PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: Viewed from across the river it was beautiful, viewed along the rails it was iconic, but what drew me back repeatedly to Seth Thomas / Plume & Atwood was the yard and the long narrow passage that twisted beyond it, threaded by traces of track through an alley of broken brick sheds like bruised faces, whose variety of styles and frequent modifications spoke of the passage of time and the hands of many masons and builders. The passage led to an undefined paved area. There were usually a few cars by a blank-looking door that never opened. I seldom saw people.
The yard itself probably wasn’t a yard at all but rather the space left by the collapse of an earlier building. A steel column holding up an overhang displayed warning signs intended for people inside a building that had almost vanished. I heard it was a foundry - always meant to find out.
Plume & Atwood was different from other ruins. Most old factories go with grand gestures, gut-wrenching chords from the organ, defaced by breaking windows, collapsing chimneys, graffiti, metal thieves, and demonic presences. One feels it when they are silent as much as when they creak and groan. Plume & Atwood wasn’t like that. It seemed to be wearing away the way a river bed wears, rounding out the corners and rough edges, eroding the surfaces, breaking apart shard by shard. What had been grease and soot had been sandblasted by time. That’s why it surprised me when it fell.
I had visited often, drawn on by my thirst for noir, but I developed little of what I shot, never sure they were up to my other images. Eventually I moved on, never quite opening its secrets. I’ve looked at those Plume & Atwood images once again and developed several. You will find them on a Blog Page.
To see the other images, look down the right column for TODAY’S PAGES and choose PLUME & ATWOOD YARD.