A very happy Monday morning to you. I would hope you are looking forward to a very productive week no matter what your time is focused on!
A few weeks back, after instructing at a photographic workshop in Illinois, I had the opportunity to head to St. Louis for fours days of shooting and touring with one of the other instructors, Mr. Michael Green. St. Louis, with its large industrial history has become one of my favorite towns to visit and shoot in. There are a number of old buildings both in and out of the city that make for a very interesting photographic tour.
On this day, our road-tripping bucket list was the abandoned Armour Meat Packing Plant. In its heyday, Armour employed over 4,500 people, prepping and processing cows and pigs that came through from the nearby stockyards. The plant even offered guided tours of its slaughterhouse and processing lines to curious visitors. The plant was closed in 1959 and has slowly fallen into decay from the last 50 years of non-activity. Today, the once thriving facility sits in utter ruin.
As abandon locations go, the Armour Plant has become legendary for photographers seeking to capture a perspective of industrial history that now sits in total decay. Floors and ceilings have disappeared and machines sit in ruin from years of neglect as testament to a once thriving community that has passed them by. The facility is totally encased in a blanket of foliage that would make it difficult to find if it were not for it’s two smoke stacks that tower over the building and act as beacons to assist in finding the location. Visiting a location of this type and magnitude is not without it’s challenges. You just never know what you might find and there is a certain amount to danger associated with traversing. You are forewarned of the potential hazards by the many “no trespassing” signs that indicate visitors are not welcomed.
On day one of our two-day adventure we likened ourselves to modern day explorers wandering through a maze of visual opportunities. We would have liked to think we were the first to find this jewel but we knew many had made the photographic journey before us. Our enthusiasm and excitement for the location provided us with ample determination to return for a second day of exploration, ignoring the signs of no trespassing for the risk of further visual gain.
With model in hand we made our way back for day two of what was to be another day of magical accomplishment. Of course all fairy tales do not always end with a positive tale. As we settled in for what was to be an exceptional day of shooting, our journey was abruptly ended with the appearance of a police officer tasked with finding the intruders in the vast array of ruin. To say the least he was not very happy with the assignment and expressed his displeasure with phrases that included “impounding cars and incarceration” for our journey into the abyss of this jewel of ruins. As we were escorted out my biggest concern was protecting the imagery we had shot that day and the potential of not wanting to incriminate myself for any additional photographic transgressions. Once we were “checked out” and found not be terrorists, felons or thieves he gave us every plausible reason for not being there including the fact that we had parked directly next to one of the many “no trespassing” signs. As he scorned us with the proverbial, do not make me come back here, he finished by saying, “Listen I get it, if I were a photographer I would be ignoring the signs to come in and capture the ruins!” At least for us, that was some affirmation that all was not lost and that the potential risk was worth the gain! I’m sure we will attempt to go back one day and just do a better job of hiding our presence. ENJOY!!!!!
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Best Regards …..
~ dennis keim ~