Archives for: 2005

12/28/05

Permalink 11:16:02 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 882 words   English (US)

mfa mill climbing

A few weekends back, I spent a night climbing my fluffy cotton tail off at the MFA mill.

There was one particular section of it that I still needed to photograph. There was a small structure on the roof of some silos that I'd put off exploring. The reason I'd kept putting it off was because the silos and the roof of the silos were completely cut off from the rest of the building. The only way to access them was to climb an approximately ten story ladder on the outside of the silos right in plain sight of everyone.

I snuck up to the silos and realized that the bottom rung was about three or four feet too high for me to jump up and grab. Fortunately, there was some electrical conduit mounted to the side of the silos that I would be able to climb like a rope up until I could reach the ladder. Not fortunately for me, there were two large trucks with men inside idling in the parking lot nearby, as well as heavy traffic on the nearby streets. I was about to find out how fast I could climb a ladder.

I grabbed the conduit and scrambled up the few feet until I could reach over and grab the ladder. When I had my hands on it, I started hauling ass up. I barely remember climbing it, but fear of being caught was a great motivator. When I reached the top, I pulled myself up and flopped down onto my back. I'm in excellent shape, but I was huffing and puffing like crazy from that little stunt.

When I had finished resting for a few minutes, I went inside the little building on the roof and started poking around. Most of the windows were broken out and there was plenty of debris on the floor. There were also small hatches in and outside of the building that let you look down inside the empty silos. The biggest surprise, though: there was an elevator inside the building!

It took a little figuring out, because there was no power for the electric door opener, but I found manual way to open the elevator. It was just a little cage for taking people to the bottom of the silos, but it was still surprising. I hadn't figured there would be much worth seeing down there.

Next to the elevator, there was a hatch with a ladder going all the way down to the bottom. I stood there for quite a while trying to decide if I really wanted to subject myself to another gigantic ladder climb. Probably two ladder climbs, actually, since there likely wasn't any way out from the bottom. As much as I didn't want to, I decided I needed to see and photograph whatever was at the bottom.

I took all the pictures I needed of the building on the roof and started climbing down. Thankfully, there was a place about halfway down to stop and rest, which also had a door that exited straight out the side of the building into nothingness. I took a few pictures and continued on to the bottom.

The chambers below the silos were among the filthiest places I've ever been, and I've seen some real doozies. It was pretty obvious nobody had been down there for a long time. There were cobwebs everywhere, like curtains hanging from every available object, as well as a thick layer of dust on everything. It didn't take long before I was covered in cobwebs and filthy.

I wandered around underneath the silos for a while. There was an individual chamber underneath each silo, as well as a ladder that allowed you to climb up to them. I climbed up into one of them, but that was enough for me. It was just as filthy up there as it was below.

In one of the chambers, the floor was covered with an extremely fine white powder. When I stepped on it, a cloud would puff into the air. It looked like I was walking on the moon or something. It was fun, and I took some pictures of the dust erupting from under my foot. But before long, the whole place was filled with white powder floating through the air, and the crap started getting into my lungs. I don't know what it was, but it was making it so I couldn't draw in a full breath.

Not wanting to climb the ladder back up to the top, I looked around for a way out, but there was none. I bit the bullet and started climbing, stopping at the halfway point again to rest. Up on the roof, I again stopped to rest, because I was going to have to go back down the ladder on the silo as quick as I could.

When I was ready, I started speeding down the ladder. I was pretty tired, though, and I still couldn't breathe right. I ended up stopping halfway down the ladder, even though that was a really bad idea. Plus, someone pulling into a nearby parking lot definitely saw me hanging there, but I just smiled at them.

Eventually, though, I reached the bottom, ran back to my car, and headed on home.

12/26/05

Permalink 03:45:04 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 377 words   English (US)

sealed underground

Several weekends back, I met up with Shadowbearer and Gimpface to check out an abandoned mine that Gimpface had found.

The three of us met up at a gas station that night not far from the mine. From there, we drove over to a hill near the entrance and parked, then walked down to it in the dark. We didn't want to chance using our flashlights on the way down. Plus, thanks to the light pollution of the nearby city, we could see just fine.

There were actually two entrances at the base of the hill. Both of them were probably fifteen feet tall, and both were sealed up to the top with a gray cinderblock wall. Fortunately, someone with less morals than us had taken a sledgehammer or something to one of the walls and made a nice little door.

We headed inside and started checking out the mine. It was typical of most of the modern underground mines in our area. The ceilings were probably twenty feet high, and there were huge rock columns spaced out in a grid formation to support the ceiling.

As far as size went, it looked significantly smaller than a lot of the underground mines I'd been in. Since it was also built right next to the highway without a lot of room for expansion, it was probably intended to be underground storage or something. Who knows why it was abandoned and sealed up.

We started walking the perimeter of the mine from there. We came across a bunch of trash piled in one corner of the mine, as well as a small amount of graffiti on one of the walls. On another side of the mine we found a place where part of the ceiling had caved in and left a natural hollow above. There was also a part where the floor was covered by a few inches of water.

Other than that, the mine was empty. We spent a little while walking around to make sure we hadn't missed anything. It would've made a good place to play paintball or something, if they hadn't abandoned it.

Once we were satisfied there wasn't anything else to see, we headed back to our cars and went in for the night.

12/08/05

Permalink 10:30:13 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 1078 words   English (US)

return to monte ne

A few weekends back, we returned to Monte Ne to take pictures of the amphitheater that we missed on our first trip.

Hiccup and I got up early that day, wanting to beat the rain that was supposed to hit northwest Arkansas later that afternoon. We went by Underdog's and grabbed him first, then went and grabbed David Keetz and Anne. Then, we were off to Rogers, Arkansas for the second time.

When we arrived at Monte Ne, we drove around the cove to where the amphitheater was. We weren't really sure how we missed it last time, since it was plainly visible across the water from the tower, but we had. There were probably a dozen cars parked on the exposed lakeshore, and people were everywhere. Just like us, they were here to see the amphitheater, which hadn't been this visible in nearly thirty years. The abnormally low lake level was to thank for that.

We walked down the shore and joined the crowd by the water's edge. It was even more amazing than the pictures had showed it to be. A Roman amphitheater halfway peeking out of Beaver Lake just wasn't something you saw every day. It was so out of place and completely strange.

The amphitheater stretched probably twenty or thirty yards down the shore in a slight bowl shape. There were a few stone seats completely exposed, as well as a set of stairs leading down into the water. There were also the remains of what appeared to be a road, also heading down into the water. It wasn't visible, but from the pictures I'd seen, there were still at least a couple underground chambers underneath the water. If the water had only been a few feet lower, we could've seen those, too.

We spent a little while hanging out and taking pictures. People were coming and going constantly, doing the same thing as us. During that time, I also caught a huge blue crawfish that Underdog had spotted sitting on part of the amphitheater underwater. It was the biggest one I'd ever caught and probably the third one I'd caught for my friends while exploring. Actually, it seemed like I was always stumbling across or catching some weird critter on our adventures.

Eventually, we got back in the car and drove over the tower, where there were tons of people like last time. Hiccup and Underdog hadn't been present before, so we wanted them to get to climb the tower, too. We thought it was probably a good idea to check out the servants' quarters under Oklahoma Row again first, since we took so long climbing the tower last time. So, we spent a little while poking around down there.

When we were ready, I went and got the ladder, chucked it up to the second floor of the tower, and crawled up behind it. Then I tossed it up to the third floor and climbed up to that one, too. Once again, we had a pretty good crowd of people watching us curiously. It was a huge rush, and I loved it.

This time, I had a better plan about where to attach the cable ladder. I hung it around the column between the windows on the third floor. From there, it could hang all the way to the ground, so that the guys could climb it to the door on the second floor. Once everyone was on the second floor, I pulled the ladder from outside the window and dropped it through the hole in the second floor, still attached to the column. Then, everyone climbed from there up to the third floor.

At that point, I had to climb back down and run to my car for my grappling hook and rope. Without it, there just wasn't any way to get the ladder to the roof, because I couldn't climb up there while carrying it and it was too high to toss it. So, I headed back down, took some pictures of the guys sitting in the third floor windows while I was there, and retrieved the rope and grappling hook from my trunk.

When I was back up to third floor, I tossed the grappling hook up through the hole in the ceiling. Then, I climbed the handholds cut into the wall until I could sit inside a square hole there. From there, I grabbed the lip of the roof and pulled myself up. The others attached the ladder to the rope like last time, and I hauled it up and attached it to the chimney. With that, everyone climbed up to the roof to enjoy the view.

We spent a good long while on the roof. I could've spent hours up there, just getting a kick out of the curious reactions of the people below. I also liked the way people would start cracking up when they saw our ladder hanging in the building. They thought we were crazy, and I was absolutely loving every second of it.

After a while, a husband and wife with a couple teenagers came along, and the father started encouraging his kids to climb up and join us. If the kids had been alone, I totally wouldn't have gone for them joining us. But I figured if their father was okay with it, why not? The older teenager was able to make it to the third floor on his own, but the younger only made it to the second. So, I climbed down, reached down and grabbed him by the arm and hauled him up. From there, they climbed the ladder and joined us on the roof.

When we felt like we'd spent enough time, we started heading back down. The two teenagers climbed down on their own, but the rest of us used the ladder to climb down, although each time I would have to stay above and detach the ladder and climb down by hand. We had a better idea of what we were doing this time, and it was a heck of a lot faster getting down than it had been before.

Back on the ground, we packed up and headed back to the car. Everyone was tired, so we just made a quick drive by the foundations that were down the shore from the tower. There wasn't that much to see there, anyway. Then we drove on to Eureka Springs, got some dinner, and headed back to Springfield.

12/01/05

Permalink 11:15:37 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 723 words   English (US)

jordan creek tunnel screamer

I played a little joke on our friends down in the Jordan Creek tunnel last weekend.

Anne, David Keetz, Sertile, and Underdog were meeting up that night to check out some side tunnels in the Jordan Creek Tunnel. Hiccup and I had debated about whether or not we were going, because we were wanting to get up early the next morning and go back to Monte Ne. At the last minute, though, we decided to head down to the tunnel and catch everyone down there.

We got down to the tunnel and started walking the length of it. We figured if they were exploring a side tunnel, we'd be able to hear them down inside it as we went by. However, we got all the way to the other end of the tunnel without hearing a peep. Either the guys weren't there, or they were so deep inside a side tunnel that we couldn't hear them.

We decided to head back to the first side tunnel near the entrance to sit and wait. If they were in a side tunnel, they'd probably come back eventually. If they just hadn't got there yet, then they'd come right by us. And, of course, there was no way they'd be getting by us without getting the hell scared out of them.

It took probably fifteen minutes before we started hearing voices at the entrance of the tunnel. It was so faint that we thought it could've been in our heads. Pretty soon, though, we could hear them coming, and we killed out lights. I could see their flashlights reflecting off the water in the tunnel as they came near us. Hiccup and I crawled back inside the side tunnel we were sitting in to wait.

When the gang came up on us and could see us, I roared like a madman as loud as I could. Anne immediately screamed bloody murder, and I could see everyone's flashlights bob in the dark as they all jumped back from the sound. I started laughing hysterically, and everyone got relieved looks on their faces. We crawled out of the tunnel and joined them while they cursed me for the prank.

From there we went and crawled into a cramped side tunnel that Keetz and Underdog had thought went into a building's basement. It was pretty cramped, including one stretch where you had to crawl on your hands and knees. It also turned out to go back quite a ways, but it didn't actually go into any buildings. We did find several manholes that popped out onto the surface, though.

We went on down to another side tunnel that I knew about and had suggested because it was walking height. We all piled in and started walking. A little ways in, I decided to leave my backpack, figuring we'd be coming back that way. But the tunnel just kept going and going, eventually splitting into two smaller round pipes. We picked one and followed it and ended up in a large gutter box staring out at the street.

Rather than go back down the cramped tunnel, I decided to crawl out of the gutter box, go back into the Jordan Creek tunnel through the other entrance, and retrieve my backpack that way, while everyone else stayed in the gutterbox and relaxed. The other entrance to the tunnel ended up being full of water, but I didn't want to go back, so I just slogged through it. I got back to the side tunnel and started in, grabbing my backpack as I came upon it.

About halfway to the guys, I found a wallet laying in the tunnel. I opened it up and recognized Sertile on the driver's license. I kept going and yelled to Sertile asking if he was missing anything when I got within earshot. He was lucky, because I almost didn't crawl all the way through the side tunnel again.

I got back to the gutter box, rested for a minute, then went out on the street to take some pictures of everyone poking their heads out. When we were done with that, everyone crawled out and we went and chilled out on a nearby parking garage. We hung out there for probably half an hour, then we headed back to our cars and called it a night.

Permalink 01:05:03 am, Categories: Urban Exploration, 2234 words   English (US)

monte ne and eureka springs underground

A few weekends back, we ventured down to Arkansas to check out Coin Harvey's abandoned resort, Monte Ne, then finished up by checking out the Eureka Springs Underground.

I was the first to arrive at Monte Ne, because I'd taken off work a couple hours early. Although I had directions, I'd never actually been there before and I'd been a little afraid I'd miss the place. However, that proved to be almost impossible, because as I drove by I not only saw the three story building that stands there, but I also saw probably a dozen cars parked in front of it and people everywhere. Apparently, the place was pretty popular on the weekends.

I started out by checking out the three story tower that was all that remained of an extremely long building called Oklahoma Row. A long concrete foundation, probably a hundred feet or so in length, led right up to the tower from the parking area. I went inside and milled around with several other people.

There was more graffiti on the inside than I've ever seen in an abandoned building. There were literally layers and layers of paint sprayed upon the walls. It was insane, but it was also kind of beautiful. The floor was separated into different rooms, and three of them contained fireplaces. There were also no stairs or ladder to the upper floors, but I could see on the outside of the building where wooden stairs had once been.

I moved along with the crowd from there and went down along the lake shore. There, some small chambers extended under the foundation of Oklahoma Row. People were moving in and out of them constantly, and I got to overhear lots of strange theories people had about what they believed they were. In reality, they had been the servants' quarters of the building above it.

When I had poked around there a little bit, I went back and started examining the tower again. This time, I saw that there someone had chiseled handholds into outside of the building where the stairs had once been, and they led right up to the door in the second floor. I decided to give it a try and promptly fell off the building in front of a group of probably a dozen people. Fortunately, only my pride had been hurt, so I gave it another go and was able to haul myself up.

The interior of the second floor was pretty much identical to the one below it. There was almost as much graffiti, and there were also three fireplaces. There was a large rectangular hole in the ceiling where the wooden stairs had once been, as well as another irregular hole nearby that had crumbled in on its own. Either that, or someone had busted the second hole open.

Again, someone had cut handholds into the wall going up to the third floor, and again I decided to climb on up. This one was a slightly trickier climb, but I reached the lip of the rectangular hole and pulled myself up. It was pretty fun to do it, too, with small crowd of people watching curiously from the ground.

The third floor was, predictably, just like the other two. A few rooms, three fireplaces, lots of graffiti. I wandered around up there for a bit, enjoying listening to the people on the ground wonder how the hell I'd gotten up there. A few people even started to climb up to the second floor, realized it was harder than it looked, and went back down. It was pretty amusing.

In the ceiling, there was a hole just like the one in the floor where stairs had once gone to the roof. Unfortunately, the hole in the ceiling was situated right over the hole below it. I looked, but I didn't see any handholds cut into the wall this time. Apparently, whoever had cut the others was willing to risk falling one story but not two.

I headed back down after a little while, which was quite a bit easier than going up. All I had to do was hang off the lip of each hole and drop the few feet to the floor or ground. I started following a trail in the brush from the tower, figuring it must go somewhere. It pretty much had to, considering there were people coming and going down it constantly.

Off in the trees, I came up on the remains of a building. Pretty much all that was left was the chimney and a pile of enormous concrete blocks. There was also a rock wall running a pretty good length in front of it.

I went down toward the lakeshore from there and found lots of people checking out some rock-brick foundations at the waters edge. It was pretty obvious they were normally underwater, but I couldn't tell what they were. I thought maybe it was the famous amphitheater I kept hearing about, but it just didn't look like an amphitheater. I wondered if maybe this was just part of it and the actual amphitheater was under water again. I just didn't know enough about the place to be sure of anything.

I headed back down the shore farther after that, trying to make sure there wasn't anything else to see. There was just empty shoreline as far as I could see, though, so I turned around and went back. I took lots of pictures of the foundations, then started heading back toward the tower. I figured I could get my picture taking out of the way before the rest of the gang got there.

I went back down to the servants' quarters first and took lots of pictures of it. Then, I returned to the tower and made sure to get several pictures of each floor before climbing to the next. It was easier climbing it this time, but I had just as many people watching me curiously.

At the third floor, when I was done taking pictures, I decided to hang around up there until everyone else arrived. I only had to wait about five minutes before I saw Anne, David Keetz, and Sertile walking up from the parking area. I waved at them, but they already knew the crazy guy standing on the third floor of the building with no stairs had to be me.

I went down to the second floor to talk to them easier and told them how I'd gotten up. They looked it over a little and decided they'd rather use the rope Sertile had brought with him. They tossed up the end to me, and I realized there was nothing close to attach it to. There were no windows or holes nearby. Fortunately, the rope was just long enough to reach one of the windows on an adjacent wall and still have a few feet to hang out to the gang.

The guys climbed on up, and we had Anne hold on to the end of the rope while we pulled it up. We almost pulled it out of her hands in the process, but we managed to jerk her up through the door. We all looked over the way up to the third floor and decided it wasn't going to be anywhere near as easy to use the rope to get to that floor. No one really wanted to climb the handholes either, so I volunteered to go to the car for my cable ladder and went back down.

I returned with the ladder, tossed it up to the guys, and climbed back up. Then I went up to the third floor, had them toss me one end of Sertile's rope while they tied the other to the cable ladder, and I pulled the sucker on up. There was a good place to attach the ladder right there beside the hole, so I locked it in and everyone started climbing.

At that point, we proceeded to waste a bunch of time trying to figure out a way onto the roof. We tried several times to get Sertile's rope and small grappling hook out through the window and down through the hole in the roof, but it just didn't have enough weight. So, it was back down to my car for my heavy grappling hook.

That did the trick, and we were able to get mine out the hole and back through the window. We used the rope on my hook to pull Sertile's sturdier one up through the hole in the roof and back through the window, then we used his clip to cinch it down tight against the building. However, even after all that work, the rope was still too loose for climbing, and we couldn't figure out how to remedy that.

I started looking around closer at the wall underneath the opening in the roof, and it turned out I had been wrong. There were handholds cut into the wall. However, they were cut into the end of the wall, where it ended in a doorway. From there, a person would have to climb up to a square hole in the wall, then sit in that hole and pull themself up onto the roof from there.

Doing it was probably just as nerve-wracking as it sounds, but I did it. I went up the wall, sat in the square hole, and hauled myself up to the roof. Up there, I immediately ran into another problem. I couldn't see anything that I could attach the cable ladder to. There were three chimneys, but they were all just a few inches tall. The roof was flat and featureless and completely wrong for what we needed.

After much thinking and looking, I noticed a place on the back of one of the chimneys where there was a gap between the chimney and the roof. It wasn't much, but it was just enough to hold the cable of the ladder and keep it from slipping off. So, I wrapped it around the chimney, pushed the cable under that lip, and locked it in place.

Finally, everyone was able to come up to the roof. We all stood in triumph on the roof and enjoyed the curious and amazed stares of all the people milling around on the ground below. People kept constantly asking how the hell we got up there. It was great. It made me wish we had an audience for all the stupid things we do.

Eventually, we saw a group of about four or five EMO kids come down the toward the building. Two of them were ballsy enough to climb to the third floor, andone continued up our ladder to join us on the roof. I rewarded him with an Underground Ozarks sticker for his trouble.

We stayed up there for a long time, but we were forced back down by the receding daylight. It was slow-going, too. Everyone would climb down the ladder, I would unhook it and climb down the wall, and repeat. We did use the rope to get down from the second floor, though.

I went around with Anne, Keetz, and Sertile for a bit while they checked out everything else, but we were supposed to meet Hiccup in Berryville. It had taken us so long to get down from the tower that we were at least going to be an hour late. So, I told them I was going on ahead since I'd already photographed everything (or so I thought) and headed on down the road.

An hour later, I grabbed Hiccup in Berryville and we headed toward Eureka Springs to meet back up with everyone. Traffic must have been kinder to them than me or something, because they were already at our meeting spot when I got there. We got a quick bite to eat and headed to downtown to infiltrate the famous Eureka Springs underground.

We parked a ways off and walked down to one of the tunnel system's entrances. Hiccup and I had chest-high waders, since I didn't feel like getting wet, and we took a moment to strap ourselves into them. When we were set, we all started crawling.

The tunnels under downtown Eureka Springs are basically just one linear tunnel with a few small side tunnels here and there. In some places they're so small you have to crawl, and in other places a six foot tall person like myself can walk fully erect. They're also made of rocks formed in an arch and look ancient. And there's water the whole way, sometimes up to a foot or so deep.

Keetz and I had both been in the tunnels several times, but it was new for everyone else. We gave them the basic dime tour of the main stretch. We took them clear down to where the tunnels became almost too uncomfortable to traverse and stopped to peer out onto Main Street through a gutter box.

With that, we made our way out of the tunnels, walked back to our cars, and drove down to a gas station so everyone could change clothes and rest. I burned everyone's pictures to CD with my portable burner, and we sat around and talked for a bit. When everyone decided we'd had enough fun for one day, we packed up our junk and started heading back to Springfield.

11/17/05

Permalink 09:30:43 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 101 words   English (US)

doling cave

A few weekends back, a bunch of us from Underground Ozarks took the tour they were offering of Doling Cave in Doling Park in Springfield.

Honestly, the cave was fairly generic as caves go, with few formations and just one long stretch of tunnel, but we pretty much knew that before we went in. It was the fact that the cave was normally locked up that had us dying to see the inside. And because we were actually doing something legal for a change, we were able to meet a lot of users from the site that we'd never met before.

11/10/05

Permalink 12:15:31 am, Categories: Urban Exploration, 1064 words   English (US)

carthage underground with reporter

A few weeks back, we returned to the Carthage Underground with Max McCoy, a reporter for the Joplin Globe, to do a story about us and the Underground.

We started out the night, as always, by meeting up at our usual spot. Most of our group sort of trickled in, but everyone showed up just in time. For this one, we had Underdog, Willard, Sertile, David Keetz, Anne, Dave, Hiccup and myself. Half of us loaded up into my vehicle (which had a canoe strapped to the roof) and half loaded up into Anne's.

An hour later we pulled into the Carthage Wal-mart. We were meeting our friend Dru there as well as Max McCoy, and neither was there yet. Max was the first to arrive, and he had a paranormal investigator with him that he was doing a story on. She'd been interested in coming, Max had asked me if it was all right, and I told him to go ahead and bring her.

We told Max we were running in to take a leak, and several of us went inside. We did our business, and then I started looking around to see if we could buy an extra set of plastic paddles for one of our rafts. It appeared that inflatables rafts and accessories were a seasonal item, though, because we couldn't find them anywhere. We did, however, find Dru wandering around inside, and everyone was finally present.

Back outside, Max was already interviewing the people who had stayed. We milled around for a bit while he asked us questions and signed a couple books for Anne. It was pretty cool to actually get interviewed for something like that.

With that finished, we drove down to where the Underground was located, dumped off the canoe and boats, our gear, and most of our group, then we went and parked somewhere else. It was just a short walk back to the entrance, so everyone didn't have to wait long for us to return. Once there, several of us picked up the canoe and started leading the way, and it seemed a lot heavier carrying it that far.

Just outside the entrance, we stopped to take a break. We wandered inside the upper level and showed everyone around a little bit. There was a road inside that sloped down into the lower level, but there was lots of debris in front of it. We decided it would probably be better to take the canoe in through a second entrance that was directly next to the other one, because it went straight into the second level.

We picked up our junk one more time, went through the second entrance, and followed the road that sloped down into the lower level. The entire level was flooded, and we stopped at the shore of what was basically an underground lake. For many, this was their first time there, and everyone was pretty stoked.

A few of the guys started airing up Sertile's inflatable boat, while I started hooking up the trolling motor to the canoe. Unfortunately, once it was hooked up, it refused to work. I thought maybe the battery was dead or no good, but I found out later the trolling motor had just had some sort of mechanical problem. Which sucked, because hauling it and the extremely heavy battery for it down there had been a real pain in the ass. There was nothing I could do about it down there, though, so I aired up my raft and we were ready to rock.

Six of us loaded up into my canoe, another three loaded up into my inflatable boat, and another two loaded up into Sertile's boat which was tied to the rear of my raft. We put Anne at the head of the canoe with the propane lantern, and I took up the rear with oar duty. We finally shoved off and got to exploring.

We paddled straight into the darkness, with no general direction in mind. We joked around about the supposed reptiles that lived in the cavern and did our usual pirate schtick. It was pretty similar to the last trip we had made there, although it was ten times easier with everyone having room to sit comfortably in the boats. We just made a big lazy loop around the western side of the level until we were back around by the entrance again.

After that, we headed off in a different direction, where we stopped to let Max take some pictures. We just sort of bobbed in the water for a while, turning around and around a few times. When he was done, I realized I didn't really have any idea which way we'd come from anymore. It wasn't a big deal, since the place had four walls and all you had to do was follow them until you found your way out. It had also happened every single time we'd been there. Still, though, it was a little embarassing to do that in front of the reporter.

In all, it took us about an hour to find our way back to the entrance. It wouldn't have mattered, but Max had told us that he and the paranormal investigator had to go to a seance later on that night. No, I'm not making that up. We made it back to the shore with almost no time to spare. Max thanked us and told us he'd had a blast, then they made a quick exit.

It took us a little while to deflate the rafts and load everything up. Plus, none of us were really in the mood to carry all that crap back out of the Underground. Eventually, though, we did, although we stopped outside the entrance while a few of the group went into the upper level to check it out.

On the way back to the car, we just loaded everything into the canoe and had everyone help carry it. It was slow-going and very tiring. We had to stop a couple times just to rest, but finally made it back to the car. There, everyone sat around for a bit while I went through the big ordeal of strapping the canoe back onto my vehicle.

With that done, we all loaded up and started heading back to Springfield, wondering what the newspaper article would say about us.

11/04/05

Permalink 11:15:02 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 960 words   English (US)

msu tunnel mischief

A while back, we went to a place that I've spent a ridiculous amount of time in over the years: the tunnels of Missouri State University (formerly Southwest Missouri State University).

David Keetz, Anne, and myself met up at our usual spot that afternoon. We waited around for a bit and made a few phone calls to see if anyone else was coming, but everyone else was tied up. It was going to be just the three of us.

From there, we drove over to MSU and parked in a lot where we didn't believe we would be ticketed. We headed into campus on foot and began systematically checking every way into the tunnels that I could remember. Once upon a time, I'd known every nook and cranny of those tunnels and could get in a million different ways. However, it had been around a year since the last time I was there, and the university had done lots of construction and renovation since then.

We wandered from place to place around campus, checking each way I knew into the tunnels, and every time we came up empty. It didn't matter how reliable the entrance had once been. They were all sealed up. And, in all reality, it was probably due to the amount of time some of us used to spend exploring those tunnels.

When a couple hours had passed without luck, we called Hiccup and told her to meet us at campus since she was just getting off work. While we were waiting, I tried a desperate way into the tunnels that required me twisting my body through an opening that wasn't really big enough for my body. I wrenched my shoulder pretty good in the process, but I got through. Unfortunately, it only got me into the basement of one of the buildings on campus, and there was no way into the tunnels from that particular point. I was forced to head back up out of the building.

When Hiccup got there, we decided to try a way into the tunnels that I'd thought of earlier, but had been too afraid to try in broad daylight. It was not only extremely obvious to anyone passing by, but it was also going to require some really time-consuming (but harmless) tinkering to work. Since it was dark and we were desperate, we decided to try it.

It took probably half an hour, which was much longer than I expected. In fact, we were almost ready to give up and go home when I finally got in. Hiccup, Keetz, and Anne were off where I couldn't see them, so I made the long dash down the tunnels to one of the buildings so that I could let them inside. They hadn't known I had gotten in, so they were a little surprised to see me come out a different way.

They followed me back down into the tunnels, and we proceeded to spend the next hour or so just exploring. My memory was pretty rusty when it came to the tunnels, but I knew where we were most of the time. And it was almost impossible to get lost down there anyway. But there was all kinds of new construction and pipes down there that were completely throwing me off.

I took them to several of the buildings' basements and showed them where the tunnels came up. We didn't really go up into any of them, but it was fun to do a little spying from the basements to see where we were or if anyone was around. All in all, I probably showed them about half of the existing tunnels under the campus before we were ready to head out.

On the way out, I had everyone stop. There was something I always loved to do when I was down in the tunnels, although it probably had a lot to do with why the tunnels were so hard to get into. We found a large vent, one of several, that went up to the surface for ventilation. There, you could see out of a grate onto the sidewalk and watch students coming and going. I had everyone climb up inside the vent chamber, so our faces were about ankle-high on the people passing by, and we waited.

When someone finally came passing by, I screamed at the top of my lungs at them, "ARGH! I'M GONNA EAT YOU!" Every single time they would jump out of their skin, almost tripping over themselves to get away from the screaming tunnel mutants or whatever they thought we were. Then they'd almost always start laughing and wander off.

It was even better when a group of six girls came walking by, and I simply roared wordlessly at them. The lead girl stopped, stared at the grate for half a second, then proceeded to scream bloody murder and scramble backwards. When she started doing that, the other five immediately starting screaming as well (although none of them seemed to know what they were screaming about) and they all nearly knocked each other over trying to get back from the grate. When they realized there was nothing to be afraid of, they started laughing embarassedly. To top it off, two guys we'd scared earlier were standing off nearby laughing hysterically at what we'd just done. They yelled that we deserved a medal for that one.

We scared a few more people as quickly as we could, then we figured we'd better get the hell out of there before someone called security. We scooted on down the tunnel to the closest building, went up inside, and exited out onto the sidewalk. Then, we walked back to our cars and headed on home for the night.

10/19/05

Permalink 09:45:28 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 44 words   English (US)

texploration

Hiccup and I went on vacation to Texas about a month ago. We weren't really there for urban exploration, but one day we did manage to slip to the top floor of the 38-story Marriott Hotel for some sweet shots of downtown San Antonio.

10/17/05

Permalink 10:25:12 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 357 words   English (US)

return to the mill

A week after I almost got myself killed, for no real reason we decided to return to the same mill.

Willard, DeeDee, Anne and her friend, Hiccup and myself all met up at our usual spot that afternoon. We headed on over to the abandoned building next to Heer's that we'd been checking out while they tore it down, but the building was just a pile of rubble. It was funny, because Anne had been out around five o'clock that morning and the building had still been standing. We climbed around on the pile of rubble to try and get down into the basement, but a construction worker at Heer's told us we needed to clear out.

Since that was out, we decided to go on over the mill we'd been at the weekend before. We were just going to stick to the larger building this time, and we all piled inside. It was nice to see the place in the daylight, and it was definitely safer. We just went floor to floor again taking pictures.

Around the tenth floor, which is also where I'd almost died, I checked a couple of doors that led to a lower section of roof that we hadn't gotten on to last time. In the dark, I had just assumed that the doors had been welded shut. But in the light, I could see that the doors were just a little rusty and tight. So, for one door I climbed through a hole in it and kicked it open from the outside. And for the other, I climbed out a window onto the lower roof and kicked that door open as well.

After that we headed up to the real roof, where we proceeded to sit there for about an hour and do absolutely nothing. We were just enjoying the view and hanging out. We even got to witness a couple cars nearly have a head-on collision.

Eventually, because we'd all been up really late together the night having a movie night at Anne's house, we decided that was all we felt like exploring for the day and headed on home.

09/15/05

Permalink 12:05:32 am, Categories: Urban Exploration, 1467 words   English (US)

near-death experience

I had a little accident while we were exploring the weekend before last. Obviously, I didn't die, but I came as close as I ever have before.

Willard, DeeDee, Anne, Underdog, Sertile, Hiccup and myself all met up at our usual spot that evening. I'd spent a little time the day before bending and welding some rebar into an awesome grappling hook, and I was really itching to try it out. For the moment, though, we headed over to an abandoned building nearby that they were in the process of tearing down. The construction crew had left their cutting torch and bottles just sitting there, so I took the opportunity to freak everyone out by briefly firing up the torch. It was funny to watch everyone spaz, considering I use a cutting torch all the time. I'd even used one to make the grappling hook.

After that, we all drove over to an abandoned mill that we knew about. There were two buildings to the mill, but I'd only been inside the larger one. Sertile was the only one of us who had ever been in the smaller one. Unfortunately, both of the buildings, as far as we knew, had been sealed up pretty tightly for some time. The only way it seemed we could get into them was through broken windows on the second floors.

We started with the smaller building and did a quick inspection to make sure there was really no way in. When we were sure, I broke out the rope and grappling hook and started chucking it up at the window. The grappling hook was just slighty smaller than the missing window panes, so it bounced off the wall and metal bars the first few times I tried.

 

Finally, the grappling hoook sailed through the window. I pulled the rope back toward me until it grabbed onto something inside, and Underdog and I hung on the rope together to make sure it was secure enough. Since it appeared to be, I grabbed on and climbed up the wall Batman-style until I reached the window and scrambled through. It wasn't graceful, but it had worked.

Inside, I turned on my flashlight and was a little horrified at what I saw. The grappling hook had caught on a piece of metal electrical conduit, about a dozen feet long, that was just laying loose on the ground. The pipe had just been long enough and bent right that each end had caught on the wall of the window.

The original plan had been for me to get inside, and then have the others attach my homemade cable ladder to the rope so I could haul it up. However, I wanted to see if I could open the door from the inside, so I went down the ladder to the ground floor. Sure enough, I found that with a little work, I could get the door to open. I figured that was a little safer than having everyone climb up the ladder through the window.

We wandered through the smaller building's basement first, then went on to the next few floors. There were no stairs in the building, just a ladder going up the six or seven stories. There was a manlift, but the belt had been removed and there was no power anyway. Except for some graffiti and few random pieces of junk, the place was mostly empty.

Willard and DeeDee decided to hang back while the rest of us went on to the roof. On the way up, we encountered a huge mess of pigeons on the top floor. One flew into the dark beside me, and I managed to catch it gently for a nice photo op. It's starting to become a recurring theme, my catching or finding some kind of bird on our trips.

The roof of the place was pretty neat. A staircase, the only one in the building, led up through a hole in the ceiling straight out onto the roof. We sat around for a while up there, watching a swarm of birds hunting bugs around nearby lights on the taller building above us.

Eventually, we left and headed over to the larger building. Although climbing the rope into the building had been fun, I was hoping that I wouldn't have to do it twice in one night. We were surprised to find that I wouldn't have to. Someone had apparently used a truck and chain (or something else really strong) to rip a welded metal covering off of a window. We just crawled in through the opening.

We went floor to floor after that, starting with the basement. Some of us had been inside the building before, but others hadn't. I noticed that there was a lot more trash, mainly beer cans, than there had been the last time I was there. It looked like some people had been using this as there little party place.

Around the tenth floor (give or take), I had my little accident. That floor happens to be much bigger than all the previous floors, because it stretches out over the top of the grain silos. The silos go from there straight down to the basement with nothing in between. In the floor there above every individual silo, there were square holes, about three foot by three foot, where chutes used to go down inside.

As I was walking forward while taking a picture, I stepped into one of those holes. I knew the holes were there and to watch for them, but I'd been paying too much attention to my camera. Worst of all, when I felt that sickening feeling of stepping into nothing, I knew exactly what I'd done.

I fell forward and my upper body slammed into the floor on the other side of the hole. I would've kept going right on down, but my right leg somehow managed to catch the lip of the hole behind me. If not for that, I would've gone ten stories straight down to the concrete bottom.

Everyone gasped as they heard me fall and saw me dangling over the hole with one leg inside. Someone rushed and reached out to haul me up, and I started to take their hand. But even though I was seriously about to freak out, I stopped and said, "Wait, take a picture first." Yeah, I'm that sick.

When they'd done that, I rolled off the hole and just laid there shaking. I was laughing and trying to make it out like it wasn't a big deal, but it had well and truly scared the shit out of me. I was shaking, and I told everyone I needed to just lay there for a minute and collect myself. It was seriously the closest I'd ever come to dying. Plus, Hiccup had been the only one to actually see me step into the hole, and that disturbing image had left her in tears. And to make matters worse, my camera had taken an extremely hard blow and had taken some damage.

After a bit, when I was a little more together, we headed on up to the roof and sat around for a while enjoying the view. We were all a little more serious after that. It wasn't every day one of us almost got killed doing this sort of thing.

Then yet another strange thing happened. As the seven of us were sitting there on the roof, a young guy suddenly popped up through the roof hatch and said hello. We were all taken aback, but greeted him. He came up, followed by a girl. It turned out he had seen the mill on our website and had just happened to check it out on the same night we were there. He also had a couple more friends somewhere down below that were coming up. They chatted with us a little bit, and I gave them an Underground Ozarks sticker as they headed back down.

We thought it was cool, but we figured both our groups being there might draw a little too much attention. We didn't need to get arrested on top of everything else, so we headed on down. We met them about halfway down and told them we were taking off since we'd been doing this for most of the night already.

Back on the ground, we watched the four new guys wander around the roof and top floor. They flashed their lights at us a few times to let us know where they were, and we waved back and watched them for a little while. We toyed with the idea of doing something else, but my almost dying had kind of killed the mood. So, we all packed up and headed on home.

09/07/05

Permalink 09:30:07 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 1173 words   English (US)

haunted tunnel and downtown flood

Because of being the last person on the planet without a cell phone, I missed out on the chance to catch someone screwing with my friends in the Jordan Creek tunnel. I did get to see the thing flood big time, though.

A few weeks back, I was at Hiccup's house working on the site all night. She only had one phone line, so if anyone had called it would've gone straight to her voicemail. Later on, while I was still working, I got an instant message from Underdog wanting to know where the hell we'd been all night. He said they'd been trying to call us all night about a weird experience they'd had in the Jordan Creek tunnel. I got offline, and, sure enough, we had several voicemails from them.

We had to listen to them a few times to figure out what happened. Apparently Underdog, David Keetz, and Anne had been down in the tunnel that night and had someone or something stalking them the whole time. Halfway through the tunnel, something had started making an extremely loud pounding sound, as if someone had been slamming their foot down on the concerete.

They fled the tunnel at first, but later went back in twice to try and determine what it was. The sound was still there, and this time it moved with twenty feet of them, as if someone was coming closer. They also heard voices talking at either entrance of the tunnel. It was around this time that they called us to come down and help them figure it out, but we hadn't known until they'd gotten home and contacted us online.

The next day, we met up with David Keetz, Anne, Underdog, and Willard in the light of day to head back down in the tunnel and try to figure out what was making the sound. We started out at the western entrance and walked all the way to the eastern one, but the only thing we saw that was even remotely scary was bats hanging from the ceiling.

So, we started walking back the way we came, this time through the side of the tunnel that had a foot of water in it. A little way in, I asked Underdog quietly if he wanted to see something funny. He said sure, and I wandered up behind the rest of the group. Out of nowhere, I SCREAMED the loudest, highest-pitched, most girly scream I could manage. Everyone reacted and Anne immediately let out a similar scream in response, except hers was completely real. I just laughed and said, "Boy, that water's cold."

On the way out of the tunnel, we ran across a little snake bobbing around in the creek. We weren't sure whether it was a copperhead or something less dangerous. I got some nice closeups of it, determined to figure out what it really was when I got home. From the pictures, I was able to tell it was just a harmless little water snake.

We left the tunnel after that and went down to an abandoned building we knew about. Anne and I had been to the building before, but it was new for everyone else. We weren't even in the building five minutes when everyone took off running yelling that there was a burglar alarm, which hadn't been there when Anne and I had explored the building. I ran to look, and, sure enough, there was a motion detector attached to a wire that presumably ran to an alarm.

We all took off running down the street in the pouring rain, and we got just out of sight of the building when a loud whooping alarm started going off. The alarm had some kind of thirty second delay built into it, and we had thankfully gotten away before the thing had started going off. Everyone got into their cars and started getting out of the area.

Since it was raining pretty good at this point, Hiccup and I decided to go down to the eastern entrance of the tunnel and see if the water level had come up any. I'd always had the idea of rafting the Jordan Creek tunnel, and today seemed like as good a day as any. When we got there, the water level had only come up a few inches, but we sat there and watched as it started getting bigger little by little.

We found a place to hide the car and started airing up my inflatable boat. It took maybe ten or fifteen minutes, because the pump was really slow. When we finished, we loaded up what stuff we wanted to take and ran back down to the entrance with the raft.

We were shocked when we got there. The water, which had previously been less than a foot deep, was now around seven feet deep. There was only about two feet between the water and the ceiling. I just shook my head and said, "No way. If we do that we'll die." So, we just sat there watching as the water level continued to rise. It just kept going higher as the rain kept coming, until it was sloshing against the ceiling of the tunnel.

Out of nowhere, something exploded down the street, sending sparks everywhere. I knew immediately it was a transformer blowing from the lightning, and I started driving down toward it to try and get a picture in case in blew it again. It blew two more times as we were heading toward it, each time with a loud zapping sound and a shower of sparks, but I wasn't able to get there in time for a picture.

We drove back to the eastern entrance when it became clear it wasn't going to blow again and waited to see what the water would do. The rain finally stopped abruptly, and a nice double rainbow settled over the city behind us. We could tell the water level wasn't going up anymore, so we decided to drive down and see what the other entrance looked like.

Before we even got there, we founded several intersections flooded. It was all over the road a few feet deep, including several places where the water was literally squirting OUT of the storm drains. Apparently the tunnel had so much water running into it that the water pressure was forcing water back out of the drain tunnels all over the place.

At the western entrance, water was pouring out of the tunnel like I'd never seen. It came out of the tunnel, ran under a bridge, and met some water that came out of another tunnel. There, it flooded everywhere, all over the railroad tracks even. It was insane.

We went back to the eastern entrance once more after that, but it had barely changed. We thought about waiting around for the water to go back down enough to raft it, but there was no telling how long that could've taken. So, we packed it up and headed on home.

08/29/05

Permalink 07:05:03 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 1527 words   English (US)

mfa mill and underground quarry

A few weekends back we checked out the second MFA mill building and found the mysterious second level of the underground quarry we've been visiting.

We started out the night, like most nights, by meeting up at our usual spot. It was Anne, Sertile, Arch, Underdog, David Keetz, Hiccup and myself. Since we were within walking distance of the MFA mill, our first destination, we headed over there on foot. The way in required some minor acrobatics at a considerable height, so I made that climb by myself and let everyone else in another way.

Once inside, we started out by exploring a basement area which also had a sign indicating it was a fallout shelter. There were employee areas, showers and lockers, that sort of thing. There was also a place where you could get into the elevator shaft of the building. We could see a sub-basement or something at the bottom where water was rushing out, so I climbed down the shaft to get into it.

About the time I did that, the others started yelling that there was a hatch and a ladder into the sub-basement and that I hadn't had to climb down the shaft after all. Figured. The guys came down and joined me, while the girls ran back to Anne's car to get something. The sub-basement wasn't very interesting, just a some old pipes and muddy water. When the girls returned, they went down into the sub-basement while we waited, then they checked out the rest of the basement with us.

We started wandering through the next few floors after that. We found two different grain chutes that resembled slides. One was a spiral that went up through a few floors, but it was too rough to actually slide on. Another was just a straight plastic chute which was fairly slick. We boosted the girls up a few times and they took turns sliding down and getting dirty.

At some point we came across the safe I'd stumbled across the last time I'd been in the building. The door was cracked open, but I hadn't been able to heft it back. We spent a little time looking around for something to pry it open, and eventually I found a big metal bar. That did the trick, but, of course, the safe was completely empty inside. Someday one of these damn safes we're always finding is going to have money or jewels inside. I just know it.

We continued up the rest of the floors after that. Some of the floors were offices. Others were full of old mill equipment and grain chutes. There was other rooms loaded with fixtures and electrical equipment. The place was literally full of old junk.

At some point, we also spotted Jojo Roberts sitting on a bench with a friend down on the street below. A few of us took turns yelling down at him, but he didn't seem to be noticing. We tried every floor or so until Jojo finally went inside, but there was no visible reaction.

Eventually, we reached the roof, or at least the lower one. There was a ladder on the outside wall that led to the uppermost roof, but we decided it wasn't quite dark enough to be scaling the side of a building in broad daylight. So, we had a seat, waited about half an hour, and then ascended to the upper roof.

Up there the view was amazing. We took lots of pictures and just sat around watching people pass below. A few of us got a bit ornery and started whistling at people below and other mischief. One lady finally seemed to notice us and started pointing us out to a few other people below. We figured it was a good time to bail out at that point, and we headed back down and out of the building.

When we went back to our cars we had to wait on Anne, since she was parked down the road from the rest of us. We noticed she was taking an unusually long time, and when she finally pulled up to where we parked she had Jojo Roberts in the car with her. It turned out Jojo had heard us yelling down at him, but his eyesight was so bad that he couldn't tell where it was coming from. But he had figured it was us.

Next, we decided to head over to the underground quarry we'd located and look for the second level. Anne, Arch, and Sertile had to head in for the night, so it was down to the four of us. I was the only one of the group who had been there before, and we crept down into the area just like the other times. Toward the entrance, though, we took a slightly higher path that I thought might lead to the upper level, if it really existed. We walked for quite a ways and, just as I was beginning to think we were looking in the wrong area, Hiccup and I stumbled upon a huge entrance in the side of the bluff. We yelled back to Keetz and Underdog, and they hurried up to us.

Inside, it was immediately obvious that this level was different than the one below it. The lower level had a rocky surface, basically flat, covered with a bit of gravel where trucks could drive on it. The upper level, on the other hand, was filled with huge piles of crushed limestone powder. It looked like rolling white sand dunes as far as you could see.

We started exploring the level, which was bigger than the level below it, and it ended up being really difficult to walk on the piles of powder. There were also lots of places where water had collected and turned the powder to white mud. It wasn't long before we were sinking up to our knees or deeper in it. Right off the bat, though, we found what appeared to be the only things left in the mine. There was an old tent building and some metal pipes and equipment.

Near one side of the level, we ran into water stretching away the entire length. It was clear and blue and cold as hell. Without a raft or waders, we couldn't continue on that way. We had planned to come back and do that with the lower level anyway, so it wasn't a big deal, but there did seem to be a lot more cavern to be explored in that direction.

We continued exploring the level after that, but it was pretty much the same story in every direction. We'd trudge through the mud and powder for a while, until we'd come to a spot where it was too wet or muddy to continue. It was also wearing us out quickly to try and make our way through that stuff. We needed snow shoes or something.

Pretty soon we were ready to head back. As we were making the long walk from the entrance back to our cars, I started noticing that my feet were hurting like hell. It felt like they were on fire or something.

It didn't take me long to figure out the problem, either. I was wearing some old sneakers, light running shoes that just had thin open-weave mesh on the sides. A ton of that limestone powder had gotten into my socks and shoes because of it, and it was literally rubbing the flesh off my feet. I tried to walk in just my socks, but the path we were walking on was so rocky that I was holding everyone back. So, I just put my shoes back on loosely and hoped it wouldn't rub off too much more flesh before we made it back.

As we were almost to our cars, we noticed a cop drive by. It wouldn't have mattered, except that we were walking down the road covered in mud. Just about the time we got to the place where we'd parked our cars, he pulled up and wanted to know why we were parked there. We stammered and eventually just told him we'd had to leave our cars there for a little bit. He didn't seem interested in why and just wanted us to get the hell out of there, which we were happy to do. We also found some strange notes left by Anne on our cars.

As Hiccup and I were driving away, my feet were hurting so badly that I couldn't stand it. We pulled into the first car wash that we could find and started spraying the mud off of ourselves. I took off my shoes and socks, and my feet were thoroughly messed up. These were no simple blisters. My feet were bleeding pretty good. There were places on the back of each heel, on the sides, and in between my toes where the flesh had been deeply rubbed away. I sprayed my feet off as best as I could without screaming.

Then, we threw our wet jeans and shoes in the trunk and finished the drive home in our underwear.

08/01/05

Permalink 11:48:35 am, Categories: Urban Exploration, 780 words   English (US)

wilson's creek and heer's

We had another oddball weekend of exploring a little while back. We checked out a small cave, a bunch of abandoned houses out at Wilson's Creek, and went to Heer's one more time.

We started out the day, like most of our trips, by meeting up at our usual place. This time it was Anne, Willard, DeeDee, Hiccup and myself. Since it was just the five of us, we all piled into Anne's SUV and started heading out to Wilson's Creek.

Along the way, Willard wanted to take us by a cave he knew about behind a local school. So, we pulled off at the school and started tramping out into the woods. We had a little trouble finding the cave in the brush, but Willard eventually got us there.

It didn't turn out to be very big as caves go, but it was still fairly cool. There were old pipes embedded in the rock where people had once pumped water out of the cave for use, and there was an old tin structure built around the mouth of the cave. It also looked like the cave might have gone back a little ways, but it required crawling on your belly in wet mud and I wasn't really in the mood to do that so early in our day.

Next, we headed over to Wilson's Creek and started wandering around a trail. We checked out a collapsed barn first and took the time to climb an old silo that was beside it, then we went and climbed around in the two floors of an old barn that was still standing nearby. Up the hill, there was also an old house, so we went and checked that out as well.

After that, we decided to wander up the road to another abandoned house. Inside, we found a bunch of swallows that had made one of the rooms their home. When one of them kept trying to fly through a window pane, I took the opportunity to catch it gently and take a few pictures before letting it go. In the back, there was a trashed bathroom with a toilet, where I talked Hiccup into dropping her pants and posing for a picture. There was also a garage out back, with some old bones, where I talked Anne into chomping down on one for yet another photo op.

When we were done, we went back to a barn-like building behind the house. While everyone was downstairs, Hiccup and I wandered up to the second flood where we froze as something started hissing at us loudly. I expected a raccoon or something, but as I came around the corner to see what it was, I saw that it was a huge bird and yelled for everyone to come upstairs. I wasn't positive, but it looked like a baby buzzard. It was about the size of a chicken, but it still had downy feathers covering it and apparently couldn't fly, so I don't know what else it could have been.

After we'd inspected the bird for a bit, we started checking out the rest of the room when something ran across the floor in the corner. It was yet another baby buzzard, and this one was much more lively. It kept running back and forth in the corner from us, while the other one had simply sat there and stared at us.

Once we were finished at that place, we went down the road to yet another abandoned property. We didn't linger at this one as long, as someone was using it for their cattle. But we checked out the old house there, the barn, and I climbed up yet another silo.

From there we made the long walk back to our cars and then headed back into town. We decided from there to go into Heer's one more time. It didn't go nearly as smoothly sneaking in this time, but we managed anyway.

Once inside, we just wandered the place as we had before. However, the girls got bored with Willard and me poking around. So, they went up to the roof, and presumably gave each other facials or stripped down to their panties and had a ticklefight or did whatever it is girls do when they're alone.

This time, though, we didn't stay all that long, and we didn't end up going past about the sixth floor. As Willard and I finally made it up there, the girls were just coming back down from the roof. Everyone was pretty much ready to head out after all the walking we'd done, so we went back down and slipped out the way we'd come.

07/28/05

Permalink 08:42:32 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 1081 words   English (US)

heers and mfa mill

The same weekend we explored the abandoned mine in Springfield, we also managed to explore the legendary Heer's building and climb the MFA mill yet again.

Sertile, Anne, Willard, DeeDee, Underdog, Hiccup and myself all met up at our usual place that afternoon. Willard and Underdog had managed to find a way into Heer's, and we were all dying to get the grand tour. We had originally intended to wait for the cover of darkness to enter the building, but we were all eager to check it out. So, we slipped inside as stealthily as we could in broad daylight.

Inside, we started out in a few sections that weren't all that spectacular. We quickly moved to the basement, which was pretty cool. It was mostly gutted, but it was enormous and there were still plenty of evidence of the department store that it had once been. When we stumbled upon a conveyor belt that went from the basement up to the ground floor, a few of us decided to walk up it while the rest took the stairs around to meet us.

The ground floor was amazing, and bright enough from the windows that we didn't need our flashlights. There were mirrored columns set throughout the room, along with a non-working escalator that went from the basement to the ground floor up to a large mezzanine that overlooked the ground floor. According to Willard, there used to be a pretty ritzy restaurant up there.

From that point on, we kept going up floor to floor. Hiccup and I went off by ourselves at some point, since we were moving a little faster than the others. We were just anxious to see the roof and the tower. However, we still made sure to explore every floor thoroughly and to get plenty of pictures in case we didn't get a chance to come back.

Eventually, we did reach the roof, or at least the lower one. This section of it was large and covered with gravel, and it was where one of the Heer's signs had sat overlooking the city, although the H had fallen off. A tower-like building also stretched up from that roof a few more stories.

Hiccup and I, still by ourselves, went on up the tower building. At the top floor, there was a giant tank with a ladder laying nearby that was apparently for climbing on top of it. I wrestled the ladder in place and went up on the tank, and there was another ladder leading down inside it, although I didn't use it.

After that, I moved the ladder up to a square hatch in the ceiling, but the ladder ended up being about six feet too short. There were some pipes mounted to the wall near it that looked sturdy enough to hold me, so I decided to try it anyway.

Somehow I managed to wiggle my way up through the hatch and flop out onto the roof, with Hiccup watching nervously below me. The view was, of course, amazing up there. But something that stood out even more was the flagpole. The rope for the flag had several pairs of underwear tied into it at the bottom. But this makeshift flag apparently hadn't been flown for sometime, as the underwear were rotting and falling apart.

After that, I climbed back down, and Hiccup and I went down to the lower roof to wait on the others. When everyone found their way to us, we wandered around there a bit before heading up the tower again. Everyone pretty much decided against trying to haul themself up through the hatch like I had, although Anne did give it a shot before deciding it was a little too insane.

But when Anne decided to try it, I went up through the hatch again to try and help her. While I was up there again, I decided, with a little urging from below, that the underwear flag needed to fly again. So, I spent a few minutes screwing with the rat's nest of rope, and I was able to get the flag raised to about half mast. Looking back, I really should've put my own underwear on there as well.

We decided to head out after that, and we made our way back down the floors. We really didn't get in any hurry about getting out of there, because we kept seeing more things to check out on the way. But as we were leaving the building for real, we looked up and saw that the underwear flag was gone. Apparently it had been so rotten that it had just broken apart and blown away.

We milled around in the parking lot for a bit, figuring out what to explore next. Sertile decided he couldn't resist seeing Land of the Dead any longer, so he bailed to go see that with his roommate. The rest of us decided to go climb the MFA mill, since Sertile and I were the only ones that had climbed it. But since it wasn't dark enough to enter the mill yet, we headed over to Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwich Shop to get a bite to eat.

When it was nearer to dark, we walked on over to the mill and snuck inside. Because there were no stairs, the only way to the roof was a ladder about fifteen stories tall. DeeDee and Willard decided to hang out at the bottom while Underdog, Hiccup, Anne and I started climbing.

It turned out to take a lot longer to climb to the roof than we thought it would. We stopped at almost every floor to rest and to check out the stuff that was there since no one had seen it all but me. Plus, everyone was having fun battling the mass of spiderwebs that were all over the ladder shaft.

Eventually, we made it to the roof, and we stayed up there for probably an hour just hanging out. Willard and DeeDee were heading out at this point, and we couldn't help but try and nail them with a few loogies, which they greatly appreciated. We also took some of the best night shots of the city yet, most of which included us sitting with our legs dangling over the edge of the roof.

When everyone was ready, we made the long climb back down the ladder and headed home. It was a pretty good end to a full weekend of exploring.

07/11/05

Permalink 04:21:09 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 247 words   English (US)

albino farm prank

I played a little prank on a few of my friends out at the Albino Farm yesterday.

I knew that Anne had organized a meetup to go out to the Albino Farm and look for a cemetery that was supposed to be out there, but Hiccup and I had previous plans at the same time to go out with her sister. As we were leaving the house that morning, we saw that Hiccup's neighbor had thrown away two gigantic teddy bears. I said jokingly, "We should take those out to the Albino Farm and hang them from the trees." Hiccup laughed and said we should. Then I thought, why not?

We went and snagged some duct tape, a couple black markers, and ran out to the Albino Farm. We walked around until we found two good trees near the old buildings where they'd be sure to see them, then I bound the bears' hands and mouths with duct tape hostage-style. Once that was done, we taped them about chest-high to the trees and broke out the markers. I wasn't sure who all was going to the meetup, but I knew that Willard and Anne would be there for sure. So, I wrote ANNE on the forehead of the girl bear and WILLARD on the boy bear. When we were finished laughing at the whole thing, we got the hell out of there, wishing we could stay and hide to see their reaction.

Yes, I'm a sick bastard.

07/10/05

Permalink 11:30:40 am, Categories: General, 74 words   English (US)

uo blog in springfield news-leader

Welcome Springfield News-Leader readers!

This blog, along with several other local ones, was featured in the July 7th edition of the News-Leader in an article about local bloggers. There wasn't anything said about us, but a screenshot of our blog was used as the picture on the second page. If we'd known about the article beforehand, we would've given all our readers a heads up. Very awesome!

You can view the article online here.

06/29/05

Permalink 12:44:14 am, Categories: Urban Exploration, 645 words   English (US)

lipscomb feed

The same weekend that we did the Oberman building, we also got a tour of the Lipscomb feed mill, former home of Houn' Dawg dog food, courtesy of Sertile.

Anne, Sertile and one of his friends, and myself met up outside the mill that afternoon. Sertile had had some dealings with the people that owned the mill, and they had agreed to let us come by and wander the place as long as we gave them copies of our pictures afterwards. We checked in with the secretary, and one of the guys doing renovations on the mill unlocked a few doors for us, then we were free to wander the premises on our own.

We started by checking out a large open area where they were cutting into some silos. The whole place was being turned into a rock climbing gym, so it made sense. Anne, Sertile and I went up a ladder and crawled around in a small space near the silos, but it didn't really go anywhere.

After that, we wandered over to another area where an inoperable manlift stretched several stories above us. A manlift is basically a big vertical conveyor belt with places for one person at a time to stand as they ride it up, but we'd already been told the power had been disconnected. Fortunately, there was a ladder there as well, so Anne and I climbed up to the next few floors while Sertile and his friend went around to meet us another way. There were a few rooms up above full of old equipment and mill dust, including one room with several pigeon eggs and a two dollar bill.

We eventually made our way to the top of one of the buildings, where Anne and I took turns climbing an unstable metal structure that rose up from the roof. It was eerie, because you could feel the structure sway in the wind as you stood on it. The view was insane, though.

Next, we walked from there through a covered bridge sort of thing that connected two of the buildings. We emerged on a different roof, where they were in the process of dismantling everything in sight. They had brought up a cutting torch, and most of the old pipes and metal pieces had been cut into small sections for easy removal. It killed me, because there was so much old junk there I would've loved to have had.

When we were on our way back down from there, we found a second manlift. Naturally, I couldn't resist monkeying with it, and this one actually worked. We also got to have one of those patented "Oh Shit" moments when I turned on the manlift and couldn't immediately figure out how to turn it off again.

Of course, now that I knew the manlift worked, there was no way I was leaving the mill without riding it. I went down first, followed by Anne, and then Sertile rode it after that. It was so much fun, I even rode it up and then back down again.

We all ended up in the basement at some point after that, where there were several small rock climbing walls. They also had molds and big buckets of goop where they were making the climbing grips that went on the walls. Sertile told me people had mistakenly seen it before and thought it was a meth lab, and it did look a little odd if you didn't know what it was.

When we were done down there, we were just about ready to take off. We'd seen about all there was to see of the mill. So, we headed up to the ground floor, locked the doors behind us, and thanked the secretary for letting us take our little tour. It was nice to actually have permission to explore something for once.

06/22/05

Permalink 11:47:32 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 604 words   English (US)

d. m. oberman manufacturing company

A couple weekends back, we checked out an abandoned building in Springfield that we'd been talking about on the forum for a while.

I met up with Anne and her friend that evening at parking lot nearby. Jojo Roberts had mentioned that he wanted to go, so we went by his store as we were heading down to the building. Jojo did want to go, but he was waiting on a couple friends to come back so he could close up. We waited around until they showed up, and when they did, one of the friends ended up wanting to go as well.

Once we were at the building, we walked around to one of the fire escapes and headed up to the roof. There was a small structure up there for the elevator equipment, but there didn't appear to be any way down into the elevator shaft. We moved some stuff around to be sure, but there was no hatch. Plus, there was no ladder on the wall of the shaft, so we couldn't have climbed down anyway.

Next, we continued to check out the roof. There was a tower-like building at one end that didn't contain anything. There was also a large chimney, about ten feet tall, in the middle of the roof that was missing a lot of the mortar in between the bricks. I decided to go ahead and climb up it, and I had someone toss up my camera. I could see and hear some birds roosting down inside the chimney, but there was no way I was going down the chimney without a rope.

After that, we headed back down to the ground and started walking the perimeter of the building. Sure enough, we found a broken window about head high that I was pretty sure I could squeeze through. I climbed up, struggled through it, and flopped down to the ground. I started walking through the dark, checking every door I came to until I found one I could open.

I had a fun idea as I exited the building. I ran the length of the building and crept around the corner to where everyone was standing by the window. Then, I yelled in a gruff voice, "What are you doing!" Everyone whirled with wide eyes, thinking they were busted, then started cursing when they realized it was just me.

I led them back around to the door, and we started exploring the building. The first floor was mostly gutted except for some random junk, but the basement was better. There was lots of old stuff down there, plus a huge boiler with big ornate doors. At some point, Jojo and his friend had to leave, so it was just the three of us.

We checked out the upper two floors after that. There really wasn't much there to see. There was a bit of discarded stuff and the old elevator still in the shaft. But even with the building mostly cleared out, it was still amazing. It was just a huge empty space supported by columns. It made me wish I could buy the thing and live in it like a big loft.

When we were ready to leave, Anne and her friend went out the door, and I locked it behind them. Then, I headed down to the window, and I heard them yelling for me as I got close. Apparently, some people down the road had seen them and were screaming that they were calling the cops. So, I bailed out the window as quick as I could, and we made a hasty retreat.

05/31/05

Permalink 10:39:39 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 953 words   English (US)

kc-30 nike missile site

We pulled off another big one the weekend before last. We checked out an abandoned Nike missile site near Pleasant Hill, Missouri.

We all met up at one of the local Wal-marts late in the morning. Hiccup and I showed up first, followed by David Keetz and Anne, then Willard and Dee Dee. Anne, Willard and his girlfriend got into David's vehicle, while Hiccup and I had decided to follow along in our own vehicle so that we could do some exploring in Kansas City afterward (although we didn't end up doing that).

Once we'd made the drive up to Pleasant Hill, we went out by the missile site to scope it out. We decided that it might be better go in teams, with one set of three dropping off the other three. That way, there wouldn't be any vehicles sitting conspicuously outside the building.

David, Hiccup and I went first. We found a place where we could scale the chain link fence surrounding the site and climbed on over it. We wandered around for a bit, taking pictures of the buildings and all the random junk lying around.

Eventually, we wandered over to a huge flat area where the missiles were launched from. There seemed to be three different underground areas underneath us, with large bay doors on the ground that opened into them. We were able to peer through an opening down into one of the chambers and saw that there was a massive elevator that rose up through those doors. Also, curiously, we could see an old car down inside.

Without getting specific, we found a non-damaging way to get down into one of the underground chambers, but we needed something from my car. However, when we tried to call Willard for them to come get us, it wouldn't go through. We didn't have Anne's number, and we realized that none of them had David's cell number. So, we went out front and sat by the road to wait.

We were just about to start walking back to town when, to our relief, they came along. It turned out we had the wrong number for Willard. We told them the deal, and we all drove back to my vehicle to get what we needed. Once that was done, we decided to all go in at once this time and just ditch our vehicle out of sight nearby.

Once we were all inside the site, I went down into the chamber first to scope things out. We were pretty sure the site still had power, because we'd heard some sort of compressor running down in the chamber. I quickly found that it was true and turned on the lights. I also had the half-baked idea of bringing everyone else down on the elevator, but I couldn't figure out how to work the thing. Eventually, everyone just came down the way I'd come.

We all wandered around the chamber taking pictures for a while. It wasn't super huge, but it was still amazing, and there were lots of little side rooms full of old junk. One door even had stuff painted on about the explosives that used to be inside the room behind it. We also found a diagram that showed that the missile would've been laid out on the elevator, which was about two car lengths long. From there, it would've been raised up in its magazine for launch.

After a little while down there, while everyone was milling around doing their own thing, I figured out the elevator, although I didn't immediately know it. I was playing with the controls and noticed that some lights that hadn't been on before were now activated. So, not knowing if it would really work, I hit the button to open the launch bay doors.

The doors came SCREAMING open with a sound somewhat akin to the gates of Hell opening. Everyone jumped back in shock and then turned to me with looks that said: Holy shit. We all started laughing and I just shrugged and said, "I didn't know it was gonna work."

Since we had just about seen all we cared to see of the chamber, everyone decided to ride the elevator out. I stayed below and ran the controls while I videotaped them ascending out of the chamber. It was pretty amazing, too. Not many people can say they've ridden an elevator built for an atomic weapon. I just wish I'd thought to ride the elevator once before I sent them up.

While the elevator was up, I looked around the area below it, but there wasn't much there. So, I brought the elevator back down and shut the bay doors. Then I decided I wanted some video of the doors opening, so I opened them up again, but when I tried to close them a second time, they wouldn't budge. I hit the button several times, but nothing happened. I was starting to get a little freaked out, and I could tell from the looks on everyone's faces up top that they were, too. Then it occurred to me that you might not to be able to close the doors after opening them without raising and lowering the elevator. So, I did that, and sure enough the doors closed when I tried them.

After that, I left the way we'd all come in. We rested for a few minutes up on the surface, then we packed up our stuff and headed on out. We all agreed that the place had turned out to be ten times more amazing than we'd imagined. We expected to find a few abandoned buildings to explore, and we ended up riding a piece of history.

05/02/05

Permalink 05:09:45 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 1906 words   English (US)

underground barbecue

This weekend we managed to pull off one of the most insane things we've ever attempted: the Underground Barbecue.

Hiccup and I met up with Sertile outside the Jordan Creek tunnel early on in the evening. Hiccup and I had both our cars loaded up with food and gear. I'd spent a small fortune on most of it just a few hours earlier, and we were intending to use every bit. We were going to have a barbecue in a massive chamber deep inside the Jordan Creek tunnel.

First, we started unloading our vehicles and piling stuff up on the ledge of the concrete canal that ran into the tunnel. Once we were done with that, we ran back and parked our vehicles in a legal parking lot. Then we came back, Sertile jumped down into the tunnel, and I started handing gear and food down to him.

As we were doing that, we noticed someone walking toward us on a bridge that ran over the canal a ways off. I thought we were busted already, but the man said, "Hey, are you guys homeless, too?"

We were relieved to find out the guy was just one of the homeless people that sometimes use the tunnel for shelter. We told him about the barbecue and that he was welcome to come down and get a bite to eat if he was hungry. He said he was really just trying to get a little bit of money so that he could get to Nixa, the next town over. He was crying and looked slightly drunk, so Sertile and I both gave him a couple bucks.

That seemed to brighten him up a bit, and he decided he would stay and eat some barbecue. Since we were ready to haul everything inside the tunnel by this point, he grabbed an armful and started heading inside with us. By the time we dropped off the first load at the entrance and made it back to the entrance, he had already changed his mind and wanted to go to Nixa again. I felt pretty sorry for him, and I gave him another ten bucks for helping us haul the stuff in. He thanked us and wandered off, sobbing the whole way. We had joked about how it would be cool if some homeless people came and ate at the barbecue with us, but that wasn't exactly what we had in mind.

It took about four or five trips to get all the stuff back to the chamber. I was kicking myself, because I'd brought an insane amount of food and gear, and we didn't even know if people were actually going to show up. We had enough food and drinks to feed at least fifty people, so I was definitely beginning to think I'd gone way overboard. I didn't know it at the time, but it was a damn good thing I brought so much.

I got Sertile to start putting the grill together, while I went up with the extension cords I'd brought to try and borrow power from a semi-abandoned building that connected to the tunnel. I was surprised when I found that the manhole going into the building wouldn't budge. I had Sertile come up and help me, but we still couldn't move it. There were other ways into the building from the tunnel, but upon further inspection, we found that they had sealed up every last way into the building.

We came back down, and I began brainstorming ways to get electricity down into the tunnel. While Sertile continued assembling the barbecue grill, I went up to the surface through a hole in the tunnel and started scouting around the nearby buildings. I even got so desperate that I crawled on my hands and knees for about a hundred yards through a cramped tunnel in the hope that it would lead to somewhere with an outlet.

By the time I made it back down into the tunnel, the first of our guests, Anne and Shattered_glass_heart, had arrived. It was after eight o'clock by this point, and I was a little worried that they were the only ones that had shown up so far. We told them about our electricity problems, but I swore that I was going to get us power before the night was over.

Sertile finished the grill just about the time people started trickling in. Some of his friends showed up, as well as David Keetz and his friends. I told Sertile I had a gas lantern in my car, and we agreed that I should probably go get it just in case we couldn't get electricity. So, I went up above to my car to get my lantern and my ultra-bright spotlight.

While I was up there, I began scouting around the nearby buildings for an outside outlet. I was extremely happy when I found one that was within distance of the tunnel. I ran back, and lowered my spotlight down to Hiccup. Then I started to lower the lantern down to her when it slipped out of her hands and shattered on the ground. I told her not to worry about it and had her hand up the extension cords and a small clock I'd brought to make sure the outlets worked.

Unfortunately, the outlets I found didn't have any power. However, I found another place farther away where I was able to plug in. I ended up needing all 300 feet of my extension cords, but I managed to get it from there to the tunnel.

I dropped back down into the tunnel and plugged in a bright halogen light just as more people were arriving and the first burgers were coming off the grill. Everyone was thrilled at the electricity, because it was great not to have to wander around in the dark. We would've had a stereo down there as well, but I had stupidly forgotten to bring the power cord for the stereo. David Keetz had brought a guitar, though, and played that off and on. Willard was also a big hit, showing up in one of his vintage suits and wading boots.

Through the course of the night, people came and went. Almost everyone from the site that had said they were coming showed up. Even a few people from the site that I didn't think would show up surprised me. There was almost never less than a dozen people in the tunnel, and people were scarfing up food as fast as Sertile could grill it. At the highest point, we even had around twenty people down there all at once. All in all, probably about forty people showed up. The turnout was beyond anything we'd imagined when we came up with the barbecue, and it ended up being a good thing that I'd brought so much food and gear.

Toward the end of the night, someone discovered our extension cords and unplugged them. I poked my head up through the tunnel to investigate, and I saw two security guys pulling the extension cord through a fence that I'd run it through. I ran back down into the tunnel and hurriedly unplugged the extension cord. Then we watched as they pulled the extension cord up through the tunnel and all the way to them. We just let them have it, because if we'd stopped them from pulling it up, they would've followed it to see where it went and would've found us. They probably thought the extension cord belonged to them anyway.

The barbecue went on for probably another hour, and then we started packing stuff up. It was down to just Hiccup and I, Willard, David Keetz and his two friends, and Raven and Sketch. They all said they'd help us haul stuff out, which was a relief since it would've taken Hiccup and I about ten trips to get it all out.

As we were walking down the tunnel with the stuff, we met about eight people coming toward us in a line that hadn't been at the barbecue. They asked for Sertile, and we told them he had already left and that they had just missed the barbecue. They said they still wanted to explore the tunnel, since they hadn't been there before and continued on. It was too bad they hadn't shown up earlier, because they would've made our crowd even bigger.

Once we made it back to the entrance of the tunnel, we stopped to rest, while Raven and Sketch headed on out. As we were standing there, three guys walked across the bridge above us and stopped, as if they were surprised to see us down there. I waved a couple times and tried to greet them, but they just stared at us and finally walked off.

At that point, I left the five of them down in the tunnel to go move my car closer. When I returned, I found one of the three guys standing above the tunnel, staring down at everyone with a furious look on his face. I didn't immediately realize it was one of the three guys from the bridge, but I could tell this guy wasn't looking at everyone with good intentions. I thought maybe he was just some psycho looking for a fight, but then I realized he was one of the guys on the bridge. Despite that I asked him, "Hey, are you here for the barbecue?" He never took his eyes away from the tunnel and snapped back, "I already had a barbecue, man. My friends are down there right now getting my grill."

It was pretty clear there was some sort of drug crap going down right in front of us, and this guy clearly felt we were interfering. I acted normal, but I was suddenly panicky inside, because I knew we were in the middle of something bad. I left the guy on the ledge and went down into the canal by the tunnel entrance to join everyone else.

As I got down there, the other two guys came out of the tunnel, and they were carrying a backpack that everyone said they hadn't gone in with. The guy up above asked them, "Did everything go okay?" and they said yes. They all started to leave, and the third guy yelled down at me as he left, "Now you can have your damn barbecue without going to prison!" The really scary thing was that a lot of people said afterward that they had seen the backpack down in the tunnel, but they hadn't thought anything of it. There's no telling what would've happened if the backpack hadn't been there.

After that disturbing little incident, we all decided to get the hell out of Dodge. We walked our stuff the rest of the way down the canal to where there was a ladder, threw everything up on the ground, and climbed on out. Right as we were doing that, the eight or so of Sertile's friends that had been inside came climbing up behind us. We told them about the drug guys, but they had somehow managed to not run into them inside the tunnel.

Everyone pretty much went their separate ways from there. Hiccup, Willard, and I loaded our vehicles up, since we were parked together, and then we headed on out.

Thus ended the first Underground Barbecue.

04/25/05

Permalink 11:56:03 am, Categories: Urban Exploration, 605 words   English (US)

8th street tunnel

This weekend, Hiccup and I drove up to Kansas City to visit her sister and do a little exploring.

We got up to Kansas City a little after nine in the morning. Since we weren't sure Hiccup's sister would be ready for us, we drove around the Independence area to scope out some abandoned storage caves. It took us a little while to find them, because I only had vague directions, but we found them after a bit of searching. We didn't have enough time to explore them, so we took some quick pictures of the entrances. Then we went on over to Hiccup's sister's house and spent most of the day hanging out with them.

Around five o'clock, we started heading over to Union Station to meet up with youthsonic, LostLenore, and S1L3N7B0B, who were going to give us a tour of an abandoned subway tunnel called the 8th Street Tunnel. Once everyone had showed up, we all pulled our cars around to the same lot. Then we all piled into youthsonic's vehicle and started heading over to the tunnel.

I can't go into too many details about where the entrance was located, but I can say this: If you didn't already know it was there, you'd never find it in a million years. It is absolutely the most well-concealed location I've ever seen. And that's saying something, considering it's right in downtown Kansas City. All the credit goes to Slim Jim, a fellow explorer who somehow managed to find this thing.

Once we were inside, the tunnel was just as cool as I had imagined. It still had working lights, which we turned on, and it stretched away almost as far as you could see. The ceiling was made out of brick and arched from the ceiling to the ground. There were two tunnels, with one running on top of the other one, and we were in the upper tunnel. It was also the older tunnel, having been constructed in 1881.

We walked down the length of the tunnel, and the ground sloped up toward the roof as we went. When we reached the end, we were forced to hunch over as the ceiling was now just a few feet above the ground. At the end of the upper tunnel, there was a massive chamber where the two tunnels came together. There was a ladder there for climbing down into the lower tunnel, and Hiccup, youthsonic and I climbed right down.

The lower tunnel, although it was the newer one, looked much worse than the one above it. There were huge mineral formations hanging from the ceiling, which looked like six-foot soda straws. The floor was also pure mud, and it was littered with old beams and other debris. We walked the length of it as well, where it eventually ended in a a big pile of dirt.

We started heading back after that, although I stopped several times to get some long exposure shots of the lighted tunnel. Once we got back to the entrance, we found that we couldn't get it sealed up like it had been when we found it. LostLenore, youthsonic, and S1L3N7B0B had to leave, so we were forced to leave the entrance wide open for the moment, since it looked like it would take some work to get it sealed up again. So, Hiccup and I went back with them, then drove our vehicle back to the tunnel and sealed up the entrance.

All in all, the 8th Street Tunnel is definitely one of the coolest places I've ever been.

04/08/05

Permalink 11:15:41 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 948 words   English (US)

carthage underground pt. 2

Last Sunday night, we went back to the abandoned mine in Carthage and did a little underground boating.

Sertile, Dru, Hiccup, and I arrived in Carthage shortly after dark. I'd bought a four-man inflatable boat from Wal-mart the day befoar, which we proceeded to inflate beside my car. I'd thought about bringing my canoe instead of buying the inflatable, but I'd decided against it. It would've been a lot of trouble to secure it to my car and drive all the way to Carthage like that. When the inflatable was all blown up, I balanced it on my head and we started heading into the woods.

Inside, we stopped to rest for a minute while I lit my kerosene lantern. I'd brought it this time so that I could actually take some decent long exposure shots of the mine's interior. While we were messing with that, I used my ten million CP spotlight to light up the mine for Hiccup. It was her first visit to a place like this, so it was pretty cool to see her amazed reaction. With the lantern lit, I took a couple quick pictures to show everyone what I could do with a constant light source. It was also nice to have the constant glow lighting our way, and I was kicking myself for not bringing it last time.

We made our way through the mine after that, finding the road down into the lower level. The water level seemed to be down a few feet from the last time, and we stopped at the edge to unload the gear we weren't planning on taking out on the water. Then, we all began piling into the inflatable and quickly realized that our four-man boat didn't hold four people very well.

Dru and I both took an oar and started paddling, while Sertile took lantern duty at the front of the boat, and we began slowly moving away from the shoar. I think we all felt an uneasy moment where we realized we were heading out onto what amounted to a frigid underground lake. It was a little nerve-wracking, but extremely exhilerating. We drifted through the water at a leisurely place, just enjoying the sight of the unnaturally green water all around us. We also kept cracking pirate jokes, and Dru was nice enough to sing a few bars of Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum on video for me.

We went and made a large loop back around to the second entrance to the lower level. We pulled into the shoar there to switch positions, and so that I could go back to my backpack and get my camcorder. I ran up the slope to the upper level, then back around to our gear, and quickly realized that I had accidentally left the camcorder in the car. Since I wasn't going all the way back to the car, I returned to the boat without it.

This time, Hiccup took lantern duty at the front of the boat, Dru held the spotlight and my camera, and Sertile and I took up the oars. We spent the next couple hours paddling aimlessly around the lower level, exploring every part of it. At some point, I took up both oars, since it seemed to be moar efficient. It was a little slower going, but it was easier to control which direction the boat was going.

Every now and then we'd come to a spot that was too shallow to pass and we'd start dragging bottom, but we always managed to find an alternate route around them. We'd also come across areas where the water was well over ten feet deep. It was a little scary to know that if we tipped the boat over there, we'd have a nightmare of a time swimming and wading in the icy water back to one of the entrances.

After a while, although we were having a blast, the cramped conditions of the boat started taking their toll on all of us. Plus, my arms were getting really tired from all the paddling. So, we started heading back, slowing down just long enough to take pictures of anything that caught our eye. Even making a pretty much direct line back to where we put in, it still took foarver to get back.

Back at the shoar, we piled out and got our gear together. I started deflating the boat, while Dru and Sertile wondered around to examine some discarded signs that were laying in the dirt. There were several strange ones, the funniest being one that Dru found with the word "BABIES" on it. Once the boat was finished, we went up to the upper level where everyone milled around while I took a few long exposure shots.

As we were finally leaving, we decided to try leaving a different way and got a nasty surprise. We headed out through another entrance that we'd found on our first visit, made our way through the woods for a few hundred feet, and came right out on the road. If we'd known how to get to that entrance on the way in, we could've saved ourselves about five minutes of marching through the woods in the dark.

We were all exhausted by the time we made it back to the car, but it was well worth it. I mean, there really wasn't much to see in the flooded section other than water and rock columns, but there was something amazing about floating through a cave on a bright green body of water. Even without the change in scenery, it was one of the most amazing explorations I've ever done.

03/17/05

Permalink 11:46:19 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 668 words   English (US)

ladder installation

I'm way late getting this up, but last Sunday I met up with Sertile and Atron back at the Hall of Fame caves.

This time we weren't really there to explore, although we did plan to check out the second cave again. I'd welded together a metal ladder from some scrap steel to replace the existing ladder. The one that was there was made out of wood and was rotting badly. We'd already managed to break two of the rungs out of it, and I had visions of some kid breaking their neck.

I went down first and moved the old ladder, then had them hand the new one down to me. I'd drilled out some holes in the bottom of the ladder, and I had ten inch nails with me to stake it down into the ground. I positioned the ladder where we wanted it and started driving the nails it. Unfortunately, it became apparent pretty quickly that the ground just wasn't firm enough for the ladder to stay staked down forever, but it would work for the time being.

Atron came down while I broke apart the old ladder with a sledge hammer and handed it up to Sertile. Then he came down, too, and we used some twine to take some measurements around the rock. I figured I'd buy some cable and permanently attach the ladder to the wall since I couldn't attach it to the ground. Either that, or I'd just make a whole new cable ladder for that cave like I was doing for the other one.

After that, we headed over to the second cave. Atron tied his rope to a boulder outside the cave, I tied some twine beside it, and we threw both down inside. We were going to use the twine to measure the depth so that I could make a rope ladder out of metal cable. We were also going to make a second ladder for a pit we'd found inside the cave the last time, which meant we had to go down inside and measure that as well.

I slid down the rope into the cave with Atron right behind me, while Sertile stayed up top to communicate with us via walkie talkie. He untied the rope for us and tossed it and the twine down. Atron and I then went over to the other pit, tied the rope and twine to another boulder inside, and tossed them both down again.

This time Atron stayed up top while I went down the rope into the pit. At the bottom, I found that the ground sloped down yet again into another chamber. Luckily, this one sloped down gently enough that I could walk down inside it. I had the walkie talkie with me, and I was already deep enough that Sertile couldn't hear me anymore, so I sent it back up the rope to Atron.

The third chamber turned out to be insane. It was two stories high in places and the walls and ceiling were covered in stalagtites and other formations. It looked like something out of a commercial cave, completely pristine. Except for two names scrawled on a blank wall at the bottom, both from the early sixties, it didn't seem like anyone had ever been to this part of the cave. I ended up spending quite a while inside the chamber taking pictures of the formations before I finally hauled myself back up the rope.

Back up in the main part of the cave, we had Sertile, who was good and bored by this point, pull our rope back up and tie it to the boulder. I struggled up the rope first, then sat down and enjoyed watching Atron do the same thing. Once we were out and had our gear put up, we decided to call it a day.

Be on the lookout for a future entry where we install our new cable ladders in the cave with tags saying "Courtesy of Underground Ozarks."

03/09/05

Permalink 03:11:51 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 345 words   English (US)

hotels and a tunnel

So, the day before yesterday I met up with David Keetz to do some exploring. We were checking out something fairly sensitive, so I can't go into too many details about it. Basically, we'd been told about a sealed up tunnel, and we went and temporarily unsealed it to take a peek. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out to be anything. It was just a mechanical room with some equipment. After that, we decided to hit a couple hotels in town, so we went back to David's house so he could put on clean clothes.

We weren't sure how to proceed when we got to the first hotel. The windows were tinted, so we couldn't tell if you could just walk by the front desk without looking conspicuous. We wandered behind the hotel, then up and down the street a few times, before finally deciding to just waltz in. We headed in the front door, said hello the desk clerk when he saw us, and headed up the stairs.

Inside, we wanted to find the basement, but, if there was one, we couldn't locate it. We settled for checking out all the floors, including the top floor which was used for special events. There really wasn't much to see, though, so we headed out to the next hotel.

The second one turned out to be much easier, especially because David was familiar with it. We wanted to slip in through a side door, but workers taking a break outside were blocking the way. We went inside and wandered around for a bit instead. There didn't seem to be a way to the basement from inside that wasn't blocked by employees, although we did spend some time on an upper floor balcony enjoying the view.

Again, there just wasn't a lot to see. The floors were all basically the same, and all the interesting places were inaccessible at the moment. We both agreed we should come back after dark sometime when we could slip around the hotel easier, but we went ahead and called it a day.

03/05/05

Permalink 11:01:53 am, Categories: Urban Exploration, 1095 words   English (US)

caving down a rope

I met up with Sertile and Atron on Thursday to check out the caves near the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

The two caves were located along the highway near the Hall of Fame. I'd checked out one of them by myself before, but I hadn't known about the second until someone on the forum had pointed it out. The fun thing about the caves was that even though they were directly beside the highway, they were invisible from the road. The people on the road would see us standing there one minute and gone the next.

We checked out the cave I'd explored before first. The only way down into the cave was via a wooden ladder that someone had installed a while back. Unfortunately, the ladder was rotting, and two of the rungs were already broken, but Atron had brought a rope to help us get down easier. I went down the ladder first, then Sertile started down and fell at my feet as he came up on the missing last rung, tearing a huge hole in his pants and shirt. It was pretty funny, and Atron caught the audio of Sertile falling on his video camera.

We spent a little while checking out that cave. It wasn't too big, just one large room with a few small tunnels off to the sides that didn't go anywhere. There were plenty of awesome formations, though, including one gigantic column in the center of the room. The ceiling was also covered with bubbly formations and soda straws in places.

Once we were done there, we all climbed out and moved over to the next cave. None of us had ever been in this one. The opening to the cave was pretty much a verticle shaft with smooth walls that you couldn't possibly climb. It looked like there was a decent-sized chamber at the bottom, though.

Atron tied his rope to a boulder and tossed it down the shaft. I volunteered to go first and slid about fifteen feet down the rope into the cave. Then, I had Atron pull the rope up, tie my spotlight to it, and lower it down to me. After watching how awkward it had been to get down the rope, Atron and Sertile decided to wait and see if I could actually get back out of the cave.

The second cave wasn't as fancy as the first one. It was just one big chamber set on an incline. There weren't even any formations to speak of, but people had obviously been there before, because there were two gigantic names spraypainted on the wall.

At the far end of the chamber, though, I did find something interesting. Around a corner, there was a huge pit in the ground. It was even deeper than where I'd slid down the rope. There appeared to be another large chamber at the bottom, but I couldn't see if it went anywhere. The walls were just as slick, and I could't climb down. I thought about having Atron throw the rope down to me, but then I figured I'd never get it back up to him and I'd be stuck. We'd have to come back with another rope or ladder if we wanted to see the second pit.

After that, I had Atron pull my spotlight up, then I climbed about halfway up the crack. I tied my camera onto the rope and had him pull it up, too. I knew it was going to be a lot harder getting out, so I didn't want to risk breaking my camera. And I was right about it being hard. I ended up doing a weird combination of pulling myself up the rope and mashing my body in between the walls of the shaft to shove myself up. It wasn't graceful, but I eventually got out.

It turned out, while I was down in the cave, Sertile and Atron had found a third cave right next to that one. It wasn't actually a completely separate cave, because both started from the same little hollow area in the rock, but it didn't appear to connect to the other one. To get into it, you had to duck through a small opening into a room that was just big enough to crawl around inside. Then, at the back of that area, there was another large pit that dropped down into two large chambers, although the pit wasn't as steep as the other one.

This time Sertile went down the rope into the pit. He crawled around out of sight in the chamber for a bit, then came back. There was a rock partially blocking the way to the second chamber and he squeezed around it and disappeared into that one for a bit. When he'd checked them out completely, Atron and I got to enjoy him flopping out of the pit the way I had done.

Once were done there, Atron headed out because he had to be somewhere. Sertile and I were going to stick around and check out the other building at the MFA mill that we hadn't explored yet. We split up to kill some time and get some dinner, then we met back up at a nearby parking lot.

Since it still wasn't dark enough, Sertile and I ended up wandering around downtown a bit. We checked out a couple vacant buildings, but that didn't kill enough time. So, we drove down to where they were opening up the Jordan Creek tunnel and poked around there. Then we headed to another part of town to check out some vacant buildings near the railroad tracks.

When it finally got dark, we went back to the mill. We tried all the doors at first, but they all seemed to be locked. As we were talking about whether or not I should try to climb the outside ladder to the roof, two cars pulled up in the parking lot. We ducked into the shadows to wait for the cars to pass, not thinking anything of them. Then someone got out of one of the vehicles and started walking directly toward us.

We took off down a dark space between the buildings and ran back to Sertile's truck. We were confused as hell about what had just happened. It was either a huge coincidence that the guy showed up at the building right then, or we'd set off a silent alarm and hadn't realized it.

Either way, we figured that was a good sign we should call it a night.

03/03/05

Permalink 05:53:43 am, Categories: Urban Exploration, 99 words   English (US)

grave digger pt. 2

Well, yesterday morning I finally got around to going back to my father's land and digging up those mounds. And what did I find?

Nothing.

Yeah, I know. It was very anticlimactic, and I'm as disappointed as you guys that were following this story probably are. I dug up two different mounds to about three feet deep, and there was nothing there but more dirt and rocks. I was really hoping for a body or maybe buried treasure, but no such luck. I still think the mounds may be man-made, but I guess they'll have to remain a mystery.

03/01/05

Permalink 12:06:51 am, Categories: Urban Exploration, 368 words   English (US)

barry county sinkhole

I saw a link on KY3 this morning about how a field in Barry County had collapsed into a huge sinkhole about a week ago. Of course, yours truly had to go see this thing for himself.

I had no idea where the sinkhole was, but I knew it was near Exeter, Missouri. I figured as small as the town was, someone would surely be able to tell me how to get there, especially considering all the publicity it was getting. Sure enough, someone at a gas station was able to give me directions. In fact, that person gave me bad directions, which had me looking in the wrong area for over half an hour. Finally, a helpful couple I passed by pointed out the right way for me.

They had a sign at the beginning of the road the sinkhole was on that said there was no through traffic, but I headed on down it anyway. At the end of the road, when I was just able to see the sinkhole, a huge pile of dirt in the road blocked my way. They'd put the mound there because they were afraid the sinkhole was going to swallow up the road, and with good reason. Even from a distance I could see that the edge of the sinkhole was only a few feet away from the road.

The sinkhole itself was awesome. A huge chunk of the field, about the size of a basketball court or bigger, had just sunk into the earth. You couldn't see any of the ground that had sunk away, either, because the hole had completely filled with water. It was like someone had taken a giant oval cookie cutter and cut out a piece of the field, leaving water in its place. It was amazing.

I wanted to walk out into the field and get a better look at it, but I could see that someone up the road at what I thought was the owner's house was watching me. Plus, they had the area surrounded in police tape and fresh new "No Trespassing" signs. I figured it probably wasn't a good idea. Still, it was highly cool and well worth the drive.

02/20/05

Permalink 04:56:20 am, Categories: Urban Exploration, 1372 words   English (US)

carthage underground

We did some pretty productive exploring this weekend, specifically the night before last. We also managed to check out one of the coolest finds in the area.

I started off the night by meeting up with Sertile in Springfield. He wanted to climb the mill after reading my blog entry about it. So, even though I swore I was never climbing the thing again, we did just that. As it turns out, it's not so bad when you actually do it during warm weather, with gloves, and without a ton of gear strapped to your back. And it was nice because I got to see the view from the roof in the daylight.

Before we left, we also checked out the basement, which I hadn't thought to examine last time, and it was one of the most disgusting places I've had the displeasure of exploring. The floor was covered in an inch-thick layer of black gel that resembled tar but smelled like manure from a dairy barn. Add to that, there was solid mass of cobwebs from one end of the basement to the other, and I mean solid. I looked like I was covered in gray fur by the time I walked out of there.

After we were done there, we drove out to Carthage to meet up with Dru. There was a huge, abandoned mine in the area that Dru had been to before, and we were finally meeting up to check it out. We grabbed Dru from his house, drove down to a suitable parking spot, and he started leading us out into the woods to the mine. The entrance, one of many entrances we later found, was back in the woods against a bluff. A massive opening, easily big enough to drive a dump truck into, led back into the hillside.

The inside of the mine was, of course, extremely amazing. It was just a huge, empty space cut out of the solid rock and going in all directions. The ceiling was about twenty feet high, with rock columns as big around as an SUV at even intervals to support the ceiling. They were spaced fairly far apart so that trucks and equipment could literally drive around the mine, and you could still see the makeshift dirt roads and tire tracks going throughout the place. It also looked like they had intentionally torn up the area around the entrance so that no one could drive a vehicle inside, because there were limestone boulders mounded up near the entrance that obviously hadn't fallen from the ceiling.

I immediately broke out the tripod to take some pictures. I had my 10 million CP spotlight with me, which I thought would allow to take some long exposure shots. Unfortunately, even though the spotlight lit the mine up beautifully for us, it was too focused a beam to take any decent pictures with. So, I left the tripod at the entrance and settled for taking flash pictures. They were turning out pretty dark, but I figured I'd just come back with a bright kerosene lantern to take some decent ones.

We basically wandered aimlessly around the mine after that. We'd see something interesting and head that way, then see something else and go a different way. There were places all over where we'd find big piles of boards. Some of them were obviously structures that had collapsed, while others were just loose boards thrown into stacks. We also ran across various bits of destroyed machinery, lots of metal pipes, and other random junk, and we found several additional entrances to the mine.

It wasn't long before we stumbled across something that elevated the coolness of this place several notches. We were walking along inside the mine when we started coming up on what appeared to be a really long ditch. As we got closer, we saw that it wasn't merely a ditch. It was some kind of gigantic trench, several feet deep at least and running about a hundred yards wide. When we got close enough to see the bottom of the trench, we realized what it really was. The trench sloped down at an angle, way down, and led to another large opening in the ground.

The trench was actually a road leading down into another level!

We were immediately excited and started heading around to where the trench sloped up to meet the ground. I'd never even heard of an underground quarry like this having two levels sandwiched on top of each other. I'd always figured something like that would be too unstable. When we walked through the opening and down into the second level, we were again shocked at what we saw.

We were standing at the shore of what amounted to an underground lake. There was another fully developed level of the mine stretching out in front of us, looking equally large as the one above, complete with rock columns and high ceilings. The only difference was this one was flooded with several feet of crystal clear green water.

It was both amazing and frustrating. We all desperately wanted to explore the second level, but there was no way we were wading chest high into freezing water. We decided we'd come back as soon as possible with either a canoe, a large rubber raft, or maybe even kayaks. We were extremely curious about whether it was possible there was yet another level underneath us, one that was completely underwater.

We headed back up to the main level after that, and then wandered out of another entrance to the mine to look at an old building we saw outside. Outside, we found one more entrance, this one sloping down at an extreme angle. It was yet another entrance the second level.

As we were heading down the new entrance into the second level, we found something even more interesting. Off to the side of the tunnel, there was a ladder going up to the ceiling. From there, it went into a large metal pipe and out of sight. There was also a steady stream of water raining down from it.

Since no one else was stupid enough to get soaked, I volunteered to climb up. I had Sertile and Dru brace the ladder, which looked unstable as hell, and climbed on up. It was about ten feet to the metal pipe, and the metal pipe ended up being about another ten feet long when I got to it. However, I could see once I entered the pipe that it led up to the main level of the mine.

I climbed up out of the pipe, which was about four feet in diameter, and walked around. It was the same area we'd just exited from, but somehow we hadn't seen the pipe. It also looked for all the world like something out of Super Mario Bros. with my climbing out of a pipe that jutted a few feet out of the ground. I took a few pictures to show the guys and climbed back down the pipe.

We continued on down to the second level, but it was the same story as before. The road sloped down to meet the water, and there was no way to continue. We could see that the second level was definitely just as big as the main one, though, and it just renewed our determination to come back and explore it by boat.

After that, we headed back to the main level and explored a little further, finally finding where the mine ended at one side. It was also flooded in that section of the main level as well. We rested there for a while before deciding that we were all tired and had seen enough for the night.

When we started heading back, we realized we didn't really know which way to go. All of us had a different idea about where the entrance was. We finally settled on following landmarks in the mine we'd seen before, and, eventually, we found our rubble-filled entrance. I grabbed my tripod, loaded up my crap, and we headed on back to the car. One of the few times I've ever gotten turned around in an underground place.

02/08/05

Permalink 02:57:26 am, Categories: Urban Exploration, 792 words   English (US)

weekend caving

I spent both Friday and Saturday night caving, and I was sore the rest of the weekend. You use muscles you didn't even know you had when you spend the night wriggling through tight spaces on your belly.

Friday night my brother, my stepfather, my uncle and my cousin and I all headed down to the woods of Carroll County, Arkansas. There was a cave they'd found earlier in the day while they were riding three wheelers, but they hadn't been prepared to explore it at the time.

Although the cave was fairly large inside, with plenty of room to walk around in, it was just a typical cave. It had a couple decent-sized chambers and several small tunnels just big enough to crawl through that didn't really lead anywhere. The only remarkable thing was that in the back of the cave the floor was sand, rather than dirt, and the walls in the rear of the cave were made of some kind of sandstone. There were also chunks of sandstone all over that would break underfoot. Despite that, the cave didn't seem particularly unstable. It was just different, because I'd never seen a cave like that in the area.

Saturday night, we all went to check out yet another cave, although my stepfather decided to sit this one out. This time we were headed to a cave in Stone County, Missouri that I'd known about for years, but had never bothered to check out. If I'd known what the cave was really like inside, I would've been there a million times by now.

The cave was out in the middle of a field and had a very strange entrance. A concrete structure had been erected over the entrance, which was basically just a man-sized hole going straight down, and it appeared to have been barricaded at one time. We all squeezed in through the structure and were blown away by what we found.

Inside, the cave was huge. We were standing on a huge slope leading down into an enormous chamber. It was easily three stories high inside. I was suddenly glad I'd hauled my ten million CP spotlight down there with me, because it was the only light we had bright enough to light up the chamber.

Further in, the cave had tunnels going in several directions. We chose the only one we could walk into and started moving. The tunnel led back a few hundred yards easily, and it was big enough to drive a truck through. At the end of it, there was a place where the ground dropped into a huge pit, then rose up again on the other side as the tunnel went on. We headed through it, shedding gear and clothes as we became too hot.

Before long, we came to a small creek inside the cave that began running along the tunnel. At this point, the tunnel became just low enough to be uncomfortable to walk inside. It also changed from rock to hard packed mud that sloped down from each side to meet the creek. It was slick as hell, and we all busted our rear ends several times.

Occasionally, we'd come to places where the tunnel would become just a crack in the rocks, and we'd have to squeeze through. At least one of those places required us to crawl on our bellies between two slabs of rock for about thirty yards. But, on the other side of those tight spaces, we just kept finding more huge chambers and tunnels that led on forever.

It wasn't long before, by our best guess, we were well over a mile deep. I'd been in caves with bigger chambers before, but this was turning out to be the longest non-commercial cave I'd ever explored. It was also one of the only caves I'd ever been in where I actually thought I could get lost. We'd been walking and crawling for hours with no end to the tunnel in sight, and we hadn't even checked all the branching tunnels we'd found along the way.

Eventually, we decided to turn around and head back, partly because it was getting way too muddy and we hadn't been prepared for it, and partly because it was getting late and my uncle needed to head home. It took us a full hour just to get back to the entrance. Best of all, some kind of animal, probably a coyote, growled at us from the dark as we climbed out.

We'll definitely be heading back to that cave again in the near future, though. There were dozens of side tunnels we didn't get a chance to explore, and I don't think we were even close to finding the end of it.

02/05/05

Permalink 05:25:06 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 803 words   English (US)

mfa mill

The other night I checked out the old MFA Mill in Springfield. I'd driven by it a million times over the years, but I never knew it was abandoned until someone pointed it out to me. A couple weeks after I found out the place was abandoned, I saw an article in the paper about how they were going to renovate the old mill for homeland defense research. I immediately moved it to the top of my to-do list, because I wasn't about to set foot in there when they started construction on that.

So, of course, I snuck into the old mill. I started out by checking out a catwalk on the outside of the building. From there, I mistakenly climbed about five stories up a ladder that I thought would lead into the upper part of the mill. Instead, it lead to a little room overlooking some kind of grain tank, and I got to climb all the way back down.

Inside, on the first floor, there was usual grain equipment that I had no idea what was for. I also found the way to the upper floors, and it was a little disheartening. I'd heard that there were no stairs in the entire building, and it was true. The workers apparently used a manlift, a small elevator for taking them up and down, to go about the building. The manlift was gone, and all that remained was a ladder going up between the rails. If you wanted to go up, you had to climb about fifteen stories (or however tall the mill is) straight up.

Climbing the ladder turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be. Partly, because it was below freezing outside, the ladder was metal, and I had forgotten my gloves. And partly because I was carrying a backpack full of junk and a tripod on my back, all of which barely fit through the opening around the ladder. Every few floors I had to stop and warm my hands up.

Somewhere around ten floors high, I came to a long room that sat on top of about a dozen huge grain storage tubes that went all the way to the ground. There were doors on either side of the room that led out on top of the tubes. I took the opportunity to walk out on both sides and take some pictures, even though anybody paying attention below could've seen me.

The next floor or two up, I ran into a problem. There was a big metal pulley in the middle of the ladder that stuck out about a foot. If I wanted to continue up the ladder, I had to somehow climb up and over that thing while carrying all my crap. Then I noticed a catwalk outside a window, with a ladder on the side of the building going all the way up to a window on the top floor.

So, out the window I went, which turned out to be an even worse idea than climbing over the pulley inside. The wind was horrible at that height, the ladder was ice cold, and there wasn't even a cage around the ladder to protect me. If I fell, I was going down.

But, I didn't fall, and, once I made it a few more stories up the outside ladder, I crawled inside the window of the top floor. Inside, the room was full of machinery, like all the other floors. The only thing unique was that this room was set at two different levels, with a ladder leading down into the lower area.

After that, I found the ladder to the roof and went up top. There was a few rusting structures up there and something that resembled a storage tank for grain. Of course, the best part was the view. I could see for miles and miles away, and I spent at least half an hour up there taking long exposure shots of the city. And if I thought I was cold before, I was wrong. The wind was vicious up there, and I was freezing my ass off.

Eventually, I headed back down, which took forever because my backpack and tripod kept catching on things in the tight space and trying to come up over my head. I'd spent a lot longer there than I intended, and, honestly, I'd been ready to leave just a minute or so after setting foot on the roof. But I had to make sure I took enough pictures, especially from the top. Because I was pretty sure I was standing on the second highest building in Springfield, and because I had already made up my mind that, even if they didn't renovate the building, I was never climbing those damn ladders again.

Permalink 01:52:05 am, Categories: General, 74 words   English (US)

praise from the master

The great Ninjalicious of Infilration fame made my day today by giving some high praise on the Underground Ozarks Blog:

http://infiltration.org/usufruct/

For those that don't know, Infilration and Ninj were a big inspiration for this site. In fact, I purposely modeled the site after his as a bit of an homage.

Usufruct, the official blog for Infiltration, will be going on the Blogroll as soon as I finish tinkering with it.

01/31/05

Permalink 04:12:57 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 787 words   English (US)

first hotel infiltration

Since it's possible I won't have anything worth blogging for another week or so, I figured I'd take this opportunity to tell a fun story I've never posted. Plus, if I ever get around to putting a "hotel infiltration" section (or something like that) on the site, I'll have this blog entry to add to it.

A month or two back, I met up with Kid Sparkle, who was down from his city to get a car part. We spent the first part of the night exploring an abandoned mine that we'd stumbled across inside a quarry. Since the night was still young, Kid Sparkle suggested we go by a local hotel, one that's not abandoned and very much in use, and see if we could get on the roof. I was nervous, because we were both muddy and it was already well after dark, but I was also dying to try a hotel infiltration.

We breezed in the front door of the huge hotel, right past the front desk, like we had a reason to be there. We went straight to the elevator, which overlooked the entire inside of the building. We spent the next few hours wandering every inch of that hotel. The first thing we tried was the stairwell that had a door at the top that led to the roof. Sadly, the door was padlocked. We could even see the roof through a crack in the door, but we couldn't get there. It was heartbreaking.

Next we found the exercise room and pool. The pool room was closed while they were repairing the jacuzzi, but we just ignored it and ducked under the yellow tape they'd put up to keep people out. While Kid Sparkle answered a phone call, I couldn't resist the temptation. I stripped down to my undies and bailed into the pool. I swam around for a while while Kid Sparkle talked to his friend (who wanted to know what that loud splash was). Eventually, I got dressed, with wet underwear underneath, and we continued on.

At some point, we decided we wanted to get onto the top floor. Problem was, you needed a key to take the elevator there because it was the VIP floor for private guests. So, we slipped back into the employee area of the hotel, found the employee elevator which didn't need a key, and took it to the top floor.

At the top floor, there was a private lounge for the guests, fully stocked with food and liquor. There had been people inside the lounge earlier, but it was deserted now. Of course, we decided to help ourselves to some grub. I had a bowl of cereal, a cinnamon roll, a blueberry bagel, and lots of fruit, while Kid Sparkle ate most of the same. We spent a good hour up in the lounge just hanging out, enjoying the view and calling our friends from the private phone to brag about where we were.

When we were done there, we decided to explore the employee areas a little further. We had the half-baked idea that maybe we'd spot the key to the roof somewhere and we could borrow it. We checked the only office we could find, but no such luck.

Unfortunately, while we were checking out the employee area around the kitchen, we screwed up. Kid Sparkle was a few yards away poking around one area, while I was looking in a kitchen storage area. I heard someone wheel a cart out from the kitchen, and I ducked behind a door. Kid Sparkle dashed back and jumped in the elevator, but that happened to be where the employee was going as well. I heard the employee shout to Kid Sparkle, "Hold the elevator!"

As I was about to slip out to find Sparkle, I saw a kitchen employee coming out of the kitchen toward my area. I was afraid he was heading to where I was, so I waltzed out in front of him, nodded and said, "Hey." Then I walked alongside him straight out of the employee area. I could tell the employee had been confused about who I was, but thankfully, because I had acted like I was supposed to be there, he didn't ask any questions.

I met Sparkle just as he was coming back down on the guest elevator, and we both decided it was time to flee the scene. As we were heading for the front doors, we saw the employee who had rode the elevator with Sparkle talking to the front desk girl and looking very confused. They both watched us leave suspiciously, but we just headed out the door and left as quickly as we could.

01/25/05

Permalink 06:26:48 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 573 words   English (US)

hell's church? not quite

I met up with Sertile the night before last outside a huge drain in Springfield. We were there to check out a place inside the drain, nicknamed Hell's Church, where you could go from the tunnel into a chamber underneath some nearby buildings. It didn't quite live up to its spooky name.

When we met up, Sertile took me to the canal that led into the drain tunnel and showed me a smaller branch of the canal that I'd never noticed before. It led under a nearby building to a couple of drains I hadn't known were there. While there, Sertile showed me a manhole you could open that went down into a sanitary sewer.

For those of you that don't know, a sanitary sewer is the kind that carries human waste. And this thing was flowing like nobody's business. It was about a foot deep, stinky as hell with pieces of feces hanging off the sides, and running so swiftly that it would've knocked you off your feet if you tried to stand in it. Not that either of us is crazy enough to do that.

After that, we headed into the tunnel, which was a relief because it was freezing outside. We walked about half a mile into the tunnel before we reached the spot. It was a bare ledge set about head high and a dusty chamber beyond that. I boosted Sertile up, handed him my gear, and then crawled up after him.

We were in the cramped crawlspace of a building above us. There was supposed to be a hole knocked in one wall leading to "hell's church," a chamber that was supposed to have stirrups or shackles hanging inside. Sure enough, the hole was there, although it hadn't been necessary for someone to create the hole since they could've just walked farther down the tunnel and climbed up the ledge. The chamber, which was supposed to have "shackles" or "stirrups" hanging inside, was just another crawlspace, although much bigger than the first one. The shackles were actually some type of fixture hanging from the ceiling, probably to support pipes that weren't there any more. There was plenty of graffiti, litter, and other evidence that kids went down there frequently.

Sertile had been here before and had found a window in the crawlspace that led into the basement of a nearby building. We found the window again and slipped into the basement. It was mostly abandoned, except that someone was apparently using it for storage. We spent some time poking around the building, even finding a manhole in the building that led to one of the crawlspaces we'd just been in.

After that, we found that there was a ladder in the elavator shaft above the elavator that led to a small room at roof level. We climbed up the elavator doors, headed up the ladder (with Sertile dropping his flashlight down the elavator shaft in the process), and climbed out a window in the room onto the roof. Sertile and I climbed out different windows, and somehow there was electricity touching the window sill that kept shocking him as he struggled out.

We spent a little time taking pictures from the roof, but it was too cold to stay up there for long. When we'd taken what pictures we wanted, we crawled back down into the building, retrieved Sertile's flashlight, and made our way back out the tunnel.

01/22/05

Permalink 01:25:49 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 996 words   English (US)

mountain inn

I finally made time to go see the Mountain Inn in Fayetteville, Arkansas yesterday. I'd been meaning to see this huge, abandoned hotel for close to two years now. I kept putting it off because Fayetteville's a bit of a drive for me, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to get inside the place anyway. As luck would have it, I was able to find a way in.

It took a little driving around the city to find the hotel, because I wasn't familiar with Fayetteville and the weekend traffic was really nuts. When I finally did find it, I was little disappointed to see that it sat directly next door to the courthouse, a hospital, and a big-ass federal building. Basically, this was not a good place to get caught trespassing, unless your idea of a good time is getting detained for a few hours while they make sure you're not al-Qaeda.

I ended up parking in the visitor parking of the federal building. I was a little uneasy about that, but I couldn't find a spot anywhere else. I made a quick walk around the front of the hotel, but all the entrances I saw were either boarded up or locked, not to mention in plain view of all the restaurants and businesses nearby. The hotel had its own parking garage, but I could see that some cars, probably for the buildings next door, were still using it so I passed by it as well.

There was an alley between the buildings, but all the doors back there appeared to be locked, except for one where I accidently walked into the kitchen of a restaurant. I found a stairwell nearby with an open door that led to the parking garage. I was worried about running into someone going to their car, but I wandered around anyway.

To keep other people from doing it, I won't say exactly how I got in. Suffice to say, in involved me crawling literally inside a wall through insulation until I ended up inside the hotel.

Inside, the hotel was trashed beyond anything I've ever seen. I've seen lots of abandoned buildings and places where kids like to party, but this was light years beyond any of it. It looked like someone had come through with a sledgehammer or some other blunt object and destroyed everything they could. Ceiling tiles were everywhere. Every mirrored wall and column was broken. Chairs and tables were smashed everywhere. It looked like everything that could be broken had been, and then spraypainted on top of it.

I went room to room, floor to floor after that, taking pictures of it all. Every one was the same story: trashed.

Around the second or third story, I found that there was an outdoor patio with a pool. The patio had been spraypainted worse than anything, and the pool was full of furniture, televisions, anything you could throw from the upper floors. You could see the broken windows where people had done just that. I wanted to go down into the pool and take pictures, but it was in plain sight of the federal building next door. I wasn't even able to explore the patio was much as I wanted.

I checked out the upper floors after that, taking well over a hundred pictures. About the sixth or seventh floor I found a section of roof you could walk out on, but I couldn't do it because of the federal building.

The top floor was a little different. There was smoke damage everywhere, and some of the rooms on one side had appeared to have burned. There was a spongy layer of ash on the floor and burnt mattresses and furniture. The walls were black from it all.

I found the door to the roof in the stairwell after that, but it appeared to be bolted shut from the other side. I found another section of roof on a lower floor that I could go onto without being seen, but it didn't have a ladder to the highest section of roof. I spent a little time searching for a way up, and finally found that you could get to the roof from the top floor of the adjacent parking garage. Problem was, you were in plain sight of every building nearby, including the federal building. Add to that, they'd removed the rungs on the ladder to the roof and it was going to be a rough, slow climb up and down.

I decided I'd just have to live without seeing the roof and set out to leave, figuring at this point someone had to have seen me milling around with my camera on the parking garage. Rather than risk being seen leaving the building or finding someone waiting for me, I went to a lower section of the roof, crossed to a nearby building, and opened one of the windows into what seemed to be a vacant office building. I headed downstairs, finding myself in the lobby of a couple restaurants, and casually breezed out the front door like I knew what the hell I was doing.

On the way back to my car, I didn't notice anybody, so I decided to take some pictures of the outside of the building. I headed over next to the federal building to get a better view. As I was taking pictures, I noticed a security guard coming out of the federal building, shaking his head and frowning.

Oh shit, I thought. I'm busted.

"You're on the wrong side of the street," he said, smiling as if he were a little embarassed about it. "You're not allowed to take pictures this close to the federal building anymore."

I apologized, extremely relieved that that was all he'd wanted. He pointed across the street where I could take pictures from. I thanked him, crossed the street to get the last few pictures I needed, and headed back to my car.

01/17/05

Permalink 02:00:25 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 218 words   English (US)

frozen ground

Well, I intended to go back to my father's land and dig up one or two of those mounds today. I even got out the metal detector, figuring I could wander around and see if there was anything in the ground. But then I realized the ground was frozen a foot deep, and I'd have about as much luck digging in a block of concrete.

Instead, I went and got a haircut. While I was in the area, I drove by an abandoned casket factory that we used to sneak into when we were kids. It seems like a weird place to play in, but it was just a huge empty building. We always wished we could sneak our bikes in there and ride around. Apparently, someone's bought the factory and is turning it into something. I'm going to work on tracking down the new owners and ask them if I can take some pictures of the inside before they remodel it.

After that, I drove around for a bit looking for an abandoned skating rink. I thought I knew the highway it was on, but I drove it twice and didn't see it. It may have been torn down or I may have the wrong place, but it's on my long list of things to do now.

01/09/05

Permalink 05:05:56 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 337 words   English (US)

holiday island railroad tunnel

A user on the forum, travcojim, tipped me off about an abandoned railroad tunnel out near Holiday Island, Arkansas. So, this morning I looked the place up on the internet, plugged the coordinates into my GPS, and went for a joyride.

It took me a little while to find the place, even with the GPS. I'd known there was an abandoned railroad line in the area, but I'd never heard about the tunnel. I had to do trial and error with several different dirt roads, but I finally found the one that led in the right direction.

I got out and started walking when I couldn't drive any farther. I didn't know it until I started seeing railroad beams buried in the dirt, but I had driven right onto the old railroad line. Which was nice, because it meant I didn't have to go looking around in the woods.

The tunnel was in about the same shape as the railroad line. Rock had collapsed in front of it and on the sides, but it was still completely accessible. Inside, the floor was covered with mud, and I walked about a hundred yards inside before reaching a massive cave-in. I thought the way was blocked, until I got out my flashlight and saw tha that you could walk over the top of it.

At the other side of the cave-in, there was water as far as I could see. Luckily, travcojim had warned me about that, and I had brought my chest-high waders. I suited up and began slogging through a few feet of water with old railroad beams floating in the water around me.

I reached the other side and dry ground, and it was in even worse shape. The entrance had mostly collapsed, leaving just enough room for a person to walk out of. I went up out of the tunnel, looked around, but didn't see anything remarkable. I slogged back to the other side, finished taking some pictures, and headed back home wet and muddy.

01/01/05

Permalink 06:50:03 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 54 words   English (US)

rooftop new year's eve

They were setting off fireworks at midnight at Jordan Valley Park in Springfield last night. Rather than fight the New Year's Eve crowd, we snuck to the roof of a twelve-story, abandoned mill directly across from the park. We ended up having a better view of the fireworks than anyone at the park did.

Underground Ozarks Blog

Here you can read about White Rabbit's day-to-day explorations and adventures.

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