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A personal blog of photography and commentary by Andrew McAllister.

Posts from the Towns Less Occupied Category

20130406_Downey_Idaho_8626In my travels I often come across cool little low road buildings that I think would make great artist studios. This one is in Downey and is a combination of a cabin with french doors and a quonset hut. Images from Google Earth show that until recently there were a few others next to it. I learned about low road buildings and how they contribute to society in Stewart Brand’s book How Building Learn. These little buildings are ephemeral and I am compelled to document them while they still exist. 
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Downey, IdahoOn my last trip to Downey I was at the tail end of a 3 day weather system that came across Northern Utah and Southern Idaho. As I was photographing the grain elevators in Downey I got the dramatic light I was hoping for. Over the span of a few minutes the light went from a cool overcast grey to super dramatic. I like both images however at some point I will have to decide which one to keep as the portfolio image.

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I would like to ask followers of Looking at the West which version of the scene they prefer and why.

Above: Almost a ghost town, Thompson Springs, Utah. I have spent a lot of time looking at this humble little house making up little stories about what happened here. This little house from another time with it’s yard clearly defined from the larger surrounding. A power pole that marks the location like it was a road side casualty. Not generally a fan of the photo cliche’ of dilapidated buildings or “Ruin Porn” I usually pass these structures by and leave them to other photographers. Something about this one…

Above: Abandoned structures in Thompson Springs. Would love to find an image of what was once here. Building on the left looks like it was used for some sort of agricultural storage. Look closely at the space between the buildings. A sealed (at one time) passage. The structure on the right looks like two buildings sharing a common front. The left one had a door and a window, the right one a door and two windows. The doors are tricky. Was the original door between the windows and then at some later time when the two fronts became one the door moved to the center and old door locations filled in? I’m probably to respectful for my own good as a I honor privet property and only shoot from the road. Next time I’m down there I’ll have to find someone who knows.

Above: Almost ghost town. Classic abandoned house next to the Desert Moon Hotel (actually a small trailer park for temporary workers that live out of campers parked there. And the Hotel is for sale if anyone is interested.

Above: Detail of the doorway mystery.

Above: Shadow portrait at the Thompson Springs Diner. The diner is pretty boring both inside and out. I thought this was the best photo for the location. Thompson Springs has a few other buildings including a Hotel with about 20 rooms (all with the doors open and full of trash and graffiti) The train depot (abandoned) and a few occupied residences. Someday I’ll return and photograph them as I’d like to meet the residents of this almost ghost town. I’m sure there are some interesting folks there.

Below: Backside of my favorite house in Thompson Springs.

 

 

 

 

 

Tremonton is a small Northern Utah town near the I-15 and I-84 split and is the last town with a built up commercial district before Idaho. It’s a place I have wanted to photograph for some time but as it turns out it is a tricky one. It has a typical Main Street that is essentially a fast moving but narrow part of the road with the usual lawyers, hardware store, storefront gym, chinese restaurant. Unlike other small towns I have posted about it lacks an ideal intersection or classic group of buildings. In my wandering about I am attracted to how old commercial buildings learn. They start as one thing, then changes are made for new uses and their appearance becomes a conglomeration of the past and present. On my first visit to photograph it was the buildings with large murals that caught my eye. The image above I really enjoy for it’s scrapbook feel and the image below for it’s understated somewhat somber feel.

Areas like the one below are usually my first stop. They have so much going on and give clues to the economic reality of the downtown. In this case I would say things look good (lack of trash or graffiti, windows still functional etc.). The harsh midday sun makes a cool shadow of the dish mounted on the wall. The neat cluster of objects around the window. The two doors so close to one another and the three strong verticals and the collection wires that make a mess of an otherwise ordered area. Great location.

Lastly we have Main Street and a huge featureless brick wall. There are a few other building that I did not photograph that have potential. One is a huge old Sinclair station with a large neon sign, plate glass windows and an old style canopy. Tremonten is close enough to Logan so I’m sure I’ll be exploring and photographing it some more.

Found this little town during one of my recent explorations of Northern Utah. A one stop sign town with a mostly nice commercial district. Few places to actually stop into but many buildings seem occupied to some extent (a good thing). Garland was a company town based around the Utah Sugar Company. A brief history can be found on the Garland Utah website.

Above: a tractor at the main intersection in Garland, Utah. The yellow brick commercial building has signage that suggests that the Bank of Garland was once the occupant.

Above: mural showing the Utah Sugar Company building. Much of the complex has been removed though the smokestack remains.

Above: nicely maintained yellow brick commercial building. Looks to be fully occupied, a good thing for the life of a building and the downtown in general.

One of my first excursions when I moved to Cache Valley was a visit to Preston, Idaho. A famous place here in the valley as it was the setting for the film Napoleon Dynamite. Upon arrival from the south one of the first things you see is a large grey tin sided grain elevator. I liked this one because it looked so humble. Logan has a few and they look somewhat industrial though at a much smaller scale than those seen on I-15 in Ogden. In the afternoon, the time I’m usually in Preston, the grain elevator is back lit and thus I had not photographed it on my first few visits. This past January I was testing a perspective control lens that I had rented for a job and thought this grain elevator would make a great subject. A little over a month later the grain elevator caught fire.

Video clip linked from Youtube user hullhollyjo.

Technical info: Top image captured with the Nikon D300s and 24mm PC-E lens (from Borrowlenses.com), post fire images D300s and 45mm PC-E lens. Processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.