David Plowden

PART II






Plowden still talking:

It seems I have made a career of being one step ahead of the wrecking ball. I have been beset with a sense of urgency to record those parts of our heritage which seem to be receding as quickly as the view from the rear of a speeding train. I fear that we are eradicating the evidence of our past accomplishments so quickly that in time we may well lose the sense of who we are.

A steel mill! There's nothing more photographable than a steel mill. There's nothing more terrifying than being in a steel mill. If you've been in a steel mill; you know what hell is like! Absolutely terrifying! And yet, at the same time, these men who work there are intensely proud ... These people are heroic. The locomotive engineer, the farmer who is out pitting himself against the weather and against the goddamn bugs and everything else all the time - to me they're much more interesting than the guy making the money sitting behind a desk.

These shapes, these oil refineries and steel mills are on a scale almost as vast as the Grand Canyon. These are awesome creations, symbolic of the energy of this country, symbolic of the kinds of things we do best.

... the air was smokey, a hopeful sign there for it meant that times were good, there were jobs.

Since the beginning, Americans have raced toward the horizon: building, rebuilding, and discarding. All across America we have left abandoned, like carcasses after the feast, that which only yesterday was state-of-the-art invention.

Although I haven't photographed a locomotive since 1963, I have never gotten the railroads out of my system.


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