Abandoned Steampunk Boilers on Deception Island

abandoned-oil-tanks-deception-island (Image: Jerzy Strzelecki, cc-3.0)

The name ‘Deception Island‘ could not be more suited to this distant landmass in the South Shetland Islands archipelago. Considered one of the safest and most sheltered harbours in Antarctica, the island has for years served as a haven for explorers and those seeking to make their fortunes from the abundance of natural resources the South Atlantic has to offer. But its position at the caldera of an active volcano has made human activities there tricky, wreaking havoc on scientific research stations and putting paid to efforts to establish permanent facilities.

abandoned-oil-tanks-deception-island-3

abandoned-oil-tanks-deception-island-2 (Images: Ville Miettinen, cc-nc-4.0)

Nowadays Deception Island is a scientific outpost administered under the Antarctic Treaty System, though various countries have asserted their sovereignty over the years. The remains of a British base, established in 1944 and abandoned in 1969 after a volcanic eruption, is still visible today. But by far the most striking man-made relics amid this desolate and unforgiving landscape are the vintage iron boilers in Whalers Bay, built in 1912 for the extraction of oil from whale carcasses.

abandoned-oil-tanks-deception-island-5

abandoned-oil-tanks-deception-island-4 (Images: Ville Miettinen, cc-nc-4.0)

The on-shore station, together with 13 factory ships used to process blubber, belonged to a Norwegian-Chilean whaling company that set up shop on the island in 1906. But the station was abandoned in 1931, this time due to the collapse of oil prices during the Great Depression.

abandoned-oil-tanks-deception-island-6

abandoned-oil-tanks-deception-island-7 (Images: Christopher Michel (top, bottom), cc-4.0)

The processing facilities on Deception Island were never reoccupied. Whalers Bay has since become a popular destination for visiting cruise ships, and its strange boilers, with their steampunk designs that look as though they could have lept off the page of an H.G. Wells novel, are among the modern world’s most alien-looking relics.

abandoned-oil-tanks-deception-island-8

abandoned-oil-tanks-deception-island-9 (Images: Benjamin Dumas (website: benontherun.com), cc-nc-sa-4.0)

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