Velvet Rag matte finish paper using eight archival inks. A state-of-the-art Epson Stylus Pro printer creates deep, rich dark values that hold subtle detail in the shadows as well as bright vivid colors that are truly tropical.