Exploring a Huge Abandoned Art Deco Power Plant


In this episode we’re exploring an abandoned coal-fired power plant that dates back to the 1940’s. The plant is built in an Art Deco style, with many impressive details and design features that can’t be found in modern power stations. In recent years, the aging facility was unable to meet new environmental standards and was shut down for good. Now, we’re venturing inside to discover the industrial beauty of the past. Asbestos free. That’s what we like to see. I’m sure there is asbestos somewhere in here still, but it’s good to know it’s not everything in here. This is not asbestos free. This probably goes out to the main turbine hall. Let’s check that out. Holy cow though, this is huge! Six generators. They’re all minty green. It’s like a massive version of the peppermint power plant that we saw. It looks like it’s of the same era too. With the color palette, and all the tiling… the symmetry.
-They were starting to be scrapped or something. These are climbing harnesses here I think. Guardian fall protection. To climb on top of the unit maybe? Yea so I don’t think any scrapping was going on here, maybe like professional people from the power company. Wow these are so dusty. Wish I had like a rag or something. This would look really nice if you dusted it all off. They were General Electric turbines. Number two. The turbine hall is the most important room of any coal power plant. Here hot steam at temperatures of over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit would arrive from the boilers and flow into the turbines. The high pressure steam then spins a massive set of blades at extremely high speed. This rotational energy is then turned into electrical energy by a generator located at the end of each unit. The actual turbine blades are still inside. A lot of times they’re just scrapped out and salvatged. Each of the six turbines at this plant were capable of producing 70 megawatts, enough to power nearly 50,000 homes. Looks like there’s a control room or something up there. Even the side pieces of equipment are painted green. Off to the side of each turbine was another generator. I’m assuming these served some supplemental or emergency use since their rated capacity is only 200 kilowatts. 2011, do not operate. There’s some dumb ass graffiti in here. A lot of vandalism, which always sucks but… this place is still really cool. Oh yea, this is a control room. A lot of lock-out tags on everything. It’s funny you got all these old looking dials, and right here just a modern thermostat. This is very 50’s right here. Carbon monoxide monitoring. Look there’s more tourist brochures in here. Did the employees just read tourist brochures in here all day fantasizing about wanting to be on vacation? Twin Peaks right there. Wow the lighting is so much dimmer in here now. Definitely got some dark clouds over us. Ooh this looks like another control room. It is. This one’s more beige. Oh wow. These were for each generator. So that’s 1… 2… 3… 4, 5, and 6. Look there’s still writing on the whiteboard left. And obviously some of this was added, but that was probably there before. That’s a huge crane. There’s lights on the crane. It could go the whole length of the building.
-Yea. This turbine has been ripped apart though. Damn that rain is coming down now! The platforms that the turbines are on are actually isolated from the rest of the floor to mitigate vibration. These are some big bolts. Hand for scale. The whole place is flooding from this rain storm. Oh, I think they got a leak. Look at all these tools… and parts… There’s meters here that look like they would have been part of a control panel. That’s like the same green as the generator. It’s like a wisk. We’re gonna learn how to run this place.
-Is that what this is? Instruction manual for the GE… generator. Just for turbine number… They’re different? Units 3 and 4, can’t show the front though. It has the exact name of the power plant. It’s like just for this plant.
-So they were probably custom built. These instructions do not purport to cover all details. You just gotta know.
-Even this does not cover everything. Wow. The diagrams are cool. Installation… How to install one of these? We saw those in the control room.
-Yea. Rack installation. There’s a bunch of boards. A lot about these little panels.
-Yea. Literally the whole thing’s about those panels. All this info just for those… It’s still these panels still. So this must be a book just on those.
-Yea. Wow. -I don’t know let’s see. Look, even on these it’s just that.
-Yea. It’s just the control panel thing. Just one small section of the control panel. Wiring diagrams… Wow. This is like the offices. There’s a stretcher. Oh.
-That…
-Danger – Asbestos removal. Let’s not open that door.
-No. But look these ones have the same thing and we were in there already. No that’s a different danger sign.
-Okay. That just says danger, this danger literally says asbestos removal. But it’s probably similar. I bet the ceiling tiles were asbestos and that’s why they took them out. Yea probably but see these doors say warning, asbestos materials, so like respirators on past these doors. The control mechanics supervisor. It looks like there’s a lot of stuff left in here. There’s a computer.
-A fairly recent one too so… I mean we saw the calendar which said 2005- 15, so that wasn’t too long ago. Touchview graphics, Smith meter… Battery maintenance. Look at all of these… schematics and papers hung up. These are some big ones right here. God the name is on everything, that’s gonna make it so hard to edit this. You can learn how to build one of these if you really went through everything. That’s a nice stairwell. This is cool, that’s a wind indicator. Probably linked to a weather vane somewhere up on the roof. There’s shit on the floor… It got a little funky smelling up here. Oh, this is a cool logo! You’re walking in asbestos.
This whole- Yea. This whole elevator door is really cool. This is the upper floor control room. This looks pretty cool. I hope the front of it has actual controls. It does. Oh there’s a bunch of blanks right here though. You can walk through these also. Looks like they put a lot of computers in to replace the old mechanical controls. This is really cool. You can see… it must have started up around 5 AM cause it’s at zero megawatts. And then by 7:30 about it was at 150 megawatts. That’s pretty cool. Red. Green. It was a circuit breaker. They even put detail on that there. Everything had to have some sort of design to it, rather than just being completely utilitarian. This log sheet is from 1996, 97… 2002. This probably wasn’t operated that often. And this control room might not have been used for awhile. I’m gonna take a walk through the control panel. Holy shit. I’m not sure if this glass was frosted or if it’s just really dirty and hazy. I think it’s just dirty. Oh yea, hazy actually. Wow. Yea this power plant was not just built, it was designed with aesthetics in mind which is not something you would see in a brand new power plant. From this higher vantage point, the beautiful design of the power plant was even more apparent. Symmetry and repetition can be found throughout the turbine hall as if the architects and engineers managed to work in perfect harmony. It’s a true mid-century gem of the streamline Art Deco movement and it’s a shame to see that nothing has been done to preserve it. These must have scrolled so slowly because all that time is just 1 hour. I don’t know if modern power plants still keep paper logs just for redundancy. All this stuff can just be consolidated into a computer so easily. Um, this staircase goes higher because it connects to the main hall. The boiler house is the next area of the plant we’ll be exploring. This is a diagram of one of the plant’s six boilers. Note the person for scale. In each boiler, coal is burned to turn water into steam. The steam is then heated even further and routed to the turbines. Compared to the bright and open space of the turbine hall, the dark and dirty boiler house is a stark contrast. This is just white dusty powder and it looks like it could be asbestos… I mean I would think it would be, if it wasn’t for asbestos free stamped everywhere. It shows you really have no idea what is and what isn’t. Unless it’s stamped on it. Is this one of those hearing booths for calling? Yup. Hear here. Wow. Pretty quiet in here. Oh a hear-here. Yea.
-We’ve seen these before. These are in every power plant. But that font though. Oh yea, this thing’s original. Been here since the 50’s.
-And this font too. The phone was replaced, but… other than that. You can hear the wind in this vent here. It kinda stopped when I started filming. Now this looks like an asbestos cesspool. It looks like it is too, there’s dangerous shit right here. And that, is dripping all the way down there. Oof. I almost slipped on my ass. The panels were thrown down here. Oh god I gotta take this mask off it’s crushing my face. They’re not meant to be comfortable.
-No. I’m gonna have such a mark on my nose after this. This looks cool right here. Oh there’s a turbine down here, exposed. The blades I mean. This is from the one that was taken apart. The one right above us. This one’s not being used any time soon though.
-It’s screwed up. I mean this is the most valuable part of the turbine cause the engineering that goes into making these all precise.
-Yea, but not when it looks like that. Hell no. The rest of it looks alright though, but not really. Here it’s pretty bad. This is like a stand designed just to hold this. It is. Would’ve been pretty long.
-Yea. This is from the one that was directly up here that was all stripped down.
-Yea that’s the only one that’s missing it. Yea. This is where they’d fix and repair parts. That’s a big drill press, that could move on multiple axes. That’s a full on mill. But will it work? Too rusted? Yea look at the shaft over here, it’s so rusty. Oh that’s working. I’m rusty. I mean, there’s a motor type electrical thing back there so it probably could have been motorized also.
-That’s disgusting, I should not have touched that. Really? Yea that’s like disgusting. Mark Stanley, 1978. Ex-painter. If that was the best job he could do I can see why he’s an ex-painter. I’ve seen graffiti scrawled out neater than that. The wind in here sounds crazy. They got one of those Chamber of Secrets sinks. This looks like it was the main entrance. That’s a big quote on the wall. View not this mighty work with thoughts of power nor brick and steel and copper strands but with the inner eye of fancy. Recall the vision that dared it’s inception, the learning and mastery that framed it’s being, the perfection of it’s art and the direction of it’s myriad uses, in fulfillment of the words of the sage philosopher. To know what to do is wisdom. To know how to do it is skill. To do the thing as it should be done, is service. This power plant truly is one of the last of it’s kind. After the 1950’s, power plants began to be constructed in a wholly utilitarian manner. With increasing market competition and higher environmental standards to adhere to, aesthetics have become a topic of least concern for power companies. Sure, it’s logical to say that the appearance of power plants doesn’t matter since they’ll only be seen by the handful of people that work there. But, you can’t help but look at this building and appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship that went into structures of the past. The designers and builders of this power plant weren’t just chasing a bottom line, they were creating something to be proud of.

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