So I drove down to Joplin the other day, just for the hell of it, and packed my camera, hoping to snap some pictures of the infamous Web City “praying hands,” and cheesy, semi-noteworthy roadside attraction featured in several books and websites, though by no means a tourist attraction.
Coming in from Kansas I had no idea where I was in relation to anything, and it took some driving around to orient myself. While trying to find my way back to Webb City (a suburb of Joplin), I passed an interesting restaurant with a giant bowl of noodles out front. Now, there are probably bigger noodles somewhere, but these were noticeably large. Some of the noodles were made of Christmas lights, and I’m sure they would have been sight to behold come nightfall. I did take a real picture, but I seem to have lost it.
I stopped in for lunch, and they had decent, reasonably priced Thai food, though reasonably priced by Thai standards doesn’t always equal reasonably priced by food standards. I never understood why it cost so much to throw a handful of bamboo shoots and rice on a skillet.
I eventually found my way to the hands (after asking for directions…), which are situated on a large hill in a small park. Upon closer inspection, the hill seemed to be constituted of debris from a nearby flooded quarry, which makes sense considering Joplin’s history as a mining town. The hands stand atop a monument surrounded by American flags, on which is inscribed, “Hands in prayer, world in peace.”
The hands aren’t particularly well-sculpted, considering their size, but the enormous veins more than make up for it. One might also notice a large number of footprints in the concrete sidewalk leading up to them, for whatever reason.
Upon nearing the hands I noticed a small hatch on their backside had been left open. The invitation was more than I could resist, and in I climbed. The innards of the hands were basically what I expected them to be: just a lot of wood, rebar, chicken wire, and poured concrete. It didn’t take me long to get bored in there, and after that there wasn’t much left to do in Joplin, other than go to the mall, which I did (much nicer than Battlefield, btw).
The Webb City Praying Hands’ official website is here: http://www.prayinghands.org/
A while back I paid a return visit to the Messiah Mills with some non-explorer friends who were begging for a guided tour. Other than noticing a lot of new graffiti in (and on) the main tower, we also stumbled upon something interesting in the smaller one – one of the floors, accessible only by ladder, had been turned into someone’s loft apartment. When I say someone, I mean someone who would otherwise be homeless.
Later, Underdog contacted me and asked to visit their hideaway. I told him I had never been to the Acid Tunnels (I knew their approximate location, but had just never been for whatever reason), and a deal was struck. After enjoying some frozen pizza and discussing Star Trek and Transformers for about an hour, we were on our way.
After making absolutely certain there was no one home, we headed up the ladder to find the site just as I had left it, probably abandoned. We found some makeshift furniture, a small table, and some of the other necessities of life, including a rolled-up knapsack, some blankets, and a bag of (presumably expired) groceries. Whoever was living there had gone to trouble of blacking out the window panes (with fingerpaint, no less) so as to prevent outsiders from noticing the light of their candle, and even painted one of the room’s columns. The column was additionally decorated with a fairy sticker, leading us to believe the inhabitant may have been a woman.
Also noticeable was a bag of garbage, a teddy bear, and a row of bottles along the windowsill, not all of which were empty. It wasn’t until I shined my light on them that I noticed they all contained the same yellow liquid…
Afterward, UD led me down into the Acid Tunnels. They’re nothing new to most readers of this site, no doubt, so I’ll skip the fine details. Some of the graffiti there was nice, and I recognized a few of the same taggers from Messiah Mills (there are only a finite number of vandals in Springfield. See enough graffiti and you start to recognize them).
Emerging from the other end of the tunnel, we made the brilliant decision to walk back to the car above ground, which meant playing human frogger on I-44. We tried working our way around the outer roads and overpasses; for safety reasons, and kept our headlamps on to make ourselves more noticeable. At one point we both found ourselves simultaneously falling while charging across a side-road, having tripped over an invisible curb on the unlit highway. I was furious and confused, but unharmed. UD walked away with a nice bloody gash on his leg, which I wish I had the presence of mind to photograph.
We obviously made it back. Ironically, I got conned into returning to the Acid Tunnels by some friends of mine not a week later.
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