06-27-12 Sadness

The remains of the Redlin farmstead north of Watertown, SD

What you see in this photo is a pile of debris in the middle of a cornfield. But what I see is much more, for this pile is all that remains of a farmstead north of Watertown, South Dakota, that had become for me a place of photographic pilgrimage.

This farmstead had an old house, a fairly large barn and two other out buildings that were part of the farming operation years ago. The buildings were subjects hundreds of photos I have taken. It was also what I called “the north studio,” because I took many of my senior portrait subjects to this location due to its wealth of good locations for pictures. More recently, I took some of my LATI photo students there to share this great location. The photos they took are likely the last photos that were taken of this South Dakota relic.

The group Kansas was right when they sang that “Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.” And so I suppose it was inevitable that an abandoned farm would be bulldozed and turned into crop land. But I feel like I’ve lost a friend. This place had an important place in my personal history and it had a soul that had become part of my soul.

But at least I have the photos. . . .

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  1. It is sad to see these structures go – that said – as a former farmgirl they are usually taken down because in their weakened state they are a hazzard or become targets for vandals, arsonists, or other troublemakers. I love the photo collection “Skeletons of the Prairie” because it contains photos of some of the abandon buildings on some land we own near Castlewood. Those buildings aren’t standing anymore but I remember playing “‘Indiana Jones” in them when I was little and seeing the pictures brings it all back.

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