Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Arriving, Ansonia

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: I’ve stepped through the opening in the chain link fence in yesterday’s photo and turned 180 degrees to look down the rails the other way. 

The track passes under two bridges that unite multiple buildings of the Farrel Machine Company. Anson Phelps, who established the brass and copper mills that became American Brass in Ansonia (from whose property this picture is taken) hired millwright Almon Farrel to dig the mile-and-a-quarter canal that powered the industrial village that Anson Phelps named, "Ansonia.” Afterward, Farrel began his own mill in Anson Phelps’ Ansonia. About that time the railroad came through.

Through the chain link on the left can be read the name, “Farrel Birmingham.” The windows line the first of seven parallel rows of sheds where Farrel machinists cast and finished machine parts for some of the largest factory equipment of the 19th and 20th centuries. The high windows, that project over the track, lie just where the famous, “tunnel,” beneath Farrel work sheds emerges (a public right-of-way, I understand); the road runs on beside the track.

The near bridge is two stories high and connects the Farrel Foundry at the top of the hill to the tall, tin sand elevator (the most distinctive single "architectural" relic of Naugatuck Valley industry) and to the shed below where Farrel Foundry stored sand for molds. The bottom level of the bridge was for pedestrians. The top level is a crane-way for the crane that moved materials between the train siding and the foundry. The crane and much more is intact.

Near the back, the irrepressible Ansonia Opera House, an early work of Robert Wakeman Hill shows off its crisply detailed cornice. It is matched by an energetic facade on Main Street - a gem of a building! It is a relic of what Ansonia once was. Just beyond the Opera House the train arrives at the Ansonia station platform beside gray flood walls.


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