A Sunrise at the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant

Many years ago, I night hiked into the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant (IAAP) in southern Indiana—the most substantial industrial abandonment in the United States. Sprawling over 19,000 acres, IAAP was overwhelming.

Our goal was to photograph and document one power plant where we could easily spend an entire day. But the facility had two power plants and dozens upon dozens of pristine buildings that had been placed into long-term maintenance after the Vietnam War had ended. Katy bar the door, you know it’s going to be a long day ahead.

Parking at a nearby forest reserve, we hiked into IAAP via long-mothballed and overgrown railroad tracks and roads to avoid detection by armed guards who conducted routine patrols in their trucks. Using only the moon as our light, we bushwacked a good three miles in the dark before coming up to a disused coal-fired power plant. At seven stories high, the facility was immensely sized and well lit by giant floor-to-ceiling windows, especially useful as we made our way up a maze of grated stairs and walkways, cupping our flashlights with our hands to avoid stray light from escaping the building and arousing the suspicion of any passing guard.

On top of the power plant, we set up camp and tried to catch up on a few hours of sleep. The trek was worth it. For miles around, there was nobody but silent buildings and the occasional passing patrol truck. The world was seemingly ours for that fleeting moment as we watched the sunrise above the horizon, glistening the brick and asbestos-covered buildings with a warm glow.

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You would not recognize it today. Nothing is left of the old site. It is a modern commercial/industrial area today.

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