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Near Odessa, WA, July 10, 2018

 

My guess is that it was a new driveway with a kink in it–not a problem for shorter vehicles, but obviously an issue for this load.   The first half the house was already on site…

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During the summer of 2017, I tried to photograph every public grain elevator in Whitman County, and on July 17, photographed the crib elevator in the small community of Hay, located about 90 miles from my home in Spokane.

Hay Elevator, July 17, 2017

 

In the spring of 2018, I learned that this elevator was being torn down in order to salvage the wood, to be converted into flooring.  I visited the site in March 2018, right as the razing of the structure began.

Hay, March 16, 2017

I met some of the workers on the job, and had a tour of the inside of the elevator–discovered that the last occupancy permit on the wall was dated 1999.  Apparently the elevator has not been used since then.  In March, some of the metal sheathing had been removed from the outside of the building, and several cuts had been made in the wood structure through the outside walls.

Hay, April 11, 2018

By April 11th, the covered unloading area had been removed, as well as the wood in the corners.  Progress seemed slow.

Hay, May 20, 2018

By  mid May, the west end and the tower had been removed, but the structure still towered over the landscape.

Hay, June 27, 2018

 

When I made a visit on June 27, the structure had been razed to the foundation.  I’m not sure what I found most shocking about the scene–the complete disappearance of the structure, or the sudden appearance of the tree behind it.   There is still some site clean up to be done, but the building is gone.

In my own limited time here, I’ve witnessed the razing of grain elevators at Sperry (Franklin County), Belmont, Crabtree (a pile of rubble by the time I arrived), Shreck, Grinnell (a flathouse), and now Hay.

I have mixed feelings about the deconstruction of the grain elevator at Hay.  Obviously, the elevator was no longer being used, and so served no useful function.  Converting the wood into flooring is a way of finding a new use for the materials, and removed a hazard.  On the other hand, it’s removal is evidence of the changes in agriculture–to bigger fields, bigger combines, bigger grain trucks–and bigger grain handling facilities.  Fewer people are needed to produce more grain.

In speaking with the workers at the site, they are scheduled to raze more of the old wooden crib elevators in the area–they estimate that they have at least several years worth of work lined out in front of them.

 

 

The Longmen Grottos are located near Luoyang in Henan province, China. They are considered to contain some of the finest examples of Buddhist art. They are comprised of approximately 100,000 carvings, ranging in size from less than one inch to 57 feet high. The first carvings date from 493 AD, and most were completed by 1127 AD.

SD43-8462

 

As is readily apparent from the photograph above, many of the carvings completed at this site have been damaged over the years. While there is evidence that some vandalism occurred as early as the 13th century, most of the damage occurred during the 20th century, when carvings were removed for sale to museums and collectors. Some sources also indicate removal of carvings by Japanese occupiers.

I am not a scholar of Buddhist art, and had never heard of this site until the day I visited there. I was traveling in China as part of a group of photographers invited to help celebrate the opening of a new trail in a nearby park, though the exact reason for the invitation was never quite clear to me. Some others in the group knew of the site, and suggested that we use a free day in our schedule to go to Longmen Grottos. The drive to the site was supposed to take two hours from Zhengzhou, but took more than four, as our bus driver kept getting lost. Our time at the site was limited: according to the metadata on my digital photographs, I spent slightly less than an hour on there.

I’m not quite sure what to make of these pictures, with so many damaged figures—missing faces and heads, missing arms. But worth noting is that the newest of these carvings are nearly 900 years old—the oldest more than 1500. Despite the damage done to them, I am still astonished by what remains—outlines, shadows, and mostly empty niches carved into the limestone. Ghost images from the past.

Click the link below for a PDF of a collection of these photographs

Longmen Grotto small

 

I received a text message this evening about a fire on the “Enola Low Grade Line Trestle”, along with the above image.  I put the title in quotes, because to me, it was always just “the railroad bridge at Martic Forge”.  I grew up about a mile from the bridge, on the Martic Township side, and recall hearing trains pass over it when I was a child.  I must have passed under the bridge thousands of times–on the way to church, or going to visit my grandparents on my mother’s side, and I passed under it every day while commuting to Millersville College.  It was visible from my school bus route every day (twice) for my entire grade school career,    A few times I floated in an inner tube under the bridge on hot summer afternoons.  And a handful of times (at least twice) I walked over the rail bed and looked down at the creek, far below.

As a child, I always believed that steel didn’t burn, but as an engineer, I learned that steel does soften and burn in structural fires.   It seems likely that the fire will make the bridge impassable and most likely damaged beyond repair.  (Although the pictures of the bridge from April 13 don’t look as bad as I feared–there is still enough of the structure left, perhaps it can be repaired–but I’m sure the steel will need reinforcing.)

Over the years, I photographed the bridge several times, most frequently while driving under it, a way of remembering how I most often saw it.

As Joni Mitchel sang, “Don’t it always seem to go/ you don’t know what you got till it’s gone / they paved paradise, and put up a parking lot”–and then she laughs.

 

 

 

Martic Forge Bridge

 

Martic Forge Bridge

Spokane, March 24, 2018

 

Spokane March 24, 2018

 

Spokane March 24, 2018

 

Spokane March 24, 2018

 

Spokane March 24, 2018

I traveled back to Lancaster County in January 2018 with the sole purpose of photographing the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline construction project.  

Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, near Mount Joy, Jan 2018

My goal was to photograph the construction project in full swing–and my timing proved fortuitous.  During my first day photographing, I discovered pipe in the trench at the southern end of the line, ready to be buried.  There were sections with welded pipe, sections with unwelded pipe, sections with soil removed but no pipe, and sections with vehicle tracks over farm fields.  During the following two weeks, I watched as tasks were completed, and crews and equipment moved northward.  

Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, Red Hill Road, Martic Township, Jan 2018

Based on my childhood memories of winters, I knew that the weather might be bad–January is the coldest month, the most likely to have snow and freezing temperatures.  But my luck held with the weather–the days were warm and sometimes sunny–and many of the nights were cold enough to freeze the soil.  There was also a rain of about 0.3 inches.   The result was a glorious mud mess.  

 

Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, Red Hill Road, Jan 2018

 

My timing was intended to reveal the construction project during its most visible disruption to the landscape.  I know that once the pipe is buried and the grass planted, the pipeline will be largely invisible, except for the markers indicating where the pipe crosses under the road, and in the treeless right-of-ways through forests.  The wounds will heal, but scars will remain.  

Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, Silver Springs Road, Drumore Township, Jan 2018

 

This project has also made me aware of some of my family history.  In reading about the Conestoga Indian Village, I discovered that  in 1739, my ancestor Jacob Witmer settled nearby, apparently maintaining neighborly relations with the Natives.  In 1763, the Paxton boys massacred the Indians, and threatened to kill anyone who dared identify them.  As a child, my uncle Oliver Hess farmed some land along Indian Marker Road (currently farmed by Donnie Witmer–same name as my dad).  Nearby Witmer Road, Witmer Run, and Witmers Run still carry the family name.  

Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, Drytown Road, Martic Township, Jan 2018

The Paxton Boys justified their killing of the Indians, as they were “not making good use of the land.”   The argument for the pipeline is not that much different:  Williams Pipeline company is hugely profitable, and can offer farmers payments far in excess of what they make farming the land.  

Of course, Williams isn’t killing anybody, at least not directly.  But there are moral and ethical questions that can be asked about this project.  On a global scale, this project will deliver massive amounts of fossil fuels to markets, adding to climate change.  The contracts for the gas to be shipped through the pipeline are mostly for export, and could lead (decades from now) to energy shortages in the US, or to higher prices for natural gas for US consumers.  On a more personal level, what gives a large corporation the right to seize land from individual landowners through eminent domain, when the “public interest” claim is so tenuous?   Do land owners, or Native Americans have a sacred right to keep their lands from being disturbed?  

Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, Pequea Creek Crossing, Jan 2018

But what I found myself thinking about, as I drove the pipeline route, was how much this land has changed already, in my lifetime.  My father had a small farm–57 acres, a herd of 14 dairy cows–and told me that he didn’t think I could make a living on that farm.  Now, all the small farms are gone, except for those farmed by Amish (who are expanding their range).  Most of  the old stone barns have been Martha Stewartized–new roofs, new pointing, clean barnyards, and Christmas wreaths on the barn doors.  The “real” farms have huge new chicken and pig houses with massive ventilation fans, and big new tractors in the steel pole barns.  The Earl Butz “get big or get out” curse has run its course.  There are no more family farms.  

When I left the county in 1980, my fear was that the county would be paved over, becoming one huge housing development.  The changes that have occurred are different than I expected–there are still fields, but almost no farmers.  I’m not quite sure what to make of it.  

My distress about the pipeline through the landscape of my childhood is mixed with the other changes that have occurred.  Change happens.  Of course, in 1739, the change was brought about by a German immigrant named Jacob Witmer.  

 

  

I’ve noticed that on social media sites, people “share a memory”–re-post something from their site in the past–though, of course, the past is only as old as the social media site.

 

Near the Buck, Lancaster County, July 1983

Over the past few days, I’ve been scanning negatives I made during my first months working with a view camera, in 1983–now 35 years ago.  I don’t know when an image becomes a historical image–maybe the best rule is after the photographer and his generation are dead–when no one remembers what the time of the photograph actually looked like.  So by that definition, Walker Evans photographs are on the verge of becoming historical photographs–but my images from 1983 are not.  I still remember making the photographs–but perhaps even more important, they still look like I think the world looks now.  If I were to drive through the landscape in Lancaster County in 2018, the landscape would still pretty much look like these photographs, I could still find views that look like these.

Southern Lancaster County, July , 1983

 

Of course, there there have been changes–some farms have gotten bigger–embracing the industrialization of agriculture–but in Lancaster County, some farms have also gotten smaller–split into two or more farms, by the new Amish owners.  In 1983, there were no Amish in Martic Township–now there are several–and I suspect that there will be more in the future.

Amish Farm, near Quarryville, PA, July 1983

 

I moved away from Lancaster County in 1980,  thinking that the landscape in Lancaster county was being destroyed by development–farms that had been in my family for generations were being converted into housing developments–and the economics of farming were disastrous.  I think when I made these photographs, I thought this landscape would disappear within my lifetime.

The fact that this landscape remains as intact as it does is a bit of a surprise to me.  Maybe this says more about the slow pace of changes in the landscape–maybe in a few more decades, these pictures will look “historic”.

Near Karupa Lake, 1996

A story in the New York Times a few days ago caught my attention—it was about a bear destroying a sound recorder at a remote site in Alaska—at Karupa Lake, in Gates of the Arctic Park.

I spent a week at Karupa Lake in August 1996.  At the time, my wife Rachel was a biologist working for Gates of the Arctic Park.  I accompanied her on the trip as a volunteer, agreeing to help clean up trash around the lake.

Karupa Lake, August, 1996

 

The trash we were cleaning up came from several sources:  the remains of a cabin that local natives used as a hunting and trapping cabin, 5 gallon metal gas cans used by game guides, and (mostly) 55 gallon metal fuel drums, at least some of them left by an oil exploration camp in the late 1940s.  We crushed and stacked the metal for later pickup, and burned the plywood and 2x4s from the cabin.  I recall thinking, while burning the wood, that we were destroying the only fuel within miles—and in doing so, may have deprived some future person of the means of survival.  It felt like our job was to create a sense of “wilderness” in a place that had, in fact, been the site of human activity before.

I remember picking up a 5 gallon square gas can, probably from 50s, that some vole was using to store dried leaves for the winter—like hay in a barn–shaking the leaves on the ground before crushing the can—probably depriving that animal of his carefully collected food source for the winter, thus insuring its death—but my job was to get rid of human debris.

 

Karupa Lake, August 1996

 

Karupa Lake is remote, by any reasonable standard—about 350 miles or so from Fairbanks, on the way to nowhere, on the northern edge of the Brooks range.  The location is beautiful—but only in an Alaskan ordinary way—there is nothing there to attract hikers or backpackers that might justify the several thousand dollar charter flight needed to get there—there are other, more spectacular, more accessible places that can provide a “wilderness experience” for those with the means to pay for it.   On the other hand, it is possible to land a float plane (the way we got there) or a ski plane on the lake—a cheaper (and somewhat quieter) option than a helicopter.

In thinking about the sounds of silence that happen in a place like Karupa Lake—the wind blowing through the leaves and branches of the shrubs—the occasional call of a raven or a hawk, a handful of smaller birds—those are the expected sounds.  But there are also some unexpected sounds—like the clatter of caribou hooves on stone, or the splashing as they cross a shallow river.  But, of course, we think of silence as the absence of sound, or, more to the point, the absence of meaningful sound.  I have experienced, on the tundra, silence so deep that eventually you become aware of an unfamiliar but persistent sound—that of blood flowing through the capillaries of your own ear.  If there are no external sounds, we make our own.

Karupa Lake, August 1996

Of course, achieving silence is possible in places other than a remote wilderness.  It is physically possible to build rooms that absorb all sound, achieving an industrial version of silence.   Of course, the more common way of creating a sense of silence is to create “white noise”—ignorable or comforting sounds loud enough to cover the background noise of our lives.

I once read that most people can keep track of 5 sources of sounds at one time—right now, I’m hearing my son’s annoying music from the next room, the clatter of my own keyboard, the kitchen fan that we always leave on, the sounds of water heating in an electric teapot, and the fan of my computer.  Plus an occasional car moving in the street outside my house.

 

Near Karupa Lake, August 1996

 

Composer John Cage once wrote a piece titled “Four minutes, thirty three seconds”, usually called “four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence” which has been performed in concert halls.   It instructs the musicians to sit and do nothing for the prescribed period of time—the music, of course, being whatever the ambient sounds are.  Of course, the audience as well as the musicians are expected to honor the silence—but, of course, there are sounds—the ventilation system in the hall, the unsuccessful attempt to stifle a cough, the siren from the street outside—those sounds become part of the performance of the piece.  The other part of the performance is whatever is happening inside the heads of both the audience and the musicians sitting in front of them.

But it seems like the definition of silence is becoming one of the absence of industrial human sounds.  What happens when no engines or fans or iPhones can be heard.  So silence is being defined as a quality of “wilderness”—what the earth sounded like before we were here.  In other words, silence is what happened after the bear destroyed the recorder.    Or before it was there.

 

Karupa Lake, August 1006

Wild Pollock, 2017, Pigment on Poster Board, 29×19.5″

 

A story from the art world:  Andy Warhol rips a picture from a magazine, holds it up, and says, “I made a drawing”.    On one level, he might have been right, in that drawings are sometimes studies for paintings, especially his silk screens that were based on widely reproduced photographs, but I think most would agree that ripping a page from a magazine is less creative than “making a drawing”.

I remember, back when I first started making photographs, some other photographers who went to art school talk about how the painting students would accuse the photographers of suffering from “painting envy”.  At that time, there was a lot to be jealous about:  “serious” photographers worked solely in black and white because color materials were “non-archival”, and most photographs tended to be small objects on paper, and were not really considered to be high art suitable for serious collectors.  Paintings, on the other hand, were big, bold, and colorful, and at least some paintings sold for lots of money.

Museum of Modern Art photography curator John Szarkowski noted that for him to consider something to be art it must first of all be a beautiful object—an opinion that put him at odds with the conceptual art community—but an interesting standard for photographs.  While it is easy to make a photograph—any idiot with a camera and film and access to a corner drugstore could make a photograph—it is much more challenging to make a photograph that could be considered a beautiful object.  I tried for years to make good photographs—it required attention to many things, starting with the selection of a camera and lens, care with focusing, avoiding motion and vibrations, exposing the film properly, then the dog work in the darkroom, developing the film, contact printing, doing work prints, and then finally selecting a few negatives to work with to make finished prints.    I made some photographs I consider to be beautiful objects, though I must admit that most of the prints I made over the course of 30 years don’t rise to that level.  Why?  Mostly because I didn’t have the patience to work with printing—I’d rather be out making new exposures rather than spending time in the darkroom, spending the hours necessary to make beautiful prints.

The Digital Revolution has changed photography, from silver gelatin on film and paper to pixels and pigments on paper or canvas.  Early on, I began to realize that even though I continued to print black and white images scanned from monochromatic negatives, the materials I used were the same as if I were printing in color—and, as a matter of fact, with the printing methods I used, colored pigments were being used in printing the monochrome images.  The whole “black and white is archival, color is not” argument became moot when printing digitally.

 

Red Dot, Digital File

 

I bought my first digital camera in 2001—a Nikon 995 Coolpix—a 3.2 MP camera—pretty small by today’s standards—but an amazing camera—it made bright, vivid pictures—and I started printing in color.  In black and white, a photograph depends on shape and texture to carry an image.  In a color image, the most important element is always the color.  The red object (if there is one) is always the subject, because that’s where the eye is drawn.  One of the first things I did with the digital camera was to find red subjects and put them in the middle of the frame.  Those pictures are about as subtle as hitting your thumb with a hammer.

It didn’t take long to figure out that printing from digital files was far different than printing from scanned color negatives.  The one problem with film is the presence of grain—in color materials, several layers of grain—which the scan would attempt to resolve.  A digital file, though, would assign a solid color to an entire pixel, so fields of color would be rendered as a continuous surface.  Even though the files weren’t very big, the resulting prints were quite convincing.

 

Bullet holes, Tanana River, Digital File

 

I remember, in about 2004, being invited to participate in a group show in Fairbanks called “the Gun Show”.  I submitted a print of bullet holes in the side of a red truck, printed at about 16×20 inches.  The red paint was rendered gloriously—and hanging in the gallery, it caught the eye of Kes Woodward, one of the town’s best known painters.  He stood in front of the print, shaking his head.  He turned to me and said, with a bitter laugh, “it isn’t fair”.  I laughed.  Damn straight, it isn’t fair.  Finally, photography could do big, bold, red, and beautiful.   But photographs were still fragile objects on paper that had to be protected, behind glass, matted.  Paintings were tough and independent.

I remember making my first large digital prints—it was the summer of 2004, and the university had managed to buy a 44 inch Epson printer—someone in the art department offered to let me use the printer one night.  I showed up with some high resolution scans from 8×10 negatives, and stayed all night, managed to complete 5 prints.  On my way home, about 9 in the morning, I took them to show the local gallery director—he took one look at them, and starting laughing.  “Boy, did you screw up” he told me.  But they are beautiful, I protested—he agreed—yes, they are beautiful, but at 44×55 inches on paper, they are bigger than standard matting materials.  I’d never be able to display them.

 

Green, 2017, Pigment on Poster Board, 29″x19″

 

 

I’ve tried several ways to make big photographs—printing them on canvas (which works, but stretching them is a pain)–thumb tacking big prints to the wall (works, but looks unfinished)—or gluing them to foam core boards (works fine, but is a pain in the butt to do, and often warps).  Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about printing on Aluminum panels, which are then laminated to protect the image surface—which sounds like a robust way to make an image.  However, several images I’ve seen in galleries on metal had very poor detail resolution—something I’m unsure if it was due to the image file or the printing process.   And given the high cost of the aluminum panels—about $10 per square foot for a printable panel—printing on aluminum is not very affordable—especially if a group of images have to be printed for an exhibit.

I did discover that Epson makes an Enhanced Matt Poster Board product.  I’ve printed on Enhanced Matt paper for over a decade—it is a very serviceable printing surface—so I decided to give that a try and see how it looked.  It looked pretty good—especially after a coat of varnish which I had on hand from coating canvas.    And by gluing a wooden frame to the back, I could both stiffen the board, prevent warping, and attach a wire hanger to the back.  The final product looks great, is light weight, and hangs easily.

The resulting objects are big, bold, and colorful–and beautiful.   My son calls them paintings.  So, I guess I’ve made some paintings.  A pretty bold claim for a photographer.

 

Dumpster Painting, 2017, Pigment on Poster Board, 29″x19″

I enjoy photographing grain elevators—they bring back memories of my childhood on the farm back in Lancaster County, when my dad would let me ride in the truck when he delivered corn to the local feed store—I remember stopping on the scales on the way in, dumping the corn onto the big grate in the floor, then the second stop at the scales.    And I admired the grain elevators in the western landscape when I rode my bike across the country—the grain elevators were the biggest things out there—you could spot the huge silos from miles away.

 

Nebraska, 1984

 

I started making photographs of grain elevators as soon as I arrived in Spokane, five years ago.  I recall taking a drive out into the wheat country south of town while waiting for a call-back on renting an apartment during my first full day in town, and seeing elevators I wanted to photograph.

 

Madson Elevator, Whitman County, July 2017

 

Within a few weeks, I made my first photographs of grain elevators in Whitman County, located just to the south of Spokane County.  This is the heart of the Palouse country, one of the highest wheat producing areas in the world, the highest wheat producing county in the US.  My first photographs there were on the northern end of the county, in the towns of Rosalia and Oakesdale.   Both of these towns had clusters of wonderful old grain elevators, which I later discovered had been photographed and painted by other local artists.

 

Rosalia, March 2017

 

In talking with local residents, there is a lot of discussion about the fact that the old wooden crib style elevators are being torn down, disappearing from the landscape.  The problem is mostly that those elevators are too small to efficiently deal with the volumes of grain that are being produced by current farming methods in Whitman County, and so are on the verge of becoming functionally obsolete.

 

First steam powered elevator, Moorehead, MN, 1879

 

Of course, changes in farming methods are nothing new—I discovered a couple of ebay treasures a few years ago—two historical photographs from wheat farming from more than a century ago.  One shows “the first steam powered elevator, Moorehead, MN, 1879”—with dozens of farm wagons loaded with sacks of wheat waiting to unload their harvest at the elevator.  Obviously, the farm wagons couldn’t have traveled far to reach the elevator—meaning that small farmers using horses to reach the railheads needed an elevator within a few miles of the field.  And each trip could move only perhaps 20 bushels of wheat.  Looking at the photograph, it looks like the crib elevator could have held something around 35,000 bushels of wheat.  While it isn’t clear from the photograph, it is almost certain that this elevator was located next to a rail line, so that the grain could be loaded, by gravity, onto bulk rail cars.    It is crib elevators like the one in this photograph, now mostly covered with corrugated steel siding, that are being torn down.

 

Combine Advertising Photo, 1907

 

The other photograph is from 1907, an advertising photo intended to show off the new combines that were being built to harvest wheat.  There are a total of 5 combines shown, each requiring 3 men and 33 horses, for a total of 15 men and 165 horses.  That’s a lot of mouths to feed to get the harvest done—and lots of hay that needs to be put up for the winter.

 

McCoy Elevator, near Rosalia, 2013

 

Currently, In addition to the wooden crib elevators, many locations added “tanks” for additional storage to the sides of the wooden elevators.  These are occasionally made of wood, but are usually either concrete or steel.  This configuration—the wooden crib “house” elevator flanked by “tanks” is a fairly typical configuration of operating elevators in Whitman County.  Elevators of this type can typically store a few hundred thousand bushels of grain.

Newer elevators are being built that use a vertical steel shaft with numerous tubes coming down in various directions to feed the storage tanks.  Sometimes these are added to the tops of existing crib elevators, which look a bit like some muli-legged alien landed.

 

New McCoy grain terminal, March 2017

 

The problem with all of the elevators is that the volume of grain that is being produced in Whitman County is huge—about 30 million bushels per year—and there is a cheaper way to store all this grain—put it in piles on the ground.  The capital cost of a pile on the ground is almost zero, but there is the problem of waste—if it rains or snows, the grain on the top of the pile will rot or sprout—though I’ve been told that wheat will actually make its own protective layer—mixing wheat with water makes a paste that hardens and protects the rest of the grain beneath it.   In years of abundant harvest, a lot of the wheat produced in Whitman County is stored in ground piles.  Large pile storage is especially common at the barge loading facilities along the Snake River that forms the southern boundary of the county.

But the northern end of the county is a long way from the Snake river terminals—about 60 miles from Rosalia to Central Ferry—so the decision was made to build a high volume rail terminal—the new McCoy terminal.  This facility is designed to load 40,000 bushes per hour on to train cars—about 10 cars per hour.  A typical “grain train” has 110 cars—430,000 bushels.  The McCoy terminal has three steel tanks each big enough to hold enough grain to load a train—and four ground piles, each 1.3 million bushels (three train loads), for a total of 6.4 million bushels of storage.  The piles are covered with a thick plastic cover for the winter to minimize spoilage.

 

New McCoy grain terminal, March 2017

 

I stopped in at the new McCoy terminal a few weeks ago, at the peak of the wheat harvest in Whitman county.  The place was hopping—big trucks lined up to get on the scales, about a dozen people in the office—and three different dumping spots, one for the big steel tanks, and two for ground piles.  The men working in the office said that they were unloading 400 trucks a day—some of them were smaller dump trucks (500 bushels), some were regular semis (900 bushels), and some were semis with a second trailer (1500 bushels)—so my guess is that the terminal was taking in about 400,000 bushels a day.  They took in trucks from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM, a schedule designed so that they could load trains at night.

 

New McCoy Grain Terminal, August 2017

 

I’m having an exhibition of my photographs of the grain elevators of Whitman County at the Library in Colfax during September and October.  I was offered the show in March, and decided at that point that I wanted to find and photograph as many of the elevators in the county as I could find.  I’ve managed to locate a total of 62 sites with grain elevators—these range from heaps of rotting lumber where a grain elevator used to be, to abandoned elevators, to small elevators now privately owned, to small but active co-op elevators, to clusters of elevators in communities, to large terminals for bulk shipments.   While the wooden crib elevator may be disappearing from the landscape, the grain elevator remains an important part of the landscape of Whitman County.

And I think they are beautiful.