Shipwreck of the Bloxom

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This big red tugboat is probably the most iconic wreck in the graveyard

Old ships don’t get much respect after they’ve been deemed obsolete. No matter how faithful, how old, or how historic, almost every ship will eventually find itself sold for scrap and broken down. The Arthur Kill Shipwreck Graveyard is home to around 100 ships, some of historic significance, doomed to meet this fate. The Bloxom is one of them

The wreck of the Bloxom is probably the most intact and most visible from shore. She was built in West Virginia for the US Army in 1944, originally named the LT-653. After her military career, she was sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad Co, where she worked until being sent here in the 1970’s. She was powered by a oil-fed steam engine, and was used for ocean towing.

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A rusty refrigerator aboard the Bloxom

Getting aboard the Bloxom was tough- i had to tie off my kayak and climb up a rotted hawser that was still dangling over the side. Holes have rusted into the deck in many places, with nothing but foul green water underneath. Sharp, rusty metal was everywhere. While i got out with only a few minor cuts, it could have been much worse.

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A crew member’s rack(bed) in one of the rooms: you can still see the uncomfortable looking spring mattress. The crew probably would have slept in shifts of 6 hours on, 6 hours off.

The Bloxom has separate quarters, originally designed to house a racially segregated crew.

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The tug’s galley, still filled with rusty equipment

Being in the scrapyard, I expected to find the ship totally gutted. I was pleasantly surprised to find a fair amount of furnishing still remaining on board. There were even some rusty old tools scattered around.

DSC_0320.JPG“Sir i think there’s minor flooding in the engine room”

Pretty much everything below the main deck is flooded. More is exposed at low tide, but i would strongly advise not walking anywhere that spends time submerged, as the rust is much worse.

DSC_0325.JPGOne of the huge stockless anchors resting on the deck

This is not where the anchor is supposed to be… I actually have no idea how it got up here.

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The bow

 

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The bridge seen from the bow

 

DSC_0319.jpgThe view from the bridge

Unlike almost all abandoned places, i found no trace of activity on the wreck: no graffiti, no footprints, no anything. I don’t know how long its been since someone stood on the bridge and looked out across the bow.

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The ship’s other anchor is still held in place

Although the Bloxom is in a scrapyard, she’s so rusty and full of holes that her scrap value is probably very low. Unless somebody decides to do something with her, she’ll sit there in the mud until she rusts away into nothing.

I would not recommend boarding the Bloxom. The floors are so weak and rusty that collapse is a very real threat.

 

 

S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse

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A large, open room filled with wooden support beams, top floor

The S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse was built in 1886 on the shores of Brooklyn’s vile Gowanus Canal. It stored grain and animal feed, both which were valuable commodities in a time when horses were used for everything from pulling the carriages of the elite and wealthy to plowing the fields of the farms still prevalent in the outer boroughs. The company’s fortunes were directly tied to grain,and when cars replaced horses on the city streets, the storehouse was forced to become a general warehouse, until it was finally abandoned sometime around the 1960’s.

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The very top of the factory. Those flimsy boards are the only things between an explorer and a 2 story fall.

S.W.Bowne, the storehouse’s owner, was not the standard rich person of his day. Instead of sitting in a comfortable office lavishing in his own wealth, he spent his time in the storehouse, doing manual labor alongside his workers. One day, while helping his workers carry lumber, his foot broke through the floor and was caught in a machine, which tore apart his leg. After the amputation that followed, Bowne was forced to sue for worker’s compensation, which was contested by his board of directors. He won, however, when the NY Appeals Court ruled that while Bowne was the owner of the company, he was also a working employee, and was therefor entitled to worker’s comp.

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Wooden beams and floors still stand strong after almost 150 years

While Red Hook is filled with abandoned warehouses, the S.W. Bowne Grain Storehouse is uniquely significant. Most abandoned industrial buildings, even ones older than this, are filled with modern equipment and have often been renovated or added to in more (relatively) recent times. This storehouse, however, looks pretty much the same as it did in the 1880’s, inside and out. Nothing has been added to it. The original wood floors were never done away with in favor of concrete. This old building may be the best look into industrial history you can still visit today.

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Before newfangled elevators were invented, pulleys like this were used to hoist heavy goods into the upper floors of factories and warehouses. This very obsolete piece of equipment still stands tall over the canal.

Wood floors are usually very unsafe for urban explorers. Wood floors that have not been maintained since the 1960’s have usually long since collapsed. However, bags of grain are very heavy, so the floors of the storehouse were built STRONG. In most places the wood floors still feel as solid as concrete. Time and the elements have created some weakness though, especially under the small collapse in the roof. On the top floor, you can still see two holes, one where an explorer fell through, and one where his friend fell through trying to help him. Watch your step, look out for water damage and stay safe.

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Signs in English, Italian and Yiddish can be found in the storehouse, giving a glimpse into who worked here long ago.
*Update: This is a no smoking sign written in Yiddish- thank you to Joseph Alexiou for the translation!

Due to ease of access, the storehouse has a lot of graffiti, a lot of which is beautiful and well done.

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Third floor, with pillars marked west and east. Notice how well supported the roof is.

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Factory door

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The first floor

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The storehouse from outside

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An industrial sunset

Next to the storehouse are two huge, empty warehouses. Getting in is easy, and there isn’t much inside, so the urban explorer would probably take little interest. However, they are filled with graffiti, so if that’s your thing stop by and check it out.

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The warehouses near the storehouse are huge but empty

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This one has an old boat out front for some reason

Market Street Power Plant

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The Market Street Power Plant, or to be exact, the New Orleans Public Service Incorporated Power Plant, is a massive brick building with two smokestacks that tower over the low houses of the New Orleans Garden District. Built in 1905 to serve a city growing in both population and industry, the power plant served for almost 70 years, until it was finally abandoned in 1973.
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Right after entering the power plant
The first thing i found inside was troubling: the whole bottom floor area was strung up with lit up lamps, all of which looked new and maintained. Maybe this place isn’t as abandoned as you’d think.
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Why is this here???

The power plant is huge, yet fairly easy to explore, as it is mostly made up of massive, breathtaking rooms.
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Looking down into the plant’s main room

This is the largest room in the whole power plant, spanning from basement to roof, and jam packed with machines, dials, and pipes. One really does feel small standing here.

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Main room from its middle floor

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Dials and controls in the main room

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Looking down to a pool of foul water at the bottom of the main room

After climbing multiple sets of treacherous stairs, some that showed evidence of previous collapse, i managed to reach the roof.

DSC_0204  Best view in the city!

The roof here is directly over the main room. If it was to collapse, the fall would take you to the basement floor. Ouch.

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The famous double smokestacks

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The wind kept these two fans spinning as if they were still on

Coming down from the roof, i set out to explore the rest of the power plant. There are multiple other big, open rooms.

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A big room on the upper floor

This room had multiple plastic kiddie pools in it. I have no idea why.

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Another huge room, with windows easily recognizable form outside

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From higher up

After going down a staircase in this room, i noticed a modern looking piece of technology that proudly claimed to be a motion activated camera. Uh oh! Time to beat a hasty retreat!
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A cargo ship passes by on the Mississippi
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Escape! The way to the door out

If you choose to explore the Market Street Power Station, know that there are motion cameras, brittle floors/stairs, barbed wire, and a host of other dangers, as well as that its not fully abandoned for whatever reason and there are lights still on. Explore at your own risk, but know its truly breathtaking on the inside.

Substation No. 3

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Substation No. 3 is one abandoned building that has truly been forgotten. While many abandoned places have names and extensive histories already written about them, substation no. 3 boasts no fame, recognition, or even acknowledgment. Even finding the name “Substation No. 3” required 2 days of research, finally turning up one old photo with “substation no3 at Kingsbridge NY” scrawled in pen on the bottom. While other Bronx substations such as Substation No. 10 have been noticed, explored, and even redeveloped, substation no. 3 still sits forgotten in a small lot next to the Merto-North tracks and Bronx River.

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Inside Substation No. 3

There were multiple of these substations, or converter stations, built around the city in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s as the city’s transit system started to grow. Their main purpose was to convert the AC power from power plants into the DC power that the trains needed to run on, which is what happened in the massive rotary converters that can be seen in these photos. The rotary converters were difficult and costly to run, requiring constant maintenance and supervision by a team of workers on station 24/7. Eventually, in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the rotary converter was rendered obsolete by new technology that could do the same thing with almost no moving parts and no personal. The substations were obsolete, and were demolished or abandoned.

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A rotary converter

The main room of Substation No. 3 is large and open, with two massive skylights letting in the light and now the elements. Other than the rotary converters, there are massive control boards covered in buttons and levers.

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Mad scientist looking electrical controls

There is a small door right next to the entrance to the substation. Going into it leads you to a couple of storage bays, dark, dirty, and completely filled with debris. Having no respirator, i chose not to stay in these rooms for long.

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The gloomy and dark storerooms

The way into Substation No. 3 is huge, exposed, and obvious, although it does require a climb to get into and a jump to get down from. As far as i could tell, this is the only practical way in and out.

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Looking at the entry point from the catwalk on the other side of the substation

The massive skylights on the roof both let in light and the elements, causing the deterioration of the substation’s machinery and floor.

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One of the massive skylights

The grounds of Substation No. 3 are still used as a parking lot/storage area by the MTA. Be weary, as there may be security on site.

Santa Fe Grain Elevator (The Damen Silos)

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In the 1800’s, Chicago, at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, became one of the largest centers of the nations growing grain trade. Obviously, industrialists searched for the best way to participate in this lucrative business, and came up with the concept of the grain elevator: a massive, usually concrete industrial building that can receive, store, and distribute grain in the most efficient way possible. Chicago’s ideal location near the Midwest, where grain is grown, and on the Great Lakes, where grain can be shipped, meant that soon grain elevators were popping up as fast as industrialists could make them. One of the main issues with these grain elevators was that grain dust + oxygen + spark = explosion.

The story of the Santa Fe Grain Elevator starts in 1905 with an explosion and a fire. The old grain terminal in that area, on a river a short distance away, exploded, and burned to the ground almost immediately. While some saw this as a disaster resulting in thousands of dollars of property gone and multiple lives lost, others saw it as a business opportunity. The next year, architect John S. Metcalf and the Santa Fe railroad company, among others, built a new and modernized grain elevator not far from the one that had been destroyed.

DSC_0137 The Santa Fe Grain Elevator Today

The Grain elevator was truly an amazing example of industry. It surpassed its now deceased counterpart’s capacity, now able to reach 1,700,000 bushels of grain when full. It drew water from the canal right into its own power plant, which generated the 1,500 horsepower needed to keep the elevator’s machinery going. However, for all of the impressive industrial technology it had, the old problem of exploding grain dust never went away.

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An old piece of machinery 

In 1932, an explosion destroyed part of the elevator and killed 3 workers. To the owner’s credit, they did attempt to repair the elevator to make it as fireproof as possible, but a series of fires and explosions in other grain elevators around the city crippled the Chicago grain trade as a whole. Soon, Chicago was thoroughly out-competed by other Midwestern cities. The end came in 1977, when a huge explosion and fire put the Santa Fe Grain Elevator out of commission for good.

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Inside the grain elevator itself

The Grain Elevator made an appearance in the movie Transformers 4, where the bridges that connected the two sections were blown up. The city is currently trying to sell the property for a steal of a deal at only 11 million dollars.

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The abandoned warehouse is dwarfed in size by the massive silos of the elevator

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Shattered windows in the abandoned warehouse

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Large open space inside the warehouse

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An abandoned… Building? Frame? Take your pick

There are many rumors about ways one can still get to the top of the silos, although i found no ladders during my exploration. The property is fenced off, but if you look hard enough, jumping the fence is not necessary. This building has been abandoned for a fairly long time, so watch out for collapse and condition issues, although it definitely seems to have been built to last.

Thanks for reading!

Sedgwick Machine Works

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“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.

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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.

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

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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.

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A warehouse interior.

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

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Another Warehouse floor, showing insulation and chemicals.

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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 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.

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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

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

Thanks for the read!