Resting in Rust

February 24, 2017  •  3 Comments

Resting in Rust

By Sean R. Heavey and A.J. Etherington

Hard Time Finding the Right Tool For the JobHard Time Finding the Right Tool For the JobA shop near Opheim, Montana left sorted through over time the shop gives the appearance that the owner was looking for something in a hurry.      Sitting in stillness that is broken only by the howl of wind through aged cracked walls, the abandoned shops of Northeast Montana have been left to rest and rust. Once these shops provided the pulse for Missouri River Country’s largest industry. They grew grains and raised cattle, feeding far more people than will ever visit. These shops were a necessity serving as man caves, a place to teach children, operating rooms for precious machines, and butcher shops for worn out implements. They were without a doubt a place of great importance.

Spaced OutSpaced OutAn abandoned shop lets in a lot of light illuminating the once essential stockpile that was left behind.     Today these once essential structures lay empty. Left to crumble under the weight of their years of experience, experiences that can no longer be cataloged or rendered, but must be remembered. They tell stories of forgotten projects, bent tools, favorite seats, and valued tractors. Left frozen in time they boast of their hard work and valued status. 

Five Gallons of QwikLiftFive Gallons of QwikLiftOld oil drums sit stacked in an ald abandoned shop in Northeast Montana.

    Through time the various colors give way to the single color of rust. Robbed of purpose, and comparable to the blues suffered by people, the shop fades into a reddish state -- the color iron takes when left alone too long. The depression makes any chance of returning to work hopeless. Overcome by stiffness and bitterness, reluctantly, the shop resigns to its retirement. 

Tuning Up Ol' RedTuning Up Ol' RedAn old tractor rests under a leaky roof in this shop North of Nashua, Montana that has been left to the elements for sometime.

   To see one of these ruins of rust with your own eyes makes one wonder, “What was this place?”,  it is all but unrecognizable. Time has torn down the order of things. Rearranging the shop from a place of work into an unusable junkyard, a place for mismatched and unwanted equipment. Unable to perform their duties, and unwanted by the utilitarian nature the region demands, these rusted engines and obsolete tractors sit. The shop falls into the past, remembered only by the few who infrequently dare visit, but are welcomed all the same.

Gasket CollectionGasket CollectionA wide assortment of Gaskets hang on a shop wall in Glasgow, Montana. Belt DrivenBelt DrivenOwners of this shop used an old electric motor to automate their tool collection in Glasgow, Montana. Shop ArtShop ArtA painting of a windmill hangs amongts spare auto belts in a shop near Lustre, Montana. "Trust Your Car to the Man Who Wears the Star""Trust Your Car to the Man Who Wears the Star"A wall of oil drums sits in a shop in Glasgow, Montana adding some colorful interest. The green "T" inside the star and hexagon suggests these drums are from 1963 to 1980.

    Entering stirs dust and thoughts of long nights and busted knuckles. Trying to maintain its authenticity, you tiptoe over the ruins making sure to disturb as little as possible, moving as if the shop would awake from its sleep at a moments notice, angry at the intrusion. Treading with care you move on. Satisfied and relieved with the result of your journey, your query still rests. With peace the shop’s retirement continues, at least for a little longer.

Missing ToolsMissing ToolsA shop owners organization paints a picture of what once existed in this shop near Lustre, Montana.



Georgia Sheer(non-registered)
Beautiful photos. Last summer I saw some of the same things in the shops on my family's farms south of Opheim. Everything has a purpose! Love your photography
Shelley Freese(non-registered)
Love these! Have you been inside my great uncle Ernie Martin's Tampico shop? We always try to stop there when we are in the area.
Toni Hanson(non-registered)
Heavy, Heavey. I love this and am taking a few deep sighs.
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