Tuesday, July 18, 2006

U of M East Bank Storm Drains Recon


Location: East Bank of Mississippi River, near the Washington Ave. Bridge
Crew: Spaz (me)
Mission Time: 1/2 hrs
Difficulty: Easy

I happened to find myself biking down the river road this morning when I remembered seeing something on some person's web page late one night, about a tunnel entrance on the opposite bank, near where I was. I spotted not one, but two concrete structures on the far bank, and having nothing but time to kill, decided to check them out.
I crossed back over the river, through the university, and locked my bike up down by the long stairs from Coffman. From there, I hiked along a foot trail beneath the cliffs.
The first structure was just a concrete tunnel leading back into the river bank. A sign near the entrance warned of high pressure steam and CCTV surveillance cameras. S
surveillance cameras, yah right.

The mouth of the tunnel was blocked by a iron gate. There was no way this was gonna budge

A look through the gate, and down into what becomes a sandstone tunnel. Beyond the darkness, the lower level U of M East Bank Steam Tunnels.

Defeated, I decided to move on to my next objective.

Looking back across the river at the Washington Ave. Bridge from the blocked steam tunnel entrance.

A few minutes later, I was looking down at the other structure that I had seen from across the Mississippi. It looked like the entrance to a bunker. I walked up to the door, to see if there was a way to open it. Unfortunately, the door was barred, by three bars of iron, bolted across the heavy door, but
where there is a will, there is a way

The entrance to what ever is on the other side was barred shut. No one has gone through there for years.

A very large spider sits in the middle of its web near the door, only a taste of what is to come.

There is always another way in, especially in Urban Exploring, and what you seek might be closer that you think. That is what I did, I stopped to think... and listen. Soon I was ducking through a cement culvert beneath "the bunker", waving my spider wand (a stick I used to clear the nearly solid masses of sizeable spiders and cobwebs) in front of me as I went.
A few yards in, I arrived at a spot where a metal grate that would have welcomed people entering through the door, had been broken down (not an easy task), to provide access up in to the tunnel.

Water flows through the drain from campus above, through the tunnel, and into the river.

Standing up through the grate, and looking in to the still blackness beyond. This is as far as I got.

Lacking flashlights and backup, I didn't go any further in, so I went and ate breakfast/lunch at Coffamn, but will return soon. It is possible that this storm drain tunnel links to the U of M Steam Tunnels further back.

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