It’s happened again. It happens all too often these days. We’ve given the okay to go inside some abandoned place and document it but with one one big stipulation. That is, we speak of it vaguely, making doubly sure we don’t give anything away in the photos or text that even hints where it might be located. We call it the “BIGDoer effect”.
Welcome, make yourself at home, photograph, but since the attention your write up brings could mean trouble, so unwanted visitors dropping by and looking to explore, make sure the article says nothing that could be used to help find it. Sad we have to take these measures…but that’s the state of things I guess.
Anyway…back to the subject, the “Chemical Plant” in Central Alberta. Long closed down, come along for a brief little tour – we’re given mere minutes to take in what we can. Better than nothing. Get in, snap, snap, snap, and get out! And keep your mouths shut!
The plant dates from the 1950s. Various natural occurring elements were sucked up from a deep underground formation beneath the plant to be processed into two common chemicals used by industry. The resultant products were shipped out by rail.
The operation remained in production until the early 1980s. At that time, it was not scrapped, but rather mothballed, in case market conditions allowed it to reopen. That never happened. Fast forward a decade or so, the plant is essentially abandoned, the site deteriorating more and more with each passing year. Not long ago most of the buildings were finally demolished.
Of the pieces left behind most are simply concrete pads showing where buildings once stood – nothing much really – but oddly, some remains from the power plant are still in place. Once housed in a large structure, the workings are now open to the elements, a large industrial turbine sitting atop a framework, all manner of pipes and valves underneath. These would be for oiling and/or cooling the unit, or at least we suspect.
This device was essentially a “jet engine” that drove a generator. See the one photo with our pal and photographer Rob Pohl for scale – it’s big. It’s appears to be a “Ruston” turbine, we understand original to the plant, and so would be one of the first examples built by that UK based firm, who only started making them a couple years prior. What a din it would have made. Deep in the bowels underneath the machine was a highly dangerous place – even by our standards – so we quickly retreated.
In more recent memory, a test plant operated on the property. Its purpose was to investigate the possibility of using that same underground formation of which the chemical elements were pulled from earlier, as huge storage reservoirs for among other things, waste oils or natural gas. Outside some trial runs nothing much came of the idea. Not sure if tests proved it unworkable or if costs were seen as too high. Maybe environmental issues. Who knows?
Still, they pumped a fair bit of money into the scheme and all the machinery related to that was simply left behind when they pulled out.
There’s a number of trailers full of all manner of complex plant equipment that even if explained to us its purpose, we’d still be left scratching out heads. There’s a series of numbered tanks with a maze of pipes tying them all together. Looks expensive! Various offices and control stations appears as though they just up and left one day, with intentions to return. But they never did. Calendars and various ledger and record books found told us, almost to the day, when the place was last active. It wasn’t all that long ago.
This section in particular has a real post-apocalyptic vibe, each of us in a joking manner looking over our shoulders for the “walking dead” to appear. Picture it, former workers, coveralls, the attire of choice for those who are rotting and decayed, hard hats on for safety, test gear in hand. In your best low zombie growl…ahhhhh…check…man…i…fold…ahhhhh…press…ure.
Alas, none were spotted. That noise was only some loose siding flapping in the breeze. Still, every now and then the place seemed a bit spooky. Like someone was watching.
And with that, we have to leave. It’s a brief visit, a whirlwind tour of a huge plant. Lots was left to be photographed – too bad – but doubt we’ll ever be able to return to capture the rest. Getting in was no easy task. A second time seems unlikely.
Word is the place might be reused soon, perhaps those storage reservoir tests being restarted. Or the whole thing might get completely bulldozed. No one’s sure the future – so many variables…an unstable economy among them, making it hard to predict. Glad we got a chance to photograph it, even if it was only a taste.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: November, 2016.
Location: Central Alberta.
Article references: Gotta keep them confidential.
The site is on private property. BIGDoer.com visited with permission.