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Resting in Rust

By Sean R. Heavey and A.J. Etherington

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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