Finally, one day, I convinced some people to take me out there and solve the mystery.
Actually, the above happened twice. The first time I failed to bring a camera and instead explored with eyes only. The second time I brought along the old Rebel, and now I'm finally telling the tale.
|The 1881 main tower is the oldest structure in the complex.|
Marathon is the type of place I live to find. It's equal parts mysterious, ancient and ruinous. It speaks of a different age, at once alien and familiar. The toppled bricks and ornate artwork covering the building practically bleeds history.
|The logo design expresses an obsession with Greek imagery present in the early 1900s.|
I guess I should explain.
Around 1904, one Southern Engine & Boiler Works bought what was then an abandoned cotton mill (the 1881 tower you saw up there). In an attempt to shoulder into a burgeoning new industry, Southern changed its name to "Marathon" and started makin' cars. At the time, Southern was the largest manufacturer of its type in the nation.
At its peak, Marathon manufactured about a dozen different types of automobiles. It was the only automobile manufacturer in Nashville, and demand became ridiculously high.
In 1912, Marathon was pumping out 200 cars a month and was shooting for 10,000 a year.
Somehow, despite having everything going for it, Marathon almost immediately found itself in dire financial straits. The place went through three presidents in four years and it collapsed under its own weight in 1914.
|Pictured: Some of my generous Nashville friends|
|The north side of the complex is falling down. There are bricks everywhere.|
|I love old vault alarms like this.|
|Trains still visit the factory, and these ones are carrying cars. But not Marathons.|
|I don't know what "READ UP!!!" means.|
|Rail ruins. Strategically placed highway overpass for dramatic effect.|
|Oh, and here's me. Peace out y'all ;)|