Wednesday, October 22, 2014


PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: Back before reality became digital, before stuff that mattered had turned to LEDs on a FedEx map tweeted and twittered at the speed of light, before Amazon orders were beamed to us in a day, we used to value physical connection. What mattered was, literally, weighty. Strong backs and heavy machinery were needed to lift and move such weighty matter. This may be the rustiest corridor in Brass Valley. Lazlo and I have now photographed in all of the industrial buildings along this stretch of rail and nudged our lenses even into some of the corners that time has forgotten. 

Of those bridges over rails that were once essential to the efficiency of industry, what child isn’t intrigued to know what passes through them and where they lead! Modern factories are thrown up in a moment; they are like beetles with huge tin shells enclosing lots of hollow space, but these companies grew slowly, adding workshops and basilicas as needed; they hugged the rail corridor, crowding and climbing over each other as if to get a better view of the locomotives' smoke and steam and soot. Every bridge implies some network of passages that wind like intestines within the tumble of factory sheds to network stations and functions and offices. Footsteps passing through real passages made product move as smoothly as the even hum of well-greased wheels and pistons and gears, and I’ve found both inside these bridges.

We’ve visited all that cross over the track here, as close as one may safely get, photographed some. The red one at the far back is broad and high and it connects two large machine shops where heavy industrial parts are still being finished for various industrial machines made elsewhere. There is space to drive a fork lift, and support for a heavy load over that bridge. The one in the center is the longest and most mysterious, passing across rooftops from interior sheds so as to to reach across the track to a tall derelict structure of corrugated metal. The nearest bridge was not for people. It was part of a “monorail system,” that linked a rod mill a wire mill and a tube extrusion mill to the central foundry. 

Six bridges appear crossing the tracks in the 1921 view of this area. Continuing in order, the next was all electrical connections: tubes and wires; one carried the last leg of the monorail back over the tracks, and the last was a bridge to save pedestrian steps. Five of the six bridges still exist today, and one that was not there in 1921 has been added, so there are still six. However, their days may be numbered.