They called the steep valley of Connecticut’s Naugatuck River "Brass Valley” because from the time the world began running on steam and bearings, trolleys and soot, the Naugatuck Valley came to be where most of the world’s brass manufacturing happened. Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry (Schiffer Books, 2015) is a book of pictures and stories about how it all happened.
Ansonia Copper & Brass was the last descendent of Anaconda American Brass, last of the “Big Three” brass-makers with working mills in the Naugatuck Valley. It operated in historic buildings on historic properties using equipment, some of which went back to the 19th century. With Wright Brothers era technology they made metal tube for 21st century submarines - until the factory closed for good in December, 2013. The book’s photographs catch the men and equipment in all stages of production and in the knick of time.
The book tells at least three stories. First, is the story of the last working brass mill, the men and the machinery used to cast, extrude, and process the metal. Second are the stories of how Brass Valley came to be, what it was, and how we changed in the process. Finally there is the story told by the pictures of the men and communities that made Brass Valley and the culture we call the American Dream.
Author Emery Roth II will appear at Milford Library, 57 New Haven Ave., on March 20 at 7pm. His talk is accompanied by vivid photographs of Brass Valley from the book and others taken more recently. He shares experiences and discoveries made while photographing, and talks about what it means to try to find Brass Valley, a place in time that has not quite vanished.
This program is free and open to the public. All are welcome.