Fairbanks Morse

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Fairbanks Morse

a balance beam weighing apparatus
Acrylic on vinyl composite 22 1/2 x 19 in. (2000)

Somewhere, where nature is in full reclamation of a farm field, there is a weighing station, complete with ramp, shack and balance beam weighing scale. The manufacturer, Fairbanks Morse, is still a going concern I believe, though much diversified. This scale seems to have outlasted its operator if not its purpose.

From what I understand, the scale was set up to weigh small vehicles -- such as pickup trucks -- empty to start, and weighed again when full of cedar boughs to market.

Whether true or not is a matter for history. I suspect there are many abandoned scales such as this one, housed in tiny, operator-only shacks; un-winterized, perfunctory down to the slabs of plywood sheathing. The windows long ago gave in to the human fascination for breaking unprotected glass, and the structure has devolved from the unforgiving movements of the soil in the hot-then-cold torment of the seasons. The platform is long rotted through, its iron structure now exposed to rust and rain, gently returning to the rock from whence it came.

Part of the fascination for me is its placement in an overgrowing field, a now abandoned object in a sea of nature. After all these years, the counter weights still slide along their aluminum bars which still rise and fall. Now, for no other reason than they just do . . .

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