In its prime, the Armour Meatpacking Plant in National City, Illinois, was second in size only to a similar plant in the Chicago stockyards.
In its heyday, the Armour plant employed more than 4,500 people and was also a popular, if gory, tourist destination with daily guided tours of the slaughterhouse and processing lines. Times changed and the proliferation of refrigeration altered the meat industry, and Armour relocated to elsewhere in the Midwest. The National City plant closed in 1959 and was “donated” to the city of East St. Louis, which was clearly not thrilled with the property since it has been left abandoned and rotting since then.
Many of the buildings in the complex have collapsed, and the remaining structures are hollow shells of their previous industriousness, with nothing but debris and rusting machinery to recall the site’s past. The silver lining to the deterioration of the factory is that it has become a prime destination in the Midwest for urban explorers. Walking through the ruins is a fascinating, eerie, and spectacular experience.
However, visiting the complex has become more hazardous in the past months. A recent excursion reveals the main building is approximately halfway demolished; construction equipment is visible from behind the rubble. Plans by the Missouri and Illinois Departments of Transportation have highway extensions planned just a few hundred feet away from the old plant, a potential cause behind the recent “renovations”. Be sure to explore the Armour Meatpacking Plant before it’s completely put out to pasture.Update 2016: Sadly, this amazing facility was completed demolished and razed in 2016 and no longer exists.
Know Before You Go
Here's where it used to be:From St. Louis:From either I-70, I-40, or I-44, follow signs for I-55 North, crossing the river. Keep right, stay on I-64 East/Illinois 3. Follow signs for Louisville/St. Clair Avenue.Take Exit 4, Illinois 3.Merge onto St. Clair Ave. Stay on St. Clair past traffic circle.Turn right on North 1st Street.Take the first left onto Exchange Avenue.The smokestacks have been demolished, but what is left of the building is unmistakeable. Find an out-of-the-way place to park and walk along the treeline (nest to the RR tracks) until you come to the buildings.Make sure to wear clothes that completely cover the skin. Bees and hornets have been spotted nesting in the rubble.Police have been instructed to arrest anyone spotted on the property. Be careful.