Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Exploring the Husk of a Distillery

Sunday was a gloomy, dank day, and absolutely perfect for urbexing photos. We were in PA to visit an old distillery which has a lot of coverage on the internet so I feel it's OK to mention its name here. A distillery, built in the 1850's, which had managed to survive prohibition by distilling medical spirits but was well known for distilling Overholt whiskey. It stood tall and desolate as we approached and it was apparent that it was really nothing more than a shell.
 It sported some recent fire damage scars from 2004 but still managed to create a dramatic first impression. There was a fire here in July 1884 when one warehouse with 600 barrels of whiskey was saved.  The Somerset Herald wrote in their story of July 30, "The heat of the fire was intense, and the flames lit up the country for miles.  Burning whisky flowed down the river.  Twenty-five barrels were rolled away and the whisky dipped up by a mob.  There were hundreds of drunken men."  The detail about hundreds of drunken men may have been the reason why, in 1905, Fire Marshall W. H. Marietta "issued orders that no liquor be given the firemen, saying that it was impossible to drink whiskey and fight fire at the same time."  It was an order that prompted some of the firemen to strike, "but they were not from Connellsville."
Maybe this was remembered years later when another fire broke out in 1905 prompting the headlines, " WILL MAKE OLD TOPERS SIGH. Four Million Dollars' Worth of Overholt Whisky Fed a Fire at Broadford, Pa."
There was still snow on the ground from the previous week and as we walked towards the abandonment, rain and sleet started falling again and the hulk of bricks towered above us.
We took shelter inside and looked around. There's some great photos online of what used to be here, even after it had been left to fend for itself, but there were no relics to be seen now, Plenty of broken glass, graffiti, old boxes and paint pots and bricks but very little furniture or equipment left.
A beautiful old iron spiral staircase could be seen reaching up towards a hole in the roof but we weren't tempted to climb up, even though someone had thoughtfully left a pallet and part of a ladder as a way to start ascending the broken  metal stairs.
I really liked the windows in these ruins but was suffering from a lack of creativity in my shots. I wasn't sure if it was the weather, or the fact that I'm not really happy with the photos from my G15 camera and am counting down the days until I have a new top of the range mirrorless camera. Maybe it was a combination of both. The weather outside was horrid and we had to stay under shelter. I saw a couple of mad men racing up the river in a speedboat, and although they were well wrapped up, I had to question their sanity. i was so surprised to see them I wasn't quick enough to grab a shot.
I couldn't take many exterior shots, the sleet was pretty hard at times. So I walked about and occasionally pulled out my camera for a quick snap and then hurriedly tucked it into my jacket again. It was a little frustrating as the brickwork here really warranted some closer shots. But it couldn't be done.
 We trampled through a couple of outbuildings and then decided to find somewhere warm for lunch and beer. The sleet was coming down harder and we wanted to get warm.
Rumor has it the distillery is haunted by a son whose family murdered him for monetary gain and his apparition has been seen on various occasions, as well as objects mysteriously moving or the feeling of being watched. I wasn't aware of these tales before I went but felt nothing untoward while I was there. The full story is here.
Some more shots and information is here, many photos of buildings now no longer standing.

No comments: