Buffalo Will See It Through

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Buffalo, Concrete, Railroads

One of the best things about going with new explorers is, you can be at a place for the 10th time and it’s still an adventure, there’s still more to it than going through the motions and taking the same photos over again. So here I was, back at Buffalo Central, and maybe things changed, maybe not…

At least there’s some new art to take in… seems like Buffalo’s graffiti scene is finally taking off!

This part here is the departure hall, separated by the tracks and a now missing bridge from the rest of the grand concourse (not included here since it takes a tour to see!)

Even the freight warehouses were interesting this time…

Take The Last Train

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Gary, Railroads

After my amazing trip to Providence, and the flurry of bans and blocks and deleted “friends” that brought on, I spent most of the next month afraid to explore again, abandoning my idea of a new place every week and canceling what would have been my grand finale meet, realizing that despite my best efforts no one would show up. I was surprised enough to even have a chance to explore again that of course I took it when an explorer I hadn’t seen in over a year invited me for a very sudden trip to Gary, Indiana, which I’d at least been told was a wonderland of abandonment.

Going on the trip at all was ill-advised at best, considering I have to move in a week (the house I live in has problems typically reserved for abandoned buildings, like leaning downhill badly enough that a bowling ball dropped in the living room will enter every room on its way to the kitchen!) and have no idea where I’m going yet, but it’s not like I’d have this opportunity again, and it’s only a weekend, so off we went, spending a seemingly endless night on I-90, finally getting to Gary just before sunrise.

Our first destination was Union Station, formerly Gary’s rail station when there were still more trains here than the South Shore Line commuter rail, and there was still a city here, besides rotting husks of buildings and the insipid hum of a steel mill.

This place was nothing if not trashed and burned out, but that’s the way I like to explore things, with nature (and human nature) having taken the building far beyond what it once was.

What do you think, are these stairs safe?

I want to play a game.

The Jaws Of Defeat

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Niagara, Railroads, Rochester

They say an adventure is a well planned trip gone awry — what the hell is it when a piss-poorly planned trip goes to hell? It seemed so easy in “Into The Wild”: get on the train, and wait for it to take me places. I decided to give it a try with a week of reading period and less than scholarly study habits, and packed my bag for some semblance of a backpacking trip. A little bit of research seemed to show that the westbound tracks led to Chicago, or at least Cleveland, or failing all else Buffalo, and I know people in any of those who would go on an adventure if I got that far. So Saturday night at around 3am, head still spinning from Phi Tau, I started walking toward the train yard, where a collection of corn cars was waiting enticingly. I picked one about two-thirds of the way through the train, climbed in, and waited.

4am passed, and 5, and 6 and the damn thing refused to move. I fell asleep on the heaping pile of corn, out of sight of anyone at track level, and half buried in the soft bed of grain for added protection. At some point in the morning, while I was still sleeping, the train started moving. By the time I woke up, it was backed up into a factory on some side track, getting devoured one car at a time by the jaws of an enormous crane that lifted and upended the cars, dumping the corn into giant hoppers.

FUCK!, I soon realized, my time was about to come! Those were grainers just like my seemingly ideal ride, and there was nothing else on the train. This thing wasn’t going anywhere but in, and one more car length and I’d be inside the factory gate, five more and I’d be buried alive in the silo, or crushed into chicken feed, or whatever happened next. This wasn’t Chicago. It wasn’t Cleveland. It was a grain elevator in the middle of fucking nowhere!

I threw my pack overboard, climbed off the abbreviated stub of a train, left my sleeping bag behind in the chaos, and ran into a marshy field of last year’s hay, hoping no one would bother to chase me. I could have made up something epic about what happened next, but I just walked through the farmer’s field for what seemed like far too long, trying my best to avoid the farmer, in case he was out there somewhere, and eventually made it to the road. Which was just route 31. I’d barely made it out of the county, let alone out of state.

The milepost said it was 41 miles back to Rochester, and about that much forward to Niagara Falls. If I really were Chris, if “Into the Wild” really were my story, I think I would have tried to go farther, hitchhiked or just walked it. But one defeat was it for me. Freight trains were off my bucket list, and pretty well off my to-do list too. Maybe if I had no destination, infinite time, and no fear of my parents wondering what became of me. Not sure what else to do, I called my roommate and had him see how I could get home. He found me a bus home from Albion, so after a cold, rainy walk of shame on 31 and a roundabout trip on city buses, I was back in my dorm about 12 hours after I left, down $8 and a sleeping bag, and more than content to just wait around for finals and get ready for my trip to the 46 peaks. Someday I may try again, but probably not even that… I’ll try anything once, but I think I know better than to do this one again!