Photography

Abandoned, but not without life

A few weeks ago, and again yesterday, I bashed my way up through the thick river-side scrub towards a mythical abandoned lumber mill. I’ve seen old signs indicating that the mill did indeed exist, and have spoken to a few people in town who once worked there, but I really wanted to see it for myself.

And so, I parked my car and walked in its general direction. The mill underwent a major upgrade in the late 1990s, and was shut down indefinitely just 11 years later – apparently because of the downturn in the global economy, leading to lower profit margins. I’d been told that all the expensive innards had been removed but that the buildings had been reclassified as storage space and, therefore, didn’t need to be torn down.

Finally, I stumbled out onto the property, scanning for “No Entry” signs and for people, but saw neither. There were signs of life everywhere – abandoned vehicles, a pair of boots in a bookshelf, coffee mugs where their owners had put them after taking a last sip, keys labelled by name still hanging neatly in their safes. In one building I found a fully-stocked kitchen, complete with microwave, cupboards stocked with tinned goods and a fridge – long ago powerless – with salad dressing, Tupperware and other condiments telling a tiny tale of the real people who once worked there. (Sadly, it was too dark for photos.)

Vertical blinds rattling in the wind, the drip, drip, drip of water seeping through the ceiling, a mysterious rustle and the flutter of birds’ wings had me whirl around several times to see if someone or something was surreptitiously stalking me. I wished I had brought a friend, not only for company but so that I could take eerie, ghost-like photos (like this one last year.) But it was better to be alone – if it turned out that I was breaking a major law, and I was caught, I would have preferred being censured alone.

Something that did strike me on my first visit was the complete lack of graffiti but when I went back a second time I noticed that others had been there in the meantime. Sadly, a few crude tags had been scrawled on the walls, mugs smashed and ceilings ripped out.  I could prattle on, but I will leave my (many) photos to tell a more complete story. I really did try to cut the number down, but I hope you don’t get too bored scrolling through the 40-odd photos I’ve chosen to share.

(Click on any of them to open bigger versions.)

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6 thoughts on “Abandoned, but not without life

  1. What an unbelievable waste of costly resources. If those buildings had been located in South Africa, everything movable would long since have disappeared and the entire structure would have been dismantled and its components used for informal shack building or sold as scrap metal. Just think of all the copper wiring in there, not to mention the corrugated iron! This is one of the most extraordinary things I’ve seen in a long time – shades of the Marie Celeste.

  2. wow. love the place! I would be so tempted to take stuff……those keys look so cool. Imagine this place in SA. I bet it would look slightly different than that by now 🙂

  3. Incredible glimpse into a not-so-long-ago abandoned operation. Really amazing. Wish I could find something similar. Would probably want to flatten a memory card if I did!

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