A few months back, Hiccup and I took a short vacation in the St. Louis area and did a little exploring while we were there. We started out with the abandoned River Roads Mall.
It was early in the night when we got there. We had hoped to have some of our St. Louis friends with us since we'd never been there before, but they hadn't been able to joins us that night. It wasn't a big deal, but I tended to be a little more paranoid about sneaking into new places in large, unfamiliar cities.
One side of the building was torn open by heavy equipment where they were in the process of demolishing it, so we made our way in through there. The two story area we came into had once been a JC Penney, but you wouldn't have known it from looking. Everything had been gutted out, leaving bare concrete colummns and floors. Two lone escalators were the only remaining thing that indicated what the place had been.
We went up to the second floor of the area and had a look around. Either up there or below (I can't remember), we found a stairwell that led us into the basement. From there, we wandered around a bit until we came to another set of escalators going up. They were so covered in debris that I had Hiccup go around to another stairwell while I went up the cluttered escalator.
Up above, we came into an unrecognizable store. There was really nothing left to tell what it might have been, although a department store was a safe bet. But, from there, we were able to head out into the main thoroughfare of the mall.
The place was gutted as well. All the tile had already been pulled up from the floor, and we could see shops all along the way had plastic covering their entrances. The signs posted on some of the plastic said they were doing asbestos removal.
We started at one end of the mall and began making our way to the other end, checking every shop as we went. Usually, the shop still had its sign outside to tell us what it had been, but sometimes they didn't and sometimes we just weren't familiar with the name. Most of the time, though, we could guess from what was left inside the shop, but a few of them, particularly the ones that were in the process of asbestos removal, were so gutted that there was no way to tell what they'd been.
Pretty quickly, we came up on something I'd been looking forward to seeing: the River Roads Bowl. 42 lanes of abandoned bowling alley, just waiting to be checked out. Memory_machine had told us about it on their last trip to the place. We headed down the stairs to check it out.
The bowling alley was in surprisingly good shape, compared to the rest of the mall. There were pins scattered at the ends of the lanes, although they were mostly cracked or broken, as well as the occasional bowling ball. The only thing really missing was the seats in front of the lanes and the pin-setting machines. We spent a while down there checking it out and rolling balls down the lanes, but eventually we went back the way we came.
From there, we continued down the thoroughfare, checking out shops. We found everything from a shoe store, to a jewelry store, to an electronics store, and, of course, several clothing stores. In the middle of the thoroughfare, there was also a large clock, as well as raised concrete area that had once had plants growing in it.
Eventually, we reached the other end of the mall and began checking out the last store. It was large compared to the others with two stories, and it was either a department store or a clothing store. The first floor wasn't in too bad of shape, but the second floor looked considerably worse when we got there. Pieces of the ceiling were dangling from above and there was lots of debris on the floor.
Up there was also where we ran into a big problem. While we were there, I found a window at the back and began looking out of it. I noticed someone walking along the outside of the mall. I was immediately worried, but I thought maybe it was just a rent-a-cop walking patrol or something. As the person got closer, I could tell from the baggy clothes that the person, a guy, was definitely no cop. To make matters worse, I noticed that each time the figure would pass one of the doors to the mall he would walk over to it and attempt to open it.
That was our cue to leave. I had no intention of running into some random homeless person or looter in a dark abandoned mall. It probably wouldn't have amounted to anything, but in the dark they wouldn't be able to tell us from cops or anyone else and I wasn't itching to find out how they'd react.
We had a bit of confusion as we tried to leave, though. Neither of us could remember exactly where we'd come into the main part of the mall. We weren't really even sure which end of the mall we'd come in from, and we were reluctant to look down at the end of the mall where the strange person had been trying for unlocked doors.
Although I don't remember how we ended up finding it, we eventually found our way back into the demolished JC Penney. I took a few quick flash pictures of the area, which I'd been relucant to do as we were going in, and then we rushed out of the area.
Thankfully, no one had fooled with our vehicle. But, as we were leaving, we watched a cop drive over to where we'd had it hidden in the bushes. If we'd waited just a few minutes longer we would've been busted for sure. We were just thankful and made a hasty retreat back to the resort we were staying at.
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Here you can read about White Rabbit's day-to-day explorations and adventures.
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