Abandoned Engineering (2016–…): Season 2, Episode 2 - Britain's Sea Fort Complex - full transcript

The Red Sands Sea Fort was originally built to protect London from the Nazi threat in 1945. Massive engineering for the time, seven steel boxes rise 80-feet out of the water at the mouth of the River Thames. Also investigated a 4,...

A network of ominous towers,

rusting away in the north sea.

Being out there and living

in one of these structures

must have been very
intense and quite terrifying.

A mysterious concrete pyramid,
dominating the American midwest.

There's a brooding menace
about the whole environment.

A dilapidated medieval style
castle in the heart of urban america.

It looks like someone airlifted

one of the spectacular
medieval buildings in France

and just dropped it in
the middle of Philadelphia.

And one of the biggest
machines ever built,

forgotten in a German field.

You're just completely

at the enormity of this
thing in front of you.

(Theme music)


they were some of the
most advanced structures

and facilities on the planet...

At the cutting edge of
design and construction.

Today, they stand abandoned,

contaminated, and
sometimes deadly.

But who built them and how?

And why were they abandoned?

Off the east coast of england,
at the mouth of the river thames,

a group of bizarre

rusting structures
hover above the horizon,

like something from
'war of the worlds'.

It looks like an alien
standing as a sentry.

Coming out of the water,

it almost looks like deposit
from an alien civilisation.

It's completely out of character
from what you would expect.

Standing 80 feet above the sea,

are 7 huge steel boxes
weighing 580 tonnes,

supported on four 17 feet
long splayed concrete legs,

extending down into the waters.

Being out there and living

in one of these structures

must have been very intense
and rather quite terrifying.

You sort of know
there are people nearby,

but it must have been a very,
very isolating and scary experience.

It's easy to see from
their corroded steel plating

that these mysterious structures
have been derelict for years.

But what drove engineers to
create these bizarre constructions

in such an inhospitable place?

What was their purpose?

And why were they abandoned?

By 1943, the second world
war had reached a turning point.

Allied air forces were engaged
in a new tactic of area bombing.

Instead of targeting
specific industrial sites,

thousands of British and
American bombers delivered

massive round the clock raids
on Germany's civilian centres.

Hitler, enraged by these
attacks on his cities,

planned to obliterate London
in a devastating aerial offensive.

In response,

the British military developed
a top secret defence project

to protect the beating heart
of the mighty British empire.

The river thames was
crucial to London's survival.

This lifeline allowed
supplies to flow into the city,

whilst delivering tanks,

planes and ships
made in its factories

to the frontlines.

Churchill and the British

had to make sure that nobody
ever came up the river thames

to threaten London again.

The designs were like
nothing seen before.

Often really sound,

practical engineering
solutions can be borne out

of what's a very difficult
and tragic situation.

Britain's solution
to the Nazi threat

was the red sands sea fort.

It's part of a string
of defences equipped

with heavy anti-aircraft guns
across the mouth of the thames.

This was total war.

And in total war,

you do not leave
the river that goes up

to your Metropolis undefended.

But would the fort prove effective
against Germany's luftwaffe?

And how big a role did
it play in Hitler's defeat?

(Dramatic music)

Construction began in 1942.

In the past,

creating defences at sea had
been a long and complex process.

But for this project,

the engineers decided to
try a new building technique,

and it began on land
with prefabrication.

Taking a fort
and constructing it

in an easy location,
and then floating it out

into a strategically
beneficial location

was a groundbreaking

and very important innovation
in terms of offshore construction

and engineering projects.

Each fort consists of
a concrete grid base

with angled legs.

These support a two-storey
accommodation block

with a gun platform on top.

So, there's two really,

really basic principles
of structural engineering

that have been used in
the design of these towers.

The first one is making sure
that the weight of the structure

is as low as possible
'cause the lower that is,

the more stable
your structure is.

The second great principle

that we're seeing is
the use of a triangle.

So, by having a wide base
and bringing the legs up

almost into a point,

you've kind of recreated
that stability of a triangle.

And structural engineers
absolutely adore triangles

'cause they're a
really stable shape.

These legs support towers,
each weighing 580 tonnes.

Built at Gravesend in Kent,

they were then carried by
tugboat and sunk into position.

Three groups of seven towers
were built to defend the thames,

the majority armed with
heavy anti-aircraft guns.

(Cannon fires)

David Phillips is part
of project red sand,

established to preserve and
restore these historic structures.

This is the whole
heart of the operation.

We are now on the
platform of the 3.7 inch gun,

of which there are three others
on each of the other gun towers.

The gun that was out
here was very effective.

They were controlled by
radar and a sperry predictor,

which was a piece of kit that sat
between the radar and the gun,

which could automatically get
the gun to lock onto their target.

By the end of 1943,

the thames forts
were ready for battle.

All that remained was to
man them with soldiers,

165 were needed for
each group of towers.

To operate the gun,

there were two
crew on the gun itself,

and then there were lots of
people in the control tower

and also watching
by the searchlight.

Soldiers manned these
remote and isolated forts

for a month at a time,

ready to rapidly respond
to incoming planes.

Coming down here

is the shell lockers
all around the site,

all around the gun towers,
which held the 3.7 inch shells.

They were brought
up from the armoury

and loaded into these lockers.

But living conditions
could be brutal.

Since this was a
military structure,

the human consideration
of the occupants

was probably not a priority.

It was more about can
it withstand the weather?

Can it withstand
an enemy attack?

And then, let's worry about
the comfort of the operators.

If it meant using

thousands and thousands
of rounds of ammunition

to try to shoot down only
a few German aircraft,

that's what you do.

And if it meant that
soldiers and sailors

had to live under
miserable conditions

in the north sea, in
all kinds of weather

with only a little
bit of fresh water

and only occasional
re-supply, that's what you do.

(Dramatic music)

Crews braved the
volatile conditions

and guarded this gateway
to the heart of London

with great success, shooting
down 22 Nazi aircraft.

And when Hitler targeted
London with swarms of his v-1

'vengeance weapons'
in the summer of 1944,

30 of them were sent
plummeting into the sea.

Having anti-aircraft artillery

pointed at anyone who
tries to approach London

up the river thames
limits German options.

The German bombers
that attacked London

during the blitz,

they could not just drive

right up the river
and attack London.

Hitting targets with
any degree of accuracy

was extremely difficult for
world war ii era bombers.

Rivers provided a
valuable landmark

and helped crews navigate
their way towards their targets.

Removing the thames
as a guiding marker

greatly diminished

the destructive power
of German bombers.

These stark forts are

one of the most extraordinary
engineering successes

that helped lead the
allies to victory in 1945.

Having fulfilled their purpose,

the British government
decommissioned them in 1956,

leaving them abandoned.

Today, seven of the original
red sands sea fort towers remain,

rusting away at sea.

The fact that the
red stands forts

are still standing to this day

is a testament to the
quality of the engineering

and construction
involved in making them

and putting them to use.

The battle to preserve
this piece of history goes on.

But without urgent funding,

these remarkable engineering
feats will be lost to the elements.

Engineering can't last forever,

and these have
served their purpose.

So, it's often a
difficult decision,

but sometimes we do just
have to accept that things

just can't be there forever.

Across the Atlantic
ocean in north Dakota,

just 15 miles from
the Canadian border,

stands one of
america's most incredible

and mysterious structures.

Standing on top
of a sloping mound,

this 79-foot tall concrete pyramid
looms over the surrounding plains.

This thing looks
downright sinister.

This has to be one of
the weirdest looking things

in the entire country.

There's a brooding menace
about the whole environment.

There are no windows visible.

Sloped at 56 degrees,

the otherwise blank surfaces
of each wall are punctuated

with strange white discs.

You're confronted with
something completely unworldly,

for where you are.

This giant structure has the
impression of an aztec pyramid.

The pyramid lies at the
centre of a 470-acre field,

surrounded by dozens
of mysterious manholes,

security fences, and
derelict guard posts.

This is no ordinary
industrial complex.

When you get closer,

you can see this was some
kind of military installation.

But what?

These monolithic structures
springing out of the ground.

You have a concrete parking
lot that has hatches and pillars.

What is this?

Who built it and why?

And why was this giant
pyramid abandoned?

During the cold war
in the early 1960s,

the nuclear arms race
between the Soviet union

and the United States
was reaching crisis point.

(Distant explosion)

A fierce debate broke out

within america's armed forces
about the best way to protect the nation

and its arsenal of missiles

from annihilation by Soviet
intercontinental ballistic missiles.

By the 1960s,

the popular imagination
has fixed on the idea

that nuclear war
will involve all out,

total war assault.

Nuclear armageddon was
very much on the horizon.

The potential for mass
destruction was very real.

The Soviet union truly
respected one thing only,

and that was military force.

And so we had to show

that our technology was
equal or better than theirs.

The us army raised the
stakes of military defence

and developed this,

the nekoma anti-ballistic
missile system.

At the heart of the complex
was a state-of-the-art radar.

This is a one-of-a-kind
radar system

that was constructed at
the height of the cold war,

the height of American paranoia.

Construction of the installation
began in the late-1960s.

Teams of engineers excavated
nearly a million cubic feet of earth

to create a vast pit
53 feet into the ground,

lined with concrete and reinforced
with 22,000 tonnes of iron and steel

to shield against nuclear
electromagnetic radiation.

Inside, multiple floors
covered 127,000 square feet

and contained tactical
operational systems,

weapons control, and the
new phased-array radar.

Local resident, Duane Otto, is
caretaker of the nekoma complex.

The phased-array
is a radar that,

through the computer system,
will detect a missile or an object

coming in from Russia
at a greater distance.

The technology
develops to create

a virtual radar antenna
that is capable of focussing

in different directions without
actually having to move

a big piece of steel mesh.

This was the cutting
edge of technology

to allow the usa to feel safe

that should there be
a strike from the ussr,

they'd be able to take out
those nuclear warheads

before they landed
on American soil.

Achieving this level of defence

required the most advanced
computer in the western world.

Engineered to handle 10
million instructions per second,

the radar's computer
was located deep

beneath the blast-proof pyramid.

It controlled an on-site
fleet of 46 missiles

held in underground
launch silos,

designed to shoot down
incoming Soviet weapons,

all directed by the huge
circular radar dishes

mounted on each
side of the pyramid.

The nekoma system was operating

at the limits of
1960 technology.

And the biggest
problem they had was

you had seconds to decide

are you gonna fire your
missile to stop that missile

or is it a decoy?

Is it something else?

To be effective,

it had to be able to
simultaneously target

multiple Soviet
nuclear missiles.

The radars could detect

a Soviet missile incoming
and give six minutes warning.

The missiles could hit a
target on 30 seconds notice.

That meant that as
long as the big computers

could make their
decisions fast enough,

a nuclear tipped
missile could be in the air

and intercepting an inbound
Soviet icbm in time to blow it up.

Refining these technologies
took many years.

Eventually, by late-1975,

the nekoma base was fully
equipped with both long-range spartan

and short-range
sprint nuclear missiles.

These weapons ensured
they would have two chances

to take out incoming
Soviet missiles.

We have here
sprint missile field.

You'll notice that
there's a white cover

on top of this missile site.

That is mainly fibreglass.

When they fired this missile,

it would go directly
through the fibreglass.

When they launched
these spartan missiles,

you'll notice that there is
a steel rail on each side.

When this missile
is ready for firing,

they send the signal

and then there is explosive
charges in that area,

and they'll blow this
cover out of the way

and be speeded on its
way to the outer atmosphere.

But would this high-tech
missile defence system

actually work?

And why was it abandoned?

Completed in 1975,

the complex cost
$5 billion to build,

equivalent to around
20 billion pounds today.

Those missiles were so fast

and so accurate

and directed by radars
that were so powerful

that the United States
was able to demonstrate

its capability to
the point at which

the us could be made
invulnerable to Soviet attack

scared the hell
out of the Russians.

In 1976 however,

the American political
climate took a turn.

In the wake of the Watergate scandal
and president Nixon's resignation,

Jimmy Carter was
elected into office,

bringing with him a
new cold war policy.

After just five months
of full combat readiness,

the us government concluded
that nekoma was no longer

an effective war deterrent and
abruptly shut the complex down,

leaving it abandoned.

Although it was
technically operation,

rumour has it, it was
only ever switched on,

screens alight, lights flashing,
buzzing noises, for three days.

So, when you look at nekoma,

you're in for a shock.

When we waste money,

we really go down
in flames, don't we?

I mean, this has to
be one of the greatest

waste of taxpayers' money

in the cold war
if not in history.

Yet many experts believe
the vast sums of money

spent at nekoma

did in fact help negate
the Soviet threat.

If you look at it that way,

the very fact that the nuclear
war never did break out,

maybe the American taxpayers
did get value for money.

If 5 billion bucks

was the cost of nuclear peace,

that is 5 billion
bucks well spent.

Today, the nekoma safeguard
complex lies abandoned

in a remote corner
of north Dakota.

Plans are afoot for
nekoma to be opened up

as a tourist attraction.

Now, you might think,

"why am I gonna want to
travel a distance and pay money

to go and visit this
giant concrete eyesore?"

Well, you could
look at it this way.

It's all monument to the fact

that the two nations
could come together

and resolve their
issues to create peace.

Despite its short active life,

nekoma pushed the boundaries
of radar and computer technology.

It proved that simply flooding
the planet with nuclear missiles

was not necessarily the
way to win the cold war.

And I think reason enough
to keep nekoma as it is

and to go along to
learn about that history

and feel the significance
of what is otherwise

just this giant, mysterious
concrete structure.

1,500 miles way,

an unusually shaped
complex sits empty

in the heart of the
densely populated

city of Philadelphia.

When you come across

what looks like a medieval
castle in Philadelphia,

with battlements and
flags waving from turrets,

it looks like someone airlifted

one of the spectacular
medieval buildings in France,

the ones that
inspire Disneyland,

and just dropped it in
the middle of Philadelphia.

Taking up nearly 10
acres or several city blocks,

it's surrounded by 30 feet
high, 10 feet thick stone walls

that contrast sharply
with the homes

and offices that fill
the surrounding streets.

With seven corridors
extending outward

from an octagonal central hub,

this foreboding complex is
shaped like a giant wagon wheel.

It's decaying and mouldy
and dark and damp.

A haunted place where you
definitely don't want to spend any time.

It's really spooky.

You can smell the
paint peeling off the walls

and the damp concrete.

It's really, really eerie.

What was the purpose
of this strange site?

And why was it abandoned?

In the early 1800s,

the state of Pennsylvania
had a problem.

The prisons they controlled
were overcrowded,

hard to keep orderly and
inhumane for the inmates.

For decades, prisons were cold,

crowded buildings where
inmates were just crammed

in like chickens in a Coop,

inviting disease,
violence, even death.

So, officials planned
a bold new site

for the rehabilitation of prisoners,
the eastern state penitentiary.

The aim was to create
a state-of-the-art prison

that put all others to shame

and revolutionised
the justice system.

You can see that
this was a real reaction

to a social reform.

And at the time, very
revolutionary indeed.

In 1822,

work began on america's biggest
and most expensive prison project,

costing the modern
equivalent of 15 billion pounds.

Sara Jane elk

is president of the
eastern state penitentiary.

The architect of this
prison, John haviland,

had to think of all the
daily needs of a person

while they were by themselves.

So, consequently, this prison
was built with central heat,

central plumbing, ventilation.

It was the first environmentally
controlled place for human life.

It was a drastic change
from the chaos and violence

of ordinary communal prisons,

which experts believed gave
inmates no chance of reform.

In 1829, this humanitarian
prison opened.

The purpose behind the design

was to give occupants
their own space.

Each inmate has their own cell.

They also have their
own little skylight.

And this is interesting

'cause the whole thinking
was about social reform.

The skylight was designed

so that inmates would
feel the presence of god

as he looked down upon them.

The idea was,

"we're not just gonna
punish prisoners.

We're gonna allow them
time to reflect and repent."

The word penitentiary
comes from repent.

So, they isolated each
prisoner by himself in a cell.

They didn't get to
talk to each other.

They were supposed
to spend their days

in quiet contemplation
of their crimes.

Prisoners were
let out of their cells

twice a day for exercise in
an individually open-air yard.

And the idea here was,

the fresh air and sunlight
would keep people healthy.

The initial design featured
450 individual cells.

To supervise this many
people in an ordinary prison

would take an army of guards.

So, British architect
John haviland

solved this problem by
introducing a unique layout.

It's a really ingenious design

of having what is
effectively a wagon wheel,

a central hub,

where the guards can
look out in every direction

and see the cells
going off in the distance.

The design of the penitentiary

was actually
extremely innovative,

which meant that a
small group of guards

could keep an eye
on the whole prison

from that one location.

However, creating a model prison

to revolutionise the treatment
of offenders was not cheap.

It was one of the most
expensive public building projects

ever carried out in the us.

This is 1828.

Now, each inmate has
their own central heating,

their own wash basin...

Their own flush toilet.

Now, let's put that in
perspective, the white house,

the president, he doesn't
have his own flush toilet.

These guys do.

Prisoners were in
solitary confinement,

but they did have enough food,

they weren't threatened by
violence from other prisoners.

You can see why the
founders of the prison

thought it was a step forward.

Would this revolutionary prison
actually rehabilitate the inmates?

And why was it abandoned?

After just a few
years of operation,

problems began to surface.

By the 1830s,

engineers had to
expand the penitentiary

and alter the design in
order to accommodate

a growing number of inmates.

They had to double the cells.

They had to bring in a
whole lot more prisoners.

So, all those nice
design features

about solitude that would
foster reflection, that was gone.

The prison kept working,
it kept functioning,

but it was no longer

the idyllic prison of
the future it once was.

Even the advanced
features of the cells

failed to work as planned.

There were furnaces at
the end of the cell blocks,

and they were to heat the
tunnels underneath the cells,

and then the air was to flow in.

But the people
closest to the furnaces

were getting carbon
monoxide sickness

and the people on the other
ends were getting frostbite.

The flush toilets were
flushed twice a week

by the prison guards.

Twice a week.

And hence the stench
that this created,

it was legendary.

On a practical level,

the whole idea
of rigid separation

of prisoners proved
impossible to maintain.

Cells designed for one man
soon housed two or three.

By the end of the century, the
notion of solitary confinement,

originally intended to
encourage prisoners

to reflect and reform

was replaced with
overcrowding and harsh,

unsanitary conditions.

In 1929,

the prison still employed
solitary confinement

to try and rehabilitate

one of the most notorious
criminals of all time.

And the eastern
state penitentiary

actually had quite a few
famous prisoners in it,

the most famous being al Capone

who spent a few years
there for a minor charge.

Now, he was
serving eight months,

although his original
sentence was longer.

He described his
time there as easy.

Well, it would be easy
when you have your own sofa,

your own bookcase, and
your own record player

that you play waltzes on.

It couldn't have
been that easy though

'cause we know he spent a good
deal of his bootlegging income

trying to get that sentence
even further reduced.

For 42 more years,

the prison continued to operate
despite its notorious conditions.

But in 1970, because
of overcrowding,

the once revolutionary prison
finally closed its doors for good.

Today, the dilapidated
eastern state penitentiary

lies deserted in the middle
of bustling Philadelphia.

After it was closed, the
whole site became abandoned.

But then a consortium
of concerned citizens

got involved and said, "no,
this is a historic landmark.

We need to make
it into a museum."

And that's what it is today,
and that feels about right.

Despite its many drawbacks,

the groundbreaking design
was copied all over the world.

More than 300 central
hub prisons were built.

Yet the whole concept
of solitary confinement

came to be seen not as a
way of reforming criminals

but as a punishment in itself.

At the time, it
was thought to be

this very enlightened,

gentle way to treat these
prisoners, give them time to reflect.

But in fact, it was
solitary confinement,

a very cruel punishment
to isolate people.

Spending months, years
in these cells all by yourself,

it's really hard to imagine.

Over 4,000 miles away,
across the Atlantic in schipkau,

east Germany,

a corroding mass of steel
towers over the landscape.

Out of the thick pine forest
emerges a monster machine.

You're just completely

at the enormity of this
thing in front of you.

This thing looks like
something out of star wars,

giant super-structure.

It's 160 feet high,

it's got this evil-looking
wheel at the front of it.

This vast rusting hulk is
made of three grid-like arms

all connected by a
spider's web of steel cables.

It's very science fiction.

You'd be forgiven for thinking

this is definitely some
kind of contraption

built by an evil genius
planning to take over the world.

It's just unbelievable.

Incredibly, this metal
leviathan was once mobile.

Two huge tank-like tracks
support 4,000 tonnes of weight.

Control cabins perched
among the girders

also suggest that
it carried a crew.

But what is this
mysterious machine?

Who built it?

And why was it abandoned
in the middle of nowhere?

In the 1960s,

communist east Germany was
changing its economic policies

in an attempt to
boost industrial growth.

To fuel its power stations
and meet energy demands,

they tapped into their
key energy deposit,

brown coal.

Huge deposits lay
just below the surface.

Getting at it, however,

was costly and
incredibly labour intensive.

In 1964,

the engineering firm

developed something radical
to overcome this problem.

When designing structures

at such a scale,

engineers face many challenges,
mostly due to the sheer size.

Things weigh

so much that modern
materials are almost at their limit.

When you take a closer
look at some of the elements,

on the extremities
of this giant monster,

you can slowly figure out
what the purpose of it was.

This is schaufelradbagger or
bucket wheel excavator 258.

It's one of the largest
machines ever built.

Nicknamed 'bagger 258',
this is a strip mining excavator,

designed to remove
earth and rock

to expose veins of brown coal
that run just beneath the surface.

There is nothing delicate about
strip mining with bagger 258.

This thing removes
yards of earth at a time

in this great big long trench,

following the coal
underneath the earth's surface,

until you get down to
what you're after, the coal.

While the company manufactured
13 types of these machines,

they only made one bagger 258

and they unleashed it in 1965.

The key element of the bagger
is its immense cutting wheel,

40 feet in diameter,

each of its 10 buckets
can hold 50,000

cubic feet of earth and rock,

allowing it to cut
deep into the surface

at astonishing speed.

This thing is shovelling up

thousands of tonnes of
earth and rock at a time

before dropping it onto its own
conveyor belt to shift it away,

all the while, trundling
along on its tracks

to continuously eat up
the earth in front of it.

Machine doesn't do it justice.

This thing's a
factory on tracks.

Bucket wheel excavators are

amazingly complex in terms
of their abilities to move,

function, and otherwise
just do their job

with a minimal amount
of human involvement.

When you see the size
and the complexity of bagger,

you'd imagine it would
need an army of people

to actually operate it.

But that's not the case.

It only takes five
people to run,

and all of them are
situated on board.

So, whilst it might have cost

the earth to build, running
it comes relatively cheap.

There's a trade-off between

building one machine that's
really big and using dozens

or hundreds of
trucks and shovels.

Obviously, if something breaks,

you're in trouble and you
need to shut down, but overall,

the bucket wheel excavator
is so much more efficient

that it's worth the risk.

It began operating in 1965,

and though designed
to extract coal efficiently,

it was painfully slow moving.

Weighing around 4,000 tonnes,

it could only move
at 6 yards a minute.

And even that was no easy task.

That's hardly gonna beat
any world land speed records,

but it's actually
extremely impressive

when you consider the size
and the weight of this thing.

In fact, it weighs so much

that as it moves any ground

ahead of it needs to
be specially prepared.

And any roads it crosses
needs to be prepared,

so that it doesn't just
pulverise the surface.

Yes, bagger is mobile,
but mobility comes at a cost.

One of the big challenges

is you've got to move
the bucket constantly,

so it's always digging in
to fresh soil or fresh coal.

The bucket
excavator has to pivot

as the wheel is
turning into fresh soil,

then the whole thing
also has to creep forward

in order to move into
new areas to be excavated.

That wasn't the only
operational hazard facing

this engineering giant.

What strikes me about bagger

is the number of appendages that it
has sticking out from its main body.

You've got a spoil arm

sticking out the back
that then spits out

all of that earth into trucks
waiting to take it away.

But crucially, you also
need a counterbalance arm.

Now, this counterweights
the forces and the stresses

at the front of the machine
as it digs through the earth,

otherwise the whole thing
would just topple over.

For decades, bagger 258

successfully mined coal
across eastern Germany.

Even after German
unification in 1990,

it continued to fuel
the country's energy

needs until 2002.

Eventually, it simply ran
out of material to mine,

so operation was halted
and the machine abandoned.

Today, the bagger
258 is rusting away

in a remote and empty field.

But in more ways than one,

it's left an indelible
Mark on the landscape.

The problem with large
bucket wheel excavators

is that they're made
of manmade materials,

metals, that do not
weather very well.

So, preserving them
for future generations

would be very
expensive, very costly.

So, leaving them in
the field is probably

the only true solution
we have for us.

Bagger 258 has been left to rot.

It has been abandoned.

But maybe that's
not such a bad thing.

Rightly or wrongly, we're
still massively dependant

on fossil fuels today
and bagger 258,

for me, is a reminder
and a monument

to the effort and the
ingenuity required to exploit

the earth's resources
in the way we do.

Now abandoned,

they were once on the cutting
edge of human engineering.

Within these decaying structures
are the echoes of history.

They speak of war and terror

but also of exploration
and human endeavour.

Captioned by
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