Conclusion & Gallery
Attached to virtually every WWII-era building at INAAP today is a sign: “This Building is in a Standby Status – For Admittance Apply to Inspector Engs. or 171 Shops.” The signs lie.
INAAP is not in standby, as you might guess from the tree growing through the middle of building 214-16 “Acid Recovery” or the vines ripping apart the bricks of 208-6 “Mixing House.”
INAAP is now part industrial park, part off-limits museum.
While squatting in the power plant a very powerful storm moved over unforgettable, throwing blasts of lightning across the countryside. The plant got a direct hit, in fact, and the sound of the boom reverberating through the turbine hall is something unforgettable.
Ducking the steam lines overhead between the mixers and compressors, a water tower says “good morning,” right past the slack power lines. This is the sleepy uptown of the war city.
From the bottom of the skyway I looked back, my eyes tracing the vines from the marsh up the smokestacks to the perfect Midwestern sky.
The the left, the nitrating line in War City. To the right, War City’s sole suburb, Charlestown, IN.
One level below where the cotton was nitrated, the fumes must have been powerful. This floor had several massive ventilation fans in its walls.
At the top of a skyway that brought fresh-dried cotton into the Nitrating House from the Cotton Dry House. How? Monorail, of course.
These aluminum powder kegs were forgotten in storage.
The top floor of the nitrating house was full of switches and breakers for the operation below, each bearing a label and number. Nowadays everything is printed, but when INAAP was built, all these signs were painted by hand.
Solvent pumping buildings, designed to explode upwards rather than outwards in an emergency, are forgotten near the milkweed.
A row of security lights line the roof of the power station.
One of the four fire alarm panels in the power station.
Looking toward the power station at the edge of the explosives plant.
Lights over the emergency slides. A veritable overgrown city in the background.
When ‘men’ meant ‘worker’.
This picture is lit by a direct lightning strike of the building. It’s impossible to describe the feeling of being in this giant open building the moment it channeled an electric explosion into the earth.
Note the wood and rubber wheels on this powder cart.
I like the fading stencil paint.
Pipes to channel nitrose (think nitro glycerine) infused acid through the building.
Blending the explosive ingredients was dangerous. It is no wonder that the blending house had so many emergency slides.
An alarm panel in the powerpplant, now demolished.
1950s safety posters about static and proper footware hide in remote offices, where the curious haven’t stolen them… yet.
A detailed look at the side of one of the thousands of transformer boxes in the war city.
The end of the monorail in the nitrating house.
The middle section of the smokestacks were coal hoppers, and this device would load the coal into the hoppers from the conveyor belt it rode across. The bottom section of the stacks were storage rooms while the very top were, surprise, chimneys for the power plant.
The powerplant and its dedicated water tower supplied steam for heating and mechanical work.
A failed squat at the plant. A massive electric storm (see photos) ruined this otherwise perfect flop.
Filters and fans to draw air into the boilers in the second power plant.
The nitrating house was a chemically dangerous place, so it had thick metal and concrete shield for every station right next to an emergency shower.
The generator hall of the last power station, as seen from the gantryway.
I didn’t test the rungs, but I bet the view was incredible.
If you know what BTI stands for, please leave a comment.
Observing War City in the midst of an electric storm. This photo is lit almost entirely by lightning.
Spare parts ready for this building’s reactivation.
A sort of blender in a powder line building. The top vent had been removed, so leaves and light fall onto the teeth now.
A steel powder keg serves as a door prop on the static-proof wood core floor. Note the ‘XXX’ marking to the left of the double door.
An emergency slide to help workers evacuate the blending house in an emergency.
In the quality assurance labs there is a old safe.
At sunrise the fog rose near the solvent recovery line. You can barely read the “XXX” warning.
On the middle level of the Poacher House. For a detailed view of the chart see ‘See Reverse’.
A single metal emergency slide rusts away at sunrise.
In the nitrating house.
An unmarred chart, printed with the facility name and ready to be sent out to command.
Looking up to the second floor of the Nitrating House, where cotton would be soaked in nitric acid. These brought cotton into the building.
This is the real reason I slept in the top of the power plant that summer night; not for the storm, but for the sunrise. Almost everything visible here is abandoned.
Between lines of Number Sixes right after sun rose behind them. This photo shows how extremely lush the grounds are that make getting around in some places impossible.
This drying house was full of ventilation ducts, broken scales, and insulated carts to haul powder around the line.
I don’t think we’re anywhere near maximum pressure anymore.
References »Army building: new du pont plant in indiana will make 600,000 lb. of powder a day. (1941, January 20).LIFE Magazine, 10(3), Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=8kgEAAAAMBAJ
Gray, R.D. (1994). http://books.google.com/books?id=slkbsubql-ac [p.355]. (Google Books), Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=SlKbSuBQL-AC
Historic American Engineering Record. (1985).Indiana army ammunition plant Library of Congress. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/IN0288/
Kleber, J.E. (2001). The encyclopedia of louisville[Illustrated ed.]. (Google Books), Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=pXbYITw4ZesC