There Will Come Soft Rains
June 8, 2012 1:07 AM   Subscribe

For decades the Golpa-Nord open-pit mine was scoured by gigantic machines day and night. When the coal ran out, the enormous steel constructs - with names like Mad Max, Big Wheel, and Medusa - were left in place. Today, the abandoned machines form the remarkable city of Ferropolis. Much more at Urban Ghosts.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (16 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
How odd they neither recycled them for scrap or sold them secondhand. I suppose it's not dissimilar to the aircraft graveyard.

I wonder if drunk youths have ever tried to take one for a joyride?
posted by Mezentian at 1:09 AM on June 8, 2012

The fact that this had a Bradbury title just completely confused me for a second while looking at recent activity. But it's pretty damned fitting. Props.
posted by Mezentian at 1:14 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by allkindsoftime at 1:29 AM on June 8, 2012

This is actually a brilliant idea. I mean, after all, there's no rush to take them apart and recycle them, it's not like they are going anywhere, and people are fascinated by big garganuagodzilla machines, why not let them come and have fun. Similar to how, everytime we get an fpp about some old, huge, abandoned Psych Hospital, all I can think is "I would pay good money to tour that."

And, these remind me of my wife's 25 year old Volvo station wagon that is sitting in the driveway, except she still drives it.
posted by HuronBob at 2:13 AM on June 8, 2012

There is something awful, in all senses of the word, about these machines. They are so huge that my sense of scale gets thrown off, causing a sort of vertigo. Seeing one in active use would be -- breathtaking, I suppose. On the other hand, they are pretty much tied to incredibly damaging exploitation of the earth, so they are sickening as well as majestic. When I first saw pictures of the Grassburg mine (video here) -- a huge mining operation in Irian Jaya/West Papua which produces enormous amounts of copper, gold, and silver and is steadily turning a mountain into a valley (and, probably, a province into a waste zone) -- it was this same sense of sickening amazement, excitement at the scale and engineering of it all balanced by horror at the obvious end product. So maybe I love these machines, but more in concept than reality.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:59 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Germany has a fascination with its industrial roots that I rather like. In Essen, you can visit the Zollverein, an old coal mine and cokery that's now a UNESCO world heritage site. The old buildings have been converted into several museums and art galleries, and there's even an ice rink around the old cokery in the winter. The best part, in my opinion, is that the buildings that haven't been converted to new uses have just been left in place, open to the public - it's like urban spelunking without the trespassing charge.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:00 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Bradbury Title? Actually, a Teasdale title first. Great little poem.
posted by Listener at 6:42 AM on June 8, 2012

For giant coal mining machinery needs in the Plains, one can visit Big Brutus in Southeast Kansas.
posted by Atreides at 7:02 AM on June 8, 2012

The communists (especially East Germany) had the worst environmental record ever.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:10 AM on June 8, 2012

Our family farm in north Alabama is in very close proximity to places that have been strip mined, some numerous times over the last few decades. They once walked one of these draglines across the river that our property edges on. The fact that they closed a (admittedly small) road and dammed a river to bring it across was pretty terrifying-horrifying-impressive.

Watching mountains that you grew up seeing on the horizon slowly disappear on a week by week basis was painful beyond words. Trees... in some ways those can be replaced, though scrub regrowth/vegetation is in no way as pleasurable to walk through as true first or second growth timber that's been standing for 50+ years. Mountains... now they only exist in my memories.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:07 AM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

It is always useful to take a moment, stop using the things we have created, and wonder at the things we are capable of creating.
posted by davejay at 8:40 AM on June 8, 2012

And when you marvel at these glorious, snorting giants, please also remember the marks they leave upon the earth.

In northern Minnesota, the Hull Rust Mine stands open to the sky today, collecting rainwater and awed gasps from visitors. According to Wikipedia, it is "one of the largest open pit iron mines in the world, with a 1.5 by 3.5 mile footprint and depths up to 600 feet."

And also, this:
posted by wenestvedt at 9:02 AM on June 8, 2012

The communists (especially East Germany) had the worst environmental record ever.

Right, nothing we do will ever reach that level of pure, unadulterated evil. Well, that's a relief.
posted by sneebler at 9:57 AM on June 8, 2012

Seconding backseatpilot's recommendation of Kocherei Zollverein. There are plenty exhibitions going on at the space and the backdrop is often just as interesting, if not more so.
posted by LanTao at 4:16 AM on June 9, 2012

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