•COMING IN SEPTEMBER, 2015•

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

by Emery Roth

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

After the Storm


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: The Nameless Valley is a long, rolling, roomy corridor bounded on the east by the ridge of Taconic peaks, an unbroken obstacle that no roads cross and on the west by a parallel wall that reaches north from WInchell Mountain and ends where the valley narrows to a pass. Though lower by 400 feet than the Taconic Ridge, crossing this western barrier requires winding over dirt roads and the world farther west is a labyrinth of hills and valleys until one reaches the Hudson River.

I like the sense of isolation I find in the Nameless Valley. It is a corridor through haphazard hills. Whether one drives the roads or walks cross-country through the fields and pastures one feels its linear nature between the two mountain walls. Most people pass through the corridor along route 22 without even knowing they've been some place. Most of the time I can't see the beginning or the end, nor has my roaming yet shown me where they are, but I feel the unity of the Nameless Valley, and that the corridor has both a beginning and an end. I like that too as I come to know its contours.

Between these walls lie rolling pastures and cornfields and a meager digestive system beginning at Webatuck Spring and broadening occasionally into swampy bottom until it disappears into other valleys, other spaces farther south. Eventually the Webatuck flow gathers force as Ten Mile River, slips through a narrow valley near Dogtail Corners to join the Housatonic River and flows south through a series of power generating projects into Long Island Sound near Sikorsky headquarters in Stratford, CT, many worlds away.

An artist who lives south of Boston Corner showed me where Webatick spring tumbles out of the Taconic mountains beside his home. He told me that north of his property the valley tips the other way. Water flows north and leaves the valley through the narrow pass at that end. From there it flows west between the low hills to eventually join with the mighty Hudson in order to flow south to spill into New York Harbor. Passing clouds drop their rain as they pass, and it is a matter of chance how each rain drop reaches the sea.

However, it's not this unlikely divide that impresses me so much as my sense of the unity and expansiveness of the space that is isolated here. A row of three farms that lie along the western edge of the valley help me give definition to the expanse. One can just see a bit of the third farm here.

I've been scouting angles for some time, but the task of portraying this space seems to lie beyond the power of photography. Although I feel the unity of the valley, capturing it in an image may be impossible.