Cinclare Plantation Sugar Mill was built in 1897 and was active until about five years ago, when it became the last sugar mill in West Baton Rouge to shut down. (More historical information here.)
I first attempted to explore this site in April 2008, but a security guard appeared and I quite literally ran away. Two years later, that same security guard led Kara and I around on a tour of the entire premises. I posted about the first visit anyway back then, because what did I care? The blog was pretty loosey-goosey in those early days.
Looking at those old photos, I see I was not overly concerned with such matters as lining up my subjects in the viewfinder and taking photos from inside cars with glare visible on the window. What I don't know about photography today could still fill the enormous sugar storage unit you'll soon see, but I'm pleased with my progression in many ways. I've learned to take my time and be more careful, but even the two hours spent on this visit was too rushed (because of that, I regret that many photos I took were unusable) and it felt like it was only a scouting mission.
To my surprise, the colors and the light inside the mill were amazing--a photographer's dream. I hope I did justice to the industrial beauty of this site.
Those big old gears are not just a jackpot for decorating a steampunk loft. They're being sold; the mill is being parted out. Some of the parts in there are extremely valuable, such as sections of brass piping valued at 80 grand. Hence the 24-hour security. In the photo below are some gears waiting to be carted off to their new uses.
As we overlooked this vast open area (below), it seemed a perfect setting for a fight scene in some explosion movie I would never watch.
At least one movie has already been shot here. The security guard told us it was called Mutant and ran on the SyFy channel (had something to do with zombies who were caused by sugar...?) though I couldn't find mention of it online. Sounds terrible! Now that I would watch.
Below, an agitation element inside a vat.
This tin roofing fell in during Katrina (our guide was sitting in his office in the mill at the time), and has since been replaced.
I couldn't get over how great the light was for shooting in this section.
The view out that side of the mill, looking North.
See that open-air roof part extending out to the far left (above)? Our guide led us out on a catwalk along a conveyor belt to the end of it. Rather, as the lightest I was nominated to lead the way, as he didn't know if it would hold us all. Terrifying. Here we are beating a hasty retreat.
Back in the, uh, safe inside, the tin roof had its own linear galaxy as the light came in through holes.
Below is the view from a fire escape on the other side of the mill, with molasses tanks in the middle ground, a conveyor belt for sugar cane behind them, and sugar cane fields beyond in the distance.
Here's the time clock in the workers' break area, which still had signs (7 Days Since a Workplace Injury!), awards, and moldy safety manuals hanging on the walls (alas, my photos of those were fails).
Antique farm equipment silently rusts in a new back section of the mill.
Our final stop inside the mill was this storage unit for sugar, which still sees use.
It may have been longer than a football field, though I'm not the best judge of such things. If we'd been there just two weeks earlier, the guard told us, we would've seen it full nearly to the apex with sugar. Now there was just a residual dusting to crunch under our feet. We scraped some sugar from the wall to sample. It tasted like light brown sugar.
That's all for now--I don't know how many photos I can put in a post before it explodes. Part 2, featuring the exterior and outbuildings, coming very soon.
Thanks again to my fellow Brooklyn-to-Baton Rouge transplant and pal Katie for hooking up this visit.