Archives for: August 2005, 29

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.

Underground Ozarks Blog

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

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