This was the typical conversation that I had with my friends and co-workers:
“So what are your plans in Seattle?”
“Well, I’m going to visit my friend who’s moving and help him pack. Probably hit up a lot of the coffee joints, and um (pause), go to this abandoned nuclear cooling tower.”
I had a friend that did a road-trip up the Pacific Northwest last year. He went to a lot of magical places, and this was one of them. I knew I had to go check it out myself.
The Satsop Nuclear Power Plant was 76% complete in 1983 before the money ran out and work was terminated. The cooling towers were never in use and left where they are now. It is now part of the Satsop Business Park.
I had contacted Satsop Business Park to see if I could get some time to go in and shoot some photos. After driving 1.5 hours out of Seattle, engaging in one-person karaoke, I made it to Satsop. I was met with a friendly face, John (my tour guide), who let me into both cooling towers.
The first tower I went into was the one that was finished. It was pretty surreal to see the eliminator systems built and still intact. The craziest part was hearing my voice echo throughout the entire tower and knowing that John and I were the only two people in this massive thing. (This was also when I wished that I owned a wider-angle lens)!
Who needs James Turrell’s skyspace when you have this?
We then went to the second cooling tower that wasn’t finished. John told me that the other cooling tower had a better view of the entire bay area. I was so thankful that I had a granola bar before I walked up the cooling tower. I zig-zagged my way up a set of rusty stairs 480 feet above the ground. Needless to say, my muscles were definitely engaged. I had probably stopped to catch my breath several times. However, the more flights of stairs that I walked up, the more beautiful the view was. I knew the climb to the top was going to be worth it. And boy, it was.
Once I got to the top of the cooling tower, I got to take my time and stroll around the ring by myself (apparently John had a fear of heights). I had a 360 degree view of the Satsop area – I got to watch the clouds slowly roll out with the sun shining through. I sat there, for quite some time, just taking in the beauty.
Heights? PSH. Whatever. Not scary at all. However, SPIDERS? There were many – and they weren’t adorable Charlotte’s Web spiders either.
However, hanging out at the cooling tower and being able to hear my voice resonate throughout the entire thing are definitely some things that will go down in my books forever.
Joanne (The Other Jo) is an amateur shutterbug that enjoys exploring cafes, cocktail bars, and ramen shops whilst traveling. She’s more of an off-the-beaten path traveler — so you might find her snapping photos in an alleyway or underneath a bridge. Say hello to her on Instagram: @_j.wong