On the same day that Chris, Hunter, Wolffy and I checked out the Goodfellow Plant, we actually began our exploring at the St. Louis Power Building (which I have changed the name of, because the building is in such pristine condition and because it is fairly high profile). This is one of the more interesting abandoned buildings in St. Louis, in my opinion, if for no other reason that its spacious open areas and intact switches.
I had been to this building on a previous occasion, but because it was after dark I had not been able to take any photos. I am always afraid my flash will attract too much attention. On this occasion, however, I was amazed at the space and feel of this building. I spent hours there with two fellow explorers that I had met doing an article for the Riverfront Times wandering the many subterranean areas and tunnels. One part in particular intrigued me: a shaft in the basement with a ladder leading down into the darkness. A large hose also ran into the shaft. Out of the three of us, I was the only one willing to climb on and descend into the shadows. As I began to climb, I looked at the walls and noticed that they were not smooth, but appeared very rough and uneven. I couldn't tell because of the darkness if this was a man-made or natural shaft, but I was struck by the water that seemed to be running down the walls. It was as if I was getting rained on. After I had climbed down (and this is not an eggageration) about five stories, I looked up at the other guys way above me and for the first time was regretting my decision to follow this ladder into the unknown. This was one of those ladders that was extendable, and I became nervous thinking about what would happen if it suddenly collapsed. I would be at the bottom of a pit five stories below the basement of an abandoned building in the middle of the night. At the bottom of the ladder, I emerged into a large flooded chamber. The ladder continued down into the water, but I couldn't tell how deep it was. I don't know what this chamber was or why someone was going to considerable lengths to pump it free of water, but when I visited the power building on this occasion, the water in the chamber came up to the ver top of the shaft. I guess they had given up on draining it. There were a number of other underground tunnels and passages that we found on that night, and many that appear to have been bricked off. We also found a trapdoor to the roof, and spent a long time watching the barges pass by on the river and admiring the St. Louis nightime skyline.
The St. Louis Power Building was built in 1901 for use in supplying energy for the 1904 World's Fair. In 1945 it was converted into a transformer and switch house and operated in this capacity until it was decommisioned in 1978. All of the transformers and switches are still there, although it seems that many of the parts have been removed to render them inoperable.
There are plans for the building's future, and it has been cleaned up considerably. There is very little debris or decay in many area, and the yard equipment in one corner suggests that the building is not really "abandoned." I am excited to see what is done with this building, considering its history and strange beauty.
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