D4 Industrial Brownhoist. Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, Vallejo, California. November 7, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
A massive ship yard hoist at night, Mare Island Naval Ship Yard
Among the iconic structures at the historic Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, these huge, movable hoists are possibly the most visible and the best know. Seen from across the water in the town of Vallejo, they tower above the rest of the island, and they have strange forms that suggest something alive. There are a number of them surrounding the dry dock areas, where they were used in the manufacture of military ships. Today they are used to dismantle some of the same sorts of vessels.
During the dozen or so years that I’ve been photographing Mare Island at night, the hoists have always been behind security fences, and it wasn’t possible for me to get very close to them without hopping fences. (Most of us who photograph here eschew such illegal activities, and the result has been mostly very good relationship with the island and its residents.) So when I finally walked over towards the waterfront near the end of this evening’s shoot, I was very surprised to find that this hoist had been moved, rolled out on its tracks to a location where I could walk right up to it. After years of photographing them straight on from a distance, I was glad to have the opportunity to photograph this one from almost directly below, highlighting its immense height and bulk.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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