Thursday, November 29, 2012

Artificial Vantage Point

Ruskin, Florida (vicinity)

The landscape around Tampa Bay is flat. Very flat. There's one place however where you can get a vantage point of a couple hundred feet above sea level and look at a wide sweep of the area. It's an observation platform built on top of a Mosaic Company "gyp stack." Mining of phosphate and production of fertilizer is a primary industry in this part of Florida. Gypsum in great quantities is a byproduct of this process, and the current environmentally-best practice is to pile it up in long ridge lines, sequester, cover with topsoil and plant grass. The end result looks a lot like reclaimed coal tailing ridge lines that I've photographed in Pennsylvania. When you see high ground driving around west-central Florida, it's almost certainly a gyp stack.

Ruskin, Florida (vicinity)

It takes special permission to get to the observation deck, but The Firehouse had the right connections so I was able to spend a couple hours beginning right after dawn making photographs as the morning fog rose. The stacks of the Big Bend power plant could be seen to the south, the view west across the bay showed quite a bit of tanker traffic, and by nine o'clock you could clearly see Tampa's port area across the bay to the north.

Ruskin, Florida (vicinity)

1 comment:

Scott Kirkpatrick said...

200 feet is a lot of height for that area. Do you have a picture from the flat ground which looks up at such a stack?