Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Destroyed Blue Mountain Mall

First, I apologize for the formatting issue. Google needs to fix it or I need to learn more HTML.....

So after I shot and posted the previous post about the train, my friend Andrew told me about his favorite podcast: Stuff You Should Know from with Josh & Chuck. I gave them a listen and at first wasn't sure if I wanted to keep listening, but after a couple episodes, I started to really like the show hosts and the topics they reviewed. I had probably listened to about 10 episodes when I came across their episode "What are Urban Explorers". Obviously, it's about urban exploration, which is exploring old buildings, underground tunnels, etcetera, that are generally off limits to the public. It’s Funny how things work out since I just did it a week earlier. Josh & Chuck got me thinking about what places in my city would be good candidates for exploration. Unfortunately, there aren't many places in Walla Walla to explore, but it suddenly occurred to me that I have been wondering what it was like inside the old Blue Mountain Mall site that has been just sitting there for so long. I had a day free, so I walked down to the mall and walked along the fence until I saw a “no trespassing” sign. I then decided that I didn’t want to be a true urban explorer if I were to get fined or arrested, so I pulled out the camera and started taking pictures from behind the fence. I came around a corner where the “go zone” ended where it became off-limits. Suddenly, I heard a voice yell, “HEY!” from a distance, but originating from inside the mall. He was a construction guy of some kind and seemed like he must be in charge. The sudden loud voice could only logically be followed by my own internal monologue largely consisting of scared profanity – then I had to decide whether to walk slowly away around the corner or to face the guy and claim I was doing nothing wrong…I was, after all, behind the fence! He had started from 100 or more yards away and was closing in now. My mind was now calculating and simulating every possible negative scenario when out of the silence came, “are you Brett?” I nearly laughed in relief. I briefly explained to the guy about what I was doing there and he instantly invited me in and basically told me to shoot to my heart’s content. “Phew” I thought. “This couldn’t have turned out better.” So I trudged through the rubble and continued to shoot for a while, excited to be in this disaster, and also relieved that I got to be here with authorization. There are a few shots here that are from similar angles, but I included them anyway because I couldn’t decide which ones I liked better.  Please click on the pictures to view the high resolution images.

Friday, March 18, 2011

 I was driving around town the other day and noticed that the railroad around town was completely filled with freight cars, but they were mostly the ones used for hauling lumber. I didn't find them to be too interesting, but then I came across a section of tracks that had about five passenger cars parked on it. I had asked my friend Doug to come with me the first time I went there, but he couldn't make it. I was a little creeped out when I was taking the first round of pictures, but then things got worse when I started hearing noises from the train. I was alone with two cameras in the middle of nowhere in the perfect place for people to be hiding out. Needless to say, I got out of there as soon as I got some quick pics from the outside of the train.
The next week, Doug came with me. He turned out to be many orders braver than me. He climbed into the train and checked the area for stowaways before we took the pictures that we so badly wanted to take. These pictures are only from the first three cars. The last two cars had the windows welded shut with sheet metal over the door leading to them was only slightly ajar and even gave Doug the feeling that he should stay out. We got through taking pics just as we started consistently hearing suspicious noises from the back end of the train. We promptly exited the train and walked back to my car, glancing nervously over our shoulders the whole way. I've never been so glad to get away from a "photo shoot". Hope you like them.