Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Elevating Grain - The Vanishing Farmscape


Meanwhile, back in Connecticut I've returned to my barnstorming with photos from two new farms currently in process. Last Sunday I met photographer Ivan Goldberg just across the border in Dutchess Country, NY, where we followed our whims through the labyrinth of country roads and shot what we saw. Ivan shoots with a digital camera outfitted for infra-red, and he has posted his wonderful, surreal images on his web site (http://psydoc.smugmug.com/gallery/3223540#178002106). The clouds were especially conducive to good shooting, and Ivan's images captured the day beautifully. His full gallery is on my list below on the right. It's well worth a visit.

One spot that was especially attractive to me was the hamlet of Wassaic, part of the town of Amenia. We were both attracted by, among other features, an old grain elevator that is being renovated. I only took three shots of the elevator on our first visit as I didn't think they would read so well as photos. How mistaken I was! yesterday I went back to Wassaic and the surrounding region and shot a lot more. I especially like the way the new metal siding catches the light and makes the massing crisp and clear. I expect to return to this area regularly. If the image above has moires through it you need to open it larger.

After shooting the grain elevator I continued my walk around the town shooting other structure. At the back of the grain elevator I met two men working on a section of roof. They gave me permission to enter the grain elevator, and I climbed the roughly seven floors to the room at the very top. The wood structure on the first level was much more massive than I expected with columns and beams made of lumber as much as 18 inches on a side. There were also large wooden chutes that descended from the floors above. As I climbed, I saw large steel screws that must have been used to move the grain inside some chutes. There was also a conveyor belt that ran vertically from the bottom of the elevator to the top. It was outfitted with hundreds of scoops that each held perhaps a quart of grain and carried it to the top of the elevator.

Rumor was that the elevator was to become a restaurant serving different food on each floor, but it's hard for me to see how fire codes could allow such an enterprise. After leaving Wassaic I explored more of the area. There's still more I want to post from the Maine trip, but new photos call for attention too.

Stay tuned for information on the next Camera's Eye Exhibtion, "Fog, Mist, Flowers, and Clouds," which we are preparing now and which runs on Aug. 11, 12, 18, and 19.