Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
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Friday, October 2, 2009

The Road through Fox Hollow

FREDERICK CHURCH: "Imagine this fairy like Temple blazing like sunlight among those savage black rocks.”

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: North of Pleasant View Farm my explorations took me through Fox Hollow, and several Fox Hollow farms are now regular photo stops.

What if Jane and I could follow the old road right through Fox Hollow and into the past. Somewhere beyond Ancramdale the road would turn to dirt, and then the power lines would stop, and we'd be in an open carriage, rattling behind a horse at a pretty good clip. If we were lucky, we'd have an invitation for dinner at Olana, Frederick Church's Persian, fantasy house on the Hudson. I shot this photo on August 31 at 5:45 PM in my own century. With another 45 minutes and 130 years to sunset, our carriage will still only be half way to Olana, but If we hurry we can get there just as twilight gives way to a nearly full moon.

When we get to Olana torches will be blazing on the terrace high above the Hudson River, and there might be a tiny glow from behind the shadowy Catskills. Church will show us his studio and his latest work which will look like our journey turned to a romantic adventure. We'll talk about his travels in Europe, the Middle East and South America, and he'll complain about his rheumatism and pass on a few wise words from Thomas Cole. Then we'll look at some of the rare plants in his conservatory and sit down with his family to an elegant meal, and plan a long walk for the first of September.

Fox Hollow didn't look much different then, fewer trees and more fields under cultivation or given to pasture. Some of the same families are still farming here. When we get back to the twenty-first century I will send copies of my images over the "new" power lines to their grandchildren's computers.