Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A Walk Thru Faust's Garden

Next Slide-Talk:
April 1, 2019 (no kidding) at 7:00 PM
Work in Progress: On Photographing Brazen Grit

Granby Camera Club
meeting in the Granby Senior Center, Community Room
15 North Granby Road, Granby, CT

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: It wasn’t exactly magnetism that drew the iron blast furnaces to the ore. When the forests were gone in Northwestern CT, and one could look across the hillsides, the ground shifted and iron ore was attracted to coal. Iron made from coke had qualities industrial manufacturers wanted, while charcoal iron lingered for those who cherished quality wrought iron, a niche market. The forests of the Berkshire Hills had been burned; in the West there were mountains of Coke yet to plunder.

We’ve arrived at what might be considered ground zero of American industrial enterprise. In the three-ring-circus of the industrial revolution, the feature acts were always energy transportation, and iron. A firm grip on any one of the three was a firm grip on the throttle. The names click into position like the reels of a slot machine: Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie, and standing behind them, at the cashiers’ window, J..P. Morgan, the only one born to wealth. 

To travel from the 1847 Beckley Blast Furnace in East Canaan, CT, with its bucolic tombstone remains (recently posted), to wha’s left of Andrew Carnegie’s Carrie Furnaces, across the river from the infamous Homestead Works in PA, requires a half century leap. How many miles of rail had been laid? How many locomotives sent steaming over the tracks? And how many new steam ships were bringing newcomers, as the canal was being cut across the isthmus of Panama to reach Pacific waters from the Atlantic coast?  And how many tall structures scraped the sky, made first of iron and soon of steel in New York and Chicago, before the Great War came and we made more guns and tanks? And after the War we took to the roads in oily vehicles of iron and steel. 

Welcome to Faust’s Garden. Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie and Morgan left huge legacies, both for good and for ill that we still can’t reckon. 


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