View of underground abandoned industrial facility.
I recently was invited to take a tour of the Blue Heron Paper Mill, now defunct, abandoned and destined for gentrification. The site is literally right on the Willamette River in Oregon City. This is the kind of special place where Native Americans used to pluck salmon from the waterfalls, but is now damed for a power plant, but that is another story.
This paper plant is special too, at least in my eyes. I am attracted to these industrial environments of old, I am not sure if it is the gritty textures, the architectural forms, or something about the abandonment that speaks to me.
My attraction and empathy could stem from the legacy of those who stood before us - for better or worse. The shear amount of concrete, materials and energy to build such a place, only to have the times change the entire enterprise become obsolete, is in itself a haunting story.
Old storage tanks in black and white.
Apparently, the site closed down so quickly that employees just walked away from everything, giving the offices and facilities an appearance of a "ghost town".
The site and tour was fantastic, although I always seemed to be a thorn in the side of the docent leading the tour. "Where's our photographer" she would say ushering the small group along to the next dilapidated interior stuffed with remnants of pipes, tanks and god knows what else.
I never had enough time to devote to the site that it deserved, but I was able to capture a number of quality images, some of which are shown at this gallery.
Friend, and fellow artist, Becky Busi summed up my photography from that day this way...
"Wow. Amazing photos and to think we were actually there...! You have captured a softness in the degradation. Acting as the intermediary between past and future you have collected a jewelry box of industrial manufactured spaces transforming them into diamonds and rubies from a by-gone era. Thank you so much for sharing these...lovely...."
The industrial site has recently been purchased and is destined to become a marquee destination spot for Oregon City. Their website presents the following goals for their master plan... "a way that embraces the four core values of this project: healthy habitat, historic and cultural interpretation, economic redevelopment, and of course, public access."
It will be interesting to witness the evolution of this site over the next few years and see how the transformation takes place.
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