and I found our way to the site without much trouble
and parked the car. It was about 10 PM, and around 30
degrees as we nonchalantly strolled toward the institution.
The neighborhood was residential and seemed a tad bit
unfriendly. Fortunately, we did not notice anyone noticing
us. First impressions were that the building still had
power (a single sodium light blazed on the side), it
was an interesting mix architecturally of boxy institutional
and Victorian residential, and it was boarded up as
tight as a virgin mosquito.
the ground floor windows and door were covered in sheets
of sturdy plywood, painted a nice shade of maroon to
match the bricks and secured with screws that require
a special tool to remove. Any windows that opened up
onto a rooftop or fire escape were also boarded up.
The one door that was not boarded shut was secured with
a padlock and a serious deadbolt key lock. Even the
little tool shed on the property was boarded up tightly.
This was going to be tricky.
made our rounds of the site's perimeter, making note
of the few weak possibilities we saw. When we were poking
around in the back, I noticed a high-pitched beeping
that seemed to be coming from inside. It sounded like
the alarm that Joe Rebel had set off many years ago
when Action Squad had been climbing a building adjacent
to a grain elevator and he'd accidentally put his engineer
boot through a pane of glass. Had we triggered some
sort of alarm just by lurking about outside? Hrrm.
upped our level of watchfulness and continued our search
for an entrance. I was almost completely convinced that
it was going to come down to deciding between surrender
or breaking boards off (which I'm opposed to for many
reasons) as we approached the final unchecked corner
of the site, which was the furnace room/building. The
windows here were mostly barred as well as boarded.
suddenly, inspiration struck. I noticed an elevated
chute connecting the towering smokestack to the furnace
outbuilding. Briefly, I entertained thoughts of climbing
the rungs to the top of the 100-foot or so tower, then
somehow descending internally. Then I saw the hatch
at the base of the stack; an iron door about 3 feet
high. It did not look locked in any way. I tugged at
it. It didn't move. I got a better grip and yanked …
and the hatch swung open.
clicked my flashlight on and peeked in: the chute into
the building looked accessible. "Hey … I think we're
in," I hissed toward her, and she joined me in two shakes
of a Fox's tail.
pulled the iron hatch shut behind us and took a moment
to get acquainted with the space. Above us, a grey circle
of light glowed downward from the top of the smokestack,
far above. Everything was blackened with soot, and the
slightest movement raised clouds of dust that made breathing
into an unpleasant experience. The chute was a few feet
across and maybe five feet up from the ground; by standing
on some logs that littered the floor, it would be easy
enough to boost up into it.
through the vent raised up a storm of coal dust, which
clogged my nose, eyes, and taste-buds. About halfway
to the furnace, there were two slats across the vent
that required some contortion and dust-eating to get
past, so I contorted and I ate dust. And then I was
in the furnace. There were two chutes down into the
furnace itself, but it did not look like there was anyway
to get into the building that way. This left a circular
opening at the end of the vent. There had apparently
once been a hinged metal flap that regulated airflow
into this opening, but maintenance had removed it and
set it to the side at some point.
circular portal opened up into a furnace room, maybe
10 feet or so up off the floor. There were no signs
of motion detectors or other alarms, and it looked like
getting down would not be too much of a problem, especially
if we brought some rope. The new owners had truly done
one hell of an excellent job trespass-proofing the hospital.
the hell could they have possibly suspected that people
would come along that were both willing and able to
enter the chimney, crawl through a coal-dust choked
vent into the furnace, and rappel down into the sublevels
of the place?
Access is no longer possible, which is the only reason
I'm sharing how we got in here.)
having established that this was indeed an entry point,
I turned around and crawled back out to the chimney
where Foxilla waited, and told her the good news. I
had not come dressed to crawl through a coal chute and
a furnace, and my blue jeans were an oily black, as
were my hands, face, all other surface area features
… as well as some internal ones, such as my sinuses
and my boogers.
decided to return with appropriate clothing and dust-filter
masks as soon as we could. The alarm noise was still
going off, but there was no sign of any response. We
drove around the neighborhood for awhile to see if anyone
would ever show up to check it out, but no one did.
we went home I kicked her butt at Boggle a whole bunch.
OK, so maybe it was actually pretty even. But only because
we spent some time digging up some historical info on
the buildings. Which makes now a good time for a historical
ONWARD TO PART 2: Half-Assed History