Vacant New Jersey

Bethlehem Steel Plant

Status: Region: Type: Gallery:
Abandoned Pennsylvania Industrial 45 Photos

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A line of freight cars, easily stretching over a mile in length, played a perpetual symphony composed of nauseating squeals, shrieks, and screams; the deafening sound conducted by the air brakes of each rail car, slowly grinding the rolling stock to a stop. The piercing sound, reminiscent of death cry's reverberating from vocal cattle and pigs confined to a slaughter house, awaiting their inevitable butcherings, nearly rattled the wax out from within my ear drums. In time however, the dreadful breaking tune faded out to near silence, a tranquility which was quickly shattered by one final but succinct powerful gasp of air, as the brakes let loose, allowing the long stretch of railcars to roll backwards, slightly, before settling to a permanent stop.

The now idle line of trains remained stopped to our advantage, existing as a temporary wall, positioned perfect to obscure our presence. The time was right to make a move, but certainly not for much longer, as I could feel the frozen ground beneath my feet begin to vibrate, as diesel locomotives were revving up from a cold start, upon a sitting overnight within the rail yard. A mad dash consisting of humorous large leaps and strides was successfully executed as we now remained hidden behind the relative safety of the boxcar wall. A hurried and no doubt clumsy walking pace was adopted, as we traversed over frozen puddles and loose gravel, slick with spilled oil, all the while moving closer to the castle of corroded steel, rising up into the sky just ahead.

The steel mill ruins are truly a mesmerizing sight to absorb. Standing within arms reach of any of the massive furnaces will instill a sense of grandeur into even the most boring person's mind. A feeling soon overcame me that I was now inside a relic much greater than anything I could ever imagine. One can't help but to feel vulnerable and insignificant against a backdrop of enormous steel stacks, reaching high up into the sky, sprouting from an environment colored with stark shadows casting dark tones across the already rusty, bleak infrastructure. All around, shuttered blast furnaces and defunct machinery steadily rust away, as patches of ice accumulate in unsuspecting places, a telling sign of infiltrating water. Gazing up from below, a maze of catwalks criss-cross overhead, the blue sky ever so often peeking in between rusty grates and gaps. Sketchy ladders extend up to the highest reaches, leading up to small control rooms perched above, like giant industrial crow's nests. The curiosity which had built up inside me over the years, fueling my desire to explore this very place was nearly crippling, only relieved by the fact that we had successfully reached the playground; our pilgrimage to Bethlehem, attained!