Yesterday I went to the Peters Cartridge Company with some friends. Conflicting sources say it was built in the 1850 and 1870s, so I’m not entirely sure what’s correct, but it was definitely built in the 19th century. It produced gunpowder and cannon balls at that time, and on July 15th, 1890, a massive explosion occurred which killed eleven on the spot and mortally wounded many others. The incident took down two thirds of the site because much of it was built with wood. There is a lot of weird history to the factory in the years afterward that has been covered by other blogs, so I’ll link them at the end of this post instead of listing it all here.
I’d seen it looming over the river from time to time over the years when I’d drive out to Kings Island or visit a past girlfriend who lived over there, but for whatever reason, I never really took the time to stop and take it all in. It looks like an abandoned factory, and much of it is, but it’s very much still owned and surveilled. It’s almost as if it’s just resting in a coma while the construction crews attempt to revive it. The most immediately obvious thing once you get up to the gate is how seriously the owners do not want you there; signs referencing cameras, criminal trespassing prosecution, and even “beware of dog” scatter the chainlink and barbed wire fences. It’s barely physically secure but it does well to scare you away from entering with the threat of legal ramifications. We decided not to get arrested that day, so only admired what we could from the allowed area just before the gate. Luckily, I brought my tripod and took some shots with a 70-300 lens so I could get up closer. Most of those shots weren’t worth editing, but a few of them turned out fine.
But the most exciting thing about being at the front gate was realizing the powder factory was littered with feral cats. One ran up to us for a moment and trotted back to his friends. An orange one and a grey one nuzzled as they walked past one another. A tortie and a blonde cat sat like loafs of bread back a bit behind the others. All of them kept their distance but didn’t seem too bothered by us standing where we were. They stared at us and made sure we weren’t coming into their little hovel, though. I settled the camera on the tripod and zoomed in to grab a few (fifty to eighty) shots with a remote. They were so adorable.
We then wandered around the side of the building and found an unsealed entrance into a disheveled, nightmarish room filled with rubble, old doors, creative graffiti, and old furniture. It was properly out of order and looked like people had been in there recently judging by the relatively fresh miniature wine bottle we found (someone was barely getting their Barefoot on, apparently).
I didn’t realize it at the time, but there is actually an interesting reason this room partially looked the way it did. Only after reading up about it once I got home did I realize a lot of the stuff in that room are the remains of a haunted house that was set up there in 1992. Apparently there was also another haunted house in another location within the factory the following year. The graffiti and props we found scattered around the rubble wasn’t only put there for show by just anyone; the stuff we found was literally the detritus of an event that occurred 23 years ago in the bowels of this old factory. If I had known that going in, I would've paid more attention and tried to identify what was left 23 years ago and what was brought in afterward. Sadly, we left the scene aching for more and unfulfilled due to being prohibited from going further into the building.
Along the bike path, I spoke with a construction worker about getting a tour and he laughed and politely denied me. He said the plan is to convert the main factory building into apartments, the white building behind it into commercial space, and didn’t mention what the plan was for the separate structure behind the rest of it. He added that it was all supposed to be done within a year and expressed doubt that it could be done.
Links to more blogs about Peters Cartridge Company: