The Cooperage

Author Axle - Last updated: 20.05.2013

It’s not often that a single property would yield two amazing abandoned locations. Located in the western section of Louisville, KY. At first you would be confused that the entire property seemingly interconnected was actually two businesses at one time, and with only one powerhouse on site, the average person would tend to agree. The oldest company on the property was the Tobacco By-Product & Chemical Corporation, there isn’t much information online, but most sources point to it starting in the 1910s, producing for the most part nicotine-sulphate based insecticides, the main one being “Black Leaf Diamond.” They were soon joined by the Louisville Cooperage, a barrel manufacturer for the Schenley Distillers Corporation one of the bigger makers of Bourbon in Kentucky in the 1930s. Both companies expanded across the land, and seemingly intertwined, with the Cooperage dominating the eastern side of the property and the Chemical company on the west. It appeared the both went under in the 1980s or 1990s, online information is scarce. A local whom we encountered on our way out told us that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) took interest in the site about 10 years ago, and declared it a superfund site (although I didn’t find anything on the site). The brownfield was fenced off and cleanup commenced. The same local said, they really didn’t care about what was in the soil, the whole neighborhood remains roach free. Silver linings I guess.

It was a bright sunny day as I pulled up to a closed business parking lot, I was a little wary of parking on the street with an Ontario plated car in one of not so nice neighborhoods of Louisville, but this closed business seemed to offer some level of protection, providing that the owner doesn’t have my car towed…but late morning on a Saturday seemed rather unlikely. With me was another Ontario explorer, two from Texas, and one from Tennessee, we were soon joined by folks from South Carolina and Georgia (we were all attending the Fifth Mid-Atlantic Meet-Up (MAMU V)). We quickly found our way through a back alley with barking dogs, but thankfully none of the locals paid any attention. Big signs along a fairly new looking fence from the EPA warned against soil contact.

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The lush greenery that dominated the site made the whole ‘soil contamination’ thing seem odd, but I just watched out for puddles, because the last time I stepped into one on a Superfund site, the soles of my boots were melted the next day. The structures seemed pretty old, (we entered the Tobacco Company site first). Some fantastic examples of graffiti dominated the walls. The noon sun filtered in through broken windows and holes in the roof.

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The site was huge, so having a largish group on site was no big deal, very few times did I run into a fellow explorer as I wandered the empty areas. The only place that really had anything left in it was the powerhouse and the warehouse that housed the SS Urbex and a pile of documents.

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With the day wearing on and us hungry for lunch and one more location to check out before dinner, we packed it in and headed out to a Subway before splitting up and heading to an abandoned TB Sanitarium…

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Nikon D300 – AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G

2 comments

#1LallieSeptember 11, 2014, 8:30 am

Where do you find all these amazing places? You and a few others just go around looking for abandon buildings? They all are so amazing! I’m jealous that’s for sure. Thank you for taking such amazing photos.

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