The grain-centric buildings had automatic fire doors.
A door covered in pen graffiti.
Ultimately, it was the bad roof that doomed these buildings.
Downtown and the blight.
It’s a small world… look at it.
The buildings were level with one another, so one could look through as many as a dozen factory floors from one window.
All electrical rooms were surrounded by walls, for obvious reasons. Now all the walls are gone, for reasons less obvious.
A tower above Minneapolis that few people see.
A retrofitted dust collector stands out from the geometry of the roofline.
My friends know that redheads are my greatest weakness.
The newer train barn for the SK Pool 4 complex has a car tipper that would clamp and turn the grain cars to dump them into hoppers. FP-100c.
A small machine shop level.
It seems like this pipe was made to return dust to the collector in the main workhouse from the annex.
2010. A skyway connecting two Which tube carried the beer? I hope it’s the big one!
Reflections of graffiti during spring melt.
Looking up the grand stair at the second floor.
I wonder what this guy is thinking, walking through the complex.
A theater turned skate park. How did that happen?
The winch that hauled the sea leg, a decide to unload grain from waiting boats and barges.
On the left, the formula for the sintering mix was written (“mischungszusammenselzung”) to keep track of the jobs.
These machines are at least 100 years old.
Saskatchewan Wheat Pool #4 looks rough these days. You can tell how high the children of Thunder Bay can throw a rock.
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 polaroid (FP100c, actually) of the newer grain car dumper.
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.
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 8-foot-tall volume indicator that could be read from across the beet boiler floor–convenient when the controls are 20 feet away.
A view of the Harris offices, complete with great block glass.
Ruster at The Pool… employee graffiti about 100 above ground.
One of the ugly modern staircases.
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.
Note the really old carvings in the mineral-stained sandstone on the walls and ceiling. This little cave was walled-off on one end, making me wonder what the area was for. Lighting is a set of three candles and two LED flashlights and a cigarette.
An impressive message for graffiti in a Detroit warehouse, but then again look at these steam pumps. Over-built and under-appreciated.
Peering through the glass in the Hoist Operator’s cab, stained with graffiti. The cable and reels can be seen through the glass… these are now gone.
A different kind of tree fort.
The top of the annex was bare except for these holes into the silos below.
Looking through a launcher doorway at an outbuilding… the fire truck garage, if I recall correctly. Fomapan medium format in Pentax 67.
The roof compromised, rain water rolls down the main stairway.
From the catwalks below the hoisting motor in Shaft No. 1.
Boards on the window are like rings on a tree, if you know how to read abandonments.
The concrete annex elevator had interesting graffiti. Much of it from the 1980s and 1990s.
I wonder how polluted that water is.
Sunset came fast, and when the good light died inside the Industrial Loft, I walked around the back to find the whole complex glowing.
Algae grows where water flows/From the sawtooth roof/To the mines below/The sun climbs high/But is in no one’s eyes/A wall alone crumbles/It was no suprise
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.
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?
A tunnel between the outside gate and the courtyard shared by the barracks.
The top of the barracks staircase.
Behind the small stage is a hallway signed by practically every act that walked through its doors. There’s also a pair of palms. Since all the heat in the building collects in this area, it did seem more tropical.
Mill Hell before the University of Minnesota began developing the area. Now many of the buildings are gone, there are new roads and even bike paths.
Across the walls of the brick repair shop, near where men and machine entered Shaft No. 3, vines, pipes, and graffiti battle unknowingly for visual prominence.
Two signatures complement this gorgeous hand-painted sign. ‘Bowers’ from 1987 and ‘Normal’ from 1982. The blocking on the letters is still visible!
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 neon lighthouse, seen from the top of one of the silos.
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.
A typical room in the barracks, reinforced from mortars and light shelling, possibly.
This might have been part of the Pioneer Pellet Plant. It looks to be a ball mill, which pulverizes ore by spinning it with thousands of ball bearings.
Some of the earlier buildings were dressed up with brick facades.
Between the catwalks of Furnace 6, the molted ore would flow through the chute.
The sound of water running in the distance.
It’s not hard to see how Germany could turn these into a prison overnight.
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.
A little sun and a little moisture sprouted this grass in the middle of the steel silos, in the midst of Minneapolis’ “graffiti graveyard”. Two images of time: nature growing through industry and rust dissolving old art in the elements.
You can see almost ever level of the factory from this spot.
Don Crist ’83. Brick Graffiti Series.
In its later years, metal was welded over every door and window on the ground floor.
At noon, the lower skylights around the shops glow yellow-green, thanks to the flora blooming on the roof above.
I really liked the bulky pillars on this outer-ring cottage.
Rust undermines the decade old graffiti on the steel bin.
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.
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…
Just outside of the blast furnace is a series of platforms and catwalks to bring workers to the stoves.
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.
Partier graffiti dates to when the caves were last open to the public; probably in the 1990s. This tunnel used to horseshoe between the brewery’s ice chute (left) and basement door (right, backfilled). Note the utility tunnel in the upper-right corner as well as the lighting brackets on the ceiling.
Old parts catalogs litter the floor. The office overlooks empty shelves. Graffiti glue peeling paint in place.
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.
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.
The crumbling building barely contained the colors inside of it.
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.
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.
Sleeping bags mark this former courtyard as a crash pad for the local homeless.
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.
An iron gate separates vaults below the barracks.
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.
A view from the loft in the shipping/receiving building, where the crane operator would step into his cab.
To the right is the spiral staircase. This building had a definite “floor problem”.
Noontime light, long criticized for the boring shadows it grants photographers, comes into its own sometimes.
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.
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.
From the boarded-up choir loft above the chapel, minutes after sunrise. Obviously local kids have long had their way with this landmark.
At night the city lights blast through the broken windows, casting crazy colors through the off-white interior of the mill.
Like many mill-style buildings of the time, the Twohy’s loading doors (in this case, the delivery wagon doors) opened to an elevator shaft. This design cut down on loading time, as long as the elevator was operational. Of course, if it was otherwise occupied, there could be no traffic through the exterior doors!
I like to imagine this as an old-timey radio microphone.
The historic entrance of the mill, alongside the (relatively) new Great Western offices.
A look down the 1950s foundry building, moments after sunset.
The office building was fancy compared to the utilitarian factory behind it. My favorite part was the logo crown.
This is how the warehouse looks today.
Above the offices is this little section of factory that still has strips of wood flooring. This may be where the upholstery was cut.
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.
A colorful makeshift wall.
Found in one of the rooms that hosted an inpatient chemical dependency unit in its later years. Connect the dots yourself.
A rooftop scene.
The cold air collided with the sun-warmed water on the floor, filling the ground floor of the Keg House with thick fog…
Furnace #6; its catwalk and tapway. Note the lever-operated gutter-blockers.
Delmar #4 is like two elevators in one, in capacity and design.
In the soft wood of the machine, an employee left their mark.
Harris Machinery rests under snow on the left. Two explorers enjoy the view.
A ruined culvert near Oregon Creek, behind Old Main, the predecessor of the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Science Alert. When the sun strikes an object, that object absorbs some of the infared light in the form of heat. The heat absorbed by the old Soo dock absorbed and radiated that energy to melt off the snow from the ice around it, making it very reflective.
Molten copper pouring being a very dangerous thing to do by hand, this scale measured the load for the “Auto Caster” that actually formed the cooling copper in its molds.
This heavy door opens directly into the missile vault and was used to load and unload the missile erector.
The Atlas D command building. As Brutalist as it gets.
The back of the Lyric, including the offices at the back of the theater.
The city constructed a wall in the early 2000s to discourage visitors. Note the staircase is cut off, too.
A board to track which miners are underground. Low tech, but very effective.
Brewery Creek Waterfall, somewhere above Duluth. Lit with candles and a small LED panel. To me, it looked like a pipe pouring molten metal.
90% of Brach’s looks like this. Concrete walls, mushroom pillars, and water over the floor.
This building is now being used to grow fish.
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.
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.
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.
A burned and rusted control panel in the corner of the new hoist room.
Scrappers tried to take this steel pulley out of Fisher, but it proved too heavy.
These stairs were probably removed to discourage scrapping and graffiti. Ask me if it worked.
The tops of the coke stoves.
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.
A long exposure panorama of Electric Steel and Kurth from the roof of Russell Miller B, days before it was demolished.
The stairs that connect the breakwater and light station (Leica M6/Kodak Ektar).
Like looking out of an airship.
Looking up at the most conspicuous graffiti in the city on ADM #4.
The old hospital (left) and ugly modern additions (right).
The largest extant structure when I visited.
Rims where bulbs were, light were motors were, stairs were people were.
Strange graffiti in a side room. Someone was having fun…
The glow from the city is bright enough to read by.
Note the pit is filled in here.
Where the drain changes shape from round concrete to arched brick.
I follow this advice every day. You should too.
An ajar car elevator car afar, technically.
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 new concrete workhouse, as seen through chickenwire.
A sign facing the city on an exterior wall–a sort of motivational poster.
Serve [unknown] Build… What do you think the middle says? Tell me in the comments.
Some guerilla art for passing drivers on I-94 East to enjoy. Artist unknown.
Generations of Two Harbors teens smoked their first weed in this abandoned building, in my estimation. Comment if I’m right!
Looking into the engine works from the concrete addition.
Another. Planet. Coal crushers and the coke loading line.
Taken on a short trip where the whole floor of the roundhouse and engine shop was covered in fresh snow–thanks to the holes in the roof and open windows.
This concrete sections supported a coal tower that loaded the larry.
This “pit” would allow workers to crawl below locomotives to service them.
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 splash of pink across an otherwise boring sign caught my eye in the old elevator.
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.
When the building switched souls from booze to bread, these contraptions were mounted across the brewhouse floors… they’re not for hops, either.
Inside the main entrance to the depot. Through the ‘To Station’ door, you can see some of the news stands. Look at the floor!
The taller of the two smokestacks on site. Note the crack around its crown.
Although the floors are pretty warped, I can’t imagine one could do many tricks off of them.
A bird near the old schoolyard.
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.
Early bird catches the shadow of Battle Mountain blaring across the ghost town.
I tried to hide the graffiti from my photos, but sometimes it wasn’t possible.
Squinting from the top floor through the skyway, one can feel small, like they’re in a heavy industrial dollhouse.
The first 800 or so feet of the tunnel is finished with reinforced concrete. The test is raw stone. This is the spot where it switches. Side note: nailing this shot on film is one of my proudest light-painted moments.
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
I love the ghost sign across these two elevators, originally built as Superior Elevator. It’s looking pretty rough.
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.
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.
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.
Even without the kettles the Hamm’s brewhouse is beautifully lit, ornamented architecturally and begging for photographers to remember it.
“See anything?” “No, just more of it.” “How much to go?” “Oh god–we’ve only seen about 10%.” “Guess we should keep moving then…”
The back of the mill reads “Red River Milling Company”
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.
On the upper floors where the sunlight is yellow–the color of flour dust, once exposed to the elements.
Looking at the engine house (left) from atop the stoves.
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.
One of the staircases that connected the lab, the plant, and the offices.
I like to imagine this as fountain.
Police tape marks were kids got hurt in the past… probably from falling from the unstable catwalk above.
At an abandoned train repair shop.
Looking into the half-demolished, half-dismantled conveyor for the sea leg.
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.
Call me angsty, but I like it. Found in the Auxiliary Hospital.
In what has turned into a kind of industrial courtyard between four ovens some people have posted their tags. X was here.
This load of lime seems to have been left right where it was loaded.
This section retains water and is mostly shaded, so moss has found a way to live in the concrete.
One leg of the headframe meets the hoist house. Two cranes are rusted in place.
The grand staircase with little balconies leaning over it. All the stone stairs are broken and graffiti marks every wall.
One last look in the mirror before you turn around and walk onstage…
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.
The working end of the blast furnace, where molten metal would flow like lava out of the furnace… a process called ‘tapping’.
Looking out of the labs at the company garages.
Ladders crawl the back of the signs. Graffiti writers’ right of passage.
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.
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.
Two charmers, I’m sure. This area was a coal pit for the nearby power plant.
Inside the MLK High School chemistry laboratory.