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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.

Mission: Abandoned Mill

Debrief:
We've been here before, but haven't come close to exploring all of it.

We met up after dark and drove out to the site. Getting there was fairly quick and uneventful, and aside from passing a couple of bicyclists, it looked like we weren't going to run into anyone on the way in.

Just before we got to the entrance though, a car full of guys (looked like teenagers or early twenties) pulled up and tried going down a road that was (clearly) marked "do not enter." Confused, they turned around, and drove a few feet then stopped. From the pieces of their conversation I could overhear (their windows were down) it was apparent they were interested in the same place we were. Judging by their obvious confusion on how to access it though, I'd say it was their first time there.

On one hand, it was kind of cool that we were running into other explorers (if in fact, that's who they were) but it also concerned me since we had no idea of how these guys would handle themselves. Would they be reckless and stupid? Were they drunk? Were they just looking to vandalize stuff? It may sound hypocritical, but there's a certain code we go by on these missions. We're there to observe cool and interesting stuff, whether it's graffiti, urban decay or old & interesting architecture and equipment. We aren't there to get drunk and act stupid, or to vandalize property, or to get high or hurt ourselves or others. (I'll get off my soapbox now.)

So, we were faced with a dilemma. Do we engage these guys early on, or take a wait and see attitude? Since we didn't really want to be hanging around the entrance to this place for very long and didn't know how they would respond to us, we decided to break line of sight on these guys and slip in through the entrance while nobody else was coming up the road.

Once past the main entrance, we walked fairly quickly along the fence line towards the back of the property, looking back occasionally to see if we had any company heading our way. So far so good.

We went around the side of the building and found our usual point of entrance. The door was locked up from the inside, but the hole was still there so getting in wasn't a problem. At first glance, not much had changed since the last time we were there. Then I noticed there was a door open that I'd never seen open before. It led outside to a scaffold and I'm surprised we missed it since we walked right past it on the way in.

I know it sounds preachy (again) but we try not to leave any obvious entrances that weren't already there. If it's obvious someone has been there, then the police are more likely to check out the rest of the building, and we would probably lose our entrance as well as the one that attracted their attention in the first place.

Anyway, after a quick glance at the scaffold and a look around to see if anyone was out there, we decided to close the door, lock it down and continue upward. Since we'd been here before, our main goals were to check out the bridge and get to the roof.

A couple floors up, we were looking around and I heard "lights out." That's never good, since it means there's potentially trouble nearby. Waiting for a few minutes and looking out the windows, I never saw anyone, but one of the others saw someone walking around with a flashlight outside. The fact that it was just one guy meant it was most likely a security guy or possibly even a cop, and not the group of guys we saw earlier. (Considering the abandoned state of the building, my money wasn't on security guy either... there was a third option, he might be a scrapper. Those guys are generally bad news.)

Eventually, we started working our way back up again, being extra careful not to let our flashlights hit any windows on the way up. The open staircase is always a bit creepy, since its all metal and a little rickety. If you trip or slip, its a long fall, and when you're trying to prevent light pollution, it can make for a tricky climb. It's already showing quite a bit of rust and I'm not sure how much longer it has, but I'd guess a few more years... as long as we don't over tax it.

Next stop was the 6th floor, which had an exit to an adjacent rooftop and a ladder leading to the roof. After a quick look around, and some more time looking outside to see if anyone was out there, we continued up.

Access to the "bridge" is actually between two floors, and that was our next stop. We didn't have all the equipment we needed to go across the bridge, but we did want to investigate it further, so we went in a few feet and checked the floor, which appears to be fairly stable. Even though its made of wood, it's pretty thick and is probably (hopefully?) reinforced by beams underneath. (From the outside, looking up you can see one support structure, about midpoint, that goes from the ground to the bridge.) I really want to get across that bridge, to get to the stacks on the other side. We need to do it fairly soon, since it gets REALLY windy in the winter here and I don't want to be standing on top of a silo 200 feet up in the air with 30-40 mph winds at my back.

So after checking out the bridge a little better, we continued up a couple more floors to the top floor. Last time we were here, I didn't see the top floor so this was something new. It was pretty interesting, with some elevated structures and ladders leading to platforms. We didn't see any kind of roof access though, so I'm pretty sure the only way to get up there is going to be via the ladder outside the 6th floor.

The view from the top floor is pretty incredible, and it gave us a good opportunity to see just how big (and damned high) this place really is. It also provided a good view of the adjacent facility which is also believed to be abandoned (and that place is even bigger than this one!!)

The descent back down the stairs was pretty quick (as usual) and fortunately uneventful. We were still running relatively low light just in case there was someone outside interested in our activities, so the stairs were a little tricky. Once we got down the bottom, and back outside, we closed up our door and started the walk back to the car.

We never saw the guy or the group, and figuring it was enough fun for one night, we decided to call it a successful mission and head out.

Posted on Sunday, September 28, 2008 1:15 PM General Interest , Urban Exploration | Back to top


Comments on this post: Saturday Night Fun

# re: Saturday Night Fun
Requesting Gravatar...
If I get to the point of needing a parachute, I have bigger problems. Definitely ropes though and maybe some harnesses.
Left by Chris G Williams on Sep 30, 2008 3:08 PM

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