Towards the end of the summer, and little more than a stone’s throw away from the rather mundane place I work, there lies a wooded hill covered in tangled undergrowth, criss-crossed by faded, hardly remembered pathways, concealing secrets and mysteries, buried memories of a disconnected past. At least that’s how I seemed to me, and a little romanticising never did any lasting damage. As the autumn set in and the leaves fell, some secrets revealed themselves, while others dug themselves in deeper. This is the first part in what might be a trilogy of photo essays I brought back from my forays into the woods above Camorino.
Ok, so you want the facts ? Well, The Pipe is actually a conduit feeding water from several dams and culverts higher up the mountain to the small hydro-electric plant in Val Morobbia. The plant was originally built around 1905, providing some of the earliest electrical power in Ticino. This conduit was actually constructed in the 1970s, replacing the original one, now long since dismantled. Originally there was a collecting reservoir half way up the hill, which is now disused and overgrown, replaced by an underground facility. This reservoir, the “Vecchio Bacino” must have been quite a feat of engineering and, in particular, manual labour. Perched at about 400m above the river, it has no road access - as I discovered after following The Pipe to get to it. Life was not so easy just a mere 100 years ago.
So I might have felt like I was wandering around a set from “Lost”, but even without daydreaming, the truth of the tale is fascinating. Well it is to me, anyway. I’m a sucker for industrial archeology.