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Sep-25-2010 18:32printcomments

Your City USA visits Thomas Kay Woolen Mill at Mission Mill

To see, to learn, to understand takes time. It's the job of the photographer as it is the painter to slow the eye down, to highlight what might otherwise be missed.

Mission Mill - Wollen Mill Sized
By Glen Bledsoe

(SALEM, Oregon) - I've spent a lot of time in factories. I worked five years at U. S. Steel in Gary, Indiana, and I know what hell-on-earth looks like. Belching fires, choking vapors, behemoth machines and rough men. What wasn't painted safety-yellow was encrusted in orange rust. The mills were so vile that weeds wouldn't grow.

The Thomas Kay Woolen Mill at Mission Mill in Salem couldn't be more different. Spinning wool even at an industrial scale is nothing like refining iron into steel. Instead this museum shows complex machinery painted fresh and smelling faintly of oil. This is a representation of craftsmanship, not mass production. The machines of the mill, of course, are no longer in use except as a reminder of the past. If you want to visit a mill still in operation you must go to Pendleton.

The museum consists of two floors--each one long room. You could race through in ten minutes as I saw families do. It took me almost two and a half hours and still I felt as if there was much more I could have photographed. To see, to learn, to understand takes time. It's the job of the photographer as it is the painter to slow the eye down, to highlight what might otherwise be missed.

I hope you enjoy these pictures, and I hope they inspire you to visit the museum on your own.

Your City USA Images are now posted in the Gallery as well Your City USA Gallery

Glen Bledsoe, writer, photographer, cartoonist, magician was born and raised in Indiana. He graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago for several years. Glen made his home in Oregon in the early 80's where he continues to enjoy the mild climate and lack of sales tax.

He and his wife Karen have published seventeen books together for the school library market. Glen has written extensively on the issues of technology and education for the National Education Association and has penned other Salem-News publications including The Benny & Sid series, "The Truant Officer" (a serialized graphic novel), "The Insidious Futoko," and "The Hummer." His novel The Charity of Ebenezer Scrooge is available on and at better bookstores everywhere.

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New Yorker May 16, 2011 5:34 am (Pacific time)

Very true and rare talent to see and express the realities of our lives so honestly. Enjoyed the photos and the writing.

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