Sunday, October 4, 2009

Grand Cowshed

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL - The Harlem Valley in New York State is an important corridor running north-south from Brewster to the start of the Taconic Mountains near the Connecticut-Massachusetts border. Through it run the The Harlem Valley Railroad and New York Route 22. What's left of the train remains one of the principal commuter lines to New York City, and the road is New York State's longest and oldest north-south route, stretching from the Bronx through Albany to Canada.

The Harlem Valley is not only long but also relatively broad, a series of gently rolling hills between, on the east, the steep ridge that divides Connecticut from New York, and on the west, the Hudson Hills that roll toward the Hudson River. In the Harlem Valley dairy farmers had easy access to transportation and flat open land for growing corn and grazing large herds of cattle. The farms that once were thriving here have left vast and hollow behemoths with giant silos that loom over the pastures. This is a small portion of one of these ruins.

I've been trying unsuccessfully to capture the hulking immensity of this farmstead for three years. The main shed is actually three times as long as the part shown in the back of this image. It has four more dormers like the two in the image, and throughout the sheds length it sprouts other buildings of various sizes. The patchwork nature of the whole suggests success-fueled expansion. Imagine the amount of hay that was stored over the dairy stalls on the first level! Four large silos stand at the back of the main shed. The metal roof gone on one and on another, rusted to a smokey bronze. The old farm house is in ruins as are many of the outbuildings.

No trespassing is strictly enforced, and most of my pictures have been shot from neighboring property. It is a matter of considerable frustration to me that I've been unable to make full use of this palette of forms and textures and insinuations. In any case, for me windows are always eyes, and I couldn't resist this grouping.