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Don't quarry, everything will be alright

Posted by Jonathan Castellino / February 23, 2011

Marmora MineI find that it is often only in the depths of winter that I return to photographs from my warmer exploration jaunts. Some months ago traveling east from Toronto, myself and two other photographers headed toward a derelict iron ore mine in Marmora which has sat for years, slowly filling with water.

Today, only a few gradations remain visible, and the massive mine-head which overlooks the site sits in shambles, its metal structure and machinery well worn by years of neglect.

The area, in many ways, speaks aesthetically to both death and life. Its cool water fills what was torn away years ago (albeit only because a natural spring was unleashed during the quarrying process), and lush greenery thrives around it. The bone-like remains of industry at its peak are now nothing more than scrap -- Turkey Vultures even circle the area, drawing ominous slow curves in the sky.

Marmora MineMarmora MineIt's cool deep bath is inviting, and the entire spectacle seems almost natural. Yet upon closer inspection, one notices the human hand involved in the quarry's creation now being swallowed-up by the constant adaptation and re-inventive path and form of nature.

(I decided to use long-exposure infrared photography techniques for some of my snaps of the place, as they seem to give a more organic feel to the derelict mine...)Marmora MineSurveying the quarry itself from the height of the derelict structures above, one of my friends recalls the days when he could see the machinery at the quarry's basin (immediately dating himself). Today, very few layers remain, electrical lines traipsing into the eerily calm water...

Marmora MineMarmora MineMarmora MineMarmora Mine

Although much of the remaining structures are so far-gone they are almost transparent, we still managed to find a few nooks and crannies (and chutes) to explore...

Marmora MineMarmora MineMarmora MineUsually, the abandonments which we seek-out are hidden away behind fences and boarding, yet the buildings and machinery at this site stand prominently amidst their surroundings and the meandering picnickers, who nonchalantly saunter by it's imposing structure.

The amount of time it'll take the Marmora quarry to become fully flooded is disturbingly measurable to those who love it. The amount of time before demolition-by-neglect overtakes the industrial structures above it is fated likewise, to those who seek, and have sought its charm. While perhaps not as intricate or beautiful as many of the industrial ruins I photograph, the physical situation of the place itself alone draws me near, an eerily beautiful manufactured landscape being slowly consumed by time.

(To see the rest of the series, as well as high-res versions of the images above, you can check out my flickr slide-show below...)



Chalette Marks / February 23, 2011 at 09:07 am
Very pretty. This site was under consideration to become a landfill site; I'm glad it was skipped.
Michael / February 23, 2011 at 04:27 pm
As always, another very interesting trip to a place less traveled.

I like your style, J.
Elizabeth / February 23, 2011 at 05:04 pm
Jonathan, your pictures are absolutely beautiful. I always enjoy reading your articles and viewing your incredible pictures on BlogTO. I love the infrared technique you used, it brought an eerie sense of calm to several of the pictures. Thank you for sharing your amazing work with us all.
pdg / February 23, 2011 at 06:06 pm
The compositions are very well done, but what's with all the photoshopping??
rob / February 23, 2011 at 10:11 pm
scottd / February 23, 2011 at 10:20 pm
The entire are around there is covered with abandoned mines.
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