Fluid Dynamics 204

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Fuck It Tour, Industrial, Niagara

And, just a week after Staten Island, the chance came again! Two noted explorers this time, the legendary NAN, and Buffalo’s Zephyr, both active UERers who I’m sure just met up with me to be nice, but still made a good afternoon of it. One of the rules we’d agreed on, which I respect from these people, is that we could only go to places that I’ve already been to, so I wouldn’t release any information on account of them, and so we’d know in advance that they would be places I could get into. With both of them already having had their fill of Buffalo (and me not knowing about the best spots in town, apparently,) we decided on Niagara Falls and the Tesla power plant, which has always been one of my favorites since coincidentally discovering it a few summers ago while lost in the area.

This place never gets old.

After that, we tried to get into the abandoned Fallsview Hotel (which I was at once a couple of summers ago), but there wasn’t any way to get in at my level, and I kind of thought one of the cars going round and round the block was a bit suspicious. Neither of them were particularly happy that we didn’t get in, especially with a window 5 feet up and wide open, but I tried my best to hide that I was afraid to try (and especially afraid to fail at) climbing in. So they decided we’d go to Lockport instead, and go to whatever was left of Flintkote. There was a fresh new fence with some barbed wire around two sides of the place, but the rest was wide open at least.

The whole ride back home was an hour and a half long interview from Nan. Neither of us could fit a minute of silence in edgewise, as soon as I finished what I had to say there’d be another question. Almost like a therapy session or something. I didn’t really mind, but I feel like I ought to mention this, considering that she blocked me yesterday for “talking too much”. Meh. Seemed like a good enough trip to me.

Missiles? What Missiles?

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Buffalo, Industrial, Military, Niagara, Underground

My friend came in from Ithaca this weekend for some exploring, and after some Friday night drinking and draining (making use of his crow-wrench tire iron that I took by mistake almost six years ago and *still* forgot to return), we thought we should try some new places out in Niagara Falls, see if we could find a “missile silo” someone posted on UER about a month ago. It didn’t go according to plan at all, we went around in circles looking for it, found a few fenced off vacant lots, and finally something that looked like a plausible base.

I think there were missiles under here at one time (back in the 60s, at the latest). Unfortunately, all that’s left is about a 10 foot drop into stagnant mosquito water. No missiles, and no structures solid enough to explore down there.

At least there was a shed to explore? A serious waste of effort is all this was.

So we continued on to Niagara Falls, and went to one of our old favorite spots instead, the Tesla power plant.

We climbed to the top, but there wasn’t much of any view out the window.

And someone had been using it as an epic paintball field.

There are certain ingredients which are, whether we try or not, absolutely integral parts of our adventures. Along with the tire iron, there’s the inevitable car trouble, getting a special kind of lost, attempts to sing along to “Ásilos Magdalenas” with more passion than vocal range, and our life-long frenemy Mother Nature always trying to fuck shit up on us yet again. This time, on a beautiful May afternoon, we saw Her wrath in the form of a thick, sopping fog in Buffalo’s main drain that prevented any possible photos that didn’t look like this:

But, before we left, the steam cleared out, and we cooked up a piece of pi.

Fuck Mighty Taco.

Niagara Fell

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Amusement, Niagara


The TripAdvisor reviews said it all: “words can’t describe the awfulness”, “we got locked INSIDE”, “please stay at this hotel and RUIN your entire vacation”. It’s no wonder that between woeful management and upkeep, a terrible economy, and the fact that the hotel itself was a lie (“Fallside” doesn’t mean “walk half a mile through the ghetto or drive and pay a $20 state park toll”), the Fallside closed for the last time in the fall of 2008. While there was an apparent attempt to revive the place, judging by the signs proudly proclaiming new management and “Major Brand Chain Coming Soon!” on the roadside, the Fallside fell to the homeless and scrappers, and the optimistic signs were plastered over with Niagara County condemnation notices. While the street facing parts of the building looked almost ready to revive, the back corner told a different story: windows broken, boarded and smashed through again, letting us walk right into the restaurant and bar.

As one might expect the Fallside was built in the faux-classy style of so many other tourist traps, pretending to be five-star on a third-class budget, with all the tacky porno-kitsch it entails, making a mockery of luxury. (Note the carpeted ceiling tiles.)


I wonder if it was mold that did the place in, or if this happened after abandonment? The entire building was excessively hot and humid, with a tangible stink in the air… not terribly different from the TripAdvisor complaints, actually!

Imagine this stage filling up night after night with third-rate smooth jazz.

Or, evidently, loungey piano playing


Oof. Anyone bring their mask?

Night Audit – Inn on the River 12/1/08
Inn on the River was not the name on any of the signs. I wonder if this was done by a potential future owner?

And finally, a rooftop view of the hotel. This tower was the “falls view” portion, although even then the view consisted of a little bit of mist on the horizon.

Highway 61 Revisited

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Concrete, Industrial, Niagara

And so i go back to the Union Carbide/Tesla factory for the fourth time this year. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of all these machines. Even after what turned into the fail explore of failness last weekend.

First, a picture that isn’t of machines…

But really, this is why I’m here

And this

And this

Although really this trip kind of sucked. I don’t think these pictures were anywhere near as good as the spring…

Then as soon as I got home, I realized just how much fail there was. I was locked out — and my keys were back at the Hall of Machines, probably from when I was climbing around on them. To make matters worse, it was supposed to be our group chat and online meeting to try to get Concrete Collective off the ground again, which, of course, I showed up 45 minutes late to, after Nate had run roughshod over the meeting and taken away 2/3 of the group’s members to start his own, depriving us of basically anyone over college age, anyone with a car, and anyone with exploring experience besides with me. Like I needed any more of that shit happening, after my troubles with UER. So now I’m stuck with no group and no house keys, all because I wanted to take a few shitty pictures of machinery. How’s that for fail?

Everything Rides Gravity

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Industrial, Niagara

I was supposed to be in the Catskills this weekend, exploring all the resorts, including at least six I hadn’t been to, if the hurricane didn’t hit. All week Irene was tracking up the coast toward New York, and Nate defiantly kept the trip on. By last night, the storm made landfall and 17 was flooded, and he still wanted to go, saying the weather would help with not getting caught. Not wanting to be stranded in the flood zone, I pushed to cancel the trip. Of course, even with all the roads closed, and my having a few ideas for a backup plan, I still got blamed for the whole mess, and Nate, in a huff, canceled the lot of it, making sure (or so he thought), I’d go nowhere. I still managed to meet up with Roger at least for the backup trip… although I still would rather have had more borscht.

Unlike many explorers, I have actually come to enjoy revisiting the same place repeatedly — every time, something at least changes, sometimes for the better, with a new area to access, more beautiful decay, or better weather and light for photography, and sometimes for the worse, ranging from minor annoyances like a few new boards, to catastrophic ones like the entire location being gone. So far, it seems like the Flintkote factory fits firmly in the first category: nature is going along so well in the process of reclaiming it, that every re-greening helps the place out.

I think I did something to my lens. From this picture on through the rest of the day the left side is blurry. Is this worth fixing or headed for the trash?
Factory Floor

And here it is in action again, another shot ruined…

Next up in Lockport was the motorcycle warehouse, which fit the second category perfectly. The notable, and incredible, thing about this place was all the rusted-out bikes from decades of hoarding and repair work. Somebody bought the bikes this summer for $8,000, hoping to sell them to collectors and restorers for a quarter million or more, which sounds ridiculous for such rustbuckets until you realize they managed to salvage over a thousand carcasses from world war 1 to the the 80s. This was what was left, for being either too dangerous to retrieve, or just too mangled to restore.

The floors aren’t the best in this place. These collapses though were about the only place left with bikes.

They were nice enough to leave one as a rem(a)inder of what this warehouse once meant.

Our time here ended abruptly with a call from Nate: Bethlehem Steel was open and he was on his way!

Theo’s Fates

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Buffalo, Industrial, Niagara

Five days late, Juraj and friends finally showed up to start the new year, and not a moment too soon while I’ve had it up to here and then some with Laura to the point that even she understood I could use a day doing what I want. I was supposed to help them out with a zombie movie for someone’s film study class, but with only a day free I only got to do the location scouting and run through a few of my favorite Buffalo sites.

I spent a lot of time waiting at the bottom of the grain elevators taking pictures of columns while everyone else climbed around the top, but I just didn’t feel good about the 39 missing steps.

So I went looking for even more columns, and heard a tremendous BOOM! and clatter from somewhere above. And went back to taking pictures of columns because it was all I could reach.
Columns 2

The source of the noise turned out to be another stair step falling, and Theo with it, somehow saving himself on a rickety railing. Just more proof I shouldn’t climb, I thought. Next up was the Hall of Machines, especially considering that we were a carload of engineers and Tesla geeks. So up we went again, straight to the top. Does this roof look safe to you?

No? Me either. Theo, of course, went out to test for himself. This roof had a weight capacity of about 0.8 Theos, a unit of mass roughly equivalent to a volumetric Smoot. Somehow, the pair of freshly created leg-holes happened to land right across an I-beam. Theo lived again. The hole still lives.
Holey Shit

And so we took in the hulks of rotting machinery, the behemoths that once powered a city of industry.

I’m not much of a climber but these at least were pretty manageable. And easily worth the view from the top.

The machines weren’t enough for Theo though… he disappeared again, and as we began to search, sure enough there was another enormous crash and clatter. And out of the ruckus, yet again, the legend appeared, scraped up, shaken and stirred.

Our third place, and only new one, was the Dunlop factory on Grand Island. The most notable thing about it was its featureless, flat Cleveland architecture.

Being one for completeness, Theo created yet another racket. At least he was only joking this time; nothing fell, he just started throwing bricks at the sheet metal in the windows, knocking out a perfect opening for the setting sun

True to form, we spent the rest of the night on the piss, going back to Iola with a handle of Jack and staying out well past the sunrise. Somehow, I lost my house key somewhere along the way, but… at least to me it was still so worth it!