Steam Tunnels and Roof Tops

Steam Tunnels and Roof Tops

Sometimes when you’ve done something for awhile, you start to think you’ve seen everything. I’ve been exploring abandoned things and drain tunnels for a few years now. But nothing could have prepared me for my most recent adventure: a giant labyrinth of steam tunnels. Last week I wrote about a Psychiatric Center and how there was a rumor of steam tunnels. I reached out to another Urban Explorer on a related forum, and he said he could show me the system. We made plans, and headed out yesterday.

Normally I write up a location and then post all the photos below. This time I’m gonna go about it differently, I’ll write commentary between photos and bring the reader along for the adventure.

I woke up at 8am both by the sound of my alarm and the sound of rain pounding on the window next to my pillow. It rained the hardest I had seen in years, and as I slowly gained consciousness I realized I needed to be dressed in 15 minutes and waiting in the downpour for three train transfers… oh, and then I promptly fell back asleep. An hour or so later the alarm went off again and the rain seemed to have dialed down to a drizzle. I texted the explorer and let him know I was late but on my way. By the time we got there, the rain was still going which made for a wonderful exploration atmosphere. We parked and made our way across a small field:

A (1)

In no time we hopped through an open window and found ourselves inside a beautiful old building. The air was damp, which was nice – a sign that the air wasn’t dusty and stale. We found a place to temporarily set up camp, mask up, and sort our supplies. Soon it was time to flick the building. I love my panos:

A (9)

And I’m pretty happy with this upstairs window shot:

A (15)

A cozy breezeway connected this building to a neighboring one that appeared to be the dinning commons.

A (16)

I love when places look untouched. This pano shows a cafeteria area with most of the tables left as they were while in operation. No graffiti, and nobody came through and tipped them over. Just the weathered room.

A (47)

If I ever meet an urban exploring gal and marry her, this room will be perfect for the wedding 😀

A (48)

We didn’t explore this building too thoroughly, since I’m sure my expert guide had already seen his fare share of it. I managed to snag this sweet pano on the way to the kitchen. I love the ceiling windows, it really makes the room feel bright and cheery, in the only way a dilapidated building can be cheerful:

A (55)

The kitchen was pitch black, and full of a creepy, foggy, mist. For a room that was completely sealed off from light, it wasn’t sealed off from the water works at all. You can see some mist particles in the photo of this menacing oven:

A (65)

Shortly after the kitchen we made our way down to the basement. We made a couple wrong turns, but it wasn’t long before we found some steam tunnels:

A (76)

This first stretch of tunnel wasn’t terrible. Wide enough to walk with plenty of headroom. Some of the weeds managed to send their roots down here though.

B (1)

The pleasant journey ended soon enough. We found ourselves at a 10 foot drop off. Luckily there was a rusty ladder hidden below us.

B (6)

The next section was a little less friendly. It was way more cramped, and I had to hug some fiberglass a few times. Yuck. Still had plenty of head-room though.

B (10)

We made it to this cool arch that seemed to have lead somewhere at some time, but was sealed up no more than 3 feet in.

B (15)

One of my favorite things about this adventure was the progression of environments, and in some cases, difficulty. It really felt like a video game – each area presented a new and unique challenge, and you could never imagine what the next would be. We found ourselves confronted by “The Jungle Gym.” The floor was flooded, and the pipes were so low there’s no way we would crawl through, rusty, fiber-glass, asbestos, mud to get to the other side. The only option was to go over. We monkeyed our way over the pipes, balancing on them, hanging from them, and straddling them. Eventually we cleared the 15 feet of water hazard and were safely on our way.

B (25)

Welcome to hell. It doesn’t look too bad at first, but this stretch of tunnel has colloquially become known as “The Hell Tunnel.” It’s aptly named, as it’s hell to pass through. Word on the street is that the brick tunnels were built in the 1890’s.

B (26)

For some reason the architect decided that ladders should be perpendicular to the wall you need to climb…

B (27)

Starting to look a little more hellish. And I’m not talking about the rust. See those low cross beams? They happen every 10 feet, and I must have banged my head on them a dozen times.

B (28)

B (33)

Some of the ladders don’t seem like they’re in too good of shape… but it really makes you feel like a ninja turtle, walking and climbing your way through this system.

B (34)

They say “If you’re going through hell, don’t stop!” There was plenty to go through.

B (37)

Eventually things got narrower, and (not pictured) there were several places where one had to contort to slink around the pipes.

B (38)

Eventually we made it back into the modern system. We found this section of wall that had be knocked out. It reminded of a Zelda game – putting a bomb next to a cracked wall to find hidden treasure within.

B (39.0)

In this case, the only treasure we found is another stretch of 1890’s tunnel! We didn’t venture into this one though, we had a plan and this would be a deviation. Sometime we’ll have to see where this goes.

B (39.1)

There’s me, finally with enough headroom to stand up straight.

B (42)

Eventually we took a tangential tunnel and found ourselves in the basement of building 93, the same building I explored last week. The basement had no direct connection to the upper floors, so what we did next was unbelievable. We entered the elevator shaft and scaled one floor to the first story of building 93. Earlier I had mentioned that it was raining. The rain was incredible. We were underground, at the bottom of an elevator shaft, and the rain was making a waterfall down to the basement through the shaft. The atmosphere was unreal, but made the adventure that much more spectacular. We climbed on a pile of precariously stacked junk that previous explorers had tossed into the elevator shaft. We hoisted out of the shaft onto the first floor, all the while an elevator car was parked above us on floor 2.

C (20)

We made to the roof of building 93 but I didn’t take too many pictures. I did pano this room, figuring my roomate would get a kick of the Fallout boy.

C (25)

Now for the trickier part – lowering ourselves back down the elevator shaft. Things went smoothly.

C (32)

The last leg of the journey was a breeze. Hell was behind us, so we just had to hustle through some pretty wide tunnels. They were still a bit short for my liking, but a luxury compared to the previous tunnel. At one point we crossed this double ladder that served no other purpose than to cross 3 feet over a tall run of pipes.
C (35)

We finally made it to our destination: building 7. Commonly called “The Cube” for the iconic box on it’s roof. The rain had turned into a thick fog, which made for some great photos:

C (39)

Seen here is either building 21 or 22, which the tunnels also connect to. I haven’t made it in this behemoths yet, but soon… soon.

C (47)

After spending a nice 20 minute breather in this building, we returned to the tunnel network and worked our way in reverse back to the car. It was an incredible adventure – something I’ll never forget.

Now enjoy the rest of the pics!

January 12, 2016 at 5:42 am | Urban Ex


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