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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.
Mission: strictly recon.

Debrief:
We met up in downtown Minneapolis, where we hung out for a bit and watched the sun go down.  As it started to get dark, the three of us piled into one car and headed to the first of two places we wanted to scope out for further exploration.

Location 1: Flour Mill
Status: Closed, Non-operational

Finding suitable roadside parking, we walked over and checked the place out. We walked around for about half an hour, noting some very interesting features but no obvious entrances. There was also some graffitti fairly high up, so entrance was obviously possible at one time, although perhaps not anymore.

While we were behind the mill, it didn't take long to realize we weren't alone. Several large raccoons had taken up residence and weren't too thrilled at our presence. These were absolutely the largest raccoons I'd ever seen, easily equivalent to a fat beagle in size. Not something to be messed with. They were keeping their distance from us, but every time we looked around we spotted more and more of them watching us. I counted at least 9 of them, including a few on the roof looking down at us. Who knew this place would be so well guarded?

This place was in an area that got a lot of foot traffic, and depending on the time of day could be problematic. Eventually, after not finding anything of further interest there, we moved on to location 2.

Location 2: Grain Mill
Status: Abandoned

This one was especially interesting because it was a little harder to get to. Unlike the first one, which was right in the middle of things, this one required a bit of walking and a fair amount of stealth. We scoped it out from a distance first, sticking to public sidewalks and trying to see as much as possible. Eventually we decided to risk it and went in for a much closer view. This place was huge and it took a fair amount of walking to get out of line of sight from the road. There was enough moonlight to see by, so we didn't need flashlights yet, but we were pretty worried about being spotted.

Once we got around the other side of the building, we didn't have to worry about the road so much as the activity across the open field. Apparently this part of town wasn't quite as dead as we had hoped, but still it wasn't bad. We stayed close to the building to avoid giving off any unnecessary silhouettes and attracting undue attention. This meant walking through a lot of weeds and probably ticks (though I haven't found any yet, one of the guys did get Lyme Disease from a tick bite on his last mission.)

The enormity of this place can not be overstated. So many interesting fixtures and features, and it was just so... big. Walking around took forever, and there were so many nooks to explore, searching for any possible means of entrance. Eventually we found something that looked promising. A ladder mounted on a back wall that appeared to lead up to a ledge that might lead to... well, we didn't find out. As soon as we got close to the ladder, some very close (and very LOUD) dogs started barking at us. It sounded like there were a bunch of them and they definitely sounded very close.

We immediately turned around and started walking away as fast as we could without a) running or b) falling and hurting ourselves in the dark. Once we were safely away and the dogs quieted down (or we were simply out of hearing range, I don't know which) we started looking around again. One of our guys found a piece of metal siding that had been bent up far enough for someone to crawl under. It looked promising, so he crawled through and scoped it out.

A few minutes later, he crawled back out and said that we had pretty much full access (as far as he could tell) from that entrance. He also said it stank like hell in there. Oh joy.

At this point, since we were here anyway, we decided to turn our recon mission into an exploring mission and check it out further. I wasn't too excited at the prospect of getting on my belly and crawling through a hole in the wall into god knows what, and fortunately I didn't have to. About that time, one of the guys noticed a much larger opening a little further along the same wall, behind some bushes... complete with ladder rungs. Perfect!

After that, I had no objection going in and checking it out. We were in a fairly large room with what appeared to be grain chutes and a metal staircase that went very (very) high up. There was also an easily accessible basement, and a few rooms off to the side of the main area. I didn't really think it stank all that bad, although there was definitely an odor.

It was fairly obvious at first glance that this place was home (at some point) to one or more squatters. We never saw anyone while we were there, but we found plenty of evidence including food containers, empty cans of food and the largest pile of Night Train bottles I have EVER seen. There had to have been at least 50 of them, quite possibly more. There were other brands too, but mostly Night Train. (This is some truly rotgut stuff, from the Guns N' Roses song of the same name.)

The place looked and smelled like someone robbed a really crappy liquor store. While I was checking out all the trash, one of our guys came hauling ass out of a side room, pretty sure he had seen (or smelled) a skunk. Not wanting to agitate any animals (or get sprayed) we opted to stay out of that room, after a quick scan with the flashlights. (I love my LED flashlight... it's so bright.)

One of our guys climbed the metal staircase pretty far up (out of our sight, at least) while the rest of us scoped out the main area and tried various doors to see what was accessible. After a while, he came back down, pretty sure he had heard voices (which may have been ours bouncing around, since we weren't exactly being quiet at this point) and possibly a door opening or closing above him. That could have been wind, or it could have been a squatter that ran upstairs as we were coming in. It's hard to say for sure. None of us really felt like a confrontation with a scared or pissed off crazy person, so...

At this point, it was pretty late and we figured we had pushed our luck enough for one evening. Recon missions aren't normally supposed to turn into exploration missions in the same night, but we'd been pretty careful so far. We still had to get back out of the building and off the property without getting noticed.

Getting out of the building wasn't a big deal since it was pretty dark outside. We made our way back around the two sides of the building and stuck to the shadows where possible on the lit side... we spotted a few people off in the distance, just out for a walk or bike ride.

Once we made it off the property, and back to the car, we headed to a local bar to discuss the evenings events. After some appetizers (thank god for late night kitchens) and drinks, we planned our next steps for exploring location #2 further. Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 1:30 AM General Interest , Urban Exploration | Back to top


Comments on this post: Tuesday Night Recon

# re: Tuesday Night Recon
Requesting Gravatar...
what's this about dude? This is very intriguing ;-).

Cheers,

ET
Left by ET on Aug 20, 2008 8:32 AM

# re: Tuesday Night Recon
Requesting Gravatar...
Sweet - keep the updates coming - I'll keep a vein open for the next one.
Left by Rich on Aug 20, 2008 3:40 PM

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