04/03/06

Permalink 12:32:45 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 1335 words   English (US)

more mines at rush, arkansas

Several weekends back, we returned to Rush, Arkansas to check out some more mines that the Arkansas guys had found.

Hiccup and I got up early that morning and headed down into Arkansas, where we once again met the Arkansas guys at a supermarket in Yellville. This time, though, it was just Firediver and Korb there to explore with us. We went ahead and followed them down to Rush, where we parked at the campground.

The first thing we did when we got there was to strap on our chest-high waders. The mine was across the river, and it was going to be the easiest way to get over there. And since it was fairly cold out that day, there was no way we were wading across it without them.

Once across, we ditched our waders and put our shoes back on, then started heading up the hill. We passed some concrete structures on the way, as well as a large pile of spoils, before coming up to the entrance of a fairly gigantic mine.

We climbed over the boulders and rubble in and around the entrance and went inside. The mine was large inside and fairly uneven, with the floor sloping up and down periodically. There was lots of rotting wood scattered about, as well as support beams still standing in places. There was also an old ore cart, some pieces of cart track, and flat places of piled rock made into small "roads" that had apparently been for ore track.

Although it would've been hard to get lost in there despite its size, someone had arranged pieces of wood into arrows throughout the mine. Most of the tunnels were big enough to drive an SUV through, and they snaked around randomly and branched off constantly. It wasn't that confusing to navigate them, but it did take a while to poke around in every little side tunnel to see where they led, which was always to an eventual dead end.

Before long, we made it to the other side of the mine, where another set of entrances led outside. In this area, the ceiling was extremely high, with huge dug out places in the ground. I joked that this would've been an awesome place for a rope swing, and it really would've been.

We went out and started walking along the river, heading toward another mine that the guys had seen but hadn't been able to check out last time. While we were walking, I kept running up the hill or down it to check out what might be caves or mines. It wasn't long before I had left everyone behind, although I didn't realize how far behind, and I felt bad when I realized I'd let Hiccup fall back to the rear.

I found the mine the guys had seen and stopped there to wait. It was just a pit that went straight down about thirty or forty feet. It was hard to see if it went anywhere else at the bottom, because it was sloped around the edges of the pit and that made it impossible to lean over and look down.

Korb and Hiccup caught up with me at the mine while Firediver waited up the hill for us. Korb had a rope, and I was extremely tempted to try and go down into the pit with it. If the rope had been long enough, I was sure I could've made it, but we weren't positive it was long enough. In the end, we just went on walking.

We followed the river for quite a while, but the ground leveled out and didn't seem to have any mines. We did, however, find a collapsed barn that we checked out. And when we decided to turn around and go back the way we'd come, we found another smaller pit mine that I was able to crawl down inside. There were two small chambers at the bottom that you could crawl into, but they didn't really go anywhere.

When we were done there, we walked back down to our waders, waded across the river to our cars, and drove down to where the trails were to check out some of the mines in that area. There was one particular mine I wanted to check out, although I wasn't sure we'd find a way in. However, while we were looking around, one of the guys managed to find a way in to a mine directly above it, and we went inside. We hoped that it would connect to the one I was wanting to get into.

This mine seemed to be a linear one, with one tunnel stretching back. But, just inside the entrance, it connected to another mine that was set lower in the hillside. So you ended up standing on a ledge about fifteen feet high looking down into the other mine, which was filled with a few feet of water. I had also wanted to get into that mine, and now that I had a way, I was determined to do it, but we needed to check out the one we were in first.

We headed inside, passing an old rock wall, and started checking out the mine. As we'd thought, it was one long stretch of tunnel, although there were two levels to the tunnel, with one set higher and off to the side. There was still ore cart track running the length of the lower level, as well as metal pipe.

At the end of the tunnel, we found a big area with a wooden platform where they'd apparently filled up the ore carts with rock. There was even an extremely large ore cart still half buried in the rubble. There was a small side tunnel there as well, but it didn't really go anywhere.

After that, we went back to the entrance area and I made a half-assed attempt to climb down into the second mine. However, it just wasn't do-able without a rope or ladder, so I decided I wanted to go back to my car and get my rope, my waders, and possibly my cable ladder as well. Korb and Firediver weren't too into it so they decided to head in for the day when we reached our vehicles, but I couldn't leave without seeing what was down there.

With the rope and waders in hand, Hiccup and I headed back to the mine. I tied the rope off to something secure and started going down. Because the ledge I was climbing against sloped inward in places, I kept having to walk from side to side against the wall to places where it didn't do that. Eventually, though, I reached the bottom and had Hiccup throw my waders down to me.

Inside the second mine, there was a large pool of water where the mine had flooded, with what appeared to be two partially submerged tunnels. I strapped myself into my waders and headed into the water. One of the tunnels turned out to not even be a tunnel, just a hollowed out area. The second one was definitely a tunnel, and I had to wade up to the very edge of my waders to check it out. Unfortunately, I could see that it was collapsed back inside, so it was a bust as well. I was still glad I had satisfied my curiosity, though.

I took a few pictures of the second mine while I was down there, then had Hiccup pull up my backpack and the box my waders were in. Then I started climbing back up the rope, which turned out to be slightly harder than going down had been. I had to have Hiccup move the rope from side to side for me so that I could climb around the concave areas in the ledge again, but I made it back up just fine.

With that, Hiccup and I headed back to the car with our gear and started back toward Springfield.

03/30/06

Permalink 04:45:12 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, 1981 words   English (US)

kansas city and b & h underground

Many weeks back, Hiccup and I travelled to Kansas City to do a little big city exploring and see B & H Underground with Hiccup's brother-in-law CasperMilkToast.

Hiccup and I got up early that morning, loaded up a ton of gear for all the stuff we'd be doing, then grabbed a quick bite to eat. With that done, we drove the few hours up to the Kansas City area and Barracuda and Casper's house. They were up by the time we got there, and we let Casper grab a quick breakfast before we headed out.

The first place we hit was what we believed to be an old jail not far from Casper and Barracuda's place. Hiccup and I had driven past it with Barracuda once before, but Casper had actually checked it out previously. We parked off the road and walked on into the area. A neighbor outside burning trash called out to ask what we were doing, and we told him we were just taking some pictures and he didn't seem to care.

The building was old, and the roof had either rotted away or collapsed. It really did look like an old jail, though. The area was covered in trash and old junk. We poked around it a bit, but it was just a single building. As we were getting ready to head back to the car, the neighbor came over and talked to us a bit. He said he had just been paranoid because people were always coming out there and dumping trash. But he also said that he'd heard the building was an old jail as well.

From there we headed over to the Richards Gebaur Airport to check out some stuff in that area. There, first, we checked out some empty hangars. I poked around the back of them, but none of them had a way in. I could see pretty much everything there was to see through the windows, though. It was just a gigantic empty space.

Next, we drove over to another area where some steam pipes were running above ground. Casper had noticed what looked like tunnels down the hill. We walked down and checked it out, even popping a manhole, but there were no tunnels to be found. All we found was one large chamber that the pipes went into.

Our next destination was a large underground mine inside the city limits. Hiccup and I had been near the entrances before, but we hadn't had time to go inside. Supposedly, there was a spiral staircase inside the mine that came out in a cemetery above it. It sounded ridiculous, but I had heard the story from so many people that I had started to wonder if it was true. Either way, I was determined to give it a thorough look.

We parked up above the mine, then walked down through the woods to the entrance. We went on inside and started checking it out. It was your standard modern mine, big enough to drive dump trucks through, laid out in a grid pattern. Pretty much like the others I've blogged about here.

We came across a couple entrances as we were walking, but they were partially blocked with rubble. There was also a huge caved in area opposite of them. We basically just picked one of the walls of the mine and started following it. I figured if we just followed the interior wall of the mine all the way back around to our original entrance and kept an eye out, we'd see the spiral staircase if it was there.

We walked for what seemed like forever. The wall we were following was an irregular shape, so it wasn't a simple loop we were walking. We didn't see any spiral staircases, but we did come across something surprising. In a depressed area filled with water, there was a light on next to some pump equipment. All this time, I had thought the mine was completely abandoned, but it apparently wasn't.

In another area of the mine, we found a huge, long sheet of plastic hung upright from ceiling. It looked designed to keep dust from floating from one side to the other, and it stretched on and on for hundreds of feet. People who had been in the mine before us had cut strange shapes in the plastic in places. It was kind of bizarre.

In yet another part of the mine, we found yet more equipment with electricity still hooked up. Then we started coming across some excavating machinery and even someone's truck. The place was not only not abandoned, but they were apparently still doing some kind of work inside of it.

Eventually, we made it back to the entrances where we entered. It had taken forever, but we were there. And we had never seen the legendary spiral staircase. I was pretty disappointed and once again skeptical. We headed back up the hill to the car, tired, but still wanting to explore.

I wish I could tell you all what we did next. However, although what we did was our usual harmless trespassing, I am almost 100% sure I would go to jail if I talked about it publicly. All I can say is that we snuck into an off-limits section of a VERY public place to try and locate a legendary tunnel system. And we did, indeed, find it, although we weren't able to get inside thanks to a locked door.

After that, we went back to Casper's and rested for a bit. We ate a dinner of homemade calzone that Barracuda had prepared. Then we got our stuff together to go and check out our main reason for coming to Kansas City: B & H Underground.

If I had to make a top ten list of places I've explored, B & H Underground would be on it and fairly high up. It was a huge underground space that had been mined out of the limestone. But unlike the other mines we'd been to, this one had been finished up to contain offices, warehouse space, and other businesses. At some point, it was abandoned and had flooded with water that ranged from ankle-deep to almost up to my head, with office and business stuff floating in it everywhere. I'd only explored it once before with Slim Jim, but I'd been in love with it ever since.

We parked above the underground and down the street, then walked down through a brushy field to the entrance. When we were close to it, but still out of sight, we all suited up into the chest-high waders we'd brought with us. Some people liked to explore the place with a boat, but I preferred waders because I knew there were some places inside you couldn't see without them.

We tromped down inside the entrance, wading in up to our knees, and I found that the metal ceiling immediately inside had either collapsed or been purposely brought down to try and block the way. We simply climbed around it on nearby ledge and then hopped back down into the water.

There was an actual paved road that led into the underground, which was what we were following. Granted, it was under a couple feet of water now, but it was still there and it led all over the area. I knew from before that there were even traffic and parking signs in various places. The road forked as soon as we walked in, but we went up a nearby staircase instead that led into a finished office area. We needed a place away from the entrance to light the propane lantern, something I usually brought for these underground mines.

When that was done, we walked back down into the water and started following one of the forks in the road. We passed lots of finished office areas, which we stopped to check out, as well as inspecting some of the stranger junk we found floating around. We also came to an area with lots of wire cages that we'd called the zombie cage on our first trip. And when we came across a partially submerged, two-seat piece of furniture, I had Casper and Hiccup pose for a picture that I intend to have as a poster on my wall someday.

Eventually, we came to a dry area, where someone had left a flat-bottom boat docked. The boat had been down here the last time I had been there, but it hadn't seemed like anyone had used it back then. I knew some of the people in the area had been using it, though, but it supposedly leaked. And up behind the dry area where the boat was parked was another smaller entrance, just big enough for a person to come in through. I wasn't actually sure where that entrance was in relation to the surface.

At some point, we moved to a large open area of the mine that didn't have any office or warehouse space on it. Farther back in it, behind some walls, there was also another huge area that was completely unfinished, like they had just stopped mining abruptly. Around this area, I also found a strange graffiti that I'd seen the last time I was here. It was of a large white rabbit holding a dripping bloody knife. And before anybody gets the wrong idea, I don't spraypaint sites and it was there when I first explored the place years ago. It was still kind of cool to find it, though.

We made our way around to an area of the underground that had collapsed in a couple places. Here, there were also huge piles of trash and junk, like someone had been using it as a garbage dump for a while. Past that, we came up on an open area with a chain link gate for vehicles to pass through. I remembered that this part had the deepest water of anywhere else on our last trip.

As we waded out into it, we found that the water was MUCH deeper than the last time I'd been there. I'm over six feet tall, and the water was brushing the top of my waders. There were even a couple warehouse spaces right there that we couldn't explore, because the water would've been above them. I also got a good amount of water into my waders at this point when I was futzing around with the camera and tripod taking a long exposure shot. That pretty much convinced me it was almost time to go, although we were ready anyway since we'd followed the road back around to where we'd started.

There was one more cool thing I wanted to show Casper and Hiccup as we were leaving, and it was right near the entrance we'd used. There was a really nifty office, complete with drywall and tile ceiling, that was flooded with waist deep water. It was just the strangest thing to be walking around an office with water and junk floating everywhere.

Somewhere around this point, Casper asked Hiccup, "You're not afraid of snakes, are you?" I just assumed he was talking about the pieces of hose that we kept finding floating in the water, but I was wrong. Coiled up on a loading door was a small, green snake. I couldn't believe it. The water down here was filthy and polluted and smelled of sulfur, so I don't know how the thing was living down here. I found out later that it wasn't poisonous, but we didn't know that at the time and pretty much left it alone.

With that, we were done for the night. We headed back to the entrance, killed the lantern, and made the long walk back to the car. Then we headed back to Casper and Barracuda's to crash for the night.

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.

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