Sterns & Foster Factory: Part III “Don’t Block the Road”

Fellow travelers we are almost at the end of the road for the Sterns and Foster factory and what a journey it has been. From darkness to light, from frozen days to warm evenings, from a deserted street to one with a full posse and everything in between this series has been a blast and was the impetus for starting this blog….so “thank you DEAD PET and most of the population of Lockland, Ohio for having us as your guests from time to time!”

What a ride this has been and this last visit was no exception at all. We decided the other day it was time for another visit to one of our favorite vistas, the Sterns and Foster factory in Lockland, Ohio. Since it was a mild day and my daughter was home we decided to tramp out and get some pictures of the only remaining standing structure the iconic smokestack.

The iconic smokestack is the only standing structure left of the Sterns and Foster factory.
The iconic smokestack is the only standing structure left of the Sterns and Foster factory.

As usually we decided to start on the west side and circle our way around to the east side to get some good all encompassing shots of what remained of the factory, do a little snooping, and take in the flavor of Lockland, Ohio. As usual we again encountered the unsuspected nature of Urban Exploration (Hint: always be on your toes you never know what is down that unseen road until you arrive and you better be prepared for ANYTHING to happen!)

The signs fade along with the factory as we begin our circle around the remains.
The signs fade along with the factory as we begin our circle around the remains.

On the west side we paused to take in some nature and get some good pictures. There were some strange things in the little park across the highway, for one lots of dead birds, I counted 6 of them in a very brief period and my daughter came upon a moth colored to resemble the soot that permeated the area during the time the factory was in operation. Like back in the first days of the Industrial Revolution in merry old England the flora and fauna had adapted to the altered environment, this moth is an example of that adaptation. It had changed its color over time to a black and grey soot-like appearance thus avoiding predation. Will it again adapt to a cleaner environment? That is yet to be seen?

The flora and fauna began to adapt to the altered environment, this moth is an example of that adaptation as it changed its color over time to avoid predation.
The flora and fauna began to adapt to the altered environment, this moth is an example of that adaptation as it changed its color over time to avoid predation.

As we left the west side park and went around to the east side, I had a feeling in my gut (HINT: when you get a gut feeling when you are out exploring..LISTEN TO IT….) that we were in for another adventure even though the day had been uneventful so far.

Shot while we were departing the west side to circle east for another view. This out building is not part of the factory.
Shot while we were departing the west side to circle east for another view. This out building is not part of the factory.

Around we went enjoying the day and each others company. I still could not shake the feeling that this place had more in store for us and maybe even something nasty, as it was in its final death throes. As we swung around to the east, the sun was going down and as it does this time of year in Ohio darkness approaches with a speed that can trick your time sense, and that if you are not careful, will leave you stranded where you don’t want to be (HINT: always check the time of sunset when you go exploring so you can give yourself time not only to enjoy a spot but time to get out safely and ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS bring a flashlight!!!).

Quonset hut on the east side used to store hazardous material by contractor which includes asbestos shingles.
Quonset hut on the east side used to store hazardous material by contractor which includes asbestos shingles.

As we cruised to the east side we went down PUBLIC streets to get to the side of the factory by the highway and to the road that dead ends at the destruction site. To do this you have to go past three private homes that used to house factory workers and now near the end of their lifespan are condemned with the remaining contractors on site moving out. We got to the dead end road and got a few last pictures before heading home to dinner, turned around and headed out back down the open and PUBLIC streets of Lockland.

View of the smokestack from the east side at the end of the dead end road.
View of the smokestack from the east side at the end of the dead end road.

As we headed out a truck, one that we recognized from a previous encounter, flagged us down and we stopped alongside. The gruff old man inside scowled at us and asked us what we were doing, after a few words we refreshed his memory of us and what we were doing. Finally showing signs of recognition he told us the people on the street leading out heading were calling the police. Now as you can imagine, since we were doing nothing but documenting the factory’s demise (as we have been doing for several months) and abiding by the law, this news kind of shocked us a bit. Nonetheless we kept on driving out and decided to see what the heck was going on? Remember these are open city thoroughfares and there is NO reason we shouldn’t be allowed to drive down them in peace.

A very convenient place to rest or answer the call of nature in Lockland, Ohio. Port-O-Potty rest stop...lol
A very convenient place to rest or answer the call of nature in Lockland, Ohio. Port-O-Potty rest stop…lol

As we rounded the corner that connected to the street out, we saw two people on the left hand side and two people on the right of us on the sidewalk, one of them being a lady (and I use that term lightly) with a cell phone up in her face gabbing away at what we assumed was the police. We slowed down to a crawl wondering what was going on? We could clearly see a large black Ford pick-up sliding across the street below us attempting to block our way out to the main road. We were silently amazed at this scenario and I knew not matter what, even if I had to ram that truck in my little Honda Civic, these people were not going to be able to contain us if we wanted to get out! I could feel the tension in the car with Marsha and Michaela, it was palpable, not fear at all but wonderment at what was occurring on the PUBLIC street in front of us (HINT: barring legal access onto public streets is a crime so don’t put up with that kind of foolishness someone could get hurt).

The condition of the streets in Lockland, Ohio on the east side of I-75 south leaves a lot to be desired and is in my opinion dangerous to motorists and pedestrians alike.
The condition of the streets in Lockland, Ohio on the east side of I-75 south leaves a lot to be desired and is in my opinion dangerous to motorists and pedestrians alike.

Somehow we had to defuse this nonsense or someone was going to get hurt and that little voice inside my head said “see told you something was not right today, good thing you were alert and listened.” I decided to talk first so I pulled up to the man closest on my side, said hello, introduced myself and shook his hand. I could see all this time the women on my side was rattling off on into the phone non-stop and I knew at that moment she was the instigator of the situation and no way could she be reasoned with. After a few moments of talk, all the while my eyes on the people and the truck blocking our egress, the man smiled, and we said our goodbyes. Now was the moment of truth either that truck was going to move or it was going to get one hell of a dent in it (HINT: always wear your seat belts you never know when you may have to ram a truck..lol)!

Sign on panel covering access to traffic light electrical conduits on the other side of the highway. I just threw it in here for fun.
Sign on panel covering access to traffic light electrical conduits on the other side of the highway. I just threw it in here for fun.

As we slid down the street the truck slowly backed up and unblocked the street. We didn’t know what these people thought they were doing but intimidation was not a trick they could pull on your intrepid explorers. As I passed the woman on my left, with the cell phone still plastered to her face I could feel her animosity and her disappointment that confrontation was so easily averted. We later speculated that this rather motley and insipid crew was actually looting the condemned homes and they were the ones that were not supposed to be there, our appearance had scared them into a hasty strategy that completely failed. I also had a distinct feeling that the woman on the phone WAS NOT talking to the police at all but some unseen accomplice among the ruins.

Sign on the fence surrounding the Sterns and Foster demolition site. The streets were however public access.
Sign on the fence surrounding the Sterns and Foster demolition site. The streets were however public access.

So we bid the people of Lockland, Ohio (the overwhelming majority we found to be descent, hardworking and very nice folks) and the factory, now only a remembrance, a fond adieu and headed home in total wonderment at all we had encountered during our visits. We will never forget our adventures here and to be sure every trip was one, the good, the bad and the ugly all rolled in to one. I hope we can get back before the smokestack gets converted to rubble but it could be tomorrow or the next day who knows? The adventures this site has taken us on will continue to inspire us in our quest and will not be soon forgotten……..stay tuned for episode IV….   we’ll BE BOCK…..lol

Our last shot of the remaining icon of industrial triumph and wealth...
Our last shot of the remaining icon of industrial triumph and wealth…
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Sterns & Foster Factory: Part III “Don’t Block the Road”

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