St Thomas Ford Assembly Plant

Urban Exploring of an Abandoned Industrial Facility

Exploring the Abandoned Industrial St Thomas Ford Assembly Plant

Inside the massive and vacant industrial St Thomas Ford Assembly Plant in St Thomas, Ontario, Canada. An adventurous Urban Explorer could spend days wandering this cavernous space of abandoned industrial awesomeness.

After closing, this abandoned industrial building was left to rot with the plans of selling the factory which failed so they prepped the buildings for demolition. Now, as of August 2016 the St Thomas Ford Assembly Plant is almost entirely demolished,

I was lucky to have two opportunities to explore and photograph this amazing building.

This massive industrial location was built in 1967 as a 2,600,000 square foot facility that produced many models of Ford vehicles from the Fold Falcon, the Lincoln Town Car, the Mercury and the Mercury Grand Marquis.    The plant may be most well known for producing the Crown Victoria Police Vehicle between the years 1983 to 1990 for many different police forces across Ontario, Canada.

I had driven past this mammoth industrial beast many times, always noting the two or three security vehicles up front and fencing that wraps around the perimeter of the land.  It looked impossible, it looked like a guaranteed fail and it looked like a challenge I was up for – when the time is right.

It was early summer in 2014, my exploring partner RiddimRyder and I had failed twice already, once at a psychiatric hospital and once at a small industrial building.  We weren’t in the mood for abandoned houses, our plan for the day was big and risky – so we needed to find something good.  I suggested we should try the Ford Plant, what do we have to lose?

The property was so huge that we had no idea where to even start, as far as we knew no one had yet attempted this building so we had no intel or any clue what the best plan of attack would be.  We decided to park far to the rear of the property and take a long 3km hike through a farmer’s field and a rail line.  As soon as we started walking, it started to rain – not a good start!  We climbed over multiple fences, stumbled over hills and unpredictable terrain, crawled under fences while soaking wet and carrying all of our gear.

We finally arrived to the building at around 12:00 noon, fully aware that a security truck may come around the corner at any time, we ran across the lot for the first door, fully expecting nothing to happen.  The very first door we tried opened, unlocked…we were baffled!

We made our way inside, cautiously, and immediately took cover and unpacked our gear and started shooting immediately.  We both noted the golf cart tracks which told us there will definitely be a security patrol at some point, so we headed for someplace safe where we could shoot and stay out of sight.  The power was still running and there were some lights on and a constant hum of electricity running, so there was no chance of us hearing the security patrol as they made their way through.

For nearly three hours RiddimRyder and I enjoyed shooting all of the industrial awesomeness that there was to see inside this huge automotive assembly plant. It was almost 3:00 and we had not yet seen any sight of security – but we knew they would come so we decided to find someplace dark and hidden and hunker down a while until we see the patrol.  We turned around and started walking when it happened all in a split second, we spot a flashing red light and a golf-cart and the driver of the golf cart see’s us right away.  “Who the Fuck Are You??” yells the man on the golf cart, we were caught and there was no way out of it.  The man gets of the cart, shaking and nervous, Riddim and I try to keep our calm and play dumb, telling him we’re just a couple of curious photographers who wanted to get some photos before they demolish the place, we also tell him we just got there and hadn’t even taken a photo yet.  He tells us to get in the golf cart, we’re going to the security shack to see his boss, we ask if we can pack our gear – as we pack Riddim and I both swap out our memory cards at the same time – we’re not losing these photos.

The golf cart ride was torture as he drove us all around the plant and we spotted all of the places we hadn’t seen yet, robots, paint booths, machines and equipment.  We strike up a conversation and ask the guard how often he does this patrol, how many guards are there, what is the shift.  We were surprised to get answers to all of our questions, we also learned that he had worked there when the factory was active, he also tells us they have never caught anyone else inside, other than a few ex workers on New Years Eve a few years back who decided to take a drive on the golf carts.

We finally make it to the shack and the men question us, we tell them we didn’t see any no trespassing signs, we ensure them we are not scrappers or thieves, simply curious photographers.  They let us go with a warning and even drive us back to my car, we ask more questions and now have all the intel we need for a future visit, what time to get there, when the shift change happens, how often they patrol and more.  Two weeks later, we return for a highly successful visit, we explore almost the entire facility and all outbuildings, all without incident.

It would be almost two years before the building is entirely demolished, now it is a large empty lot, gradually being cleaned and cleared and prepped for another use.  This was one of the biggest and best explores I’ve done, it was high risk, it was a difficult entry and ultimately one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had!

15 thoughts on “St Thomas Ford Assembly Plant”

  1. Hi, I want to know that will I be in trouble of get inside some abandoned buildings to take photographs, I really want to take picture of them. Thank you!

  2. You just need to be sneaky. Avoid hanging around when people are near, search for discreet entry points. Don’t mess things up, don’t make lots of noise.

    You can get ticked for trespassing, if caught.

  3. I worked in this plant for 23 years….and I had a hard time identifying some of the areas, minus the equipment and parts that were always there.

  4. First off You do not know that it was intentional they did try to strike a deal!

  5. Amazing pictures, I spent 11 years working at this plant and this pictures brought back a lot of memories, almost forgot what it looked like inside..thanks for sharing.

  6. I spent over twenty years at this facility, helping to keep it in good repair and the production line running.
    Sad to see it this way.

  7. I owned four cars that came out of that building, and drove dozens more. Sorry to see it in such a state.

  8. I spent a large portion of my life inside that Plant as did two of my brothers over 100 yrs total between us. The Auto Union caused the closure of Talbotvlille.

  9. Tina Janzen

    My husband Bill worked at this factory for 34 years. He took an early retirement offer in 2007, but had he known it would close in 2011, he would have stayed til then. It is very sad that it closed since the police loved the cars that were built here and many jobs were lost!

  10. I made parts for this place. Made all the fuel lines on my press from 1993 to 1999 this car was our biggest job producer next to the Taurus bundle booth kept a lot of folks working. Neat to see the place i sent parts to. I got to visit Ford Atlanta many times looked similar.

  11. Great story! I love your ability to be so adventurous! I so often wish I could get inside certain buildings! Thanks for a great story.

  12. I just bought a 2010 Police Interceptor, which is just parking in the street outside my door in Germany. Will take good care of it as there won‘t be any new ones. Kind of sad to see that the place where it all began is now an Amazon logistics center.

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