An old barn about to collapse in front of a blue sky speckled with white, fluffy clouds is the picture that sent a Logan resident on an adventure to capture old, abandoned structures around the region.
Although Paul Randle, nearly 80, has ridden his bicycle around Cache Valley and neighboring counties for nearly 30 years, it wasn’t until recently that an aging barn in Benson helped open his eyes to the many abandoned buildings in the region and motivated him to photograph them.
“I just kind of thought if that is happening to this barn, it’s happening to other structures too,” Randle said. “That’s why I started looking for them, carefully.”
The barn that caught his eye was mostly collapsed when he saw it, and he decided to take a picture before it was lost forever. Shortly after he took the photograph, a heavy snowstorm caused the structure to collapse.
“I got there in the nick of time and that kind of inspired me to open my eyes,” Randle said. “I ended up taking over a hundred photographs in Cache County, Box Elder County and Oneida County.”
Randle has taken pictures of many structures, including an abandoned post office building in Benson, a dam built in the 1920s, abandoned farming equipment and homes that have been abandoned by the owners.
As he went to different properties and buildings, Randle said he noticed different owners treated the structures differently. In some cases, trees were growing out of the building, while at another location, the lawn was mowed and the trees trimmed with a path to the building.
No matter the condition of the structure, Randle said with that any picture he took of a building on private property, he gave a copy to the property owner.
One of the buildings Randle snapped a photograph of is an abandoned structure across the street from Pepperidge Farm in Richmond. According to Randle, although the building is in plain sight, he has not spoken to anyone who knows the building is there.
“They really are ghosts,” Randle said. “You don’t see them unless you’re looking but when you start looking, you kind of get a feel for where you’re going to find a new one.”
His eyes glistened as he talked about these ghosts from the past.
“I just thought it was a shame to have some of these things turn into dust and not have anyone who ever knew they were there,” Randle said.