•COMING IN SEPTEMBER, 2015•

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

by Emery Roth

Monday, October 5, 2009

Forsaken Acres

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: It will be harder to unseal the time capsule on this old ruin. It has no name nor clear signs of what went on here or when. It is further north on route 22, not far from Boston Corners, NY, a town with a lot of history. Jane and I spotted the tall silo from the road, glowing bone white in the afternoon sun. We had been exploring and were on our way home, but I made a note to return and investigate. Was it here when Boston Corners was the meeting place of three railroad lines?

When I got back a week or two later it was also late afternoon. From the roadside I could see all three silos on what appeared to be an island rising out of a sea of soy. I made some images of the silos and the soy rows and learned from a neighbor that nobody cared who went here. He'd explored himself, but he had been afraid to go into the house.

House? By the time I said goodbye photo light was gone. Before heading for home I explored enough to see the house. It was in the grip of a jungle, and getting to it would not be easy. Photographing may be impossible.

When I got back the third time it was the end of September, and the soy had just turned yellow. Where there are silos there were usually dairy barns once. Silos came in to common use between 1880 and 1900 (The tall, cylindrical form was invented in 1891). They made it possible to store enough feed to sustain milk production through the winter and capture the high prices paid for winter milk. Alas, it's common to find old masonry and metal silos standing beside a concrete slab or stone foundation. These silos were in terrible condition, and I never expected anything was left of the barns. Life is fluid. They were in the final stages of being swallowed.

I spent nearly an hour making images of the barn ruins from different points in this field before exploring the rest of the site. A newer, metal work shed, also abandoned, is to the left. Beyond the field the ground drops off steeply, and from below I could look up and see the house. From directly below the second story barely reached over the goldenrod that covered the embankment.