Toxic and Abandoned: Accurate Plating Company Superfund Site

What was once a metal plating company in Cleveland now stands abandoned on a piece of land contaminated by hazardous waste.

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

A stone's throw away from the abandoned Cleveland Railway Company and Westinghouse Electric industrial complex (which you can read about by clicking here) lies a cluster of abandoned industrial buildings along Carnegie Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. Among them are former factories of Warner & Swasey Company and a boarded-up red brick building once occupied by Accurate Plating Company.

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

Accurate Plating Company was founded by Charles J Foley in 1967 and specialized in the electroplating, polishing, and finishing of metal products.

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

The company operated for several decades, but ran into trouble with The Environmental Protection Agency due to its status as a large quantity generator of hazardous waste.

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

The Environmental Protection Agency designated Accurate Plating Company as a Superfund site contaminated by hazardous waste and a candidate for cleanup because of the risk it poses to human and environmental health.

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

The building now sits mostly empty...

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

with gaping holes in the roof and vines spreading out across the floor.

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

A few artifacts remain inside the offices, which have been thoroughly ransacked.

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

The future of the old Accurate Plating Company building remains unclear. As an EPA Superfund site, the land must be cleared of hazardous waste before it can be used again.

Abandoned Superfund Site Accurate Plating Company in Cleveland Ohio

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The Eerie Ruins of Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

Just south of Cedar Ave in Cleveland, Ohio a cluster of massive abandoned industrial structures line Ashland Road. They were occupied by quite a few companies over the years, but the stonework bears the names of only two: The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

A block away from the abandoned headquarters of Warner & Swasey Company lies the crumbling industrial compound built by The Cleveland Railway Co.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, street railways were a popular form of transportation along Cleveland's main avenues. 

In 1888, when electric railways were beginning to replace horse and mule-powered streetcars, East Cleveland Railroad Company built a power plant for its rail network.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

The facility housed enormous steam-powered No. 16 Edison generators, some of the largest of their day. 


Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

In 1890 and 1892 additions were constructed to accommodate more generators to satisfy the growing need. 

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric


Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric


The handful of companies that operated the city's various rail lines underwent a series of consolidations around the turn of the century. In 1910 a final merger made The Cleveland Railway Co sole operator of Cleveland's transit lines. 


Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric



In 1917 it was determined that the existing plant could not generate enough power to meet the demands of the rail network. Upgrading the facility proved too expensive, so energy production was outsourced to the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company. 


Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric


After The Cleveland Railway Co's generators spun to a stop, the Cleveland Ice Machine Company operated on the site for a short time. Within a few years, Westinghouse Electric moved in and began using the facilities for the manufacture of electrical components.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

A 5-story building at the southern end of the compound in 1922.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

In 1933, Westinghouse Electric closed the facility and moved to Edgewater Park.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

Thompson Products, a producer of automobile and aircraft engine valves, purchased several of the buildings in 1936. The business flourished during WWII when it received massive orders for aircraft parts.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

The American victory against Japan brought a steep decline in orders, resulting in hundreds of layoffs. Things improved again in the latter half of the 1940s when the demand for automotive parts began to rise.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

1958 - Thompson Products merged with Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation, a developer of radar-guided missile systems, which were used in several defense programs, including the Titan ICBM. The new company was known as Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge until it became TRW Equipment Group in 1963. In the early '60s the company relocated to a new facility in Independence.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

Virden Manufacturing Company, a producer of lighting equipment, began to utilize TRW's old facilities in 1963. Before that time, Virdeen had operated out of a factory that once stood on the west side of Ashland Road alongside the Cleveland Railway Co substation.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric
Historic map of the industrial compound
courtesy of http://www.wardmaps.com/viewasset.php?aid=5759

When business declined in the 1970s, Virden went through several waves of layoffs before selling the company in 1977. The plant closed permanently in 1979.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

There do not seem to be any plans for reuse of the structures. The buildings are in very rough shape. 

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

The nightmarish basements are pitch black and crumbling like old catacombs.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

Several buildings in the middle of the compound have been partially demolished.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

After decades of neglect, few windows remain intact.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

It seems unlikely that the compound will ever know industry again.

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

Abandoned buildings of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric

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The Incredible Ruins of an Abandoned Observatory

On a hilltop in East Cleveland lie the fascinating ruins of the century-old Warner and Swasey Observatory.

abandoned observatory in east cleveland ohio

A half dozen miles from the massive industrial ruins of Warner & Swasey Company, which I explored in my last article, lies another abandoned piece of the Warner and Swasey legacy.

The original observatory
(photo courtesy of Warner and Swasey Observatory Preservation Facebook Page)

Worcester Reed Warner and Ambrose Swasey, both successful industrialists and amateur astronomers, built the observatory in 1894 for their own use. The original structure consisted of a single-domed tower and looked like something out of a storybook. It housed a 9.5-inch refractor telescope.

Abandoned Observatory in East Cleveland Ohio

Warner and Swasey both served as trustees of the Case School of Applied Science and gifted the observatory to the school in 1919.

Abandoned Observatory in East Cleveland Ohio

A second dome was built in 1941 to house the powerful new 24-inch Burrell Schmidt telescope. 

Abandoned Observatory in East Cleveland Ohio

The observatory in its heyday
(photo courtesy of Warner and Swasey Observatory Preservation Facebook Page)
The new addition also included an astronomical library...

Astronomical exhibit
(photo courtesy of Warner and Swasey Observatory Preservation Facebook Page)

Abandoned Observatory in East Cleveland Ohio

and an auditorium.

Abandoned Observatory in East Cleveland Ohio

Abandoned Observatory in East Cleveland Ohio

Abandoned Observatory in East Cleveland Ohio

Sadly, the place is in very rough shape nowadays, with graffiti on just about every surface.

Abandoned Observatory in East Cleveland Ohio

The curved hallway in better times.
(photo courtesy of Warner and Swasey Observatory Preservation Facebook Page)

Important studies were undertaken at the observatory in the early 1950s, demonstrating that the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy and that red giants are largely concentrated near the center of the galaxy.

Abandoned Observatory in East Cleveland Ohio

Light pollution from Cleveland became a problem in the 1950s. New facilities were constructed elsewhere and the telescopes were relocated.

Abandoned Observatory in East Cleveland Ohio

The observatory closed in 1982 and its staff moved to the main campus of Case Western Reserve University. The original telescope moved to the campus facility too. In 1986 a new dome was built on the roof of the A.W. Smith building where the old telescope is still in use today.

Abandoned Observatory in East Cleveland Ohio

The old observatory was sold in 1983 and then abandoned. In 2005 a couple bought the property, intending to convert it into a luxury home. Those plans came to an abrupt end when the new owner was imprisoned for mortgage fraud in 2007.

Abandoned Observatory in East Cleveland Ohio

Though their observatory has become an abandoned ruin, Worcester Reed Warner and Ambrose Swasey have been immortalized for their contributions to astronomy. Craters on the moon have been named after each man and the 992 Swasey asteroid was named after Ambrose Swasey.


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Be sure to check out my next article on the massive abandoned industrial compound of The Cleveland Railway Co and Westinghouse Electric.

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Abandoned Observatory in East Cleveland Ohio