Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More Laramie Refinery

Building ruin at the Midwest Refinery in Laramie, 2012
(Click photos to make larger)

I continue to obsess about photographing the refinery ruin on Laramie's West Side.  The site, which I blogged about a few weeks ago, is destined for cleanup beginning next summer, and I want to spend some time there before it becomes a reclaimed field.  I've also poked around on the net trying to find out more about it.  As it turns out, it was only used as an oil refinery from about 1920-1932.  After that it was used for other things (yttrium?).  The UW Heritage Center has some photos in its collection of the site and of people that worked there (I'll post one below) from the Ludwig-Svenson collection.  

From a photography standpoint, the site has great potential that I haven't figured out how to realize.  I plan to make regular visits to see what evolves.  Sometimes getting one good photo of a place requires going there 10 times to experiment, slowly moving towards some image that you don't see until the 11th trip.  Maybe that will happen here.  In the meantime, it's a fun place to explore and a good excuse to be out with the camera in the winter.

The other day when I was there, a group of about four kids, probably junior high school age, showed up and were climbing around in the ruins, unperturbed by the guy with his camera or the protruding rebar.  I simultaneously imagined how much I would have enjoyed this unambiguously dangerous place as a kid and how much I hoped as a parent that my daughter Bei would never do that.  

Workers at the Laramie Midwest Refinery, 1928.  From the Ludwig-Svenson collection at the UW Heritage Center.   I wonder if any of  their children still live in Laramie?  This was 84 years ago.

Art or graffiti?  I'd say the former.

Floor of main building, Laramie refinery.

Graffiti or art?  Main building.

Refinery art.  No doubt about it.

Ruins, Laramie refinery.

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