Archives for: September 2005

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.

Underground Ozarks Blog

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

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