Packard Motor Plant, Detroit (Now)
Packard Motor Plant, Detroit (Now) by Albert duce (CC BY)

Eerie Abandoned Factories Across America

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Packard Motor Plant, Detroit (Now)
Packard Motor Plant, Detroit (Now) by Albert duce (CC BY)

Industrial Wasteland

Times change, and there's no greater reminder than the remnants of industries that once were. Some were rendered obsolete by new technology and others simply couldn't keep up in economic downturns, leaving entire communities devastated by the loss of a single company. Often outdated factories get demolished or replaced, but in some cities and towns, the husks of old factories remain as eerie reminders of a time that couldn't last. Here are some abandoned factories you can still see across the country — and what they were like in their heydays.


Related: Once Popular Tourist Hotspots That Are Now Totally Abandoned

Wyman-Gordon Power Plant, Dixmoor, Illinois (Then)
The Journal of the Society of Automative Engineers

Wyman-Gordon Power Plant: Then

Dixmoor, Illinois

Wyman-Gordon bought the Ingalls-Shepard Forging steel plant in 1920 and went on growing with the aviation industry. In the constricting market of 1986, the company decided to focus on aerospace and shut down this plant making diesel-engine crankshafts for heavy equipment manufacturers such as Caterpillar and Deere.


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Wyman-Gordon Power Plant
Wyman-Gordon Power Plant by ken fager (CC BY-NC-ND)

Wyman-Gordon Power Plant: Now

Many of the surrounding buildings were demolished, but the power plant still stands. After a century of paving forests to make room for industry, nature may have the last laugh as it grows back in thickly around the decaying structure.


Related: Spooky Ghost Towns Across America

Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, Charlestown, Indiana (Then)
Charlestown Clark County Public Library

Indiana Army Ammunition Plant: Then

Charlestown, Indiana

DuPont won a military contract by promising to produce 600,000 pounds of "smokeless powder" daily for allied use in World War II, and a sprawling plant to do it went up fast — built from September 1940 to June 1941. It went dark after V-J Day in 1945, but reopened to supply the military for the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Poacher House, building 112-2
Poacher House, building 112-2 by seicer (CC BY-SA)

Indiana Army Ammunition Plant: Now

Charlestown, Indiana

INAAP is now a ghost of the war efforts, with rusted-over coal hoppers and chipped transformers. Foliage grows over the buildings, up the smokestacks, going as far as to break up the concrete ground and pull apart the bricks. Demolition and construction is expected to take place slowly at the site — two decades' worth of work, costing $315 million.


Related: 17 Abandoned Theme Parks to Explore for Thrills, Chills, and Nostalgia.

Portland Cement Plant
Wikimedia Commons

Portland Cement Plant: Then

Le Hunt, Kansas

The Alma Cementworks, opened on Table Mound in 1905 to turn limestone deposits into concrete, thrived as a company town with future silent film star Tom Mix as sheriff until competition and the Great Depression helped shut it down for good in 1918.

Ruins of the United Kansas Portland Cement Company, aka Le Hunt
Ruins of the United Kansas Portland Cement Company, aka Le Hunt by Granger Meador (CC BY-NC-SA)

Portland Cement Plant: Now

For a 114-year-old plant, it's amazing so much of the structure remains, and people sometimes visit despite (or because of) rumors of a ghost dog that howls, and to look for the place a laborer named Bohr (or Boars) died in the walls, his pickaxe and shovel left there with him.


Related: The Most Terrifying Places in America

Sunflower Ordnance Works, De Soto, Kansas (Then)
The Kansas Historical Society

Sunflower Ordnance Works: Then

De Soto, Kansas

Opened early in U.S. involvement in World War II, the Sunflower Ordnance Works brought a lot of jobs, and families with them, to De Soto. Sunflower produced gear for many of America's wars until it closed in the early 1990s. Cleanup efforts have been dragging on ever since.

sunflower ammunition plant
sunflower ammunition plant by brent flanders (CC BY-NC-ND)

Sunflower Ordnance Works: Now

Only some storage bunkers and a power station remain on the plant's 9,000-plus acres. Signs for a smoking area serve as reminders of a time when people not only smoked liberally, but thought nothing of smoking while working around explosives.

Packard Motor Plant, Detroit (Then)
Packard Motor Plant, Detroit (Then) by Library of Congress (CC BY)

Packard Motor Plant: Then

Detroit

One of the earliest automobile manufacturers, Packard helped make Detroit the hub of the automotive industry. Since the 40-acre Packard Plant shut down in 1958, the factory has been mainly a canvas for graffiti taggers and occasional film shoots. The bridge of the abandoned assembly line collapsed onto East Grand Boulevard in 2019.

Packard Motor Plant, Detroit (Now)
Packard Motor Plant, Detroit (Now) by Albert duce (CC BY)

Packard Motor Plant: Now

The building stands, but parts have long been reclaimed and sold for scrap. Arte Express Detroit began hauling debris and cleaning up the administration building in 2017. The tile is washed and shined up, but you can still see exposed brick and decades of graffiti. Catch the remains of the old Packard plant before it's totally remodeled into residential and business space, possibly including a brewery.

Related: 21 Great Auto Museums and Car Shows Worth the Drive

Fisher Body Plant 21, Detroit (Then)
Wayne State University

Fisher Body Plant 21: Then

Detroit

The Fisher family made a name for itself along with carriages for horses and automobiles in the early 1900s, though the company sold to General Motors in 1926. GM closed this plant in 1984, with the space getting a brief resurrection as a paint plant from 1990 to 1994.

Fisher Body Plant 21
Fisher Body Plant 21 by Andrew Jameson (CC BY-SA)

Fisher Body Plant 21: Now

The Environmental Protection Agency declared the 536,000-square-foot, six-story space contaminated in 2004 and still has not finished a cleanup begun in 2008. When it's done, maybe plans for a museum, residences, hostels, and nightclubs can get started.

SE Flint MI RPPC AUTO INDUSTRY HISTORY 1910 SHIFT CHANGE at BUICK & WESTON MOTT Photographer GUY GAINES DEVELOPED AND PRINTED BY PESHA STUDIO MARINE CITY MICH
SE Flint MI RPPC AUTO INDUSTRY HISTORY 1910 SHIFT CHANGE at BUICK & WESTON MOTT Photographer GUY GAINES DEVELOPED AND PRINTED BY PESHA STUDIO MARINE CITY MICH by Don...The UpNorth Memories Guy... Harrison (CC BY-NC-ND)

Buick City: Then

Flint, Michigan

Flint has suffered the loss of a lot of industry. Buick thrived in Flint until the 1980s. Even during the layoffs, GM invested $300 million in Buick City, a roughly 400-acre complex made up of six factories, but ultimately shut the complex down in 1999.

Buick City | Flint, Michigan (Now)
Wikimedia Commons

Buick City: Now

Buick City has been mostly abandoned for 20 years, as a trust has tried to fill the vacancies. Lear has moved into one corner, but 2013 plans to welcome American Cast Iron Pipe haven't happened, and a high reading of chemicals in groundwater in 2018 has prohibited further sales. India's Mahindra automaker is eyeing the site for a plan that could create 2,000 jobs, but other states are competing for the project and all plans are on hold due to the coronavirus. 

Related: 50 Classic Family Cars of the Past 50 Years

Satsop Nuclear Plant, Elma, Washington (Then)
Satsop Nuclear Plant, Elma, Washington (Then) by Fgt56d (CC BY)

Satsop Nuclear Plant: Then

Elma, Washington

Washington State invested in nuclear power in the 1970s but got in over its head. By 1983 it couldn't afford to finish its five proposed nuclear power stations — only one was completed and another stopped mid-construction.

Satsop Nuclear Plant
Satsop Nuclear Plant by Michael B. (CC BY-NC-ND)

Satsop Nuclear Plant: Now

The towers avoided demolition in 1995, and one was converted into a business park, leaving the other hauntingly lonely. Construction was completed on the stairs up the cooling towers, which has allowed explorers to peer inside. Instead of a reactor, trees have blossomed. Even when films such as "Transformers: The Last Knight" film there, Satstop is a stirring monument to what might have been.

Republic Rubber, Youngstown, Ohio (Then)
eBay

Republic Rubber: Then

Youngstown, Ohio

After surviving one closing in the 1970s, this factory making tires and hoses closed permanently in 1989.

Republic Rubber | Youngstown,
Republic Rubber | Youngstown, by Nicholas Serra (CC BY-NC-ND)

Republic Rubber: Now

Collapsed buildings and debris includes piles of tires that may have been made on site. A visit from the Malvern Exploration & Paranormal Society in 2017 found it to be "very unsafe and dangerous. The buildings were crumbling and the remains of demolished buildings included rubble and holes in the ground."

Dixie Cup Plant, Lehigh, Pennsylvania (Then)
eBay

Dixie Cup Plant: Then

Wilson Borough, Pennsylvania

It takes a big factory to make little cups. Dixie Cup moved from New York to Pennsylvania because it needed more space to make enough product to meet demand. Even after Dixie Cup closed here in the 1980s, the building continued to lease to a logistics company until 2007.

Dixie Cup Plant, Easton PA
Dixie Cup Plant, Easton PA by Rick Stillings (CC BY-NC-ND)

Dixie Cup Plant: Now

A giant Dixie Cup still rests atop the abandoned building, rusty and empty of the 40,000 gallons of water it once held. The owner still hopes to turn the building into 128,000 square feet of offices and 334 apartments, an $80 million project that would include $4 million just to fix 100,000 square feet of shattered windows. In 2019, environmental officials took public comment on a cleanup plan that could clear the way for redevelopment. Another Dixie Cup plant in nearby Lehigh will shut down by the end of this year after almost a century with plan to consolidate operations in Kentucky.

Portland Cement Plant | San Antonio (Then)
Alamo Cement Company

Portland Cement Plant: Then

San Antonio

Cement was big business in Texas, and San Antonio used to have a whole Cementville of plants. Cementville was demolished in 1980 to make room for a shopping center, so ruins of the original Portland Cement Plant in San Antonio — Alamo Cement moved from this plant after 1907 — are all that's left of the industry.

Portland Cement Plant, San Antonio (Now)
Portland Cement Plant, San Antonio (Now) by fisherbray (CC BY)

Portland Cement Plant: Now

Buildings are occupied only by abandoned equipment and vegetation, as people are barred from stepping inside this neighborhood of stone that once built the city of Austin — but it's a historical landmark that welcomes visitors with commemorative plaques.

Tintic Reduction Mill, Genova, Utah (Then)
Utah State Historical Society

Tintic Reduction Mill: Then

Genova, Utah

This silver processing mill lasted only four years, built into a hill so gravity could help reduce sulfides in raw ore, but by 1925 the process was obsolete.

Tintic Reduction Mill, Genova, Utah (Now)
Tintic Reduction Mill, Genova, Utah (Now) by DT Brimhall (CC BY)

Tintic Reduction Mill: Now

The empty tanks and remnants of machinery suggest the Silver Rush that never came. While it is haunting to see such a sprawling complex lay dormant, lead and arsenic contamination make it off-limits to tourists. Taggers have marked their territory over the years, but a barbed wire fence now makes that more difficult.