Exploring an Abandoned 1930 Power Plant - Art Deco Industry in Decay!
In today's episode, we're in Sayreville, New Jersey to explore an incredible industrial relic of the past. Originally known as the Raritan River Generating Station upon its opening in 1930, this power plant represents one of the last of its kind ever built. Throughout the 1920s the art of generating electricity with coal-fired boilers and steam turbines was making great strides in form and function, and in true Roaring 20s fashion such a technological marvel that was reshaping American Life called for impressive architecture to match. Right as construction was wrapping up on this plant however, the country plunged into the Great Depression and new power station development ground to a halt. The electrical industry's next period of expansion wouldn't occur until the years following World War II and by then massive technological and cultural changes meant that such grand and ornate generating stations would never be built again. Later known as Sayreville station the plant remained in service until 2004.
After its disconnection from the grid it sat cold and dark for nearly 20 years, the once state-of-the-art turbines, impeccably maintained for decades now sat at the mercy of nature as water entered the building from above and below. Now, we're taking you along as we venture inside and see what's left. Join us as we explore After traveling and filming abandoned places there's only one thing I look forward to and that's a good night's sleep and thanks to Helix sleep for ensuring a well-rested night and sponsoring this portion of today's video. I've had my Helix mattress for about a year now and it's been great. I've been less Restless throughout the night and I've had a lot fewer sore mornings when I wake up. In fact most mornings I'm so comfortable I just don't want to get out of bed and the mattress is just as comfortable as day one. Helix sleep makes premium mattresses
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There is a beautiful old turbine here but you can't see it. Yeah, we got in pretty early to be safe. -Yea I'm hoping those are just company cars and not personal cars and that there's no one actually here. -The lights were on in the security booth. We're starting to get first light now. We might be able to start filming soon. There's a bunch of pigeons cooing a minute ago, I guess they're waking up now. We're doing some photos first because although it's too dark to get good video we can still do long exposures on a tripod. It's better than just sitting around waiting.
[muffled by respirator] It's like some swamp monster's gonna come out of here. Power plants have gotta be one of the most toxic places you could possibly explore and yet we love them. Of course the turbines are mint green, the best color. 75-ton crane These were Westinghouse generators. This looks like the newest turbine in here.
They probably go oldest to newest with oldest at the far end there. Supervisor's office Hey they got pictures of other abandoned power plants in here. I don't know which one that is. It's probably demolished by now though.
October 2012 is the date on that calendar. -All the lockout tags say 2004. -Yeah We got jazz cups. Wow This is probably just the more modern control room. There's probably an older one somewhere else in the plant.
Look at these shiny arrows, these things actually are metallic. Yeah half these lights aren't even labeled so if they were going off you'd just have to trace the route to figure out what exactly it is. Yeah this is a mess right here like I wouldn't really know They're probably just like gates of some kind and green means it's open and red means it's shut. But like, where would you even control that. They were doing first aid kit inspections all the way until October 2012. It's a pretty nice control room.
Check out this keyboard. -Is it mechanical? -Of course -Sounds like it Here's inside the control panel. Check it out, another case of the drop ceiling being added after. You could see up in the original ceiling and there's the original light right here.
-That's a much more 50s style ceiling. -It would've looked a lot cooler in here with the original ceiling. -Yeah The sounds are gonna freak us out the entire time we're in here. [distant voices echo through the hall] There's people. 100%, human voices I just heard. Human. 100% not pigeons. Outside or inside? -Outside on that side. -Okay wanna take a look out the window?
Don't tell me you don't hear that, really? I don't hear anything. You sure? Yea. That was a voice, come on! -You think those are really just pigeons? -Yeah -Okay -They definitely sound like pigeons, cause they're not voices. -Let's keep going, let's keep going. Should we look out a window just to make sure? If you want. Let me go check over here.
[distant voices and loud banging] Now you hear. There's people. We shouldn't sit in the turbine hall, let's go over here. It sounded like they were up in the boiler house didn't it? -Why would there be workers up there? -There wouldn't be.
What if it's other explorers who are just being really loud. Eventually, once we were certain the other people in the building were just other explorers, we came out of hiding. Hi. Oh my gosh, I was like, there's two people!? You scared us. We saw a footprint and were like fuck someone's here.
So... -Those were other explorers. -We're good. -We were spooking ourselves for no reason and they claim this place is super chill on a Sunday so... we might have been playing things over-cautiously but I'd rather be over-cautious than under. Think ahead. Plan, prepare, proceed. Some more fins of the turbine. Safety First at Jersey Central Lessons Learned incident, when...
oh look at this something from Titus Station. -Really? -Yeah. -Titus Generating Station maintenance shop -It's a crossover episode. Employee was grinding a short pipe nipple on the shop pedestal. While grinding the threads blah blah blah his left hand was pulled into the grinder. So I guess they just report all the injuries here for workers to see just to keep them on their toes I guess.
Let's pop into these offices while we're down here. They're so wet One of these pieces of literature was not like the others. There's a boiler.
Wow check out the lights in this office. They're all just hanging down. Damn it's nasty in here. You'd think you were in a forest or something if you just looked at the floor in here.
I found some F-150 keys. You think these keys go to one of the trucks parked outside? Check out this one. It's currently extremely backlit but we'll get closer to it. Operation Desert Storm Oh these are relatives of the power plant workers who served. Sayre operator Sergeant L Pickett So one of the plant operators must have been in the military.
A lot of them are for workers' son-in-law, brother, son... That's interesting. Right here is where the plant switches from the original building to the extension. Obviously the original building is much prettier with all of this tile work. They really cram this one in here. It's like hardly any space between this control panel and the turbine. Currently getting rained on pretty good right here too.
These two over here the oldest ones for sure. They look really vintage. Of course all the name plates are stolen by now.
That seems to be a favorite souvenir of people to steal from power plants. Look at this railing and this brickwork. It's really only in these plants from the 20s that you see stuff like this. Maybe a little bit in the 40s but after that nothing like this. Sayreville's turbine hall represents a timeline of power plant development over the course of decades.
These two original units are from 1930 and capable of generating 30 megawatts each. The two newest units by comparison which were built in the 1950s were rated at over 120 megawatts each. While the machinery becomes much more capable as you move down the hall, the newer half is completely utilitarian, lacking any of the old side's unique details. It kind of looks like a face. Two eyes and a nose. I really like seeing the plaques to see how many megawatts each generator was but they're all gone. We've got some safety bulletins over there, we should check those out.
This is interesting, it's the hand commands for telling the crane operator what to do. He's T posing! That's palms up though- not a proper T pose. Is this a meme from the 90s? -I have no idea. -I think it's a 90s meme. These look so old. This was all chart paper for these turbine charts over here.
You know the actual green bricks complement the green vegetation that's growing in very nicely. You could see they removed the round meters and put in these digital ones, looks kind of funny. These one's are pretty straightforward to climb on top of. These were all the controls for the inlet valves. Holy cow.
It's still full. I can pour some out? Ope. It's full, wow. It's a nice view from up here. This piece has a giant loop on it probably so they could lift the whole thing off with the crane and start working on it. Let's check out the condensers for these turbines.
Wow they're partially submerged. It's a little half step. This is the swamp monster. There's another stretcher down there, half submerged. [splash] Oh shit, oh shit -You good? -I gotta take these shoes off Holy shit They just fell from underneath you. Shit I stood on the same exact one you stood on.
That's crazy. That just shows you never know when that's just gonna give out. It's just some old offices in here. Check out these old fluorescent light fixtures. This hallway is really decrepit. The paint coming off the bricks... I like the bricks without the paint better.
-Yeah they're glossy. -Gloss white that looks way cooler. -So this is the OG control room. -Yep -Wow -It's all black.
There's like plants growing all the way up here. These controls are old looking. All these copper colored traces on the panels are pretty cool.
Are these metal or stone? These are just metal. Look at this! This is on! It's on? -Look, there's lights on. -Oh shit. It's backup that says it's on and primary on Bank 15. -The humming is coming from right here . -That's probably where a transformer is or something. Right near the synchroscope Drop ceiling kind of ruins everything. Oh there's more turned on back here.
-It's soaking wet. -Yeah. And it's on. These are synchro-closer check plus. That's what these are labeled as.
That's crazy Here's the battery room. This is a good lab. Look at this there's literally notes still left all the way up till 2010. Just one page. That's a nice looking little machine there. I'm not sure what it would do but it looks cool.
Here's a picture of the employees from the year 1990. Looks very 90s. -Look somebody else got their socks wet too. -For real? -They're hanging here There's a bunch of photos here just books of 'em.
Look at all the negatives right there. Process of being painted... hah so when they made everything green. All those negatives over there, and then this box is also filled with photos. This is cool. I want to see the turbines. I want to look for some turbine shots. -There's some good shots. -Looks like they're doing some kind of maintenance to it. -Yeah
Taking the whole thing apart -You can see the lights on in the control room in the window up there. -Yep. -That looks pretty cool. It's all fresh looking Here are some shots of the turbine blades. -There's a Polaroid photocopier here. -Oh really? -Yeah To copy Polaroid photos They made an asbestos box. Look at that. -That tarp is still on the floor. -Is it really?
-The bottom part of the tarp is yes. -Wow. They documented pretty much everything here. Here's them hoisting off the cover to one of the turbines. Here's where they painted the turbines green, paint is all fresh. That's before they painted the Operation Desert Storm thing on it. Yep, wow.
Wow this is a huge locker room... gives you some idea of just how many people would have worked here when I was in full swing. The all-new AOL 3.0 Here's the showers Is that a sleeping bag? Somebody slept right here. Someone's sleeping in here? Yeah, or did sleep there.
Look at this mask. Holy shit. Just a lot of blueprints... What's in these big briefcases? Computers. -These are like slotting into a board. -It's a computer of some kind -Yeah -but portable.
Check out this terminal Still very nice and clacky. Damn this Workshop is stocked. Wow Looks like they would have been able to open these doors. Oh check it out, they could open these doors and then there's another gate there they can move to get the crane out and the crane tracks actually continue. The crane track continues out there so they could bring the whole crane outside. It actually looks like the water is flowing into the plant right now.
This is a cool view from up here, on this giant turbine. Alright, let's head into this boiler house already. Let's go up a level, it's a little less dark and dank up there. Listen to the noises out there. [wind blowing and sheet metal chattering] It's a lot of bolts, and nuts, and no trespassing signs. Too bad there's no safe way to go out there really.
There's a lot of pigeon shit around here. Oh wow, this is uh... pretty tall. These were hoppers for the coal.
Check it out, there's still coal in here. -Wow -It came out on my shoes. Lock it up Yeah, keep it safe. So this wall right here used to just be the outside of the old plant. They sheet metaled off the windows and then just extended the boiler house and you can see where they extended the turbine hall over here as well. It's a pretty clear division.
We're crossing over right here into the older boiler house which looks just as full of asbestos. -It's a lot of controls down there, some extra boilers controls. -Look at that clock up there. -Which one? -Or the big meter. In the middle.
Oh yeah it's hard to see because it's so, um, silhouetted. We'll get a better shot of that down there. The light's really shining in nicely now.
It's pretty cool with these control panels around. -Are they Bailey meter company? -Yep -Of course That's a big meter up there. After spending almost the entire day inside we had finally explored the majority of the plant. As the sun began to set we decided to head up to the roof to check out the sunset with the other explorers that were there that day. This is a pretty sweet end to this exploration, watching the sun go down from the top of the plant. Aside from the occasional explorer, nothing disturbed the decaying machinery inside Sayreville Station for nearly 20 years.
However, just recently a salvage crew carried out asbestos abatement and stripped apart much of the interior in the process. With most of the Hazardous asbestos now removed, little stands in the way of the plant being entirely demolished, a fate it will likely soon meet. Remarkably few power stations from this early era of opulent design remain today and Sayreville was an excellent example of the beauty that can be found in the form and function of these buildings.