Trap Rock Industries once had 3 sites in operation in Central New Jersey. Today, the quarry in Rocky Hill/Kingston is in full swing while the other two out near the Delaware River are closed. All three operations had direct rail service connections at some time in the past but they’re now long gone. The infrastructure is still in place in Lambertville and Hopewell, with the former last used around 1998 and the latter much longer ago. The old rail access line leading into the closed quarry site at Hopewell is heavily overgrown and has clearly been out of use for decades. Based on my experience photographing and researching abandoned railroads it looks to be at least 40 years since a train rumbled over the bridge and down the right of way, having been long ago replaced by truck transport.
Why am I interested in these things?
As far as photography goes I began this type of work in graduate school for my MFA, where we also had to write extensively about our work so I got used to photographing and writing. It also comes from my penchant for history and photographing historic subjects in the field. Someone needs to document these things in the landscape for posterity…that’s my thought and it’s just ‘what I do.’
I also love the mystique of abandoned railroads. There’s so much to wonder about when you see an old set of rails or a decaying iron truss bridge that hasn’t seen a train in years. It’s almost like a ghost story. That, coupled with my photographic specialization in industrial subjects, compels me to produce such pictures.
Photograph what interests you.
Dive into your interests through your photography and make return visits to your favorite subjects to make more pictures. And, as one of my mentors told me years ago, shoot what’s available to you. Do research to inform yourself and your writing. Keep a journal and post the work to your blog, website and social media. You’ll start to develop a style and through the recursive process of photographing and editing, your pictures will get better. Invite critique from peers and friends.
It’s worth the effort and you’ll find it very fulfilling.
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