Monday, May 3, 2010
PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: They called it Peters Valley, but it felt more like entering Brigadoon, the town in the Scottish Highlands that comes to life just one day every hundred years. Only I was visiting on an off year, it hadn't come to life, and the vacant buildings were crumbling from neglect. In fact, time did stop in Peters Valley sometime in the 1950s when the Federal Government bought the valley, started closing down farms and businesses, boarding up houses, and planning to put it all under water. Those who know the area know its history is richer still going back thousands of years, and distinguished by its physical isolation in the Poconos north of the Delaware River Water Gap. They also know that once the towns had been closed down by the Federal Government, and much of the population had moved on, the water project remained only a plan which was abandoned 30 years later. The dam was never built and the flooding never occurred, but the culture that had thrived in the valley since the 1700s was gone. Abandoned farms and houses lingered on.
Entry to my Brigadoon was over an old, privately owned, iron, one lane, toll bridge at Dingman's Ferry. No Easy Pass here. I had no idea that passage over the bridge was, in fact, entry into another century. I was meeting up with a group of photographers at the Peters Valley Crafts Center for a weekend of adventures, but I had arrived early, and I wouldn't see the others for 5 or 6 hours. There was an eerie silence as I drove into the little town clustered about what was once the McKeeby Store. I was struck by the quaintness of the place and that it lacked the tidied up look of so many places in Connecticut where the garden club is the custodian of Colonial appearances. This spot had escaped the world of vinyl siding and pastel. I was delighted to find people here; administrators of the crafts center signed me in and directed me to the house where I was to stay - live people!