Thursday, October 8, 2009

Harvest States

Back in late September of 2006, I traveled to Minnesota for the first time. My plane landed just after sundown, the sky to the west had turned a rich, deep red color. I was excited, as I had never been to Minnesota before, and it had been quite a few years since I had traveled anywhere new. I had done quite a bit of research on the Twin Cities in the weeks preceding my trip, and had a good idea of what places I wanted to see and visit.

On the ride from the airport to my hotel downtown, (I stayed at the graves|601 hotel... easily one of the coolest hotels I've ever stayed in.) I glanced out the window to my right, and saw the grain elevator in the photograph above. (Try to imagine it in fading twilight.)

Harvest States.

I had no idea what "Harvest States" was, (it's a division of the Cenex Corporation) but that sign painted on a grain elevator that sits next to Hiawatha Avenue was the first real indication I had that I was someplace that was very different from my life on the east coast. It was the first visible sign that I was no longer in the heart of America's industrial core, but was now firmly in the agricultural midwest.

Being from Buffalo, NY grain elevators were nothing new to me, in fact, for a short time, Buffalo was the flour milling center of the world, not Minneapolis. But times changed, and the title shifted to the Twin Cities which made sense, being situated on the Mississippi River, and closer to where most of the grain was actually grown after all.

On subsequent trips here from New York, the Harvest States grain elevator, and Archer Daniels Midland elevator and milling complex on Hiawatha Avenue in South Minneapolis, along with the mammoth abandoned Gold Medal and Pillsbury flour mills downtown became icons that represented Minnesota to me. Those of you who have had the opportunity to look through my photographic portfolio have noticed and commented on my "Minnesota Phase", and my attempts to find the artistic beauty in the grain mills, bins, and elevators that dot the states landscape. For a couple of years, I was obsessed with documenting every angle I could of the Gold Medal Mill, day, night, color, black & white, rain or shine... I'm still not happy with my results. Maybe over the winter, I'll venture down that way and try my luck again. (yes, I've added a picture of the Gold Medal Mill at the bottom of this page so those of you who haven't looked at my portfolio can see what I've been obsessing about.)

I took a detour from my errands today to take the above photo of the Harvest States elevator this afternoon.

As I stood in a McDonalds parking lot on Hiawatha Avenue focusing my camera on the sign, for just a brief moment, I felt the excitement of my first visit to someplace new.

It's amazing how something inanimate and meaningless to most can have such a profound effect on an individual.

See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. You might be interested to know that William Brown has written a whole book about grain elevators, and that there is a whole chapter dedicated to Buffalo, NY. It's called "American Colossus: the Grain Elevator, 1843 to 1943," published by Colossal Books, and available through Amazon.