Chapman Mill is a crumbling ruin standing where Prince William and Fauquier Counties come together. I’ve driven past it countless times. Every single time, I say aloud, “I want to go take photos there.” (even if I’m in the car alone)
Well, Saturday two weeks ago, the sun was shining (for the first time in ages) so YBW and I got bundled up against the below freezing wind chills and headed to the mill.
I got to wear my brand new love YOUR melon beanie for the first time!
(Little D’s new mom and I were texting about getting together and I took this photo asking her to tell him I kiss him. But at least you can see my hat so it’s cool.)
When we arrived at the mill site we were greeted by this.
I was livid! THE FREAKING GATE WAS LOCKED!! We couldn’t get all the way down the road to the mill. I will admit to saying one or two bad words…well, perhaps it was one or two bad sentences. How dare you hang a sign to welcome me and then lock the gates? Rude!
But…the railroad runs right beside the mill. So I get it in my head to walk down the tracks to the mill.
Only the moment I walk up the path to the tracks I hear the whistle of a train…I waved to the engineer and he waved to me. It called up all the many times in my life I’ve stood at the side of the railroad and done that. It brought me great joy and in that brief moment, I was a little girl again.
YBW decides right then it may not be the safest course of action since the sides are steep and there really is nowhere to go but down. I was like, but the train just came by, this is the safest time. We split the difference and I just stood at the path crossing. Honestly, I didn’t want to go down to the mill by myself, I wanted to share that experience so it worked out OK in the end.
I absolutely loved this curve in the tracks. I think the railroad is so elegantly beautiful for being something so well constructed for such hard core usage.
You know I had to look for spikes while I was up there. And I found some, just lying around in the rocks. I love how a railroad spike and rocks create these natural sort of collages.
There were three such collages, but this is the particular spike I picked up and carried home.
The mill really is quite compelling. In a hauntingly sad yet beautiful way.
I’m eager to return when the gates no longer lock me out. The wheel is still there on the other side of the mill. You can see Broad Run, which is a lovely. The view from the interstate is even more beautiful than this view from the railroad. I’m keeping my hackles up, but I’ll be checking back more frequently as the weather warms.
When we left the mill site, we drove down along the tracks just to see where they went. This was the opposite way of home, but we were on an adventure! We were out with our cameras to shoot things that moved us!
I loved the way this railroad crossing sign looked behind the overgrown grasses.
Lastly I got on my knees in the middle of another crossing to shoot the tracks from a different point of view.
The mail carrier who had to wait for me to get my shot and get back up out of the way before he could drive his truck over the crossing didn’t seem terribly impressed by my attempt to create art…of course he had a job to do and I was just out shoot stuff.
We decided to go back out today with our cameras. I’ll leave my warm beanie at home today because instead of upper 20s wind chills, we’ll have upper 60s temperatures today! I might even wear a dress depending on where we decide to go shoot.
Spring is kicking down winter’s door today and I intend to take full advantage of it!
Here’s a quick vid about the mill and it’s restoration.
(My advice to you is: mute the music.)