Sedgwick Machine Works


“The profit of any sale is of less importance than the opportunity the transaction affords to make of the purchaser a permanent customer and friend.” -Motto of the Sedgwick Machine Works

The Sedgwick Machine Works company’s story starts with its founding as an ironworks and furnace in Massachusetts in 1643, centuries before the idea of a factory even existed. Eventually, the company moved its headquarters to New York City, and almost 300 years later, in 1893, it built a modern factory upstate on the banks of the Hudson River. At this point, the Sedgwick Machine Works mainly produces elevators and dumbwaiters, which grow in demand as cities get larger and buildings get taller. The company had many notable customers, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, who used a Sedgwick dumbwaiter to get from floor to floor in his house after getting polio, and the Japanese Royalty, who had two Sedgwick dumbwaiters installed in the Palace of the Crown Prince of Japan. Sedgwick products could also be found in famous buildings like the Empire State Building and the Hotel Astor.


The Testing Tower of the Sedgwick Machine Works

The most clearly visible part of the factory is a tall, thin tower, still bearing the Sedgwick name in worn paint. The tower was used as a place to test the elevators and dumbwaiters that the company was famous for. Although most of the tower’s entrances we’re boarded up, some boards had fallen away, and i managed to climb through. It is a long and dangerous way to the top of the tower, climbing from floor to floor up flights of wooden stairs that seem to get more and more brittle the farther up you go. Eventually, i reached the top floor.


Long way to fall! Looking down from the top floor of the elevator testing tower.


One of the middle floors of the testing tower.

Climbing down from the tower, I proceeded into the warehouse space. The main factory, once between the tower and the warehouses, was demolished in 2005.


A warehouse interior.


Another dark warehouse. Piles of insulation and chemicals litter the floors.


Another Warehouse floor, showing insulation and chemicals.


The warehouses and offices, from the tower.

The Sedgwick Machine Works is a relatively dangerous place to explore. The only way to the top of the tower is brittle wooden stairs and floors, and the warehouses are filled with dangerous chemicals. Please wear a respirator and watch your step.

The Lynda Lee Dress Factory


The art-deco facade of the Lynda Lee Dress Factory

Located in a a small, Vermont town, the Lynda Lee Dress Factory doesn’t exactly strike you as a heavy, gritty industry, like most abandoned factories in places like Newark or Gary. The Lynda Lee Factory was designed in the art deco style sometime during the mid 1900’s, and at one point it also was home to a print shop, probably when the manufacturer started to lose money as US industry declined. Sadly, I can find little to no information about the history of this extremely unique factory. It is known that a fire started in the basement of one of the factory areas, causing it to be condemned by the city, and that it went up for auction but was never bid on.


The loading bay is filled with piles of boards. I think they were put there to block the elevator shaft.


The main factory floor. I attempted to walk on the wood, but it sagged under my weight. No way to cross here.


Looking to the other end of the factory.


The only way in or out of the loading bay.

Unluckily, as soon as i was ready to leave the factory, some construction workers showed up and decided to pick up on demolishing another wing of the factory. Unable to get out without being spotted, I staked out in this room, waiting for them to go away.


Escape rout!

I figured it would be easier to stay hidden going this way instead of the street way.

If you plan to visit the Lynda Lee Dress Factory, the main dangers are wooden floors and rusty metal. It is unclear what the fate of the factory will be in the end.

The Gary Screw and Bolt Factory

The abandoned Gary Screw and Bolt Factory is a testament to better times in the town of Gary, Indiana. In its day, Gary was home to many different industries, and economic success eventually led to beautiful architecture around the city. However, like in many American cities and towns, the industry left. Today, Gary has fallen on hard times, the many factories that once supported the economy are abandoned, and the beautiful old buildings that came about from industrial wealth are now ruins.

In 1912, the Pittsburgh Screw and Bolt Works opened up the Gary Screw and Bolt Factory. The factory was right next to the many steel plants in Gary, giving it a constant supply of quality steel without transportation costs. WWII brought 1,000 workers into the factory to mass produce parts needed on tanks, planes, and ships. As time passed, the Gary Screw and Bolt Factory was hit by the decline of the steel industry that fed it, and the rising world market that it competed with. The factory could take no more, and closed in 1986.

DSC_0320The Gary Screw and Bolt Factory Today

I spent a day exploring Gary’s many abandoned buildings during the summer, and the Screw and Bolt Factory was the last stop. There is very little machinery left, leaving a massive open space, which is slowly being reclaimed by nature.


Sunlight at the end of a long row of columns

After its days as a factory ended, the abandoned building was purchased by a charity to store bulk textiles that would be sent to impoverished countries. When the owners of the charity were jailed on corruption charges, the factory and the huge piles of clothing inside it were abandoned again. In one part of the factory you can still see these rotting clothes.

Gary Screw and Bolt Factory

This factory had some of the largest open spaces of any abandoned building I’ve ever seen


Orange cloth from the “charity” sits rotting on the floor

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Crab Island Fish Factory

Most abandoned factories are found at the ends of dirty old streets, often next to foul urban waterways or unused railroad yards. The Crab Island Fish Factory is an exception. It sits on its own island in New Jersey’s Great Bay, the only stain on a landscape that seems remote and almost untouched by humans. The factory was built in the 1800’s to turn an inedible type of fish called a bunker, or a menhaden, into an assortment of products, such as fish oil, fertilizer, and pet food. Locally, the factory was known as “the stink house”, due to the awful smell it would emit when it was in operation. The factory brought fishing in the area to an industrial scale. Bunker/menhaden travel in huge schools, which would be spotted from above by airplanes. The planes would then direct boats to surround the school with nets, catching thousands of fish with very little time and effort. Eventually, the factory’s efficiency led to its own downfall, as it dragged the once enormous bunker/menhaden population lower and lower, until there simply weren’t enough fish left to catch and still make a profit. It also had to ship product to the railroads, which were all a great distance from its remote island. After failing in its original purpose, and overusing the resource that it had thrived on, the factory still clung on to life by composting garbage from nearby Atlantic City. In the 1970’s, the factory’s atrocities towards nature ended when it became a part of the Green Acres program. Today, the factory has been reclaimed by nature, it’s warehouses are home to seabirds and its piers (ironically) shelter huge schools of small fish.

The Crab Island Fish Factory from the kayak launch

Exploring the factory would have been fun enough, but i decided to go one step further and spend the night there. After loading very basic supplies into the kayak, I made the 1 mile journey through the marsh and across the channel to the factory’s island. Upon reaching the island, my little group dragged its kayaks into the most liveable warehouse and set up a small campsite of sleeping bags, backpacks, and lanterns. The sun was setting, but we set out to explore the island before dark.

This is the warehouse we chose to call home for a night

Huge machine pieces, my guess is they were for grinding up fish.


A doorway into another warehouse

The island has many buildings and structures, all in various states of disrepair. Some buildings were just piles of twisted metal frames and pipes, which had succumb to the winds and storms off the ocean. Even the warehouse i was staying in was only half intact, with half of the roof caved in and collapsed.

DSC_0126 Sunset shining on the factory smokestacks

The skeletal frame of a roof over the factory
The Atlantic City skyline was visible from right in front of the warehouse i was staying in, giving a small taste of humanity to a remote and forgotten place.

This building was far away from the main factory. I’m not sure what purpose it served.

A large water tower in the sunset.

Sleeping in the factory was creepy to say the least. Dripping water falling on sheet metal sounded like footsteps. Rusty metal creaked and moaned. At around 4am there was an ear shattering mechanical roar, far louder than any of the planes or boats that passed by. I don’t know and don’t want to know where it came from.


This was my view as the night fell.

When the sun came up and made the place a whole lot less creepy, i finally got some sleep. After waking up and taking a few more photos, it was back into the kayaks to sail for home.

My warehouse in the morning.

Collapse and decay.

The Crab Island Fish Factory is a tough place to get to (you need a boat), but if you have the chance to go, i suggest you do it soon, as this place wont be around much longer. Also, pack bug spray. You’ll need it.

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Overbrook Asylum

In the late 1800’s, progressive reformers began to question the long standing tradition of treating the mentally ill like prisoners. They began to look at mental illness as just that: an illness, that needed to be treated and cured. In 1896, a new asylum was founded in Essex County, New Jersey. In its early years, the asylum housed thousands of inmates, but as new drugs were invented, it slowly became oversized and obsolete. The complex’s path to abandonment happened slowly, as more and more of it’s buildings became unnecessary and were abandoned. Eventually the entire asylum, which was much more like a small town, was deserted. For better or for worse, its many years of service are almost forgotten. The Essex County sheriffs department has made quite a few claims about security around the asylum, but i was not hassled as i walked into the compound and jumped through a window. The asylum’s condition is varied from place to place.

DSC_0005   Long hallways interrupted by small community rooms characterize the asylum.

Overbrook Asylum was founded by people with good intentions, but like every other asylum in the turn of the century, its methods of treatment were often cruel and torturous. “Treatments” such as lobotomies, submerging a patient in ice cold water, and even electroshock therapy were practiced in asylums across the US. In one particularly cold winter, 24 patients died of exposure when heat systems broke down. Despite the many horrors that Overbrook hosted, it probably helped rehabilitate many people during its later years when treatments were more based in science. Has Overbrook redeemed itself for the atrocities committed to the mentally ill? You can decide.

DSC_0025 “Syringes/sharps”

I could still tell what many of the rooms and areas in the asylum were used for back in the day, thanks to the countless papers and signs. In one room, i found a folder containing a file for a former taxi cab driver. His paper read
“Date Discharged: May 11 1952.”
“How Discharged: Died”

The Cafeteria

Overbrook Asylum has now been condemned to demolition. Its long history of both helping and hurting patients in need finally comes to an end, after more than 100 years.

Much of the asylum is dark and ominous. No wonder there are countless ghost stories about this place

Never stop exploring!

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The Wyman-Gordon Power Plant

“Keep your eyes peeled for tall red brick smokestacks, as there’s often something quite wonderful at the bottom. . .”
-Jeff Chapman

The Wyman-Gordon Power Plant once powered the massive Ingalls-Shepard Forging Company, which started out manufacturing parts for the auto and railroad industries. Built in 1910, the massive factory was sold to the Wyman-Gordon Company in 1920. During World War One and World War Two, what they now called the Ingalls-Shepard Division Factory  turned its industrial might to the war effort, and was in turn given dismantled German technology. The company claims to have produced more parts for the war than any of its competitors. In 1986, economic hardship forced the Wyman-Gordon Company to shut the factory down. Only two buildings of the once sprawling factory remain, the power plant and an occupied building across the street.


It would be an overstatement to call what surrounds the Wyman-Gordon Power Plant a “fence”. The tattered, rusty, chain link is filled with holes and embarrassingly easy to walk right through. The building is mostly void of windows, but there were a few leading to the offices, and after a short climb, i was in.

DSC_0150  After climbing up the ledge, it wasn’t all that hard finding a way in

The offices were still in decent condition, with paperwork, binders, and ledgers rotting away on the crumbling desks. Reading a few of these papers helped me see what it was like back when this was still a hub of industry. One detailed a deal between a loading crane manufacturer and the Wyman-Gordon company, and a binder in the center of the room held inventory of replacement parts.

The offices had seen better days, but there were still legible records all around.

Leaving the offices, i entered the heart of the Wyman-Gordon Power Plant .The main rooms were wet from a recent storm, and well ventilated, but the floors of some of the side rooms and hallways had a dry asbestos insulation piled a foot deep in some places. After pointing my camera into the dark, taking a photo with flash on, and examining it, i found out the stuff i was walking on wasn’t the normal abandoned building mud and grime. Yuck!

Still water in one of the main rooms of the power plant

Machinery rusts away in the dark

I could have explored the Wyman-Gordon Power Plant all day if given the chance. However, a man on a bike circling the building made me cautious, and i decided to beat a hasty retreat in case he decided to call up some friends and score himself a new (and free!) camera.
The inside of the power plant is a mess of rusted machinery

The Wyman-Gordon Power Plant is a EPA Brownfields site. Although the main rooms are ventilated, open, and probably safe, anyone going to the Wyman-Gordon Power Plant without a respirator should be careful and avoid areas with clear signs of asbestos. The metal walkways have been taken for scrap, and I fear that it is only a matter of time before the last remnants of the once proud Ingalls-Shepard Division Factory are gone forever. 

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The McMyler Coal Unloader

The early 1900s, the sheer amount of coal needed for industry and other applications around the NYC and NJ area got inventors and industrialists thinking. Supplying the area with coal was no easy task, as it had to be unloaded from train cars and reloaded into barges, which would sail for wherever the coal was needed. Eventually, someone got to thinking about how to make this process faster and easier, and in 1917, the McMyler Coal Unloader was built on the shores of Arthur Kill in NJ. The way that this coal unloader went about its job was extraordinary: a loaded train car would be lifted into the air and flipped over, dumping the coal into a funnel, which would pour it into a waiting barge. It was only operated by 12 men, and could unload a railway car every 2.5 minutes. The Unloader was so efficient and timely that all other coal unloaders in the area were shut down. The McMyler Coal Unloader continued to faithfully supply coal to the industries of the NY/NJ area until its closure in 1983. Now its rusty hulk still stands tall, way out on the end of a crumbling concrete pier. 


It was a long walk down the pier where the Coal Unloader stands. I finally reached the base of the towering structure, unstuck the thorny vines from my pants, and entered the machine room.

Huge machines inside the heart of the McMyler Coal Unloader

The machine room’s floor was covered with coal dust and flakes of rusty metal. There were multiple massive wheels, which i believe turned to pull the train car up and dump it out. It’s hard to imagine the amount of power and the sheer size and strength of machines needed to lift a train car off the ground. The machine room was lacking any kind of controls, and the stairs to the operator’s box had been removed.

DSC_0490The Machine Room from outside

Sadly, even though this structure was built to last, strong winds from the multiple hurricanes that have hit the northeast recently have caused multiple parts of the loader to collapse. I can only hope that someone with the know-how and funding can save this piece of America’s industrial history before it collapses into Arthur Kill. 

DSC_0509  The funnel that dumped coal into barges has collapsed 

Fort Montgomery

In these days, its hard to ever imagine that the USA was vulnerable to a full scale invasion from an imperial power throughout much of it’s history. In the 1700s and 1800s, the country’s main threat was also its oldest: Great Brittan. Great Brittan had already proven its hostility to the new nation in the War of 1812, and it also threatened to ally with the Confederate states during the Civil War. The constant fear of invasion from British Canada led the US government to build a fort on the border at Lake Champlain. It was named Fort Montgomery, after a Revolutionary War hero who died fighting the British in Quebec. Construction of the fort began in 1844, on the site of a previous fort from 1816, and ended in the 1870’s. Much of the fort was built during the Civil War, when fear of an attack from British Canada was at its peak. Now, just like the hostilities that led to it’s creation, Fort Montgomery is long forgotten.

Beautifully hand cut stone composes the outer wall of the fort

It’s a long trek through mosquito-filled swamp to reach the island that holds the ruins of Fort Montgomery. After crossing a gravel land bridge that connects the fort’s island to the mainland, I began to see ruined stone pieces, and eventually one of the walls looming over the mote. The first part of the fort I encountered was a long series of arches, containing the remains of supply cabinets as well as slits in the wall, through which rifles could be aimed.

The back archways, viewed from the center of the island

Through the door and into the main halls of the fort

The first thing I noticed when i entered the main hallways was the evenly spaced windows looking out on a spectacular view of Lake Champlain. These windows, while framing beautiful views today, once were the openings for massive artillery pieces. Back in the day, the fort held 125 of these massive guns. The next thing I noticed was much less sinister: an extremely ornate brick roof with gentle arches(even though it was unnerving to see it on the verge of collapse.) Its strange that a place designed for war would have had such amazing architecture and design.

The inner fort, showing the gun windows, elaborate masonry, and brick ceilings

The once spectacular halls of the fort are now dark and gloomy

The fort was in very poor condition. There were many places on the second floor where i did not walk, as the floor appeared to be ready to collapse at any moment. It was not uncommon for me to have to crawl under and over fallen debris from previous collapses. I hope that someone preserves this beautiful work of architecture and important piece of history.

Fort Montgomery from outside

If you decide to visit Fort Montgomery, please watch your step through the crumbling ruins. There is also an abundance of poison ivy on the way to the fort.

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Newark Denaturing Plant

On The shores of the polluted Passaic River, on a plot of city owned land, sits a small abandoned factory. Back in its day, it was owned by International Metallurgical Services, and was most likely used to produce ethanol for the company’s other, more metallurgical uses. One aspect of the ethanol production that went on here was the addition of highly toxic methanol, which can cause damage to the central nervous system. Clearly this factory was using quite a lot of toxic chemicals, as it is is now an EPA brownfields site due to contamination by it’s many years of industrial discharge. There is little information on the history of this factory. Please contact me if you have more details.

My exploration of the building started with a quick look for entry points, of which there turned out to be many. Passing a fallen stack of tires that i assume were intended to block out explorers like me, i proceeded into the dark remains of a reception area and offices. Past here was the loading dock, where trucks would pull up to load and unload materials and finished product.

Old tires in the floor of the loading bay

Next, it was up the crumbling stairs to floor 2. Floor 2 was void of machinery and other significant objects, so it was probably used for storage, or maybe packaging There were some areas of floor 2 that were fenced off, I have no idea why…

Floor 2 gloom

Floor 2 Hallway

Floor 3 was filled with multiple, huge vats, packed tightly together in a confined space. Navigating these vats was like solving a maze, walking over old boards that previous explorers had left behind as makeshift bridges over uneven floors. Eventually, the seemingly endless vats ended, and I reached a small, open space.

There were many more massive vats behind this one

Floor 4 had some ruined furnishings, including shelves and strange machines that i couldn’t figure out at all. After taking some more photos and trying(unsuccessfully) to find a way to the roof, i headed back down the stairs and out of the building. Right outside are a sunken barge and tugboat, which probably served together ferrying trucks and cars along the river. Now they rest together, rotting away into the foul mud of the Passaic.

Tugboat and barge

If you plan to visit the Newark Denaturing Plant, please wear a respirator, gloves, and other safety equipment. The chemicals used in manufacturing here are nowhere near gone.

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