Days Fork – III

This is the final post in a series in which I have shared my hike up into Days Fork Canyon, another of the tributary canyons that extend off of Big Cottonwood Canyon, just east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.  I’m not sure what this large piece of iron might have been during the mine’s operation, but it remains with us in its multiple pieces, somehow resembling a face-plate for a piece of machinery…brought west from Bridgeport, Massachusetts, in whatever year.  I have Googled “iron works Massachusetts” and have found a bit of information, but nothing with “Roberts” in a company’s name…so who knows what this is or might have been.

Another hiker has made a stack of remnant bricks atop the machinery, telling those who follow that this is part of the trail….

The hillside has begun to slide and cover the hoist…and the mine is slowly swallowing one of the remaining boilers….

I like the rich colors of earth and rust and the greening of Life that wants to take back what is hers…with a touch of pink on the Indian Paintbrush nearby….

I don’t know the proper name of this petalled piece of cog-ware, but we can see its former function in the third photo below this one…as it appears to have a twin on the left side of the hoist that is also pictured above.

It’s pretty up-close, too….

Empty boilers that have seen more productive days….

The trail continues to the left of the area shown in these photos.  It goes for another quarter of a mile or so into the terminus of the Fork…a sort of bowl-shaped dead-end that is littered with rocks and trees…and has some other mining tailing-piles up on the surrounding hills.

This is the last picture I took of the area, below, as the clouds that had been moving in my direction all morning had started to sprinkle and then rain.  I think it might have been just as well, though, because as I ventured further above the remaining snow and onto the lower portion, and then to the right on that slope you see in almost the dead center of the photograph, I had a feeling of sadness come over me and rather lost the desire to take any more photos.

I think the melancholy was due to witnessing the remaining damage that had been caused by our forebears’ attempts at industry…bare hillsides that must have been pristine and thriving forests before their arrival.  I don’t know how long the mining operations continued in the area after the burning of the Eclipse Mine in 1888, but if they were to have stopped immediately after that incident, this area would have had/has had approximately 124 years to recover.  Yes, we can see that Nature has begun to reclaim what is hers by slowly swallowing the boilers and with the hillside sliding down to envelope the hoist, but it seems like it’s going to take quite a long time before we can no longer see traces of ourselves out there.  We have the ability to obliterate forests in a couple of years…but they will take hundreds more to return on their own.

If you’d like to visit the two earlier posts, Days Fork – I and Days Fork – II, just click on their highlighted names to do so.  Thank you for stopping-by and spending a bit of time with me.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the hike….


50 responses

  1. Awesome photos . . . those remnants might be thought as sculptures; memorials to the people who toiled to eek out a living. They were driven by dreams of riches, and often found only misery.

    As for the capacity of man to wreak havoc, let’s remember the land is very dynamic. From storms, to fires, to avalanches, there are many scars to the surface of the planet. Some say detract from the beauty, but others say they add character. We look at remnants of craters not with anger at the celestial bombardment, but in awe of the event.

    Certainly I would prefer to have less impact from human involvements, but the above is nothing compared to what we do in the process of building houses and the infrastructure to support them (perhaps hence our desire to escape into the wilderness).

    After all, the very house I live in and enjoy sits on what used to be a pristine wilderness. Hard for me to point at other places and say “they should not have spoiled that”. I could once again reference whemt . . . “may we live long, and die out”

    August 27, 2012 at 7:38 am

    • Thank you for your words about the photos, Emilio…and thank you, especially, for your perspective about the remnant equipment being statues or monuments to those who came before us, who struggled and toiled and were rewarded with misery. Excellent point.

      And yes, the land is very dynamic and receives much of its aesthetic appeal from the violent upheavals and natural happenings that occur with and without our involvement…and none of us (who might read this article) would be living where we do or in the manner that we do without having made an impact on the earth and its environment…of course….

      I mentioned in the previous post in the series that I was fascinated by the mining remains, wondered why it was still there, while marveling at its tangible representation of our history here…and then I mentioned in this post how the devastation of the forest for these efforts saddened me…. These were my reactions to being in this particular place…my intellect was fascinated…my heart was saddened….

      August 28, 2012 at 6:51 am

      • I think that Emilio said some very important things about how to view such a sight. I like the idea of looking at it as we might look at the ruins of a previous culture. There are so many things that influence the way we relate to things around us, and at this stage, we have been worked up, to look at the environment as if it was sacred. Your pictures have added to the beauty that was already there. And it would be wonderful, if a few friends could start a replanting project… but one has to view such things with a certain moderation, and be flexible and tolerant too.

        August 28, 2012 at 9:07 am

        • You are right, Shimon…Emilio did say some very important things about how we might view such a sight…and you added another compelling perspective to the mix, that of the remains belonging to an earlier culture, which they most definitely do. I appreciate your words, too, Shimon, that we view such things with moderation and tolerance…thank you.

          August 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm

  2. Now lets get practical! I would like the cog-ware in my garden! It looks phenomenal Earth’s garden, just think how it would look in mine!

    August 27, 2012 at 8:31 am

    • Those were my thoughts as well . . .

      August 27, 2012 at 8:36 am

    • Indeed, we can be practical, Miss Bonnie…that is a beautiful cog-ware planter and it would look wonderful in your garden. 🙂

      August 28, 2012 at 6:52 am

  3. I like the 7th best,

    August 27, 2012 at 8:59 am

    • Thank you, Shimon…there’s something about the juxtaposition of the fragility of the flower and the strength of the cog-wheel.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:54 am

  4. Excellent post Scott! I agree with Shimon, the 7th photo is a real winner. 🙂

    August 27, 2012 at 9:23 am

    • Thank you, Chillbrook. 🙂

      August 28, 2012 at 6:54 am

  5. The only thing we can do about or ancestor’s ignorance is learn from it and be determined to never make the same mistakes again. Do you know what was being mined?

    August 27, 2012 at 9:26 am

    • Yes, Allen…we can hope to learn…and no, I don’t know what was being mined in this particular spot…I do know that there were silver mines throughout the mountains, and lead and a little bit of gold and other things.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:57 am

  6. I love these photos. And although I believe too that the destruction of the earth is something to avoid, I still find this wreckage beautiful. Maybe because I don’t live in a pristine country – even if it seems as if there has been no intervention of man, there has, in every glen and on every hillside. Even the moors are that way because humans came and chopped down all the trees 4,000 years ago. But they did it out of desperate need, to burn to warm themselves. Old mines, less forgiveable. But still, even so, a rusty sort of gorgeous, as your photos show.

    August 27, 2012 at 9:37 am

    • Thank you, Helen…it seems that we can’t help but leave a mark on the land as we attempt to live and progress through time as a people/civilization…and yes, there is a “rusty sort of gorgeous” in the remains.

      August 28, 2012 at 7:14 am

  7. Excellent, great work Scott. The mix between leaf and metal is thought provoking and makes quite a visual statement. I love how nature reclaims itself from man.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:17 am

    • Thank you, Nancy. 🙂

      August 28, 2012 at 8:03 am

  8. We have examples of old workings like this in the UK – in the slate industries of North Wales for example. When these operations ended there wasn’t the same environmental awareness as there is today. We can only learn from the mistakes of the past and try to ensure we clear the mess up after us. But sadly I don’t have great confidence that we have changed.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    • I agree with you, Andy…I don’t know how much we’ve changed. There is a huge pit-mine on the other side of the Salt Lake Valley that is a gross mar on the otherwise beautiful mountainside…they remove literal tons of earth for a few ounces of gold in some instances….

      August 28, 2012 at 8:11 am

  9. I share your melancholy at places like these. It’s nice to see nature attempting to reclaim some balance, but then my thoughts go to our current day bigger and better machines that wipe out entire mountain tops in the Appalachians, or machines that mow down trees eliminating half a dozen men to do the same job, or spreading gunky oil spills in our oceans. Seems like we’re presenting more and more challenges for mother nature. I can’t help but wonder where does it all end.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    • Well said, Miss Gunta…makes me wonder, too.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:13 am

  10. Victoria

    Fascinating series of photos. Makes one wonder how many more years it will take for nature to completely cover the remains.

    August 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    • Thank you, Victoria…I’d love to see some more trees planted up there, even if they don’t remove the machinery. 🙂

      August 28, 2012 at 8:14 am

  11. I think I like the boilers best after a second look, but I’ve had to draw gears so I have a healthy respect for them as well.

    August 27, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    • There’s a certain visual richness to the boilers, Allen…and the cog is pretty impressive. 🙂

      August 28, 2012 at 8:15 am

  12. Very intriguing. I love these metallic graveyards.

    August 27, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    • Thank you, Bella…they are quite compelling, aren’t they? 🙂 Thank you for visiting, as well…and for letting me know you were here. 🙂

      August 28, 2012 at 8:16 am

  13. I enjoyed this whole series Scott although it’s sad to see such a beautiful place left in that condition. I’ve seen that here too.

    August 27, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    • Thank you, Terry…and I’m sure you have…seems like a part of our national history.

      August 28, 2012 at 8:17 am

  14. For me, the sad part is that all this previously- and in times to come potentially-useful equipment was abandoned there to rot; the good part is that–as is nearly always the case–nature will prevail and will return it to its natural state and incorporate it back into her whole plan. This process is already well on its way. Meanwhile, you are doing the right thing by helping to document both processes and to heighten awareness of them. Keep it up.

    August 27, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    • Thank you for your words, Gary…and yes, Nature will prevail…and we could use a bit of help with the rain to get all of those seedlings growing to repopulate the forest up there. 🙂

      August 28, 2012 at 6:35 pm

  15. I keep reading how this is somehow a blight. I think the remnants look good, and compared to more modern materials they offer a friendlier impact on the environment. It’s iron; there’s already lots of it in the ground.

    And who can deny the beauty of the rusting pieces as they adorn the hillside? Were it not so, would we find the pictures as interesting? Were that the mine had never been, would we enjoy the photos from this spot as much as we do when “enhanced” by these relics?

    I think not.

    By the same token, we do not find ancient temples, wall, remnants of huts, or many other indication of human presence anything but fascinating, and evoking images of our ancestors. It was so when I went on my color tour a few years ago . . . the interesting bits were the abandoned camps, mines, dams, etc. Sure, I enjoyed the scenery, but the remnants of human endeavors punctuated the experience in a very positive way, just as these remains, in my opinion, enhanced the experience of the canyon.

    August 27, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    • Your points remain valid and thought-provoking, Emilio; they have been a wonderful contribution to the post. Thank you, truly, for sharing this broader perspective.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm

  16. There was a Charles River Ironworks in Cambridgeport Massachusetts that made steam boilers in 1897. You can see one of their letterheads here:

    August 28, 2012 at 11:13 am

    • Pretty cool, Allen…thank you. 🙂

      August 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm

  17. What a great series Scott….I especially love the history….behind this beautiful photography….NICE WORK!!!

    August 28, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    • Thank you, Kirsten. 🙂

      August 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm

  18. I too like remnants of the past and it can leave a sadness in my heart, but for a different reason because I am in awe of all the toil and effort in the making of all those castings………. men at hot forges wielding hammers, working until they drop and taking home a pittance for their families……..all those hundreds working to make industries that supported our forebears, and their struggle with their daily lives………. all gone, in most cases without any record, let alone memories. So I can only look upon those relics and feel a deep loss and a great sadness for all those lives lived; all that optimism, energy and planning, all those individuals who had hope for a better day tomorrow. Let’s hope that when we are gone others will not come and stare at piles of rust that we leave behind and say ‘they were a blight on the landscape and they achieved nothing’, for that would truly be sad………… sorry Scott, getting maudlin here……..

    August 28, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    • Another sobering and compelling view-point, John…thank you…very much.

      August 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm

  19. Scot, A change from your nature photography series. A post with a message. Loved it, and the comments too ,thought provoking.

    August 29, 2012 at 11:50 am

    • Thank you, Pattu…the words seemed to bring a bit of thought this time…and yes, interesting and provoking.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:03 am

  20. I love finding things like this, they are so much fun to photograph.

    August 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    • They are a lot of fun to photograph…I have a couple more hikes to share that also contain the mining remains…still working on getting them all set-up for posts.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:04 am

  21. I particularly liked this post. And, my favorite is #7. You are helping to tell the story of these mountains, Scott. That’s significant.

    August 30, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    • I’m happy that you enjoyed the post, George…and I thank you for your encouragement.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:51 pm

  22. You provided us with beautiful photos of man and nature together, both doing what they do to survive in this world. I understand why you stopped and put your camera down. Where we get to see the final images of the beauty of the juxtaposition of man to nature, you moved through it, lived through it, saw it up close, saw the devastation, saw the littered remains and the struggle of nature trying to recover (through a drought year, no less!). With your sensitivity to the natural beauty of your world, all this would weigh heavily as you trudged through it to find the perfect angle, to find the beauty, to find meaning in it. This post, along with many of the comments, has given me something to think about.

    September 1, 2012 at 6:50 am

  23. There is sometimes beauty in what’s left behind, and you have managed to find it, Scott.

    September 1, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    • I think there is, Karen…thank you.

      September 3, 2012 at 7:09 am

  24. I stumbled onto your blog while searching, online, for images of abandoned machinery in mountainous settings to be used as a subject for watercolor studies. When I saw the the boiler plate with the partial name of the foundry, I was intrigued – kicking my OCD/ADD into high gear!

    I remembered reading about a Cambridge MA neighborhood, which now hosts the campus of MIT, was once called “Cambridgeport”. I began looking for historical documents that related to the Charles River and ‘iron works. This search led me to this reference, in a turn of the century era business directory (The New Bedford Board of Trade – date unknown), for:
    Edward Kendall & Sons,
    and Plate Iron Work of every description.
    End of West Boston Bridge,
    Established 1860. CAMBRIDGEPORT, Mass.–brief-history-textile-school-industries-etc-ala/page-3-new-bedford-mass–brief-history-textile-school-industries-etc-ala.shtml

    Indeed, the 1873 G.M.Hopkins Atlas of the city of Cambridge, Mass shows the ‘Kendall & Roberts” iron works. Traveling west on the West Boston Bridge (now the Longfelllow Bridge), the Charles River Iron Works would have been the first business on the south side of Main St (on the left) one would have seen entering Cambridgeport.

    I could not find any further reference to the “Roberts” of “Kendall & Roberts” – the subsequent listings of “Kendall & Sons” as the proprietors would lead one to assume that either Mr. Roberts passed away or his interest was purchased (bought out).

    Today, this site is the home of the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center – per its website, “a research and software innovation campus located in the heart of Cambridge, Massachusetts”.

    Further searching led me to this photograph of a “Kendall & Sons” foundry building (date unknown) – presumably taken from a building across Main St from the “Charles River Iron Works”:

    One hundred and fifty years ago, this site produced cast iron; today, this site produces software… for the sake of your beautiful photographs, I prefer the former!

    September 19, 2012 at 6:21 am

    • Well, Geoff, I am very happy that YOU were the one looking for such images on-line and stumbled upon my blog and photos…and I’m glad that you OCD/ADD led you into your curious pursuits…thank you for the information…for all of the research you conducted to reveal the likely source of those mountain-adornments…and thank you, further, for taking the time to share all of what you found with me/us on my blog. I sincerely appreciate your efforts…. 🙂

      September 19, 2012 at 6:53 am

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