Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Brass Mill Extrusion Press


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: When one steps into the past the air should be chalky and the sound disjunct, but here the wheels are still oiled and turning, and the steam is still hissing and purring softly. I watched a man hoist 20 foot lengths of copper tubing out of a bath of hydrochloric acid, the liquid cascading from the far end back into a long tub beneath. The bundle of tubes was then carried out of sight on a giant crane that straddled the building.

The enertia of great wheels keeps them spinning slowly, long after all other wheels have ceased. So it is here where a small amount of large diameter copper tubing is still made using technology put in place during World War II. No trains run here now, and only a few men work the floor. Beyond are other buildings of the complex, silent but for the haunting of pigeons, but its appropriate to start here where the music still plays in what is, as it were, a grand ballroom of another era.