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USA Port Richmond Generating Station - September 2019


Jun 23, 2019
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This power plant has always been a bucket list location for me for years. Since 2016, we had made at least 3 attempts to access it, but each time we were met with security or workers on-site. No matter what day of the week we chose, or how early we got up to pre-dawn it, there was always somebody right in the way of where we needed to go. It wasn't until we told a local friend about our struggle that we received the advice we needed.

"Pre-dawn? No way, there's always workers there in the morning. Just go in the middle of the day."

So for the first time, we tried showing up in the middle of the day... And there was still a worker, parked directly in front of the POE nonetheless. However, by now we were determined to make it inside. We posted up in the bushes and decided we would wait him out, as long as it takes. 30 minutes went by, and now a massive thunderstorm was beginning to roll in. The worker still showed no sign of leaving anytime soon, so we had to call it quits.

The next day we returned, and with a significantly lower chance of thunderstorms we were ready to camp out as long as we needed to. However, that would be unnecessary, as the entire property appeared to be a ghost town. We quickly made our way through the multiple fences between us and the power plant, then casually strolled by several cameras that were significantly less weathered than everything else around them. Next we executed our entry, which was complicated in itself, especially with a few dozen pounds of camera gear and the threat of workers or security rounding the corner at any minute. The exact details of the entry I can't reveal, but it was pretty sketchy.

Finally, we were inside.


Our exploration began in the lower levels of the boiler house. Here, coal was burned to generate the heat needed to produce steam. There were over a dozen of these boilers in the plant, each one towering several stories high.


I believe this was the main control room for the boilers. It's tucked away on a dark lower floor of the building, and we almost missed it.

We moved quickly through the boiler house, eager to get to the main attraction- the turbine hall. We had of course seen plenty of pictures of it before, but now we were wondering if it would live up to our expectations.


As we crawled through the busted-out bottom half of a door, our answer was revealed. Our expectations were going to be far exceeded. The immense scale of the building hadn't really come across to us in the pictures we had seen before. Everything was about 1.5x the size we expected it to be.


Unfortunately I don't have any photos with a person in it to demonstrate the scale, but these turbines were easily more than twice my height, and these were the small ones.


The two turbines in the middle were the original units put into operation in 1925. The original plans were for the entire hall to consists of these units but the outer two were never built. Instead, the one closest to the camera was installed in 1935. This one is the largest in the plant and was the largest Westinghouse generator ever built at the time. The unit all the way in the back is the newest, installed in 1951.


The arched ceiling was the defining feature. Its current condition makes exploring the power plant extremely sketchy, as random chunks of ceiling could come crashing down at any moment. This happened once during our exploration, and prompted us to move quickly with our photos.


Between each turbine pedestal was a pit where maintenance could be done on the workings beneath the turbines. Now they're filled with a few inches of some of the most vile looking stagnant water I've come across. I'm pretty sure the giant circular pieces were the condensers, where exhaust steam from the turbines would be turned into liquid water and routed back to the boilers.


This was the 1951 General Electric generator.


An interesting gauge pod on the 1935 Westinghouse turbine.


All 3 turbine variations from above. In hindsight I wish I was more careful to shoot them all from the same angle.

After the turbine hall we headed to the switch house. Massive steel plates that had once sealed this building off from the turbine hall had been pried away, and we squeezed our way through.


One of the interesting things in the switch house is a leftover prop from the movie 12 Monkeys, which used several abandoned power plants as filming locations.


On the 3rd floor you can find some kind of service floor to the control room. All these conduits lead directly up to control panels one floor above, and the grey boards contained fuses.


Finally on the 4th floor, you'll find the main control room. This was the one area of the plant that was honestly disappointing. The vandalism is just really sad to see. If we had made it into the plant on one of our original attempts, we probably would have gotten to see it in a much more intact state. All the panels are made of some kind of stone, possibly slate or soapstone. It's almost as if some people had seen this unusually sturdy choice in material and taken it as a challenge to see how much damage they could do.


The control room as viewed from the turbine hall.

After checking out the control room we walked along the balcony that wraps around the entire turbine hall. From here we made our way into the upper floors of the boiler house.


Lots of natural light made it a more photogenic place to explore than the lower floors. I think these were probably ventilation fans for the smokestacks.


Here's part of the coal delivery system. It would arrive by boat and then travel through a series of conveyors to be distributed into the different boilers.




This place is probably one of the greatest abandoned industrial landmarks in America and it's truly sad to see it falling into such disrepair. Hopefully something can be done with the building before it's too late, but I don't have much hope. Previously the building was nominated for historic designation, but the historical commission denied it on the grounds that it would create "economic hardship" for the building's owner, Exelon. They possess demolition permits for the building but state they currently have no plans to do anything with the building.

If you'd like to see an in-depth tour of the plant, check out our video here:

Thanks for reading,


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Mar 17, 2013
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Grimsby, UK
Such an amazing power station. It's a shame about the graffiti in there now really, but the vintage machinery still looks fantastic


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Dec 16, 2013
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Argghhh man I wanna see this one so bad! Great write up and photos to boot, once again 🙏

Dubbed Navigator

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Aug 17, 2015
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Now there’s a cracking report. Love your write up.
Criminal it’s marked for demo, save at least the outer structure.