In Kalkar, Germany, the cooling tower of an abandoned nuclear-power plant has been turned into a merry-go-round ride.



SWORDS TO plowshares, nuclear plant to amusement park.

In a small town in Germany, the cooling tower of an abandoned nuclear-power plant has been turned into a merry-go-round ride.

Cheerfully painted on the outside with mountain scenes, the hundreds-feet-tall tower remains darkly forbidding on the inside where patrons shriek gleefully as they whirl high in chairs on the aerial carousel.

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Construction began in the 1970s on the never-used nuclear plant near the border with The Netherlands.

Left unfinished and unused in the face of Germans’ distrust of nuclear power, it was sold to a Dutch businessman who converted it into the Wunderland Kalkar park with 40 rides, a convention center and resort hotel.

Now 600,000 visitors a year flock to the amusement park, putting Kalkar, a once-drowsy 1,000-year-old town with a Gothic church and gabled houses, firmly on the modern map.

Kristin R. Jackson is editor of The Seattle Times’ NWTraveler section. Contact her at kjackson@seattletimes.com.