NOTE: I was at this facility at the invitation of an employee, and therefore was not trespassing. Anyone else coming here would be. Also, this visit occurred in 2004, so things may be very different now. Consider yourself warned….
At the former Curtis Wright site, there are many separate areas & building clusters, some of which are leased out to various companies like NJ Transit and a toy company. Others sit abandoned. There have been issues with chemical contamination, and the photograph above shows one of several areas where the ground is monitored for toxicity & chemical contamination. The site is in the process of being converted into a townhouse development. Considering the history of contamination here, one wonders how it could ever get a passing grade, environmentally speaking. Wouldn’t the soil have to be dug up & replaced? That’s what they did over at Stepan in Maywood, and that situation still isn’t resolved 15 years after they discovered the problem….
My guide pointed out the buildings on some of the roofs. Apparently the complex was considered a potential target for attack because of the highly important work that was done here. Anti aircraft guns were positioned around the facility. Some of the buildings had fake houses built on the roof, and had roads & grass painted on the roof, in an attempt to camouflage the site from enemy bomber pilots. We found an entrance into one of the labs through this tunnel. Below is both the exterior shot as well as a shot from inside. The tunnel was used to vent high temperature exhaust that came from testing the engines. The interior had no windows and thus no light.
We explored all the way up to the 3rd floor and we found a lot of stuff, but nothing terribly interesting in terms of souvenirs. We did find old reel to reels, records of testing, even blueprints. The control panels you see here were on the second floor, and there was a window that looked down to the 1st floor where the engine was situated.
In this building we found what is, for me, one of the coolest finds I’ve ever made while exploring: a jet engine still sitting on the blocks. From what we could determine the engine had seen actual use and was brought in for an overhaul or 200,000 mile tune-up or something. They took its cowling off, and then it was left there, abandoned and forgotten. How does somebody just leave an engine behind? Or any of this stuff? CW is still in business, they’re just a few towns away. Didn’t the owner of the airplane ever say, “Hey where’s my engine?” Weird.
After checking out the engine, we headed for a series of buildings with huge metal doors. Apparently these buildings are where they tested designs or newly built engines. Note the size of the entrances, and the thickness of the walls. They were designed to withstand explosions of the engines, as well as enemy bomb attacks….
We found many interesting, creepy or otherwise unusual things. We found numerous barrels of unmarked material. We gave them a wide berth, and wore heavy gloves most of the time for safety. This is a hazardous waste site, you know … We saw some evidence of people having used this spot as a place to go & drink. We also saw evidence of a cat population (piles of feathers) but we never saw any actual cats. Joe found an old fire extinguisher which he proceed to gleefully test out. I noticed there was a surprising lack of graffiti.
You’ll notice the board of switches in the above pictures. I contacted my father, a former telephone company installer and asked what they were. His answer:
Yes, those are the old copper wires for the communications board. Now I know why my emails took so long to be received. The wires were that much bigger in the old days and underground cable was even thicker and it was covered in a lead sheath to keep out squirrels as well as water, etc.
Our final stop was to check out a place I had been on my first foray into CW. As Joe repeatedly had said, “there won’t be any flies in the dead of winter.” We parked in the giant parking lot I had encountered (and then avoided) on my first trip. We hiked through the woods (thorn bushes remain sharp during winter, and just as prickly damn it) and ventured inside … and found some interesting graffiti, and that’s all.
The room was nothing more then an 8×8 or so pump station. There were numerous pipes and control valves, but where they led one could only guess. Joe & I both speculate that this may have controlled the water supply to the bunkers that supposedly existed below our feet. We couldn’t help but notice power lines running to this bunker, furthering our suspicions about underground facilities. Unfortunately we were not in any position to explore further. With the snow cover it likely would’ve obscured any evidence, and the entrance would more likely be in the basement of one of the buildings anyway.