Lens-Artists Challenge #199 – Mechanical/Industrial

industrial, old, dilapidated, Michelin
Industrial Demise

“Prune the dilapidated buildings so that a city flourishes.

Khang Kijarro Nguyen

This week John’s challenge has given me an opportunity to showcase a place that played a role in some of my long bygone days. Unlike John, I’m not as focused (pun intended) on industrial or mechanical images, but like many photographers I do love places that have seen better days.

factory, dilapidated

“The industrial model is gone. People are more than machines.”

Richie Norton

In the town where I grew up there were Michelin baseball fields and Michelin playgrounds, but it never occurred to me until much later that they were named after the old, run-down factory with which they co-existed. The factory, it turns out, had a long and interesting history, having been built in the 1700s and owned by many companies until finally being used by Michelin Tire beginning in 1907.

Michelin factory, Milltown
Nature Taking Over

“The mind is the laboratory where products, both fake and genuine are manufactured.”

Israelmore Ayivor

At its heyday the factory covered 21 acres, housed 14 buildings, over 475,000 square feet, and had a workforce of more than 2,000 people. Cited for environmental hazards it was finally razed (for the most part) in 2016. The iconic smokestack and water tower featured in my opening image were retained as an important element of the town’s history.

water, hydration

“Industry is not the mark of progress – compassion, reason and self-reliance are.”

Abhijit Naskar,

My response this week features an unhappy ending to what was once a vibrant industrial center. Hazardous waste created a situation which prevented others from investing in the site, such that it simply deteriorated until deconstruction was the only solution. Gone are the Michelin farm that was used to feed employees, the medical and recreation centers, and a bowling alley built for their entertainment. The 53 Michelin homes built to house employees have been continually updated and are an integral part of the town.

brick, crumbling, vines
Tattered Trellis

“Despite all our amazing ability, ingenuity, technology and industry humans are the one species who have not mastered the art of simplicity.

Rasheed Ogunlaru

There is an aura of wistful charm associated with days gone by, such that we sometimes forget their difficulties. I for one am happy to live with today’s creature comforts but find myself wondering how future generations will regard them and us. Let’s hope we’re remembered as the generation that worked to clean up polluted waters, save the forests and purify the air, rather than the one that destroyed them all.

Sincere thanks to those who responded to Patti’s Light and Shadow challenge with so many beautiful images. Thanks also to John for his intriguing challenge – please remember to link your responses to his original here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag. Amy will be our host next week on her Share and Connect blog – until then, as always please stay safe and be kind.

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists Challenge? Click here for more information.

68 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #199 – Mechanical/Industrial

  1. OMG, I just found some notes and realize I had not responded to your post – sorry. 😥 I like seeing these photos in sepia, it sets the theme for your topic. These buildings and this campus must have been really special in their day, I enjoyed reading their story. So sad that hazardous waste caused their demise.

  2. Pingback: Lens-ArtistPC-199-Mechanical-Industrial – WoollyMuses

  3. I enjoyed your trip back in time, Tina. Your photos beautifully capture the nostalgia and sadness of the places that have deteriorated or were abandoned because of environmental issues or changes in technology or transportation. Beautiful post.

  4. Enjoyed the photos and richness in each one (esp the bricks) and I also wonder how future generations will look
    Back on the “now” we have and wonder what it
    Will look like – hmmmm

  5. Not my forte at all, Tina, but I do look sadly on many of the ruined buildings propping up the shiny new ones around here. I share your hope! We mostly do try to leave the world a better place.

    • Thanks Jo – it seems there are other ruins around the world that have been better preserved that are quite beautiful. Factories, on the other hand, not so much 😊. Although there are quite a few restored factories that have been repurposed as shopping or recreation areas. It’s unfortunate that in this case the toxic waste left behind made that impossible.

    • a much appreciated comment Izzy, thank you. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s quite a task for us to keep the challenge going. John has been a wonderful addition to the team.

  6. I find the history very interesting and your photos are beautiful. Here in South Africa we also have so many buildings becoming derelict because of so many problems and miss-management! Sad ,but true!

  7. Stunning images of urban decay, Tina. I love the sepia tones you used to feature the images. It is fascinating to watch nature begin to take over once humans have abandoned the buildings. I saw something on TV where it took only 10 years for nature to eat away at a house and crumble it into a heap.

    • Wow Terri – that’s pretty amazing. It reminds me of our trip to see Mt. St Helen’s. On the side where trees were planted there was a gorgeous forest. On the unplanted side there was simply ash and stone. Nature will indeed triumph

  8. Like you I don’t share John’s interest in all things mechanical but I do like to photograph old buildings in decay so I love your approach to this theme. And the shots work perfectly in this soft sepia. An excellent set of images and interesting to read about the factory in its heyday.

    • Many thanks Sarah – I’ll admit this one was more challenging for me than usual although as I see some of the responses I remember images that might have been a better fit. That said I did enjoy the walk down memory lane.

  9. Wonderful post and images, Tina! I’m like you, I enjoy my comforts of today, but I do like to wonder what life was like in days gone by. Especially, when you think about the lack of technology back then and the innovations they created which have led to our comforts of today.

  10. Not sure why I am drawn also to places that have seen better days…your photos are so interesting… my small hometown is a ghost town of closed cotton mills and furniture factories… makes for interesting but sad photos….

  11. If we did, as the first quote suggests, do all that pruning, we would miss all the photos like yours and others that have a dilapidated beauty of their own. Shabby chic would be not more. 🙂 It also costs a LOT to just tear down old a/o unused structures, but there are plenty I’d like to see torn down. Your first photo seems iconic for a certain part of American history and I really like the tattered trellis and nature taking over shots.

    • Thanks so much Janet – I suppose the structures that will eventually replace them will only be tomorrow’s headache don’t you think?! I too liked the tattered remains but sadly their toxicity meant they too had to go.

    • Thanks Karina, hard to believe how many years I passed right by it without giving it a thought. I finally photographed it many, many years after I moved away, while visiting family that still lives there.

  12. These images reflect the history you described. Your message here is important, which reminds me the “Turner’s Modern World” oil painting exhibit. He painted the dark side of the industrial revolution in London.

    • Thanks Amy – I think the good news here is that the company was very generous with the town and despite the factory closure the town continues to thrive. It’s a lovely small town, very popular with young families,.

  13. There is a sense of melancholy in this series of photos – emphasized by the b&w and sepia tones. Nature truly does take over and reclaim in the end. And, as always, the quotes you selected are spot-on, Tina! I especially like the Abhijit Naskar one, “Industry is not the mark of progress – compassion, reason and self-reliance are.”

    • Many thanks Lindy – I expected a difficult search for quotes this week but surprisingly there was much to choose from. And yes, it’s nice to see that nature returns as toxicity is removed.

  14. So sad to see the old factories gone. There were so many where I grew up in Brooklyn……funny, tho, the neighborhood is being gentrified with renovated apartments (used to call them walk ups) at crazy rental prices.

    • Yep, same thing where this factory stood. Now that the site has been cleaned up environmentally there is a great deal of interest in developing it. And the town around it is very popular, representing some of the best aspects of small-town life.

  15. Wonderful images and story. It seem that progress leaves historical ruins in its wake. It’s sad to see towns that were created to serve one industry die and vanish.

    • Well Anne, the good news is that while the industrial plant did indeed die and vanish, the town remains and still thrives. It’s a lovely little small town that is also very conveniently located and very popular, especially with young families and multiple generations. The company was very generous back in the day and in addition to the sad remains of the plant also left many positive impacts as well.

  16. Tina, your take, and Scillagrace’s post both allow us to reflect on the fact that humans aren’t perfect and that the best-laid plans can end up creating a future of problems. It is appropriate to consider carefully the result of our actions in the short term and how they may affect life in the long-term future.
    Your photo story truly recalls a sad ending of what was once a thriving industrial community.

    • Thanks John – yes it was absolutely a critical part of the town’s history. Despite its departure the town continues to thrive and has a lovely, small town feel. The company’s impact on it remains with ball fields and various other positive elements that contribute to its personality.

  17. I love old buildings. I am so drawn to the ones like you have pictured here that are overgrown and have been left abruptly (so to speak). There is a school up in Jacksonville FL that was an old school, supposedly haunted. It took me so long to find it, as directions were vague and there were a lot of dead end streets. I want to go back with my good camera to really zoom in. I may do that soon. Hopefully it is still standing!

    • Funny, I lived about a mile from this site, and I returned there for many, many years after moving away as my parents remained in the town until they passed. Three of my brothers still live there. It’s a great small town and the site is now a part of its history. The small town feeling is a large part of why people love living there – especially since there are many larger towns and cities conveniently located nearby.

  18. There certainly is a sadness in seeing images of places that have been abandoned and no longer useful…kind of reminds us of our own mortality. I agree with you about the importance they played in so many lives. So many lessons learned about the harm done to the environment – hopefully, innocently.

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