Category Archives: Abandoned

Should’a, Would’a, Could’a


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Why do we always seem to put off doing things “until the right time”?

I learned a valuable lesson (I hope) this weekend by finally taking photos of the abandoned Dover Yarn Mill in Pineville, NC.  My parents worked most of their lives in this mill so my sisters and I could have a good life.
 This mill was built in 1894 and was finally closed in the late 1980’s.  In it’s heyday, it was the heartbeat of the community and main source of income for many of the families in Pineville and one of the largest manufacturers of corduroy in the country.  It now stands as an ugly eyesore that is not only sad to look at, but is a stark reminder of how a once thriving cotton industry in the south is but a faint memory.
 My dad used to take me to the mill on occasion to let me experience an operating cotton mill and show me the process from raw cotton bails to the finished product.  My dad started his career fresh from the Navy in WWII working at the Receiving Department and when he retired he was the Director of Training & Orientation and was sought out for consulting work.  My mom worked in the office for many years but opted for a change and became a Supervisor over Inspection.  Yes, I grew up in a mill village where almost everyone was kin, and if they weren’t you still called your elders Aunt or Uncle.

So that gives you a little background and lets you know that that mill is part of who I am.  I wish I had been able to photograph and document the entire life of the mill.   My regret is that I waited this long to photograph it since the current owner has stripped everything of historical value from it and caused quite a bit of anger and controversy.

Saturday my friend and photography buddy, Curt Hathaway, called me and said he needed some creative inspiration.  We were trying to figure out where to go and I couldn’t think of anything around here until on the way to the supermarket I passed the mill.  Ok that’s it! I stopped and talked to the guy there and got permission for us to visit, called Curt and the results are below.

As Curt  and I wandered through the mill, I was lamenting the changes, and  in my mind I was seeing a room filled with machines that were turning cotton into corduroy.  All we physically saw were empty buildings.  I could close my eyes and see all those people, including my mom and dad, who had spent their entire lives working in this now heartless mill.  I can still hear those whistles that blew at 7:00 a.m, 12 noon and 3:00 p.m. letting everyone in the village know it was time to go to work, eat lunch and go home.

Why had I waited until it was basically destroyed to photograph it?  Well to put it mildly, I saw it everyday and I kept thinking I’ll stop by and get permission to go in and photograph it, but I never did.  Now the owner is tearing down parts of it and I realized that my time is running out.

It was bittersweet because I kept thinking to myself, why, why did I wait so long? and yet I’m glad that Curt called and gave me the opportunity to finally get inside and take some photos.

Lesson learned…quit putting off that photography trip or that abandoned piece of history that meant something to you or someone you’re close to because tomorrow it may be gone.

As a little bonus, when Curt and I were walking up the receiving ramp I had a moment of seeing my dad. I pointed out a spot where a photo of him and a guy that worked for him was taken in the 50’s which I decided to include in my photos.

If you are interested in seeing a cottonmill in production click here
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A Walk In Darkness

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Pennhurst Insane Asylum in Spring City, PA is one of those places that I have wanted to visit and photograph. It was a 1,400 acre campus built in 1903 and originally known as the Eastern State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic.  In 1986, local CBS10 correspondent Bill Baldini reported about the deplorable conditions in a 5 part series called “Suffer the Little Children“.  The allegations of abuse led to the first lawsuit of its kind in the United States, a federal class action, Halderman v. Pennhurst State School & Hospital.  Terry Lee Halderman had been a resident of Pennhurst, and upon release she filed suit in the federal district court on behalf of herself and other residents of Pennhurst. Pennhurst was finally closed on December 9, 1987.

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A Walk Through History With a Good Friend

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Well here we are at the end of another year and I have been lax at writing about the last couple of trips and what they brought as far as photography.

These last few months have seemed like a whirlwind of the ups and downs of life personally and photography wise. I’ve taken some great short trips that have yielded some not so great photography but hopefully some valuable lessons in technique as well as patience and lots of fun.
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One For The Bucket List

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Saturday September 8th…that’s one for the bucket list. I spent the day shooting at the abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA. As I walked up to this most imposing rock fortress, I was amazed at the size and architecture of this facility. It was built in 1829 by the passive Quakers, who believed that solitary confinement was the best way to serve penance. Charles Dickens on his first visit to the United States only wanted to see two things…Niagara Falls and Eastern State Penitentiary.
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A Special Moment

As many of you now know, I have found inspiration for my photography in old abandoned things and places. My love for this type of photography comes from the minute and delicate and sometimes “ugly” life that surrounds us but is often overlooked. From my previous post you know that I had one of those extreme inspired shoots at Old Car City USA, a junkyard of abandoned automobiles and trucks.

Recently during one of our morning Coffee & Sharing photographer meetup events that I host, I had an encounter that caught me off guard and humbled me.
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Room with a view

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Grand Dame

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