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Kings Mills, Ohio

Peters Cartridge Company

An abandoned munitions factory with a shot tower continues to wage war on the surrounding environment. 

The Peters Cartridge Company in Kings Mill, Ohio, was once an integral part of a local munitions production industry, but now the abandoned factory weeps lonely heavy metals into the soil.

Built in the 1860s, the large building complex was established to support the Peters Cartridge Company. The factory began by producing shot and cannonballs for the Union Army during the Civil War, and then continued to produce American munitions into the 1950s. Throughout all this time, the factory used the shot tower method to produce munitions, using their tower emblazoned with a giant “P”. Workers would ascend steep stairs to the very top of the tower. Once there they would pour molten lead through a copper sieve. While falling through the length of the hollow tower, the lead would cool and form into perfectly round balls. These would land in a basin of water, or in the case of the Peters tower, a creek, to be cooled further. Once done they were musket bullets, or shot.

The factory had its share of accidents. In 1890 several train cars loaded with gunpowder collided and exploded, killing twelve factory workers. There were a number of fire and machinery accidents as well, leaving employees maimed and physically disabled. 

Before the factory finally closed, the site was repurposed to press vinyl for Columbia Records, but eventually nothing was being made in the tall brick buildings. It remains mostly the same, minus a few buildings of the sprawling complex that have been repurposed. The rest is overgrown and decaying, inhabited only by squatters, cats, and allegedly, ghosts. It was even the set for a 2002 horror movie. 

Now the old equipment and leftover materials are leaking copper, lead, and other contaminants into the ground which has made the ruins a Superfund clean-up site. As the factory buildings are extremely dilapidated, local police supervise the Peters Cartridge Company closely. Urban exploration is not advised, as floorboards are rotten and elevator shafts are empty in the buildings.

Update September 2017: The site is now home to the Kings Mills Commerce Park.