Sometimes the best sites come to us by accident. One cold, dead, winter day my friend asked me to go with him on a trip down Route 5 to take photos along the frozen lake. (Remember when it did that?) Bringing only the finest in photographic and video equipment (a Powershot G2 and a Canon ZR900) we took off seeking not adventure, but slightly less stimulating views of the frozen expanse of the lake.
As we travelled my friend began to tell me about beach he often went to with some friends of his which had a strange wall built into the beach. He figured it was a wind break wall or something like that and thought it would just be keen if we could see it covered in snow. We arrived at the park, parked, then walked across the stream and ‘lo, there was the wall. Off in the distance, however, I spotted something more interesting.
There was a large building with the power lines cut off from it, windows boarded up, and graffiti on the walls. If you’re an urban explorer this is pretty much putting a neon Open sign on the door and so I started circling it looking for either a way in or evidence it was still in use. I found a power box ripped apart and figured it was abandoned but couldn’t find a door. Instead I found a window someone had thoughtfully left open. I told my friend that I would be back in ten minutes, he didn’t want to go in, and that if I wasn’t he should probably call the cops because I’d rather be in trouble than dead.
Going in, I had no idea what this place was, which only added to how great I thought it was that I stumbled on it. Usually these trips require searching, scouting, planning, and scheduling and here I was all the same. Inside there was a lot of old equipment left around which I found strange. Generally when a building is abandoned, or even before it is, the owner will sell and scrap everything they can. In this case whoever owned it felt no compulsion to get their money back out of it.
I noticed immediately that there sure were a lot of pipes running through this building. Under the grated floor, in the dark hallway to my right, above my head. Perhaps, I began to suspect, this place has something to do with water. It was, after all, located about fifty feet from the lake.
The long dark hallway to my right wasn’t quite as long as it had seemed but it was certainly filled with pipes and valves. After checking them to see if any of those valves turned, they didn’t, I also noticed a stairwell leading down to the basement. There was a heater blocking my way down, it looked like its mounts had rusted through and it fell from the ceiling, but I managed to climb over it without making too much noise. Down there I found another iced over basement that immediately made me think of the Orphanage. It was clear, so that meant it might be alright to walk on, but I had no intention of finding out today and went back to the stairway I found near where I entered.
I still had no idea what I was in and became even more curious when on the second floor I found a long row of what looked like server and electronics racks. The second floor was covered in remnants of the ceiling tiles and pink insulation that had been left to rot for who knows how long. In another room I found a chemistry lab, which had been mostly cleared out, and guessed at this point that maybe this place was a water intake from the lake.
I realized it had been about ten minutes and walked back down to the window to explain what I’d found to my friend who was somewhat less thrilled than I about this whole thing. I said I’d be another ten minutes or so and he went on to go photograph some outdoorsy thing.
Anyhow, back on the second floor again, I found a room with a huge terminal console like you’d see in some 70’s or 80’s movie about secret government computer installations and the like. This console controlled the amount and rate of the water it brought into the facility and plenty of other things I didn’t understand. In an adjacent room there was another console that did something similar but had no gauges or meters on it. To the left of the main console there were large sand-filled filters that someone would later tell me the water would be forced through to get the nature and industry out of it.
Heading down the center hallway again I found a room with four gated off shafts filled with all the things the people who worked here could find. Maybe this was because they knew it was a confined space and filling it might prevent people from crawling down there, or, maybe they didn’t feel like renting a dumpster. In the back of this room was a garage with another confined space basement and not much else.
At this point I decided I had seen enough and left to go find my pal, Ansel Adams, outside. Years later, I’d come back to visit the beach itself and saw that the building had been boarded up with ‘Keep Out’ painted all over it. Guess I wasn’t the only one to notice that neon ‘Open’ sign.
I was going to post the unedited video of my walkthrough here but I had a runny nose and even I was getting annoyed at all the sniffing. Instead, here is the edited version I made:
Here is the long version with the sound replaced by some music:
(Not all of these pictures are from the same trip.)