life was catching up by the ninth grade and it threatened a friendship with a school chum i’d know and shared classes with since the fourth grade so in a last ditch attempt to remain in the same classes we signed up for photography unfortunately, progress would have none of this and we went in different directions. however, out of this growth i developed (pun intended) a passion for photography; lacing on the walking shoes and with a fully charged camera battery step out into the world to find the right angle and lighting, sometimes serendipity rears it’s head.
on one such excursion i drive the scion to a park i’d never before been located in south central vancouver on the columbia river; passing business parks a strong wind whips up dust from unpaved driveways, tankard trucks idle nearby my first impression of marine park is unfavorable: weeds camouflaging the park signage, grass long, shady characters about. i push forward heading down a tree-lined two lane paved road a homeless person claiming a portion of the shoulder then a sharp turn to the right and what looks to be a poor man’s boat launch complete with questionable restrooms and a 30′ wood tower come into view. parking the scion i grab the camera make a detour to the skylight illuminated facilities then, refreshed, climb the tower and am intrigued to learn that mighty warships of the kaiser shipyard were once mass produced just yards from the tower, interpretative panels tell the story.
one of the panels lists aircraft carries, troop transports and the one type ship that grabbed my attention LST (landing ship tank) the very same my father served on in the south pacific during the iwo jima and okinawa campaigns of wwII. this vessel is unique as it has a flat bottom so that once secure the ship steers onto the beach, opens it’s two massive doors allowing armor and other necessary equipment to be unloaded. eyes watering a bit i stare at the remnants of the slips these vessel slid down touching water for the first time; i know not if the ship my father served on was constructed here, goosebumps consume.
the photographs below record the remains of a once mighty, mechanized, war industry which nature is slowly reclaiming, condos and restaurants take a share, smaller industrial business’ have incorporated cranes and large sheds from the shipyard into their plans keeping memory, for some, alive. i drive away a richer man.
LSTs and Aircraft carries slid into the Columbia River from these slips
pleasure boats and commercial barges now ply the waters
behind the slips cranes, men, and sweat produced mighty warships now the scene is quiet
my father served in the navy on a LST in the south pacific, from here i dont know.