Minneapolis / Saint Paul / Twin Cities urban exploration
            
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TRIP LOG #1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11/24/01
Max Action, Slim Jim, & Danarchy



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Yes, this is another mission trip log that I will start with, "It was supposed to be a scouting trip." You'd think by now we'd have learned our lesson about scouting trips, and always come prepared for a full-blown mission, wouldn't ya? But you'd be wrong.

As I've mentioned in other trip logs (oh, wait, those aren't on the site yet!), we get a lot of our location ideas from reading the newspaper every day. In this case, it was an article on the demolition of some grain elevators over at the abandoned Stroh's (formerly Hamm's) Brewery. We'd known about the abandoned brewery for over a year' however, initial intel on the site indicated a high level of security, including high barbed-wire fences and a police station right next door.

The article reminded me that I'd been meaning to go see the place for myself, and I put it near the top of my mental "Action Squad to-do" list.

So it came to pass that we had a few hours to kill one Saturday evening, as we waited for it to be late enough to go try to get into some secured caves out in the boonies. It seemed a perfect time to go wander around the Brewery a bit and get a sense of the possibilities there.

It was still daylight when we arrived, probably around 5:00 PM. We parked the car and strolled past the police station on our way into the brewery area, looking as innocent as can be.

We spent a long time walking around the perimeter of the entire southern portion of the complex, hoping to find access from the secluded, wooded area. Nope. Here, the barbed wire turned to razor wire (!), in huge, deadly coils at the inside of the fence's base and along the intersections of fence segments. Yikes.

(((THIS SECTION HAS BEEN CENSORED UNTIL WE ARE SURE THAT THE ENTRY WE USED IS NO LONGER ACCESSIBLE)))

(Evaluating how worthwhile a photo of something is an extremely subjective, context-based enterprise. I've passed up taking photos of things which, in a less stimulating context, I'd have spent half a roll on and vice versa.)

Leaving this room, we spotted what appeared to be the mouth of a small tunnel heading south, toward the Brewery. After a few more minutes scouting the area out, we decided to give it a shot. The tunnel was big enough to crawl in, but so full of pipes and steam lines and such that there was very little room for movement. I devised a sort of sideways hopping crawl slide kind of locomotion that worked reasonably well.

The asbestos steam line insulation had mostly fallen off with age, and as we crawled over and through it, a dust of carcinogenic particles rose up. I found myself secretly glad that I was the first one in, and at least in theory inhaling less of the dust (c'mon, do you blame me?).

The tunnel seemed to go on forever, although it was actually only a block or so before we came to the end of the it. My light picked out what appeared to be an iron plate blocking the tunnel.

"Looks like it might be a dead end," I called back, already dreading the long, dusty crawl back. However, the plate moved easily when I pushed it, and I squirmed out into a vast open space. "We're in a basement," I stage-whispered into the tunnel, and soon Slim Jim joined me, followed by Danarchy.

We found ourselves in an amazingly vast basement, with support pillars but no dividing walls. My memory from here on in is somewhat hazy (I'm writing this months later), so pardon me while I slip into a less detail-oriented mode.

Although we had no way of knowing it, that first building was the Bottling House, stripped of all its machinery. We spent a lot of time that night exploring this mostly empty building, since we had no idea what was in store for us elsewhere. We got up onto the rooftop, and explored both the roof of the Bottling House and of Warehouse #1.

We finally decided to try to find a connection to the other buildings of the complex, and returned to the basement to seek a tunnel. After a couple locked passages and false starts, we found one. If my memory was hazy before, here it gets downright fogged.

See, we had no idea where we were (this was prior to getting our grubby mitts on a map), and the basements of most of the buildings are interlinked. Further, since it was still only about 8 PM, we stuck to the basements, and never came up to look out a window to get our bearings (due to security concerns).

As best as I can figure, we must have passed through the basements of the Power Plant, the Brew House, a couple of stockhouses, Hop Storage, the Laboratory, and the Wort Cooler. I really don't know for sure, however. It's pretty hard to keep your bearings down there. So the best I can do is to say we crept around the basement levels, amidst giant machinery, compressors, vats, and tanks for several hours. We searched for a connection to the brewery caves that we had found a single maddeningly vague and probably unreliable reference to, but had no luck. We ran out of film and flashlight batteries pretty quickly, since, as mentioned at the beginning, we had only planned to scout.

By the time we finally left, it was late enough to head down to Faribault to check out some old cheese caves we'd heard were down there. So, after some Perkins to fortify ourselves, we left Saint Paul, knowing we'd be going back to the Brewery as soon as we could.

 

 

 

 

next: Trip Log 2 >

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