Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
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Monday, January 3, 2011

Tobacco Curing

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL - In the early 1970s I began driving across Connecticut regularly along Interstate 84. Shortly after crossing the Connecticut River heading east, I-84 passed through a vast territory of open flat fields planted with green rows of tobacco beside rows of wooden tobacco sheds where the leaves were cured. My great grandfather was a cigar maker in Hartford at the end of the 19th century, and Connecticut was famous for its tobacco leaves which were used primarily as wrappers for cigars. Back then tobacco was even farmed, though on a smaller scale, in the Northwest Hills where I now live, and you can spot the old tobacco barns by the louvered flap vents that betray their tobacco curing history.

The tobacco fields along I-84 were already disappearing by the mid 1970s, and today the region is filled with strip malls and warehouses for big box stores, and it's probably been almost 100 years since tobacco was farmed in the northwest hills. One can still find tobacco farming, however, along the Connecticut River as one reaches the northern part of the state and passes into Massachusetts. That's where this photograph was taken in late August as the new crop was being harvested and cured.

NOTE: With the previous posting, "Today's Photo" entered its fifth year. This is the 686th photograph to be added to this blog.