Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Belly of the Beast, No.2

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: This was taken earlier in the morning looking down from the third floor. I had just returned from a tour with Karl, our host. He wanted to take us into a section of the barn we had not yet entered. An addition to the barn along the southern wall includes the famous room that is the subject of "Spring Fed." It is the bottom floor dug into the bank to which Karl Sr. cleverly diverted a natural spring.  It had been the first section of the barn Gary and I had entered, and both of us had tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to photograph our own "Spring Fed."  Now Karl led us to a storage space above the spring room, a shed addition leaning against the south wall of the great barn.

Even with the doors to this space open it was too dark to photograph. To make matters worse, the siding was rustic and had large gaps between the boards. The bright sun projected black stripes everywhere. The south wall was alternate shadow and glare. The light, such as it was, blinded rather than illuminated. Karl led us through the space with pride as, one by one, he pulled back covers on beautiful, old, horse-drawn sleds and explained how each had been carefully restored. Winter sleigh rides! I've always thought it must have been wonderful to glide through the snow, pulled along by a strong horse as in Welles' Magnificent Ambersons.

When I asked about sleigh rides, Karl showed us a photo of himself and Andy riding in such a sleigh.  It was an event he seemed to take in stride except for the presence of Andy. A sleigh ride with Andrew Wyeth!

Sleigh rides are gone, and hay rides aren't really hay rides as they must have been once. If both lasted longer here, that may not be bad. I recall that there was little modernization while Karl Sr. was alive. Long after tractors and balers were common everywhere producing hard, little rectangles of crushed hay, Kuerner Farm still processed hay loose from the field, forking it onto the hay wagons in a heap. It was significantly more work haying that way, but back then the hay rides must have been a lot more fun.