Often the quickest way to move between buildings was to take the roof. The inside of the complex was so maze-like, I don’t know how I would have found my way around.
The historic entrance of the mill, alongside the (relatively) new Great Western offices.
A typical stretch of the assembly line.
Looking at the engine house (left) from atop the stoves.
A long exposure panorama of Electric Steel and Kurth from the roof of Russell Miller B, days before it was demolished.
Hanging over the crane cab, looking over at the trane-sized doors below. The steel beam tracing the left wall is the support for the gantry crane this photo was taken from.
I’ll remember the neon glow fondly.
A depiction of historic Liège, known for its rivers and hills.
The company labs. If you can believe it, this area is even more destroyed today.
A number of skyways carried the production line across roads and railroad tracks in and around the plant. An identical skyway to this one was cut off sometime in the past decade (judging by the rust), probably for its steel.
Noontime light, long criticized for the boring shadows it grants photographers, comes into its own sometimes.
At noon, the lower skylights around the shops glow yellow-green, thanks to the flora blooming on the roof above.
This ward was the last occupied place in the hospital. It was used as a chemical dependency (drug and alcohol) inpatient program. It seems that they were allowed to paint the walls before they abandoned it… I go back and forth, thinking it is a shame and thinking it is a little cool.
A ruined culvert near Oregon Creek, behind Old Main, the predecessor of the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
This is how the warehouse looks today.
…out of our depth.
My friends know that redheads are my greatest weakness.
The old hospital (left) and ugly modern additions (right).
Judging from old pictures and maps, raw ore was dumped through these hatches, stamped into a rough powder, and hastily sorted before sending the best ore to the mill. Mills charged by tons of rock sent to them, so it did not pay to send them obvious tails.
The tops of the coke stoves.
A machine to cast copper billets.
This building is now being used to grow fish.
The bricks routinely fell from the walls, like seeds falling from trees. On a smaller scale, new walls grew from the floors.
The city constructed a wall in the early 2000s to discourage visitors. Note the staircase is cut off, too.
And I forget just why I taste / Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile / I found it hard, it’s hard to find / Oh well, whatever, never mind (Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”)
Between the catwalks of Furnace 6, the molted ore would flow through the chute.
This “pit” would allow workers to crawl below locomotives to service them.
A view from the loft in the shipping/receiving building, where the crane operator would step into his cab.
The only thing that signals that this was an office building, rather than another production floor, is the small amount of wood paneling that remains.
Looking out of the “back door”, where equipment could be lifted into the factory with a crane. The bottom of the coal conveyor can be seen outside.
One of the ugly modern staircases.
This section of the production floor was constantly dripping. Someone had laid down giant plastic sheeting to attempt to protect the lower floors, but it hasn’t worked.
It seems like this pipe was made to return dust to the collector in the main workhouse from the annex.
Delmar #4 is like two elevators in one, in capacity and design.
Looking into the cut made for the streetcar tunnel. It looks like there is a door in the wall, but it’s an optical illusion.
The ‘working’ part of the furnaces are about a story above ground level, so the catwalks snake above the tree line.
I wonder if these windows were bricked after the 1950 explosion with the hopes that, if another silos blew, the people in this office would be better protected.
Counter-weighted ore cars alternately filled and emptied to feed Furnace 7. Honestly, though, the corner-mounted cranes are sexier in my opinion. Note the trees growing from the stacks.
The top of the barracks staircase.
I tried to hide the graffiti from my photos, but sometimes it wasn’t possible.
A splash of pink across an otherwise boring sign caught my eye in the old elevator.
Just outside of the blast furnace is a series of platforms and catwalks to bring workers to the stoves.
Harris Machinery rests under snow on the left. Two explorers enjoy the view.
The grain-centric buildings had automatic fire doors.
One of the clusters of elevators. Doors would open on both sides so that vehicles could be moved through them if necessary. There is only one set of stairs in the whole building.
This is part of the oldest section of factory, one that hasn’t had a roof in a long time and all usable equipment has been extracted. The machines pictured would spin sliced beets in boiling water… it was a sealed system before someone cut holes on sides of each unit.
The main floor of the hospital was crammed with furniture.
Much of the signage in the mill was hand-drawn.
I had to search the shelves a while to find this old logbook. The open page lists changes in stock numbers for Cutler Hammer Coils, and one row says that a new coil was installed on the black larry. The larry is the machine that loads coke ovens.
At an abandoned train repair shop.
One of the few doors.
The working end of the blast furnace, where molten metal would flow like lava out of the furnace… a process called ‘tapping’.
The Atlas D command building. As Brutalist as it gets.
Looking at ADM-Delmar #4, #1 and Kurth from the Meal Storage Elevator at sunset on one of the warmer days of December. Note the graffiti “United Crushers” that gave the big elevator its common name among locals. Also, Harris Machinery is sitting in the lower-left corner, awaiting word of its next use.
Spring melt flows down the rusty rock house. In the background is the frame for the shaft.
Rust undermines the decade old graffiti on the steel bin.
A rooftop scene.
In its later years, metal was welded over every door and window on the ground floor.
The buildings were level with one another, so one could look through as many as a dozen factory floors from one window.
A 8-foot-tall volume indicator that could be read from across the beet boiler floor–convenient when the controls are 20 feet away.
Looking through the an access panel at the hoist room for Shaft No. 3. The cable had long ago been scrapped, along with the motors to drive the pulleys. I still admire the workmanship on the spool’s arching metal shell.
The back of the Lyric, including the offices at the back of the theater.
Looking from the main shop into the boiler shop, one of three attached buildings that specialized in certain repairs. One thing that architectural photographers have to work with is an elongated “magic hour” with ideal shadowing and coloring–this photo is a result of that lighting.
A string of vehicles have found death at Packard recently. Usually they are simply driving up ramps and pushed off the rooftops, but this one seemed destined for a worse fate. Found in the far corner of the far building.
The lower portal of the Selby Tunnel, as it looks today. The area is a popular spot for homeless to camp–can you spot the tent?
Looking through the dark door at Shaft 3, when my naked eyes could only make out a staircase lit dimly from above.
Copper thieves haven’t left anything behind but the shell.
A theater turned skate park. How did that happen?
This heavy door opens directly into the missile vault and was used to load and unload the missile erector.
Note the pit is filled in here.
Rims where bulbs were, light were motors were, stairs were people were.
The cold air collided with the sun-warmed water on the floor, filling the ground floor of the Keg House with thick fog…
The east side of the boiler shop sported a platform with a control booth and heavy machine mounts. Note the door that replaces the lower section of stairs for explorers.
This concrete sections supported a coal tower that loaded the larry.
This was one of two skyways that went between production line offices. It’s easy to tell because it’s not reinforced for machinery to travel through it. I also like that it’s a double-decker, so to speak.
Death. About two seconds after the explosives were triggered.
Between the room with mold sand and the space where the car’s metal bits would be put together, a pillar is marked as structurally vital.
Furnace #7, as seen from #6’s catwalks. Cue morning fog.
In this old repair shop, vines fall from the rotting roof to meet mossy concrete. Even though it had been dry for days, water dripped in from the roof to make permanent puddles between workstations. It was full of color and sound and industry and nature.
I love the ghost sign across these two elevators, originally built as Superior Elevator. It’s looking pretty rough.
From the summer a bunch of Australians visited Minnesota.
In what has turned into a kind of industrial courtyard between four ovens some people have posted their tags. X was here.
An impressive message for graffiti in a Detroit warehouse, but then again look at these steam pumps. Over-built and under-appreciated.
One of the staircases that connected the lab, the plant, and the offices.
Above the offices is this little section of factory that still has strips of wood flooring. This may be where the upholstery was cut.
From the catwalks below the hoisting motor in Shaft No. 1.
It’s not hard to see how Germany could turn these into a prison overnight.
Police tape marks were kids got hurt in the past… probably from falling from the unstable catwalk above.
The winch that hauled the sea leg, a decide to unload grain from waiting boats and barges.
Ruined cars abandoned in the generator hall, long after its namesake was scrapped.
The back of the mill reads “Red River Milling Company”
Call me angsty, but I like it. Found in the Auxiliary Hospital.
An iron gate separates vaults below the barracks.
Note the rails in the floor that guided cars to the coating line, the side of which is lined with the windows in the center of the image.
Looking up at the network of elevators at the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. Its train shed doors stand open under the void where conveyors should be. You can see where they used to connect on the left and right. The outside of the building is covered in racist graffiti.
Some of the earlier buildings were dressed up with brick facades.
Go on and jump in, if you want, there’s even a ladder to climb out.
One of the pair of motors that powered this mine shaft. In the 1950s, this shaft was designated a rescue shaft, and was only maintained for emergencies. One reason that Cheratte built Shaft 3 nearby was because these motors and infrastructure did not have the capacity that the giant mine below called for.
Between the repair shops and the stock department is this odd little structure. No, the walls are not level–it’s not your eyes. The shops slope left, the structure slopes right.
Serve [unknown] Build… What do you think the middle says? Tell me in the comments.
A panorama of the Shipping/Receiving building on the northeast end of the block. In the old days this would be facing the ‘Dry Dock Hotel’, a boarding house owned by the company, presumably for the use of the men having their boats repaired here.
In the soft wood of the machine, an employee left their mark.
Saskatchewan Wheat Pool #4 looks rough these days. You can tell how high the children of Thunder Bay can throw a rock.
The building on the right was where parts not assembled onto vehicles would be set in crates for shipment.
A wide view of the hallway behind the small performance space, covered in hundreds of names, aphorisms, and acts that walked up the stairs to the right and onto the small stage.
The concrete annex elevator had interesting graffiti. Much of it from the 1980s and 1990s.
I am not sure, but I think this section was a storehouse; it has two ramps that connect the rail yard outside and the blacksmith shop. On all of the historic doors that face that part of the yard, signs caution workers to look out for cars…
In one of the hundreds of bunkers across the busy highway from the empty plant ruins. Most did not have doors, but I got lucky on this one.
The glow from the city is bright enough to read by.
This is one of my favorite doorways (yes, I have favorites) for a few reasons: 1.) You can see how the once-arched door has been squared-off for rectangular doors to fit; 2.) you can see one complete historic door and one ruined door, and the chain that used to hold them together before someone kicked-out the security, and; 3.) I like the texture of the bricks and design of the radiators in the room beyond–the blacksmith shop. Just do.
For reasons unknown, this building’s concrete was designed a little thinly. It reminds me of a Chicago, IL building constructed during WWI when concrete and steel were strictly rationed and many buildings went up with insufficient superstructures. I do not have a build date for this one yet.
A matrix panorama of the brewhouse staircase, post-scrapping. So pretty…
Looking through skylights of the payroll office toward the Cheratte No.1’s tower. This is where workers would wait in line to receive pay, surrounded by the mine workings.
Looking into the main workhouse from the skyway into the annex elevator. But who care? Look at the colors!
To the right is the spiral staircase. This building had a definite “floor problem”.
It’s a small world… look at it.
A burned and rusted control panel in the corner of the new hoist room.
The new concrete workhouse, as seen through chickenwire.
The smokestack for the sintering plant included a big blower room, to launch the fumes into the atmosphere and away from the town. What could go wrong?
My first night on Minneapolis’ Lighthouse–now an old picture and distant memory… I still remember the exhilaration and the view of the city off one edge of the roof and the Mississippi River over the other.
One of the large barracks. All of them are overgrown like this.
Graffiti by performing artists that hit the stage in the 1990s. I’m no musician, but I do not think it is being played low enough.
This load of lime seems to have been left right where it was loaded.
You can see almost ever level of the factory from this spot.
Downtown and the blight.
A different kind of tree fort.
In the modern control room at the base of the white elevator tower are the electronics that ran the newer building, its rail components and boat-loading component. The superstructure permeates all spaces here, as can be seen with the crossing I-beams in the main office.
A tunnel between the outside gate and the courtyard shared by the barracks.
At night the city lights blast through the broken windows, casting crazy colors through the off-white interior of the mill.
Early bird catches the shadow of Battle Mountain blaring across the ghost town.
A small machine shop level.
Heavy wood doors for keeping people in.
The doorframes become more askew every year as the buildings slip downward into the gulch at different rates. This seems to be the part of the mine ruins where transients leave their marks. The graffiti dated back to the 1970s, at least.
Where the trees are sprouting–below the skyways and criss-crossing pipes–are two sets of railroad tracks that turned through this narrow alleyway through the middle of the production line to drop off raw materials and pick up finished product.
Panorama from where the skyway connected the cleaning house and elevator. ADM Meal Storage is to the right, ADM-4 is to the extreme right, and Kurth is on the left.
A retrofitted dust collector stands out from the geometry of the roofline.
Sunset came fast, and when the good light died inside the Industrial Loft, I walked around the back to find the whole complex glowing.
Ruster at The Pool… employee graffiti about 100 above ground.
The largest extant structure when I visited.
One last look in the mirror before you turn around and walk onstage…
I like to imagine this as fountain.
Generations of Two Harbors teens smoked their first weed in this abandoned building, in my estimation. Comment if I’m right!
Platforms and abandoned outbuildings, as seen in 2005.
Inside the MLK High School chemistry laboratory.
What appears to be a building once associated with King Elevator is now a defunct scuba company. To the right of the frame you can see how the concrete on the elevator is beginning to show its rebar.
A sign facing the city on an exterior wall–a sort of motivational poster.
The left cave is the largest of the three, and shows the most evidence of expansion.
An ajar car elevator car afar, technically.
Looking up the grand stair at the second floor.
Dora, the pagan god of urban explorers, stood little chance off Alfred Street.
Squinting from the top floor through the skyway, one can feel small, like they’re in a heavy industrial dollhouse.
Old parts catalogs litter the floor. The office overlooks empty shelves. Graffiti glue peeling paint in place.
The most pointless, beautiful and nuclear-bomb-proof catwalk I’ve been on to date. It goes between two high levels in its own bottom-lit concrete capsule in the center of the tallest, thickest building. Hang on, we’re riding this one out.
Some guerilla art for passing drivers on I-94 East to enjoy. Artist unknown.
Although it’s difficult to spot at first, there is a traveling mini crane down the way about the three windows. This was installed to service all of the fabrication machines that would be in this section.
These pools looked into the cribbing below the concrete.
Two signatures complement this gorgeous hand-painted sign. ‘Bowers’ from 1987 and ‘Normal’ from 1982. The blocking on the letters is still visible!
The grand staircase with little balconies leaning over it. All the stone stairs are broken and graffiti marks every wall.
Although the floors are pretty warped, I can’t imagine one could do many tricks off of them.
Watching the sun set behind downtown Detroit is my favorite memory from the building.
Ultimately, it was the bad roof that doomed these buildings.
Ladders crawl the back of the signs. Graffiti writers’ right of passage.
Strange graffiti in a side room. Someone was having fun…
The crumbling building barely contained the colors inside of it.
In the mid-2000s, Peavey sealed the spaces between their Electric Steel Elevator bins. What they unwittingly created was a graffiti time capsule. “Impeach Bush”.
A natural reaction with this kind of view.
I like to imagine this as an old-timey radio microphone.
I follow this advice every day. You should too.
Looking down into the lunch building of an Atlas D, near the motors for the retractable roof. In this design, the roof separates to allow the missile to be erected into launch position.
C’mon, guys. PIck up to trash.
The parking lot is in better condition than most of the complex. The left building is the lab.
The classic Solvay shot. Everyone has it.
A polaroid (FP100c, actually) of the newer grain car dumper.
The entry point for the painting shed on the top floor. Cars would have a few feet in between them before they entered. Separate sheds would prime and add color.
Jef throws open the back door of an alley for the trailing photographers and historians.
On the left is the broken glass room that contains the controls for the cable spool, now gone, that sat in the metal shell on the right. The stairs led down to the hoisting engine itself. You can make out the slits where the cable ran up to the headframe tower through the gaping archway.
Even without the kettles the Hamm’s brewhouse is beautifully lit, ornamented architecturally and begging for photographers to remember it.
…a little close for comfort.
Don Crist ’83. Brick Graffiti Series.
I wonder how polluted that water is.
Looking up at the most conspicuous graffiti in the city on ADM #4.
The exterior of the factory is unassuming
What I make out to be the dining room or great hall of the castle, as seen through of the side rooms, which appeared to be a very ruined library. Teenager graffiti looks cooler in French.
Two charmers, I’m sure. This area was a coal pit for the nearby power plant.
A look down the 1950s foundry building, moments after sunset.
Inside the west portal is a big liquid propane hand warmer, for workers to take the cold off their gloves as they handled the switches and doors of Cramer Tunnel. Mamiya GA645 / Kodak Pro 400
A colorful makeshift wall.
The bottom area of the smokestacks house storage spaces. The windows of these rooms that were never completed line up perfect.
These stairs were probably removed to discourage scrapping and graffiti. Ask me if it worked.
Looking out of the labs at the company garages.
In front of a rust-welded Illinois rotary stoker is where the boiler-men made their mark. The last year I can make out is 1985.
Sunrise in the orphanage… between classrooms and whispers.
A tower above Minneapolis that few people see.
Looking through a secure ward door at the destroyed rooms beyond.
90% of Brach’s looks like this. Concrete walls, mushroom pillars, and water over the floor.
The spectacular, if precarious, view of downtown Minneapolis from the roof of ADM Annex 4. Note the great messages left by various graffiti artists who made it to the spot.
Sleeping bags mark this former courtyard as a crash pad for the local homeless.