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Looking for leather, finding a flood

04/20/2015

The Sebasticook River blasts through town like a severed sewer main as it drains one of the snowiest winters on record in Hartland, Maine.

Hartland is a tiny town built around a huge tannery plant – and no leather surplus store.

Jen and I caravaned with the neighbors deep into middle Maine Saturday. The neighbors needed cheap leather for a moccasin project; Jen and I just wanted to see the countryside.

But instead of cheap leather and county views, we learned the tannery closed its surplus store years ago and Hartland looks more like Cleveland if Lake Erie sprang a leak.

Being from the midwest where grain elevators are the biggest things in a small town, I’m always startled by the heavy industry that sprawls along the river banks in some rural Maine communities. Most are mill towns and, sadly, business has abandon many of these old factories.

But the Hartland tannery seemed to be holding on against the flood of cheap imports, aging infrastructure and tougher environmental regulation. Barely.

I’d like to do a photo series of the rural Maine industrial complex.

I think I’d call it: Detroit, Maine.

Here’s a couple pictures from Hartland:

Smokestacks and silos along the Sebasticook River in Hartland, Maine

Smokestacks and silos along the Sebasticook River in Hartland, Maine

 

Tannery doorway.

Tannery doorway.

 

 

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