photography from the ground up

A New (Old) World

I have been exploring the area in and around the Rio Puerco Valley for years and I think I’ve driven just about every road out there. But, there is one that had escaped me until recently. I had driven past it many times, but had always assumed that it was a private road leading to a ranch that could be seen in the distance.

That’s what I get for making assumptions. I recently had reason to study a map of the area for a totally unrelated reason, and discovered that the road in question continued on well past the ranch in a long loop that returned to the main road via a BLM road that I am familiar with.

So, this past Sunday we set out to explore what is identified on the map as the Empedrado Wilderness (it’s actually a Wilderness Study Area which means it is being considered for wilderness status). Well, one of the first things I realized is that for a wilderness, there sure is a lot of human impact, both abandoned and ongoing. Of course the former captured my attention.

This stone ruin is perched on the edge of Torreon Wash and if the steep banks continue to deteriorate, it will soon be a pile of rubble lying in the wash. There is something about these recent ruins that touches me. I see the abandoned hopes and dreams of people who were probably toiling here in my lifetime and who may still come to these places to watch those dreams decay.

A little farther along we found this water system that, at first, looked as though it could still be in working order, but upon closer inspection it was found to be, dried up, broken and rusting away.

Just around the next bend in the road is an old school bus that is filled with what could be mistaken for building materials. Most of the insulation has become nests for the pack-rats, and other small animals that have laid claim to the bus.

After the first five miles or so, the evidence of human endeavor began to dwindle and the place began to look more like a wilderness. We drove on for another ten miles making note of areas of interest for future exploration. Then, after turning on to the BLM road that leads back to our starting point, I stopped to make this image of an ephemeral New Mexico rain falling over Cabezon Peak.

24 responses

  1. My kind of trip! Great Pictures


    July 31, 2012 at 10:04 am

    • Thanks. We were flying by the seat of our pants so to speak, but it’s like that any time we explore something new.


      July 31, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      • Yes and it is so much more rewarding when there is something historical when you get there. I am an avid 4×4 er myself and love seeing places like this. Happy Trails!


        July 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm

  2. These are superb. Smashing photographs.


    July 31, 2012 at 10:35 am

  3. Gorgeous. Never, ever fails to amaze & intrigue me this feeling for abandoned stuff, houses, cars, whatever, and isn’t it also amazing how we can discover new things in places we know well. I imagine that that happens much more frequently in the US, because it’s so vast, but even on a small island it happens!


    July 31, 2012 at 10:45 am

    • It certainly helps to make life more interesting. For the longest time, I would not include anything man-made in my photography; now more than half of my images include some human element.


      July 31, 2012 at 12:40 pm

  4. very dramatic and great contrast 🙂


    July 31, 2012 at 10:25 pm

  5. Beautifully dynamic and powerful contrast. Great!


    August 1, 2012 at 1:50 am

  6. Beautiful images! That car looks a lot like my old Datsun B210. It would be interesting to learn the story behind how it got there.


    August 1, 2012 at 7:22 am

    • I was wondering about that. It is near an abandoned homestead, so I assume it was driven out by the people who were living there and then it broke down. But, who knows for sure?


      August 1, 2012 at 7:58 am

  7. Amazing images! I absolutely love the feeling I get when I come across abandoned houses, cars etc..The uncontrollable thoughts take you to what happened? & instantly I want to know the history..Amazing great work.


    August 5, 2012 at 7:58 am

    • Thank you. As many times as I go to these places–and there are many of them, I never loose that wonder about the people who lived there.


      August 5, 2012 at 8:20 am

  8. bpntrp

    Awesome photos! Thank you for taking time to read my post ‘Grandmother’s are just Great’ and liking it. Your blogs look great and I will be following you Jim. Smiles..


    August 6, 2012 at 7:49 am

  9. flytrapjournals

    Wow amazing pictures, great job!


    August 21, 2012 at 8:07 am

    • Thank you. I’m lucky to live in a place where there are plenty of amazing areas to photograph.


      August 21, 2012 at 8:17 am

  10. Incredible pics. Many of them I would easily put on my wall


    August 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm

  11. This series certainly has that WOW factor! Will definitely visit again from time to time!


    October 28, 2012 at 4:05 am

  12. 80metres

    Wow, I love this set! Really lovely frames…would be a great setting for a film! :o)


    March 16, 2013 at 2:04 pm

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