Exploring WWII Power Plants Abandoned Decades Apart - Amazing Contrast in Decay!
In today's episode, we had the unique experience of exploring two identical structures, one shut down only recently and still in a semi-active state, and the other abandoned and decaying for decades. During WW2, the immense need for explosives and gunpowder led to the construction of dozens of munitions plants all across the United States. We've actually explored one of these sprawling complexes before, at the Indiana Ordnance Works. However, that facility's power plants had already been demolished at the time we filmed it.
Today, we're at the Alabama Army Ammunition Plant where nearly everything has been demolished except for the two main power plants. Because of the pressing need to expedite the construction of these factories, they were all built off of a standardized design. What this means is that the power plants at the Alabama facility should be an excellent representation of what we missed at the Indiana facility, as well as other munitions plants across the country that have long since been demolished.
Now, join us as we venture inside and witness decades of natural decay in a span of minutes. The power plant to the south was situated on active terrain and more difficult to access undetected so we made this our first target while we still had the darker morning light on our side. After a sprint across the disused coal yard, we made it inside and were greeted with a plant that sounded a bit more active than what we were expecting.
Apologies in advance for how noisy this portion of the video is. We'll do our best to manage the volume and include closed captions that you can turn on. If someone comes in here we're never gonna hear them come in. It's loud as fuck.
It also means they're never gonna hear us though. Both of the power plants we're exploring today were spared from demolition because they were able to be repurposed by new industry constructed alongside them. In the case of this first plant it powered a paper mill after the war. However, the mill recently constructed a new power plant and decommissioned this one. Although the turbine-generators and boilers were clearly sitting idly, the building still had running machinery and steam flowing through portions of it.
Bryan's not feeling too hot today. All this switching equipment is still on. These panels are out of service. Generators 1 and 2.
We got a diagram of the boiler. This was a control room... a more modern one. Yea looks like they woulda just had computers set up here. Through pulling precips? Shut down ash pumps to save money on power.
Do you know what this key says? Abandoned. Alright this is kind of a shitty situation. Bryan is literally so sick from something we ate. Yea. Like food poisoning. I'm feeling it a bit too.
I'm not gonna be able to film and walk around this place. I think Bryan's gonna dip and go back to the car, keep watch on that for us. Let me know and I'll come pick you up. Okay.
I'm gonna figure this out. You might drive somewhere? Yea. Okay. Alright we'll seeya soon.
Okay this is pretty sweet. The boiler is busted open here and you can really see how it's made. There's like layers of brick for insulation on the inside.
And then you've got all these pipes where the water would be heated up inside. So Bryan had to go but luckily we have Ryan to help film this video. Yea these things would have basically just had raging fires inside of them. Umm we can't go anywhere from here. How unfortunate would it be if Bryan gets nabbed on the way out.
What? How unfortunate would it be if Bryan gets nabbed on the way out and then he's like sitting in the back of a cop car having to shit so bad. I think they'd probably just like... I don't think they'd want to clean that up. No. [laughing]
You can get a nice overview of the whole turbine hall right here. Here's the coal delivery. This entire part of the conveyor is wood probably going all the way down.
That's sketchy. At least it's more together than Blade Runner [urbex codename for a power plant in Hungary]. Really... Was that one wooden floor too? No it was metal floor but it was falling apart. Like, I went on a windy day and the entire thing was moving back and- left and right. We're probably the first people to walk in here in many years.
Well in an absolute emergency we could probably bail this way. Yea. It's the absolute last resort. Yea. There's a ton of cars over there. This is a pretty cool folder.
General Electric. It doesn't smell very good in here. No it doesn't. It's probably PCBs or something.
Probably. Test gauges. I've learned not to play with buttons. Even in a room that looks like this. Well look what happened last time. Yea.
All sorts of testing equipment. Do you know how to use an electronic consitrol calibrator? I do not. They didn't teach you that in high school? I can't say I did learn how to do that. Active switch bank, at the end. Yea this shit's still active. I'm read to dip I feel like we've seen enough.
That's probably what we hear running right now, an air compressor. I think we're pushing it if we go towards more of the active stuff. It's just pushing our luck. Now, we find ourselves in the northern power plant just down the road.
After the war, this plant powered a rayon fabric mill that operated from 1950 to 1971. The mill has been demolished, but the power plant is still sitting abandoned after half a century. This is a locker room. Wow, the writing on these look old. Safety is its own reward. Please something in trash can, but it's covered up.
There's all the time cards here. This cabinet's still full of stuff. Why is there a dog barking? That's a little sketchy. It sounds like it's coming from nearby. Now this is a decaying power plant.
It's half demolished. They just made a clean slice right through the building. That's so weird why they would only demolish half of it. Might as well just do all of it at that point. Yea. Man though this looks exactly the same as the other one.
It's literally just more decay. It's like we just jumped in time. In actuality, the plant was not half demolished but rather just missing its temporary wall that would have allowed for future expansion. One of the few things I actually looked at in the other place were the control boards and these are exactly the same. Yep.
This one's better though. Better decay, and there's no box built in front of it blocking the view. This is like a great way to see how a turbine works.
It's kinda like a museum. You can see the fins. Yea. Here's a control panel for the turbine.
You can see RPM up there. This is so nasty, look at all this asbestos. There's like no dust in here though because of how soggy everything is so I think we'll be okay without a mask. As long as we're careful not to kick anything up with our feet.
It's just turned to mush. Oh my god the floor is so nasty. There's literally asbestos and algae mixed together. This is like a governor for letting the steam in. There's this big lever to precisely control the valve.
These valves up top probably all have to do with how much steam is getting let in as well. The offices are in the same spot. But these are in a much older style. There's some blueprints over here. Schematics of some kind. Wiring diagram actually? I like the ambience in this plant a lot more than the other one. Yea.
You can actually hear yourself think. There's also a lot of natural light here which is good. It has the same exact boilers. I mean I'm sure when they were built they were both identical to a T but then the other one just got a few more updates and modernizations over the years Look at the detail. and this one remained a bit more outdated.
Look at these arrows, the uh needles. I know, it's really fancy. Like that is unnecessary. But they did that. You will absolutely never see that done again. No. It's like some spaceship looking thing.
We're at the bottom of the boiler itself. It could be where the coal enters the boiler. It could, yea. If it's pulverized and then turned into dust and then blown in there with air. Yea I feel like Bailey's Meters are always on boilers.
That's not really true. Not always on other things. Sometimes they're on other stuff. Yea the other one did not have these control panels, the other power plant.
Are they modernized? Yea they modernized it somehow. I like the little red light on top. There's hoppers above us. They fed into the pipe up here. Those stacks in the distance are where the old Rayon plant used to stand.
Presumably, the stacks were for some additional boilers the facility would've had for process steam. You can see the tracks the crane would travel on. Yea this really looks hazardous in so many ways. I'm gonna turn around. It's flooded down there.
It's real nasty. There's some really cool lighting right now. So many pipes going in every direction. Of course all the asbestos on them is hanging off.
They have the unit numbers hand painted for each boiler here. This is a super old tank based fire extinguishing system. Manual weights opening and closing the valves.
It's nice not stressing out that a worker could walk in on you at any second. And the decay is always cool to look at. This might be the worst I've ever jinxed us, because literally seconds later, this happened. [vehicle doors slamming shut] They're right here.
We gotta- we have to hide. They're looking. Go up these stairs. Go up these stairs. Bryan! Up! It has an official seal on it. It has an Alabama state seal on it.
On the door. Go up. [footsteps in the distance] [dog barking] While they're up there we should go down. And grab our stuff? And get outta here.
[workers make noise] 3 2 1 Go! HEY! Get us the fuck outta here Ryan. They brought dogs in, you see this? Yea. That's a really cute Australian Shepherd. Yea! Dude I knew as soon as we started hearing the dogs barking that it wasn't good.
Their truck's still there they didn't even leave. Okay. That's a cute ass dog. Yo you want an apple? Earlier this year, the power plant for the paper mill was demolished. These plants that once dotted the country have almost been entirely erased, but the role they played in supplying the arsenal of democracy during WW2 won't be forgotten.