Following are some images from a semi-restored stamp mill, high in a mountain basin not far from my home. The hopes of striking it rich with gold and silver drew many west and as a result, Colorado’s mountains are ‘rich’ with mining history. Several nearby towns had larger populations back then, than today. Many others were abandoned altogether since it was not practical to live at such high elevations. Mining in this area started in 1898 and the mill was built between 1905-1906. It is an example of a ‘stamp mill’ named for the method of breaking the ore down using large machines that pound rather than crush. Attracted by the diagonal siding I worked my way around the building looking for compositions while imagining what it must have been like before it stopped operating in 1910.
Crystal Mill … Check!
Crystal Mill has been on my bucket list since moving to Colorado. Apparently it has been on many other photographer’s lists as well. It is one of the most photographed subjects on the Western Slopes. Yes … it has been done but that didn’t discourage me … I wanted to shoot it for myself! Only accessible by jeep or hiking 4 miles, I had to wait for an opportunity. At an elevation of almost 9,000 feet, hiking uphill with an assortment of heavy camera gear and a tripod would be out of the question for me (unless I could hire a sherpa)! As luck would have it my good friend, having access to a jeep invited me and another friend on this long awaited adventure. We were grateful to have overcast skies which allowed us to capture the scene without harsh shadows and highlights. Spending over 2 hours shooting at the location, I tried many different compositions and camera settings, to make sure I had what I wanted. It was a great day, with good company and I’m happy to be able to check it off my bucket list. Presented here are some of my favorite compositions … I hope you like them!
The West has its share of abandoned buildings, and cars too … usually leftovers from mining or pioneer days. Simply built and now weathered, many seem to be hanging by a thread and against all odds! I’ve already discovered many that are close to home, and within reach, so it’s always fun to look for new opportunities when I branch out. Subjects that have a natural setting and historic charm appeal to me. Here are some favorites found during my November trip in Utah.
(See other Utah posts from Capitol Reef & Bryce National Park by scrolling down. Return home by clicking ‘Denise Bush’s Photo Blog’ top.)
A few weeks ago I took a second trip back to the Lonaconing Silk Mill in Western Maryland. When ‘time was up’ there last summer they practically had to drag me out. I knew there were many more subjects left to photograph and I wasn’t done! Having shot a lot of the machinery and wider scenes on my first visit, I decided to focus on more of the details this time. The shoes that workers had left behind when the plant closed in 1957 intrigued me. As the story goes, the silk mill workers went home from work one day unaware that the company would cease operations overnight. The next morning they were not permitted back in the building and personal items and tools of the trade were simply left in their places. For many of the subjects I composed both horizontal and vertical versions. I processed and worked on a variety of images in both color and black & white in order to explore their potential before settling on the collection to post here. I hope you will enjoy this trip back in time, when so many Americans worked in home town factories to make their living.
Smoky Mountains Mills & Barns
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is loaded with historic structures; mills, barns, schoolrooms, churches and many cabins. It was both interesting and a fun exercise to stop at each site and create some compositions. Even though the light was not always ideal, I tried to make the best of things, worked the scenes and came away with some images I’m happy with. At Mingus Mill the long water trough created a nice leading line. The smoke coming out of the pipe added an accent to the mill whose water wheel was concealed inside. The cantilever barn and old wagon made a fun subject and it was a good time to bracket in order to capture both the shadows and highlights. We stopped at another mill that was as quaint as could be and so was the miller who would frame himself in the window from time to time. Back on the Roaring Fork Motor Trail the Little Tub Mill was bathed in green from the moss growing everywhere and the light filtering through the young green leaves. I’ve always loved anything old fashioned and walking into these sites and structures was like walking into the past.