The Patron Saint

This was my first time touching a camera in about five months. That’s the longest I’ve ever gone without shooting. I’m not gonna bother with side stories, but I really just needed a break. I work several jobs. I have other life responsibilities that require my time and attention. I get tired. Photography has always been there for me, and it always will be — so I figured I would let it decide when it was time to call me back.

I woke up one morning in April with a dying urge to go out and shoot again. That was the call.

I’ve been watching them slowly dismantle this building over the course of the past few years. Someday they’ll finish it off. But for now, there’s enough left to shoot.

This ruined coal breaker sits in the valley of an active anthracite mine. During it’s 32-year operation, it was the largest coal breaker in the world — the size of a city block. It took 3,800 tons of steel, 10,000 cubic yards of concrete, and the relocation of half a town to bring the massive breaker to life in 1931. It was shuttered three decades later, in 1963.

There was brief consideration of turning the building into a museum, but the project would have cost tens of millions of dollars. So, it sits and rots instead, awaiting demolition.

The neighboring anthracite mine looked like another planet. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be mining that morning, but a single quarry truck kept running loads of coal back and forth. Every fifteen minutes, he rolled by, shaking the whole breaker. From up high, it looked like a rover on the moon.

These massive blenders were the size of above-ground swimming pools. I can’t imagine how loud they must have been during operation.

It was a pretty dirty shoot. My muck boots were completely caked in coal. I didn’t realize how bad until we went to lunch afterward, and I left a trail of black soot across the entire restaurant. Whoops.

The workshop is a sad testament to the decline of industry in this area. I’ve spent a lot of time out here, poking around various coal country towns. They’re full of history, but none of them ever fully recovered.

Way before I knew urban exploring was even a thing people did, I had an affinity for old factories. I love the lines and organized chaos. It’s like being lost inside an Escher drawing, and you don’t know which way is up.

As soon as I got my camera out, I realized how much I missed this. Now, I’m definitely ready to get back to shooting. Life is gonna get busy again, and wedding season starts in less than a month, but I’ll find time where I can. Cheers.

11 comments

  1. Sue

    Fabulous images, Amanda – welcome back!

  2. Wow, what a building, love the work boot shots.

  3. Love, these are spectacular, as always. But there’s something extraterrestrial about these shots. Your comparison to the Moon (re: moon rover) is interesting. These images made me think more of Mars (maybe it is the cooper-toned color of the metal).

  4. Another great set of shots – both on their own and as a contrast to how I found this place. I’m very happy to hear you are back into the Urbex saddle and hope we can get together soon for a shoot.

    • Amanda

      Thanks, Robert. I remember your shots of this one a little while back. And yes, we are due for a shoot soon.

  5. Nice to see you’re back! I really like the shot of the boots (the first one) 👍

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