This Great Dead Town

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Cleveland, Detroit, Institutional, Uncategorized, Underground

(Part 4 of my Detroit/Cleveland adventure)

Highland Park itself, if possible, managed to be even more desolate and Detroiter than its Detroit surroundings. After a local financial crisis bankrupted the town in the late 90s, Michigan took it over, and consolidated its government functions, leaving what was probably once a proud municipal square to decay: city hall, courthouse, police and fire stations surrounding a deserted square.

OK, you got me this time

Guilty as charged!
(These cells lock. I don’t know what we would have done if someone didn’t helpfully leave the keys, and a sign, right outside there!)

I wonder what happened to these trials? All of the paperwork still sits on the courtroom tables as if someone will come back and call it into session when Highland Park gets their city back

Some parts of the court didn’t hold up that well over the last 15 years


Just a drain somewhere in the suburbs of Detroit… would love to go back here sometime

And with that, we left Detroit and headed on to Cleveland. Mike had a few explores in mind for the night that were far beyond my level as a climber, so Saturday ended on a bit of a fail; at least I got one good view of the city

Apparently something involved climbing on the underside of this

So we camped on the roof of the cold storage instead, and waited for morning…

(to be continued)

Rico Cave

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Outdoors, Rochester, Underground

Does it still count when you can just tell they only met me out of pity? A cool spot but not much of an explore, which is probably the only reason two real explorers could be trusted to take me there. As expected, it wasn’t much but awkward, Yield and CuriousGeorge curiously didn’t want to be anywhere near me, being far above my level and loath to waste their time on someone so useless, in such a pointless place. I only took one photo worth saving (and experimenting heavily with HDR)

Clown Vomit!

Red, White and Grue

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Rochester, Underground

Playing with flashlights in a local drain… in the rain.

T3h 5p1d0rz! Might not look like it, but these things are alive.

The drains of Rochester were built in 1888-1890 by Emil Küchling, later to become the first professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Rochester. His developments in rational scatology included enclosed brick sewers like this one, which has been abandoned since 1974. However, you can still hear the roar of torrents of excrement a few feet away in the side tunnels. Until you think about what is flowing, it looks and sounds like a peaceful, wild waterfall!


It can’t be unseen…

A few more here

Almost Goodbye

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Rochester, Underground

They’ve been talking for a while about filling in the old Subway; last time I was here the Jenga blocks were already in, today there’s a few more signs we might not have this spot much longer. Once again, the city has offered millions of dollars to rebuild Broad street and fill the tunnel, but this time it’s not just the money talking: construction cones, heavy haulers, and light trucks left in the tunnel, and some fresh chain link fence blocking off the Dinosaur end.

Brown street end

Knocking down the tunnel walls — I’m not sure how much I’d trust Broad street right now

New exit ramp somewhere by 490. FUA has found it already, beautiful!

Aqueduct bridge

Belly Of The Whale

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Rochester, Underground

Some explores are just meant to be. I was already home and writing about the day’s adventures when Ian texts me to make sure we were meeting at 10:30. Any normal person would have said yeah, and you missed it by 10 hours already. I figured, why the hell not, let’s go for round 3, and called everyone i knew that missed the morning chance. Which was mostly people who had never even been to a drain before, but I’ve never been one to judge. I’d had a sneaking suspicion since last summer, and known almost certainly since that clusterfuck with Trent and co. in November, I just might know where something epic that could only be done on a cold winter night was.

We couldn’t have made much less of an entrance, except perhaps with road flares and spotlights. As it was, we had trampled a very snow covered playground trying our best not to look suspicious, or at least as normal as crowbar-wielding adults can ever be on a playground at night. Somehow Tom found the jackpot under a foot of snow, and pried it open. The mellifluent stench of fresh sewer was unmistakable, the watery, metallic echo far too distant to be anything less than the Whale itself!

A landwhale in a drainwhale

Notice the cable running along the ceiling: this is the Monroe County ‘sewer optic’ network. In this one particular instance, the internet, at least 5GB/s of it, is indeed a series of tubes running under the city!
Sewer Optic

These helpful street signs let you know what you are 150 feet under. There is no way to most of these streets, and only one way from them: down a vertical concrete shaft with no ladder.

In some places, the tunnel approaches 30 feet tall

Into the darkness… this probably goes on for miles under downtown and beyond. But that’s for next time…

P0L 1C3!

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Buffalo, Underground

Draining around Buffalo on a hideously rainy January afternoon… the first two were gushing torrents of storm-swelled rivers at Lockport and Scajaquada, so we just happened to find a small manageable one in West Amherst. After a stop at Home Depot for drain boots and a run through the Mighty Taco drivethru, we returned to the entrance, followed by a moderately suspicious black Lexus. The license plate being P0L 1C3 should have been much more of a clue than it was. But after we explained what we were up to, the chief offered us a few suggestions of bigger and better drains, so it all worked out well in the end.

The Notorious R.C.P. (rectangular concrete pipe), this is about the most ordinary drain possible.

After just enough of this to really get on one’s nerves, it started to split into quite the network
Split 1
Split 2
Split 3

Snotsicles. They’re kind of like slime mold and grow on the roof of drains.

Explorer, in natural habitat