The communities of rural Oregon have traditionally been dependent upon natural resources, especially timber; generations of young men have followed their fathers into the woods and into the mills. However, this once-dominant segment of the economy has declined significantly, and though the root causes of such change are extremely complex (and controversial) there is no denying the impact felt on the rural areas.
Anyone who has lived in a mill town (be it a sawmill, pulp or paper mill, steel mill, whatever), or who has studied these matters from an economic or cultural/sociological perspective, realizes what happens when the mill closes its doors…The ripple effect felt throughout the community is devastating: unemployment and poverty rates skyrocket, families struggle to survive, retailers and other businesses suffer, local tax revenues decrease drastically, service organizations strain to meet the burgeoning needs of their constituents, etc... And there are no easy answers and no quick fixes to these types of situations.
The following photographs reflect the decline in Oregon’s
timber industry: herein are mills working at a fraction of their capacity,
mill closures, mill demolition, and the bone yards and detritus of decades
of logging. (note: This is part 1 of a two-part article for Polar Inertia;
the next installment will detail a modern working pulp mill)