Echoes of the Past: Abandoned Photography

Wheel Spins No More at Paper Service Mill in Ashuelot, NH.

Linda Jane has photographed hundreds of abandoned places in more than a dozen states. Her images reveal the beauty of decay and the mystery of what people left behind. Many of the spaces rose and fell when handcrafting was valued. Heavy, carved doors, arched windows, stained glass, soaring ceilings, and forged fixtures remain after many years.

She asks, “Why did businesses leave old ledgers and correspondence? Where are the students whose report cards are scattered on the classroom floor? Wasn’t it necessary to pass on the patient X-rays and medical records that are still in the file cabinets? Questions without answers.”

Take the former Paper Service mill in her childhood hometown of Ashuelot, New Hampshire, her most recent focus. The mill was owned and operated by one family for more than 100 years, and survived many large storms, such as the hurricane of 1938.

In 2005, flooding from Tropical Storm Tammy destroyed the mill, which had operated since 1883 (and around which the town grew). The owners of the Lower Robertson Dam in Ashuelot mishandled the situation, she says. The floodgates and the stop logs weren’t pulled. If the water had been redirected, it would have helped prevent water damage to the mill.

Now the life of the mill, its demise, and its remains are the subject of Jane’s upcoming book, “Dark Waters: The Rise and Fall of Paper Service Ltd.,” which will be available late in 2017.

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