Broad Ford Distressed, Page 2
Compiled & Written by K. R. Overholt Critchfield 8-28-2009
Photographs & Commentary by cjb19772009

A. Overholt and Company Distillery & Attached Buildings in Shadow
Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

~~ More From Flickr Photographer at Broad Ford ~~

This is the second page of photographs made by Flickr photographer cjb19772009, currently known as Mtnbiker09. The series is called Broad Ford Distressed, and includes Broad Ford Distressed Summer. Featured are interior shots of the Distillery Building (identified by cjb as Processing), the Free Warehouse A (identified by cjb as the dual Machine Shop-Fabricating Shop), the Office Building, and a few other landmarks at the site. The first group shows us the interior of the Distillery Building, which originally contained fifteen enormous fermenting tubs used in making whiskey, all accessed from the first floor of the building.

~~ Distillery Building Interiors ~~

Distillery Entry - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Blueprints of the A. Overholt and Company distillery building include drawings of four floors, plus another page that displays a side view of the whole distilling process, plus the locations of the pipes in the basement levels. An additional page details the elevation plan for the distillery, cooling room, fermenting house and fermenting house annex. There is also a page showing a Diagrammatic Process Flow Sheet.

An industrial architect is needed to really understand the details of the blueprints, but it appears that each of the fifteen "fermenting tubs" on the first floor had a capacity of 23,077 gallons each. There were two other cisterns located in another section -- one with a capacity of 26,027 gallons, and one with a capacity that is undiscernable, but it is big. There were many kinds of pipes on all the floors -- water supply pipes, cold water and hot water pipes, slop pipes, beer pipes, yeast pipes, etc. A whole lot of pipes.

The second floor shows a condenser in one corner, but also had a yeast room with six yeast tubs, and two huge mash tubs that held 879,737 gallons each. A beer still held 24,000 gallons. The third floor had rye meal hopper scales, malt meal hopper scales, yeast meal scales, and a variety of pipes. The fourth floor had bins for corn, rye, malt, and yeast, plus conveyors, along with tanks for cold and hot water, and the condenser. There are a whole lot of other details, but the interesting thing to me is that the diagram of the whole works indicates there were two column stills in the building.

~~ Studying The Fermenting Tubs ~~

Fermenting Tub 1 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Fermenting Tub 2 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Fermenting Tub 3 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Above you see the bottom of one of the fermenting tubs, now full of an assortment of building materials and groundwater. Take this as a warning! You would not want to accidentally fall into this toxic waste!

Possible First Floor Level "Drop Tank" - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

This cistern may have been the "drop tank" depicted on the blueprints. At the far left, there is an opening that may have housed the huge condenser unit that began in the upper half of the first floor, spanned the second and third floors, and topped off at one-third the height of the fourth floor. The fourth floor was a little less than the combined heights of the second and third floors, while the height of the first floor was a few feet more than the height of the second floor.

~~ Mounting For A Copper Still? ~~

Probable Chasis for Still - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

It is my guess that this is the platform (or mounting or chasis) for one of the huge pot stills, as indicated in the blueprints. The stairway would take the master distiller up to the platform where the huge pot stills nested at the mid-floor level. The columns went up from the top of the pots to the second level and nearly to the ceiling of the fourth floor. Do a little research online, and you will discover what a modern "column still" looks like. We can bet that the Overholt Distillery had a pair of the finest copper stills in the industry. The value of the stills would make them the first things to be ripped out and sold -- for the price of the copper alone, or as equipment to sell to some other distillery.

It would be great to know what became of the twin Overholt stills! And I wonder who made them, and whether they were a matched pair, or one of them was an original that was installed during the original c.1880 construction of the building. From my research thus far, experts in the field say the best stills are made in Europe -- Scotland and Germany are well-represented online. I confess that the first time I saw a picture of a shiny new copper still, I wanted to have one! The prices being asked for small batch copper stills are really daunting. Adding a rectification column increases the price, but the column makes production so much more exacting, giving the master distiller a better chance of matching the chemistry on a consistent basis.

Ruined Stairway to the Platform - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

~~ Free Warehouse A - aka Machine Shop-Fabricating Shop ~~

Free Warehouse A - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Free Warehouse A Main Entry - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

~~ Free Warehouse A Interiors ~~

Free Warehouse A Interior 1 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Free Warehouse A Interior 2 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Free Warehouse A Interior 3 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

~~ The Office Building ~~

Office Building Entry Facing Railroad Tracks - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

The front entry to the Office Building faces the CSX railroad tracks. In the background, on the right, you see the Distillery Building. At cjb's Flickr site, the large-size version of this picture is available, and shows that the stone inscription at the top of the structure reads, "OVERHOLT & CO. REGISTERED DISTILLERY.” However, when you zoom in and manipulate the picture in your favorite computer photo program, another line is revealed, but is unreadable.

It would be interesting to learn why the main entrance to the Office Building is facing toward the track, rather than toward the Distillery Building. On the Distillery side (see below), during the summer, the building is nearly obliterated by vines.

Office Building Rear, Facing the Distillery Building - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

~~ Office Building Interiors ~~

Office Interior 1 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

"Spiderweb is still wet with morning dew," is the caption cjb gave the picture above. It is what he saw by training his camera lens on the scene through a window of the front door. These interior shots are striking and enlightening, and you will see more of them in Inside Looking Out, one of the two pages listed under Broad Ford Forsaken. The whole group of pictures on this page gives those of us wanting to renovate the Broad Ford buildings a really clear idea of how much needs to be done to accomplish the task. I am wondering what these walls originally looked like, whether they were wood-paneled, whether they were warm in the winter.

Office Interior 2 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Office Interior 3 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Office Interior 4 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

I am wondering which one of these rooms was the place where, circa 1935, a man labored long at a manual typewriter, plunking out the original text to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the manufacture of Old Overholt Whiskey as a commercial product. My discovery of a copy of that text in the Pennsylvania Room of the Carnegie Library (c.1995-96) marked a turning point in my efforts to learn about my ancestors, and that text became the basis for my first big article for Karen's Branches -- OLD OVERHOLT: The History of A Whiskey, published in 1999.

Office Interior 5 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Office Interior 6 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Office Interior 7 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Ruined Antique Bathroom - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Office Stairway 1 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Office Stairway 2 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Office Stairway 3 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

~~ The Grain Elevator ~~

Grain Elevator Entry 1 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Grain Elevator Entry 2 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Grain Elevator Interior 1 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Grain Elevator Interior 2 - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

~~ Trespassers Beware! ~~

When you look at the sad state of the buildings that are left at the Broad Ford site, I hope you are all paying attention, because it is no "walk in the park" there. This is a wild area, where poisonous snakes, various poison ivies, bee hives and hornet nests are part of the landscape!

The next three photos show one of the many very real dangers of wandering around while the site is in its present condition -- i.e., watery basements. As seen here, these areas are without proper barriers to protect wild animals, occasional hikers or secret vandals, and you if you decide to go there, be warned that serious consequences may await you, your companions, and your dog! It does not matter if your trek is an innocent excursion or a planned graffiti mission in the dead of night. At the very least, thirteen huge structures are now missing at Broad Ford, and many of them must have had basements that are now repositories of sudden death! So, really, people! Pay attention!

Our thanks to cjb for facing the hazards of exploring the property and showing us the many dangers!

Watery Basement Portal - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Watery Basement Stairs - Photograph by cjb19772009 4-16-09

Watery Basement - Photograph by cjb19772009 2008

Taken in 2008, cjb commented, "The building that was above this is no longer here. This is basically the basement. Water has been accumulating in it for so long that it is about 6 feet deep. It has since been torn down and filled in."

Go on to the third page of the Distressed series, Broad Ford Distressed Summer,
or go on to the first page of Broad Ford Forsaken, Inside Looking Out.

Go on to Broad Ford Views 2, the first of several new pages in the Views series.

  End of Page . . . Return to Karen's Branches