Date of Visit: May 20, 2012
When I first saw the Wabash Alloys building in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, I wasn't expecting much. It wasn't particularly old - it was built in 1969 - and it was the very definition of ugly. Just a big old corrugated metal box. No charm, nothing to entice. However, as we all know, looks can deceive, and inside the uninspiring facade was a place of beautiful colors and lights, interesting metal vats, and atmospheric concrete walls.
Wabash Alloys was founded in 1958 and this particular building originally served the Vulcan Materials Company until it was purchased by Wabash in 1987. They produced recycled aluminum casting alloys. For people like me, who have no idea what that means, basically, they took scrap aluminum and melted it down and purified it into alloys (combinations of metals) that were then sold to customers in the die casting, sand casting, and steel production industries. Yes, I had to do some research to even understand what that means, so primitive is my knowledge of the metal industry. Luckily, I found a training video produced by Wabash that taught me all I need to know about the furnace process.
I'm ready to go to work today! But, unfortunately, Wabash Alloys closed this plant in 2001 due to falling demand caused by a downturn in the auto industry. And then in 2010, they were purchased by Aleris Corporation. It's a sad story that has repeated itself many, many times in our country in the last few decades.
Despite this building having been abandoned for so long, it was not vandalized and was in good condition. Good meaning bad but not so decrepit that it isn't photogenic. In other words, it was perfect. The light was so pretty, the colors were great, I loved the concrete walls, so perfect for paintball. It was a little playground for a day. But now it's all gone: demolished over the summer of 2013. Sniffle.
Here are my memories of the place. Enjoy!