Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Tunnel

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: When I asked a native if there was a name for the odd, alley roadway that snakes beneath the Farrel Foundry & Machine Co., up the hill to the just where Main Street crossed the canal; a name for the lane that divides the Farrel foundry and roll shops to the north from the other Farrel machine shops to the south, the name was given instantly: “The Tunnel.” I suspect there’s history in that name. 

Had we stood with the men who surveyed for the insurance map of 1884, we might have noted a patchwork appearance, as now. However, many of the quirky details would have made sense. Of course there was no tunnel yet, and all the buildings north of the tunnel, the foundry and the large roll mills had not been built; it was just what we see from the green gable to the brick shed with the Farrel signage. Back then the green gable was the roll mill, and the back end of the brick shed was the foundry; this end was the machine shop. That was all there was and the dirt factory road that encircled it.

The surveyors might have ridden down the dirt factory road, which their map shows descending the hill from Main Street before passing under the corner of the building with the signage, on the right. The passage is there today, though the reason seems obscure. It is just behind the brick wall that supports the cantilevered corner of the work shed above. The wall is neatly reinforced and protected with iron trim against the abuses of haulers. 

The surveyors might have tied their horses there where they would not be frightened by a passing train? The corner is an odd detail, and the map makers chose an odd way to represent it graphically. The same graphic device appears twice more. The device is used to show the opening beneath the green gable where the old factory road passed under another corner of the shed, and it is used again where the road slips under one back corner of the shed's opposing gable, as the road ascends again to join North Main Street. No tunnel, just a dirt road to carry wagons underneath the work floor at three corners so heavy rolls and large machine parts might be lowered down and pigs and sand raised up.

It wouldn’t be until 1906 that a siding would extend beneath the building. The track is still there where it passes through the opening beneath the word Machine in the signage. From the start, the factory was designed as a kind of machine. By 1911 most of the foundry sheds north of the road were in use, and the track would enter beneath the gable where the factory road had previously run, and continue across a yard and into a new, narrow shed designated for, “Heavy Machine Work,” beyond the sand elevator bridge.

And so the factory road had to be moved to the outside and allowed to cross the track outside the building to follow it’s old course back to Main Street even as factory passages crossed over it, enveloped it, and narrow stairways and passages opened onto it, and eventually the the final yard would be filled in between the factory road and the bridge to the sand elevator, and the factory road would enter a third opening, as it does today, where cars routinely cross blindly over the siding. It is the bottom gateway to the tunnel.

NOTE: If you were unable to clearly see small details referred to above, be assured the original from which it is made is a stitched pan which may be printed up to about 14 feet in length.