Mar 172015
Horton Spheres

The giant globe shaped tanks seen here are known as Horton Spheres and are located at the historic Turner Valley gas plant. Built in the the early 1940s, these “Big Balls” were used to store specialized gaseous products produced at the facility, most notably a World War Two era fuel additive used in fighter planes. This product was later trucked to a nearby Calgary refinery for further processing before being sent overseas.

Manufacturing these tanks must have presented quite a engineering challenge. A good number of rolled and shaped metal plates would have to be fitted together with incredible precision. Supporting them are a series of rather interesting octagonal shaped concrete posts, anchored to the ground. Cross bracing, in the form of rods, ties everything together. The steps and railings leading to the top of the tank in themselves are remarkable bits of metal work.

These spheres were recently repainted with the old and nasty lead based coating taken off at that time.

The Turner Valley plant is open for tours in the summer, but I believe the tanks seen here are normally off limits, although they can be seen from a nearby road. We had special permission to photograph them. A full report on our visit to the plant, in operation from the 1910s-1980s, will be coming soon.

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Bigfoot and Brutus (from afar).

Short Subjects: reports that for any number of reasons are brief in nature. They might be updates to older articles, previews of posts planned or not yet published, brief snippets of things that don’t fit in anywhere else or subjects that are so obscure that information on them can’t be found.

If you need any more information on what we talked about here, by all means contact us!

Date of adventure: March, 2015.
Location: Turner Valley, AB.
These tanks are not publicly accessible.

Horton Sphere

The grey skies and silver tank almost blend together.

Horton Spheres

These “Big Balls” are called Horton Spheres.

Horton Spheres Turner Valley

They’re located at the historic Turner Valley gas plant.

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6 Comments on "Big Balls!"

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Neil Fotoman
Neil Fotoman

I’m definitely going to do this tour……Hopefully get a good crowd to come with me.


So thats where my ex left them!


Wow! They’re restored them! They were very rusty and tarnished that last time I was out there.

They were manufactured by Crane Steel who in the 1920s used a (proper facing) swastika as a logo – those marks are all over the bottom of the spheres.