Getting Lost #2: Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S.A.

Reclamation

One Saturday afternoon I decided to go for a walk in the city I used to live in, Lynchburg, Commonwealth of Virginia, and I came across a meandering hiking trail in a park that was once a mill. I took along my Canon Rebel t5i  camera, and my Canon 15-55mm lens, and after a few miles in, I came across an abandoned building. I snapped this digital still using the vivid option and put that on medium. I used my mid-telescopic lens for the reason of its  ability to shoot wide angles. The original picture  had graffiti all over it; an unfortunate part of city living, and the original read, “Slut Lives Matter” So I went to the post-processing. I spot-healed out the graffiti, adjusted curves and colors, select-edited parts of the picture, de-hazed it, reduced noise, and sharpened the image. 

What I love about getting lost in cities is that I don’t have to leave my region to find beautiful pictures. For example, this building that I came across has a story to tell, and as a photographer, I desire to tell that story in the best way possible. I believe in the old saying that, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ However, is that the end of the story, or should my job not only be to capture the words in a digital still, but also to tell its story? I think the job of a blogger is to do just that: capture the still and tell its story.

This building I took the picture of is next to another old one which is now owned and operated by the proprietor of the company The Cottage Stillroom wholesalers of hand-poured beeswax candles. I got off the trail and onto Cabell St. and saw the front of it and what it looked like.  Going back to the trail I snapped the picture above and am proud on the details I can convey to you all.

Looking at the building I can tell that it was originally built before 1850 A.D. during a time in which Lynchburg was a hub of production. One can tell the age of this building by looking at her brick. The brick is both warped and of different sizes in length. Brick was hand-molded before 1850 when the Industrial Era began to be mass produced.  From grain to shoes, to leather; Lynchburg was bustling. Imagine the smells incurred from all the different factories rolling out their products! Surely, it must had been overwhelming to the senses! The buildings are located just a couple of yards away from Blackwater Creek which in the earlier years had been used as a dumping site for waste products. Both of these factories had been constructed on a old railway, one of many, since Lynchburg was a central hub for railway transfers.

Looking upon the window you can see it was constructed with wood set with a mortar made of concrete and clay. Wooden frames for windows have been in use since the 13th Century A.D. and were stopped in use only as recent as the 1970’s. Nowadays, you can design a modern house in the old-style using wooden framed windows. A sort of old-meets-new feel. So, just by looking at the details, you can see the age in the building! Looking more closely, you can see behind the iron rebar’s a complete wooden frame subdivided into equal four quadrants.  This is very typical of a window that was never meant to open, but to allow natural light in, and this is relevant by the shards of broken, single pane glass. The rebar drilled into the wood is also mid-1850’s when steel rebar was used to reinforce concrete and other structures. Iron had been traditionally used to protect windows.

The next thing I noticed was the beautiful plant growing up the brick wall, and wrapping itself in the rebar. While Europe has inns and taverns that are covered in foliage, and had been for centuries, it is not so common here in the States. To see this plant grow up so far off the ground I know it had been grown for at least five years. However, it wasn’t about its growth that sparked my mind. It was the idea of reclamation. When looking at the dilapidated state of the building, it’s many holes, and tears, and plant life; I can see nature in the process of reclaiming the land that this once proud factory sits upon.

In conclusion, I was drawn to take this picture without thought. I can’t explain how and all I know it the feeling I had-peace mixed with nostalgia. For some reason, being the only person out and about on this trail, no voice except those of nature, and walking into the shade of the trees and buildings had an effect upon me. Looking back upon it now I suppose the unspoken voice of this scene is what called out to me as if to say, “Hey buddy, I’m here! I am resolute, old, and I’ve seen better times. Please don’t forget about me” And, to me, it’s what history is about-the duty we all share to tell the stories of these voices long silenced or nonexistent; silenced by years separated and bygone eras. Now get up, get out, and inspire your adventure!

“…For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through our patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope”~ The Apostle Paul in Romans 15:4, K.J.V.

God bless,

-Anthony

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