Abandoned: Pabst Blue Ribbon Factory & Maryland Silk Mill

Tonight on National Geographic Channel, catch back-to-back episodes of the new series Abandoned where hosts Jay, Mark and Dan take you inside the old Pabst Blue Ribbon Factory in Milwaukee and a silk mill in Maryland. After searching through each of the sites and negotiating selling prices, Jay selects items for refurbishment, creating some truly one-of-a-kind pieces.

Photograph of the Pabst Blue Ribbon Factory. The operations of the Pabst Brewing Company were once controlled from an imposing and ornate stone castle. From this beer baron's palace, the leaders of Pabst created a brewing empire that spanned the nation. Today Pabst is still a major national brand, but its birthplace sits abandoned - a victim of corporate downsizing in 1996.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Factory

Jay and the crew hunt for treasures in the abandoned headquarters of the Pabst Brewing Company, a sprawling castle-like complex that dates back to 1844. For this mission, the team must travel hundreds of miles to Milwaukee, but for Jay, the potential rewards justify the long haul. Once home to the nation’s largest brewery, the cavernous building is rich in legend and history. That means it could be filled with valuable relics that celebrate the Pabst story. Jay also knows that the company has a mass of loyal followers, and the right devotee would likely shell out big bucks for its memorabilia. When the three begin exploring, it isn’t long before they realize the place is a treasure trove of brewery collectibles. The basement is packed with old ads and vintage signs, while the hallways are lined with handsome aged wooden barrels. In one room, they come across a large vault that contains an original set of building blueprints. Even the infirmary turns out to be a small gold mine with hospital gear marked with the famous Pabst logo. There, Jay finds an old first aid box that he decides he wants to turn into a cool, beer-lover’s collector’s item. But upstairs in the executive suite, is where the team makes their most impressive discovery – a beautifully-crafted rolltop desk that once belonged to the legendary Captain Pabst. Jay immediately falls in love with the piece, and is anxious to take it home, along with all the other items that were picked up throughout the day. But first, he’ll have to strike a deal with the property owner  and his quirky pricing. Jay must somehow negotiate the numbers down. Otherwise, the whole trip is a bust, and his business takes a big hit.


Photograph of The Klotz Throwing Company silk mill. The Klotz Throwing Company built a silk spinning mill in the rural mining town of Lonaconing, MD in 1907. The mill provided steady employment to the wives of local miners.

Maryland Silk Mill

Jay, Dan, and Mark hunt for treasures in an historic time capsule – an abandoned silk mill believed to be the last one intact in the US. Sitting idle for over 50 years, the building is badly rundown, and several of its windows are broken. From the outside, it looks as if the building has been looted and vandalized, but the team steps into a place that is packed with objects. In fact, it looks as if time simply stopped back in 1957, when the mill shut down. In every room, they find items that help piece together the story of both the factory and its workers. Many of these objects are also things that the team can salvage. Antique light fixtures, old fire equipment, and a vintage wooden pushcart are just a few of the pieces Jay is eager to restore. Saddened to see how time is taking its toll on the aging factory, he hopes to remove these historic items before they’re completely destroyed by decay. But the owner is fiercely attached to the mill and seems unwilling to let anything ago. Jay must somehow convince him that it’s finally time to sell and to give these objects a new life, before it’s too late.


Don’t miss all new episodes of Abandoned tonight, August 29th, with Pabst Blue Ribbon Factory at 9P and Maryland Silk Mill at 9:30P et/pt.


  1. Dee
    August 29, 2012, 9:22 pm

    I had the opportunity to photograph the silk mill last spring with a group of preservation photographers. There was a large number of people over a month or so who shot the place, and we all paid the owner a bunch of money to do so. The money was to go towards rehab and renovations, stop leaks, fix broken windows etc. The owner made a ton of money off all of us. I suppose he has fixed nothing? What’s the deal with this place? You mention salvaging light fixtures, fire equipment and a pushcart?? Those objects are NOTHING compared to the stuff that’s really inside that building…

  2. peter
    PA USA
    August 29, 2012, 10:12 pm

    I’m very disappointed with the abandoned show. Closed for 16 years, they cut the lock off. but when they go walking around, mostly in the offices. NO DUST !!! So it’s not abandoned!!!
    Sorry, but you lost me as a viewer…

  3. Susan
    West Virginia
    August 30, 2012, 10:41 am

    WHY DIDN’T YOU grab those spindles? Dear Lord, there are lots of spinners, weavers, and knitteres that would have loved to have had those!!! They would be nice to use just as decoration, but they could still be used for something!!!

  4. Priscilla Arnett
    United States
    August 30, 2012, 11:01 am

    Please tell me you didn’t throw out the bobbins from the silk mill!!
    Do you know how many spinners, weavers and knitters were drooling over them.

  5. Priscilla Arnett
    August 30, 2012, 11:05 am

    re: No dust
    Maybe the dust was removed so they wouldn’t be breathing who knows what. Men mumbling behind dust filters wouldn’t make good television!

  6. Dee
    August 30, 2012, 5:35 pm

    “Closed for 16 years, they cut the lock off.”

    So not true. No one *had* to cut the lock off. The owner has the key and can open the door…. There was no dust in the offices because they are kept clean(er) by the owner because he hangs out there. This show is misleading in so many ways. These places may be unused, but it’s not truly abandoned if items have ownership. Very disappointing and shame on you NatGeo for creating a show that fabricates the truth with these places. There are so many true explorers who know the real deal with locations, unfortunately the general population will never now because it eats whatever the boob tube feeds them.

  7. Frank
    Chicago, IL
    August 31, 2012, 4:50 pm

    The show’s entertaining, HOWEVER, Jay is a TERRIBLE negotiator. Why spend so much time telling the owner how great and rare or special each item is only for him to then tell you it isn’t for sale. Tell the owner that it’s basically junk and he’s lucky that you just gave him $50.00 for it. Also, when he tells you no on an item, fine, move on and come back later.and make him another offer. Also if you offer him $75.00 and he counters you at $125.00, tell him you’re gonna meet him in the middle and counter his counter at $100.00. Don’t just lay down and accept his counter and tell him you would “kiss him” if you knew he wouldn’t hit you. Last but not least, there is a form of negotiating while buying this stuff. It’s called “bundling” several items for one price. Try it, it works.

  8. Dahenkes
    September 1, 2012, 11:38 am

    Pabst Brewery: very misleading.
    What the don’t tell you is when they walk up the stairs to get to the old offices, they walk through the original employee beer hall and FULLY FUNCTIONAL OPEN BAR! They could have saved time because off of the beer hall is a FULLY FUNCTIONAL OPEN GIFT SHOP! selling a number of the items they “discovered”. They have been restoring the beer hall and offices for several years. I guarantee the owner was behind the camera for every shot. On the other hand, the beer haul and tour of the offices is great.

    VERY disappointed in the show.

  9. Diana
    Rhode Island
    September 3, 2012, 8:50 am

    Selling the blue prints to the brewery!!! Really? What an idiot.

  10. Jerad
    September 10, 2012, 2:27 pm

    Wow…Abandoned…really? They forget to mention that the former Pabst Brewery is the site of one of the largest revilalization efforts in the entire city and is currently about 50% redeveloped. There are offices, market rate apartments, senior apartments under construction, and building for Cardinal Stritch University, the brand new School of Public Health for the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and obviously the bar and beer hall. Also under construction…an extended stay hotel and just annouced another office building. Wow…pretty abandoned.

  11. Trey
    Dubach Louisiana
    September 21, 2012, 8:12 pm

    I’m a big fan of the show. I have a lot of old stuff that i have picked over my 27 years and the show makes me want to pick to move to where i can make money at it .

  12. Betty
    September 21, 2012, 10:04 pm

    history came with age ,the people on tonights show of abanded made want to cry because they tore apart history and knew what they were doing, on the show where they went to the two barns I truelly believe the guy knew he was reaping those two people off about the cars and the items inside the barns. I will not watch history be destroyed because someone wants to restore ( what they say is refurish something) Come on !!! Its all about the money and not caring about any history or anyone having a part of history. I would have called the historial society and preserved the buildings or had them up for sale as history. along with the barns.Why should people gain at the expense of others? I will not watch this show and as my husband said he will not either, I hope there are others out there who read this and feel the same way. Hopefuly the guy will return the bell and do right by the couple about the barns. god bless those people who help create the buildings on the 50 acres with the 17-19 buildings and the couple and there familys,

  13. Richard
    October 5, 2012, 10:37 pm

    I personally enjoy the Abandoned show and the history that it presents. It’s a great show.

    As a related trivia item, a pretty, young lady who gave tours at the Pabst factory was one of the challengers for the panel on a 1954 What’s My Line? TV show. (For reference purposes, the mystery guest for that 3/14/1954 program was Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong.)

    Anyway, thanks for presenting the Abandoned program!

  14. runner1
    Kansas City
    October 5, 2012, 11:31 pm

    Like the show…Let’s remember it is reality TV…So, there will be issues…For all the haters….I say, “Lighten up Francis”….For you young ones…Watch the movie Stripes…