Alan Barton
30-Apr-2005, 08:49
A couple of us will be spending the weekend shooting in/around Scranton, PA in May. Any suggestions on locations for "industrial decay" either in the city or in small towns nearby?



30-Apr-2005, 09:23
Centralia, where the coal has been burning underground for 25 years. Watch where you step.

Robert A. Zeichner
30-Apr-2005, 09:26
Don't slip while you are there. Someone lost a load of 10,000 lbs. of bananas!

Daniel Grenier
30-Apr-2005, 09:56
"Someone lost a load of 10,000 lbs of bananas!"....... and didn't Harry Chapen spend a week there one afternoon?

Back to subject matter: Years ago I was there and the world's biggest (car) scrap yard was there in Scranton witha million+ dead cars (if memory serves me well). Not sure what's there now but you have a tresure trove if you want wrecks.

Have fun

Terence McDonagh
30-Apr-2005, 10:26
If it was the scrap yard just south of the city and west of Rt 81 it's gone.

Steamtown Railroad Museum is right in downtown. The indoor part of the museum is a little boring but they let you walk through the storage tracks holding the locos and cars to be restored. Also, they have a tour of the repair shop that was excellent the time I did it. Bring a monopod if you have it as the tour guides tend to move through a little too fast for a tripod, and the lighting is fairly dim.

Across the street from Steamtown is an old boarded up railroad freighthouse worthy of a shot or two. Down the street the old Lackawanna station and hotel are now a Radisson. The platform here is where David Plowden took a famous nuight shot of a passenger train loading up.

Most of the serious "blight" (I prefer the term photogenic buildings) have been torn down or cleaned up. I believe all of the old nearby coal breakers have been torn down. I can't remember the route number, but the highway heading SW towards Wilkes Barre had some abandoned structures, but I haven't been down that way in 6 years. There were also some towering culm piles, giving a sort of lunar landscape.

Another interesting spot is Olde Good Things, which is a NYC based architectural salvage company who has a warehouse in Scranton, about a half mile to downtown. They always have fascinating parts of old NYC buildsing that have been torn down. 20' tall clock faces, 30' stained glass windows, etc. When I was there a couple months ago they had a five foot tall frieze lining both sides of their 200' driveway. Lots and lots of cool stuff. Again the inside is a little dark. I believe their website is Oldegoodthings.com but the "good" might be "goode". Very friendly people. Ironic that I live in NYC but go to Scranton to photograph our old buildings.

Jim Rhoades
30-Apr-2005, 15:22
Terence has it right. The best place for photo-ops is in Steamtown. A few years back Steve Simmons got a bunch of us into the repair shop for about four hours without escort. We were allowed to shoot anything, anywhere, what a fab place. Even restricted to the public areas you can shoot yourself dry. I was using a 6x12 with 65mm. lens. The place crys for a wide angle.

fred arnold
30-Apr-2005, 19:54
Right along the PA turnpike, near where the second entry from I-81 is, there's an enormous pile of tailings and overburden that has always intrigued me as I drove by.

For proper decay, come an hour north to Binghamton/Johnson City. We have all you could want. Nice victoriana, good mountains, the old EJ shoe factory, and the Arches put up by the grateful employees in better days.

1-May-2005, 09:18
I second Steamtown. Also, their steam locomotive excursions offer some nice picture opportunities. They begin on Memorial Day weekend and run through October. The train leaves from Scranton and ends in Moscow, PA. You can follow the train's route closely by taking Rt. 435 East out of Scranton.

Terence McDonagh
1-May-2005, 09:34
If you do get tired of Scranton Binghampton is indeed a good hunting ground. I took one of my favorite pictures at what was then an almost abandoned railroad bridge across the Susquehanna beside a power plant west of downtown off of Rt 17 (or whatever they call it now). Last time I visited though the overgrowth had been cut down and the rails were shiny with use. Not that I walked out on the bridge before, but security goons tend to hassle you less over abandoned bridges than active ones.

The rail yard in downtown Binghampton has some good shots as well, despite the dang chainlink fence they put up on the bridge over the yard. Some great warehouses at the north end of the yard. Just west of the yard is a fantastic lenticular truss bridge restored a few years ago. And the Art Deco Greyhound Station has a few good seedy shots in it too.

Another not-too-far-away option is Susquehanna, NE of Scranton. Take Rt 81 north to Rt 171 and head east. South of downtown Susquehanna is another great railroad bridge, also active. If you park west of town and hike over towards the bridge from the south you'll find an old Erie Lackawanna coal tower for fueling steam locos (unless they've torn it down recently). It's about 150-175 feet tall. If you time it right you can get a train coming through its arches. Head north from downtown towards Lanesboro and you'll find the Starrucca Viaduct, one of the largest stone arch bridges in the country (world?) It's a couple hundred feet tall and maybe a quarter mile long. Susquehanna used to have a locomotive shop but it was torn down years ago and the site is now a small shopping center.