My exploration of the west is not that of a grand vacation or sponsored trek to some exotic location but one of many small trips to locations starting close to home and moving gradually farther away. It starts out with an idea for a photography project or a curiosity about a certain area. Following that I spend some quality time with a paper atlas and then some snooping around on google earth. My visits to Malad City Idaho so far have been for two different projects. The first is my exploration of commercial blocks in small towns the second is a more focused project documenting grain silos in the area as the exist in 2013. Above: Profile view of grain silo’s in Malad, Idaho.
Above: Silo structures in Malad City, Idaho. The square silo building in the foreground is a wooden structure clad in tin. If you look closely you can read that at one time it was a part of General Mills. The tin siding takes a beating in the wind and a large section has been recently replaced. Notice the letter “M” on the hillside. A very small skunk crossed the road while I was photographing the scene above. Though not visible in this frame it was fun to watch.
In my exploration of small western towns I have taken notice of these really cool western murals. Many are fading badly and I hope someone out there is keeping the tradition alive.
I love it when I find buildings like these. The Thomas Electric Furniture building looks majestic compared to the Hotpoint building. When I see building like the one on the left I can only wonder what they were like when they were first built. All those windows on the top floor must have let in so much light. Was it storage, a workshop a residence? If I am there on a day they are open I’ll have to ask.
Department Store in Malad City. This is an interesting grouping of buildings. The building on the left is actually a wedge shape on the intersection. the building that says CO-OP BLOCK actually wraps around it with entrances on two different streets. Though now all connected notice the 3 different window dimensions. Also notice that when the original windows were replaced they used off the shelf solutions instead of keeping the curved top window. Lastly notice the faces at the top and the ornamental metalwork and the photographer (me) reflected in the window by the door.
Bikers out on a Sunday drive pass through Malad City Idaho. Visible from this angle you can see the other side of the CO-OP BLOCK building and how it wraps around to the other street. The red building is the Oneida Pioneer Museum
Lots of interesting (and gross) things can be found by walking a towns alleys. In Malad City I was fascinated by this small red building behind what was a ZCMI building. A classic low-road building that I am amazed is still standing.
Lastly another silo structure with a few features I am wondering about. The tanks have a coating or insulation that I have not seen on other silos and the head house on the two silos on the right is unlike ones I have seen before. Notice the letter “M” on the hillside on the right.
On 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.
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.
Downtown Downey Idaho April 2012. Two classic brick structures define the main intersection of this small farming town (population 613) in southern Idaho.
Old Downey Theater sign says “opening soon Laurel and Hardies.” The two story structure is called Hyde Block and it houses the town’s market It features an ad for Mountaineer Overalls with Stop Loss pockets.
The best image from the shoot includes a dilapidated two-story building, a grain elevator, a bar with a log cabin facade, and a variety of other single-story buildings.
Cunningham Implement and Downey Lumber bathed in orange street light.