Sunday, July 28, 2013

Abandoned bag loading building, Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, Charlestown, Indiana


Located in Charlestown, Indiana, on the grounds of the old Indiana Army Ammunition Plant (INAAP), these strange ghostly shells are all that remain of the buildings where gunpowder was loaded into fabric bags. 

Various sizes of bags, each containing gunpowder for artillery or mortar rounds.  When placed in a gun and ignited, the entire bag would burn, propelling the projectile out the tube and towards the target.

A shot from the distance, approaching a load building.

A pair of these concrete buildings is located within a larger complex of buildings and pathways, as seen in this photo.
Another shot, approaching one of the buildings.  The larger projecting windows on the second floor are actually doorways for escape tunnels.  In an emergency, the workers here would dive out the doorways into large metal slides, being lead safely away from the building.  Or, so the theory went.
This photo reveals what few others do, that there was actually a roof and another set of walls on the structure at one time.  After being closed down, these buildings were burned and demolished.  They were so contaminated with gunpowder that were simply not savable.  Thus, the decision was made to set them on fire, or so we were told.  All that is left is the concrete core.
Close up of the escape ramp.  Working safety was a very big deal at the plant, and while these ramps would've been of minimal value during an explosion, they would have saved lives during a low energy fire.

Another photo of the outside of one of the buildings, showing its old footprint.

The buildings are constructed like large tunnels, with doorways windows leading to the various rooms.
This is the remains of an elevator shaft.  The second floor was apparently constructed of wood, so that after the fire, nothing is left of it.  All exploration was done at ground level.

Another shot of the long tunnel, windows visible.
Compare this period photo with the one above it.  Each of the windows is covered with a sliding blast door, to keep the fire risks to a minimum.  Handling 10-100 pound bags of gunpowder is very dangerous.  Note the small conveyor belt, moving the bags along after being filled.
A warning, still stenciled on the walls of the building.  An explosion in the building would kill you before you knew that something had even happened.  Two deadly accidents occurred at the plant.
Another exterior shot, looking like some strange Aztec ruins in the jungle.

Another later post will cover some of the other buildings in the same complex.  Stay tuned in for updates.

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