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Great Western Sugar Mill
Sterling, CO

How can a government create an entire industry with a tax? How does a factory turn a beet into table sugar? Can we learn about our cultural history by a ruined factory left far behind? Let’s practice some industrial archeology and stand in the place of ‘high-smellers’ past, reimagining these four brick walls in a national historical context.

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Hamm’s Brewery
Saint Paul, MN

For 133 years, Hamm’s brewed good, cheap beer. “From the land of sky blue waters,” their jingle went, never finishing the sentence: “Comes the corporate takeover.” This post packs a childhood memory, the story of Hamm’s from its founding to recent demolitions. So sit down, crack a cold one, and…

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Hearn Generating Station
Toronto, ON

The R.L. Hearn Generating Station served Toronto from the early 1950s through the 1990s. The first thing you’ll notice is the smokestack; the last thing you’ll notice is how much time you’ve spent inside. Good thing the Turbine Hall has a clock…

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McKee Glass Works
Jeannette, PA

“Glass City” was Jeanette’s nickname. Jeanette was the factory owner’s wife’s name. McKee Glass Company dates back to 1888 and in many ways typifies the postindustrial drift of the Midwest, and frankly I think it’s beautiful.

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Pillsbury Mill
Minneapolis, MN

For Pillsbury to be abandoned in Minneapolis is like the Gateway Arch to be rusting from the inside out and passed by hundreds—unnoticing. This is Mill City, and this is the Mill of Mill City, and the people pass on, not even looking up to ask why these three square blocks on the river are the way they are.

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Quincy Smelting Works
Hancock, MI

Not like this, not anywhere, not anymore. This is a unique place–an old temple of metallurgy in the Upper Peninsula; “God’s Country,” everyone insisted. This is an abandoned monument to a god of fire, of copper, and for me, of time travel.

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Saint Mary’s Infirmary
St. Louis, MO

Serving those who were turned away because of race and income, training generations of nurses, and now collapsing into the streets of St. Louis out of neglect. Now that raindrops freefall from the clouds above to the basements in the shadows without touching a floor, wall, bed or desk, it’s clear that this city lost an opportunity and a landmark.

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Santa Fe Grain Elevator
Chicago, IL

If there was something I didn’t think I needed more of in my life, it was grain elevators. After growing up a midwest explorer in a place with the nickname ‘Mill City’, I was tired of these concrete towers; I thought I had seen it all. Santa Fe taught me exactly how wrong I was. Climb with me 120 feet above Chicago and see why…