Armour Meat Packing Plant, The Power Plant Boilers

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Much of five of the original boilers in the power plant at Armour still survive, though two of their mates and the two newer boilers are gone, or in the case of one, severely damaged. Back behind the first smokestack, the boilers are very well preserved, and some inkling of how they functioned is possible.

A large superstructure supports the boilers, rising up several stories and descending down into the basement.

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It is a dark, shadowy area, and would perhaps have only been illuminated by a few lights and the glow of burning coal from the fireboxes of the boilers.

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Seen here are the doors to one of the boilers, standing partly ajar. To the left appears to be some sort of machine that fed the coal into the boiler. Up above to the left are the coal hoppers, some of which still contain coal left when the plant was abandoned. Presumably, an operator would turn a crank, which would slowly feed coal into the boiler; when the machine was empty, he would pull a lever releasing coal from the large hoppers above.

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Below are two shots of the interior of the boilers, looking through the front door that is open wide. Looking closely, you can see the row of metal tubes that are similar to the ones seen in the damaged and discarded boiler to the south.

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Sadly, very little documentation of what these styles of boilers looked like, but one can see that the metal seems to show the stress of intense heat applied to it over decades of use.

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Down below, in what I think was a picture taken in the basement, are the ash traps that cleaned out the burnt residue of the coal being burned above; you can even see the open access door at the bottom.

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The tapered design looks very similar to a documented ash trap that can be seen below in this Library of Congress photo from another American power plant.


Now, and perhaps a little out of order, we must head back upstairs, where below you can see the top of the coal hopper. I am uncertain how coal was loaded into these, and since there was obviously some sort of conveyance, it must be missing.

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But these structures are certainly coal hoppers, as someone visitor arranged an impromptu ladder that allowed them to climb up and pull the door open on the hopper. I can only imagine the resulting avalanche of coal out of the hopper was startling.

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And finally, in what is perhaps one of the most poetic photos of the power plant, is the interior of the smokestack, where if you stood here over sixty years ago, vast clouds of scalding hot black smoke would be billowing past you. The bricks show signs of scorching and wear, much like most of the plant.

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Photo by Jason Gray.

The remaining photos show various other pipes and walkways and the basement level around the boilers. I have no idea what their use was, but their mysterious network of steel fascinates me.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Ann says:

    Amazing…. this place is thrilling.

  2. Garrett Patrick says:

    Who is the current owner of the site?

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Good question; it’s just some LLC, if I remember correctly. I will look it up.

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