Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Searching for the Post Industrial

As soon as I passed under the low concrete railroad bridge, I knew where I was.  A block of white buildings in the distance - not quite a mile off, the backsides of a shopping center.  This is the bottom of the phragmite choked marsh at Hamden.

I went out today in search of post industrial Connecticut.  This is where Seattle, where I started this project, and where I am now differ.  Seattle never had the 18th century industry, and not too much of the 19th century industry for that matter.  Until a hundred and twenty years ago, Seattle was logging and ship building.  Meanwhile, Connecticut had already seen a hundred years of mill and factory development.  There is hardly a stream in this state that hasn't or doesn't have a mill pond or remnants of such a feature.  For me, one of the biggest differences is that Seattle's development was captured in detailed government maps.  Most of Connecticut's early land use has to be deciphered from what remains as those first maps came too late to log the early dams, canals and natural shorelines.

abandoned electrical poles are all around in this landscape

I suppose, as a result of a somewhat natural order of how cities and industry develop, whether we like it or not, Connecticut cities are populated by large areas of very old abandoned factories due to the same old reasons, greed and/or lack of foresight.  This state was once a powerful industrial area making everything from textiles to machines.  Most of the state was also farmland until the Civil War, when people began moving west or into cities.  The forests have reclaimed the fields, but the dry stone walls remain deliniating the original usage, not unlike the uninhabited brick factory buildings.

whatever fish this is, it has one huge gaping maw

I started at Clifton Street, next to a closed riverside restaurant, and I headed upstream, which inadvertantly took me away from that post industrial remains that I wanted to explore.  The trip was much more houses and low open marsh land with the exception of the grubby Amtrac train yard...a bit of modern industry.  The wintering birds, the swans, ringneck ducks, hooded mergansers and mallards were near the outlet of Hemingway Creek.  As I got nearer to the Hamden marshes, the birdlife dropped off.  But, I did not see as much birdlife as I would expect when I was there during the summer either.

The Grandview swing bridge


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