Valves, Metal Can, Daylight (B&W)

Near Dawson, YT (Artist Statement)

Valves, Metal Can, Daylight (B&W): Near Dawson, YT, Canada (2010) - Fine art black and white photograph showing a petrol can inside the remains of an ancient excavator

By the gravel landing strip for a new Yukon mining interest sat a piece of history: this dragline excavator dating to the early Klondike. Manufactured in 1858, the unit had been shipped up the Yukon River from California in pieces. Now abandoned, it holds fascination for the rare passers-by who inspect its wooden treads and its massive open air engine room. In an act of daring, an agile bush pilot had hung a windsock from the tip of its mast.

My crew and I heard by radio that our plane would be late. I passed the time by clambering into the open window of the operator's cabin with my camera. The room was as it must have been 100 years before: pipes and steam valves, long metal levers, a massive coal-fired engine, the faint whiff of gold that always seemed to hang in the air. I wondered if anyone ever fell from the operator's stool into the giant gnash of gears or scalded themselves on the open plumes of steam.

This fuel can was rusted onto the steel casing it had been sitting on for decades. A hundred years younger than the machine, it looked as comfortable as the generations of miners did: hardy, weather-beaten, and forever in the shadow of the fantastic wealth hidden in the hills.

— Valves, Metal Can, Daylight (B&W): Near Dawson, YT, Canada (2010)

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© Mark Raymond Mason

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