Vacant New Jersey

Curtis Paper Mill

Status: Region: Type: Gallery:
Demolished New Jersey Mill 37 Photos

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It was early spring and the mild air had just begun to awaken the first sprouts of foliage from winter slumber. A pallet of pastel greens, yellows, and reds veiled the landscape, creating a colorful canopy reminiscent of a muted autumn season. The vegetation was still young and had not yet ballooned into a thick wilderness of thorns, vines, and ivy; as a few months time would sure produce. This made walking along a disused railroad bed and through a series of deer trails particularly easy. Along side our path, the still icy cold water of the Delaware River was flowing swiftly, but had since regressed from a record level reached during a powerful flood which occurred just weeks prior. Heaps of debris piled adjacent to the river bank marked where the flood waters had risen their highest. Massive timbers swept up and deposited by the raging waters plowed right over the young ductile trees along the river bank, leaving their flexible trunks twisted and gnarled.

The upper branches of the tallest trees had just begun to fill in with leaf buds, which had not grown dense enough to obscure our view of a tan brick smoke stack standing proud in the distance. Faded yellow and orange posted signs pined to various trees warned of a toxic environment for which to keep clear. A few dozen feet ahead a clearing in the woods provided a view of the immense industrial wasteland, guarded by a perimeter of chain link fence, adorned with a row of barbed wire which sparkled like glitter as the sun reflected off the blades. A large white sheet metal sign plastered with bold, red, capitalized typography affixed to the fence lined informed of a chemically hazardous superfund site, under which the Environmental Protection Agency logo was fastened.

The forest soon opened up to a swath of dirt, where even the hardiest of vegetation made no effort to grow. Our vantage point here provided us with a birds eye view of the ruinous mill, where off in the distance a vehicle driving slowly alongside a dirt road was spotted. The speed of this vehicle proved alarming, for no such sane person would be traveling at such a slow rate inside the property line of a toxic shuttered factory, unless of course they were private security. The vehicle inched closer and came to a complete stop, at which point a middle-aged man exited and walked up to a section of the fence. The man glancing to look around for a few seconds, at first appeared to be checking for breaches within the chain-linking, however it soon transpired that he was just out to empty his bladder; unbeknownst to our chuckling just a few hundred feet away. Relieved, the man jumped back into his jalopy of a security jeep and drove off; out of sight... out of mind.