Archives for: February 2006

02/22/06

Permalink 04:02:24 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 1294 words   English (US)

rush, arkansas and the ku klux klan

A while back, a bunch of us made a return visit to the abandoned mining town of Rush, Arkansas, and we even stopped to visit the Ku Klux Klan on the way.

Early that morning, Hiccup and I went and picked up Willard and DeeDee. Then, we headed over to grab Underdog, who was only wearing a blanket when we got there. When he was dressed, we started making the long drive down toward Rush.

When we got into Arkansas, I realized we were making better time than I had anticipated. So, once we got to Harrison, I decided to take a different way to Yellville. That way was going to take us straight through Zinc, Arkansas--home of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

As we made our way into Zinc, which is a tiny, almost-abandoned town that lies down a few winding dirt roads, everyone got to experience a bit of culture shock, since I was the only who had been there before. I grew up in a small town, but Zinc was like another world compared to it, like the land that time forgot. It was pretty much the embodiment of every bad Arkansas stereotype you've ever heard. There were dilapidated trailers and houses everywhere, some abandoned or half-burnt, as well as old vehicles all over the place. There were farm animals running loose, junk and trash littering all the yards, and no lawns to be seen. It was kind of sad, really.

I turned around at the edge of town and went back down a different road. We reached a sign that said Soliders of the Cross, and I announced to everyone that this was the property of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Underdog sarcastically suggested we drive on in, but I had already made up my mind that we were going to and cheerfully started driving in just to freak everyone out. I was a little worried, since it was a Sunday, that there might be people there, but thankfully there were no cars in sight as we pulled up the drive.

Supposedly, this was the biggest remaining KKK group in the United States, but you sure as hell wouldn't know it from the outside of the place. There were just a few small buildings sitting on an acre or so of land, but only one of them looking recently built. If you didn't know it was the KKK, you'd drive right by it and just think it was a country church. All it took was one look at this place to realize that the KKK didn't exactly have the membership it once did.

And just in case anyone gets the wrong idea... I'm no fan of the KKK by any stretch of the imagination. However, I am curious by nature, and it was interesting to show my friends the place, since most people will only hear rumors about it. So, don't take the fact that we took a joyride through there as some sort of approval of them, because it's not.

When we reached Yellville, we stopped at a local grocery store. We were meeting Firediver, Korb, and Brandofluck there, and they were already waiting for us. Everyone introduced themselves, since this was the first time our two groups had met each other in real life, and then we got on our way.

When we reached Rush, we drove past the remaining old buildings and parked down near the end of the drive that went through the area. We all got out and waited around for the Arkansas guys' fourth friend to show up, but he was there in minutes. With that, we loaded up our gear, and started walking down along the water. When we came to a low place, we crossed the water, then started making our way up a steep bluff. It was slow going, but it really was the quickest route to our destination.

At the top, a large mine entrance nearly two stories tall awaited us. We tossed some of our gear on the ground and headed inside. Just inside the entrance, there was an old camper sitting completely out of place. It wasn't that old, but it was in pretty rough shape and had obviously been there a while.

We went farther into the mine, past an old gate, and it was quickly apparent that this mine was much bigger than the other ones I'd visited at Rush. It just kept stretching back and back, in a long straight line. Occasionally, we'd see debris like old support beams or ore cart track, but it just kept on going.

Way back in, we came up on a pool of water that went about fifteen or twenty yards. Some of the group had worn waders or boots in expectation of it, but most of us hadn't bothered. It was only about a foot deep in places, but I still didn't feel like getting my feet wet for the rest of the day. So, I started climbing the wall along the pool of water while everyone else started sludging through it, although the Arkansas guys' friend started climbing along behind me. I wasn't sure we were going to make it all the way across without falling in, but we did. We got to the other side about the same time as the others.

On the other side of the water, there was an ancient Studebaker pickup truck. It was rusted beyond belief and had obviously been there for decades, but it was mostly intact. It looked like someone had liberated some of the parts over the years, though.

We went farther inside, and there was still quite a bit of mine left to see. There were several chambers, with rotten wooden support beams still standing in places. There were also pieces of ore cart track lying around half-buried in the rubble. In one part, we found a drill bit still embedded in the wall, as well as a large metal loop that we took turns hanging from.

When we were done there, we headed out of the mine and started making our way around the side of the bluff. We found several smaller mines along the way. Most of them were fairly small and boring, but we did find one that was particularly interesting. There was just a big hole, about the size of a living room, that went down into the ground. At the bottom, there was a large mine, with an entrance farther down the bluff. We all went around and explored it, and I took pictures of everyone looking down the hole from inside.

After that, we made our way back across the creek, where we met a large group of people who were also heading up to the mine. We chatted with them for a minute before moving back down the path. At a certain point, our two groups separated, since I wanted to show Hiccup and the others some of the gated mines on the trail before we left. I'd later kick myself for that, since the Arkansas guys found an even more impressive mine after we separated.

We headed down the trail, past some old steam equipment that had been there forever, to one particular large mine that I wanted to show them. There were huge crystals lining the ceiling of the mine, as well as the walls outside of it. It was strange. It also probably a good thing it was gated since people would've chipped the crystals out of the walls.

Once we were done there, we headed back to the car and drove on into Harrison to get a bite to eat. Then, with our bellies full, we went on back to Springfield.

02/10/06

Permalink 11:45:32 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 50 words   English (US)

second rooftop new year's eve

I know this entry is two months late, but what can I say? I've been a busy rodent. For New Year's, some of us from Underground Ozarks spent the evening the same way Hiccup and I did last year: We watched fireworks from the roof of an eleven story mill.

Permalink 11:00:28 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 847 words   English (US)

caving and abandoned lodge pt. 2

Several weekends back, a bunch of us went caving and then returned to the abandoned lodge we'd explored earlier.

Early in the evening, RaccoonCC, mjames, colt45, Underdog, piplnr65656, Hiccup and myself all met up at a local Wal-mart to go caving. Underdog, Hiccup and I piled into piplnr's truck, while Raccoon and her gang followed along in their vehicle, and we started the long drive to the cave we were checking out.

We parked down the road from the cave, unloaded all our crap, and began walking back the way we'd come. When we were above the cave on the road, we crossed into the woods and started making our way down the steep hill. It wasn't graceful getting down the slope, and we all pretty much just slid down on our asses.

At the entrance, we dropped some of our gear and proceeded into the cave. Immediately, it was clear that this cave was different from most of the caves in our area. The walls were made out of some sort of crumbly sandstone, and the cave twisted and turned in serpentine fashion. There were also places where the tunnels came together and separated randomly. The cave honestly looked like it belonged in the Grand Canyon rather than in Missouri.

We followed the first long stretch of tunnel we came to, and it just kept going and going. It was insane. The tunnel finally ended in a small hole sloping upward into a large chamber full of formations. Everyone climbed up inside and spread out, but I just barely went through so that I could get some awesome pictures of them from below.

Next, we headed to a section of the cave where a deep pit went about a story down and appeared to lead back into another level. We'd even brought my cable ladder down with us just in case. However, someone had put some long pipes in a couple places down in the pit, and I was able to climb down inside without using the ladder. Unfortunately, the pit didn't go anywhere, although it appeared someone had been digging down in it.

After that, I climbed back out, and piplnr and I wandered across the pit to another section of tunnel. That stretch went on for a ways and it had lots of formations, but it ended after a bit so we turned around. When we returned, we poked around the rest of the cave for a little while. We explored every little side tunnel and checked out some of the strange formations. It really was a unique cave.

When we were done, we climbed back up the hill and started walking back to our vehicles. On the way, we were stopped by a cop who had been called by a neighbor who had seen us heading down the hill. Fortunately, the cop was a nice guy who wasn't interested in busting a bunch of cavers, so he let us go almost immediately. Besides that, although we walked through private property to get there, I'm not sure we were actually trespassing at the cave. It might have been Corps. of Engineers property depending on how close it was to the water.

From there, we decided to head over and check out the abandoned lodge again, since it was nearby. We drove on over to it, then everyone piled into piplnr's truck, since it was the only vehicle capable of driving through the rough construction site.

We got out at the lodge and started checking it out again. Piplnr and I had been there a few days earlier, but it was still cool to check it out again. When we had wandered through most of the inside, we went outside and started checking out the wooden bridge in front of it.

About that time, I noticed a hole about the size of basketball in the bridge and got my usual mischievous urges. I let everyone move on ahead of me, then I killed my light and crawled under the bridge below the hole. I waited patiently until I heard everyone coming back across the bridge.

When someone finally came within reach of the hole, I shot my hand out of it and growled at the top of my lungs. There was a brief pause where I thought my joke was going to fall flat and not scare anyone, but then Raccoon suddenly SCREAMED BLOODY MURDER. She screamed so loud that I actually felt kind of guilty. It was still hilarious, though.

Next, piplnr drove us over to the cabin on the property, which was more of an adventure in his truck than it had been on the ATV. We spent a little time checking that out, but it was pretty much the same as our last visit. So from there we drove around the woods a little bit, just enjoying how piplnr's truck could climb right over anything.

When we were done horsing around in the truck, we went back to the other vehicle, said our goodbyes, and we all started heading back to Springfield.

02/09/06

Permalink 10:30:47 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 395 words   English (US)

abandoned lodge

Several weekends back, piplnr65656 and I checked out an abandoned lodge that's probably not long for this world.

Piplnr and I met up at a gas station nearby early in the night. From there, we hopped into his truck and drove over to a parking spot close to the area. Piplnr had his ATV in the back of the truck, and he unloaded it and we hopped on. That's right--I'm not too proud to ride bitch.

We drove on into the area from there, passing an unfinished man-made lake and a wooded bridge. We stopped at the lodge and proceeded to check it out. It was a log building, ridiculously expensive and almost completely finished. Someone had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this building, and it had apparently never been used. It was a shame to think it might be getting torn down.

We spent a little while checking out the inside of the building and the bridge in front of it. There was almost nothing inside, although the building had apparently been wired up at one time. There was a dance area and bar up on the top floor, as well as a large outdoor deck on the bottom floor. It would've made a great headquarters for the Underground Ozarks corporate office.

When we were finished there, we hopped back onto the ATV and drove farther into the area. There was lots of construction going on, and there were plenty of areas we couldn't have gotten to in a conventional vehicle. Mostly, there was a whole lot of nothing, although there was construction equipment here and there.

We stopped when we reached what appeared to be the only other building left standing. It was a small little cabin, probably big enough for one person or a couple. It was finished on the inside, although it was in a pretty bad state. We looked at what there was to see on the inside, then went around to the garage and basement area, although there wasn't much there.

After that, we hopped back onto the ATV and drove around for a while longer, trying to see if there was anything else worth checking out. Unfortunately, the most interesting thing we saw after that was a surly skunk wandering through the dark. So, we headed back to piplnr's truck and called it a night.

Permalink 09:17:24 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 593 words   English (US)

cave digging inspection

A few weekends back, I took a bunch of the gang from UO to a cave I knew about to check about digging through a cave-in.

Hiccup and I started out the night by picking up David Keetz, then we headed on over to the library to meet Sertile, RaccoonCC, Mjames, and Colt45. Sertile was already there and got in with us, and the other three showed up pretty soon. We had them follow us in their car, and we started making the long drive to the town the cave was in.

When we got there, we parked up the hill from the cave and made the trek down to the entrance. I lit my propane lantern at that point, which I had brought because the cave is so enormous that flashlights don't really do it justice. We headed on down the long entrance tunnel and I started showing them the highlights of the cave.

First, we checked out the enormous chamber you first walk into that had lots of debris from past cave-ins. Then, I led them down another large tunnel to one of the only formations in the cave, which had a large pool of water underneath it. We hung around there for a bit while everyone checked out a smaller side tunnel full of water, but no one felt like getting that wet.

Then, we went to another area of the cave with a bunch of tight squeezes. You could walk the entire way, but the tunnel would veer randomly up and down and around corners out of nowhere. It eventually led to a high room with a bunch of chimney-type formations. We milled around there for a little bit before everyone found a way to walk around to a high ledge that overlooked that area.

From there, we headed back the way we came, which was harder than it looked since the tunnel twisted and turned so much. We went from there to a large pit I knew about inside the cave, about ten feet deep. I'd climbed down in it before and knew it didn't go anywhere, so I didn't volunteer to do the climbing like I usually do. David Keetz went ahead and went down to check it out, though.

When we were done there, I led everyone to the cave-in that we might be attempting to dig through. The cave-in was approximately two stories high and made of super-compressed dirt. I had wanted everyone to see what they were really getting themselves into, because the idea of digging through it sounded a lot easier than the reality. There was a tunnel already dug partway into the cave-in that everyone climbed in to check out.

Surprisingly, everyone was still on board with digging through it, although they agreed that it would be harder than they'd thought. It was nice, because up until that point everyone I'd ever shown the cave-in had promptly changed their minds about digging through it.

We sat around there for probably an hour just talking by the propane lantern. We kept discussing strategies and things and the possibilty of their being buried treasure or mummies or something behind the cave-in. No one really thought there would seirously be anything like that, but I was pretty sure there was at least more tunnel behind the cave-in.

When the lantern finally ran out of propane and died, we decided it was time to call it a night. We loaded up our crap, headed back to the car, and made the long drive back to Springfield.

02/08/06

Permalink 10:30:21 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 374 words   English (US)

abandoned underground storage

Several weekends back, Shadowbearer, Gimpface, and I checked out yet another abandoned mine found by Gimpface.

The three of us met up at another gas station not far from the mine, then we drove on down to it. We parked outside and walked down to where the entrances were. It was funny, because I'd driven past this particular place a million times and had seen it, but I just hadn't thought there was anything there. It looked like just another quarry.

We came up on three entrances, each about fifteen feet tall, going back into the bluff. All three of them were barricaded with concrete blocks to about shoulder height. We picked one of the entrances, climbed over the blocks, and headed into the mine.

The mine was, as usual, like most of the modern underground mines in the area. However, this one was so small that there were actually no pillars. It was just one long tunnel that stretched around in a long loop from one entrance to the other entrance, with chambers dug off to the sides. Like we suspected of the last one, this one definitely had to have been intended for underground storage.

We followed the tunnel along to the other entrance, but there was water partially blocking the way. Shadowbearer and Gimpface chose to walk along the edge of the water to the entrance. Because I was carrying so much gear, I went back to the original entrance.

Outside, we walked down to the third entrance, which appparently went to its own individual mine, as opposed to the first two. We were surprised to see an old trailer sitting inside, so we climbed up over the barrier to check it out. It was in pretty rough shape, but it did contain some rotting plastic bags of something I can't remember. Either way, this area was pretty much like the other one, just smaller.

After that, we went out and walked around the bluff to make sure we hadn't missed any additional entrances, but there weren't any. Then, we followed a nearby gravel road down the hill to make sure there was nothing down there, but there wasn't.

With that done, we headed back to our cars and went home.

Underground Ozarks Blog

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

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