Archives for: December 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.

Underground Ozarks Blog

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

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