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UER Forum > Journal Index > Slim Jim's mission logs > Post-NEOPEX UE stops (Viewed 2241 times)
Post-NEOPEX UE stops
entry by Slim Jim 
8/15/2004 10:37 PM

After NEOPEX was over, Didley-Boo and I continued the adventure by heading northwards in NY state and visiting a few sites on the way up to Montreal. We saw a lot of things and places over the next week, but since there's a lot to tell and most of it isn't UE-relevant, I'll only mention the UE parts.

Our first stop was a small town on the west side of Lake George which was rumored to have some extensive graphite mines nearby. The graphite for the Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, which many of us used in elementary school, came from there. There were two areas near the town which I had earmarked to scout for mines - the first was right uphill from the town. We started up the hill, walked past the posted no trespassing signs at the edge of the woods without a second glance from the old man who was sitting on his porch nearby, and wandered up the trail in the direction that clues from some maps I had seen were telling me the mine(s) were located. After a bit of educated guesswork and wandering around, we found the first mine entrance. I had heard that the largest mine in the area was well gated, so apparently this wasn't the right one, but regardless of its size it deserved to be explored so we headed in. The mine consisted of one long walking passage with stopes heading up and to the right at about a 45º angle. After about 15 minutes of walking and climbing over rubble, we reached the end of the tunnel. Climbing up to the top of one of the stopes led us to a short stoopway which emerged onto another parallel walking passage at an upper level. It was evident that the mine was arranged to mine the graphite out of one, and only one, angled cross-section of the rock. The upper passage dead-ended to our left, so we followed it to the right, passing more uphill stopes on the left and finally stopping at a point where you'd have to walk through water to continue. Since we weren't wearing boots or sandals, and I was fairly certain that this passage led back to an upper entrance because it was parallel to the lower passage which led back to an entrance, we turned around and headed down a different stope to rejoin the original passage and headed outside.

Walking uphill from the first entrance, we found the entrance to the tunnel we had turned around in. Continuing uphill, we found a handful of entrances which all led down to the same tunnel on a third (or possibly fourth) level up. Going in one of these and slightly downhill, we found another walking height passage leading back in the mountain. We didn't follow it for long, and strangely enough, I can't remember what caused us to turn around. It was either the passage becoming filled with water, dead-ending, or turning and becoming entirely underwater, arranged in order of likelihood, but for whatever reason I can't remember which one it was. Anyway, we headed back outside and scouted around for a while longer, but not finding anything else of the underground variety, headed back to the car and ate dinner.

The next day, we headed over to the other location I had earmarked as a potential mine location. Sure enough, we found a row of gated entrances hidden in the woods almost right away. This was it - presumably the largest graphite mine in the region. Although somebody had put a lot of work into gating all the entrances of this mine - and there were an abundance of them - we were able to get inside near the near end of the mine. We proceeded to walk downhill through a gently inclined stope with daylight visible through several nearby entrances. Although it was August, there was a layer of ice covering parts of the floor of the mine a few inches thick. We continued downhill, and soon reached a walking-height passage that headed back into the mine. There was evidence that there had once been railroad tracks and ties along this passage. Although there were signs of previous collapse here and there, and I didn't get a good feeling at all about the danger level of this particular mine, curiosity got the better of me and I led us farther and farther back into the mine. The mine was essentially one giant stope, angled uphill to the right of the railroad (ore cart) passage, and downward to the left of the passage. Presumably, the row of gated entrances continued along the top of the stopes that led off to our right.

Soon, the former passage split into several directions. We followed the leftmost, and lowest, one. A short distance to the left of this passage, the stope went underwater. This was the lowest explorable elevation.

After we had gone about 1/4-3/8 mile through the mine, the ore cart trail ended abruptly at a steep hill leading to an upper level/stope. We climbed it and went slightly farther in the upper level, but due to lack of time and the danger of collapse, opted to head up one of the nearby stopes in search of another entrance. We really hoped that this entrance wasn't gated, so we wouldn't have to backtrack through the mine to the one we had entered by. It took a while before we found an entrance. Several times we climbed up to the top of a stope/room only to find that it was a dead-end, but then found a route which led higher up after climbing around rocks and collapse. After we had climbed about as high as I thought we could go underground up the slopes, we finally saw daylight. Sure enough, it was another gated entrance, but we found a way to sneak past it, and emerged into the bright sunlight. Finding our way from there back to the car through the nondescript woods was another story, let's just say that I was very happy that I remembered to bring a compass.

To my surprise, we stumbled upon another mine entrance well away from the others on the way back to the car. Due to time constraints, and having a couple more UE sites on the agenda for the day, we didn't explore it. I doubt if it connects to the main mine system, but you never know without exploring it. Someday I'll come back to satisfy my curiosity about this place...or perhaps one of the local explorers will come along and check it out. I'm fairly certain that we saw the majority of the main mine system, but we didn't check the perimeter carefully enough to know for sure. At the downhill end of the series of angled stopes, the mine led underwater, and at the uphill end it led to the series of entrances, but it could still continue at either end of the stope. Doubtful, given what we saw and that the mine entrances end at the lower end, but I can't say that for sure. Best case scenario would be a horizontal tunnel leading perpendicular to the stopes to another entirely different system of stopes. The mountain could be riddled with these stopes and interconnecting passages. Or, much more likely, we saw most of what there was to see and that's that. But anyway...I always like to think that there's more to be discovered.

We headed off to Tahawus and Adirondak with 3 hours of daylight left. On the way, we passed a random abandoned building with a sign commemorating one of our past presidents who stopped there to change horses. What an event. But NY state keeps amazing me by the sheer number of abandoned places there are to visit.

First, we stopped by Adirondak, one of the few ghost towns I've seen that really look like what you typically expect a ghost town to look like. Many houses were left standing, in overgrown and decrepid condition. We wandered around for a while taking pictures of the outside and inside of the houses, and then headed over to Tahawus, the giant complex of mining buildings. Both Tahawus and Adirondak are in the LDB.

The road leading to the mine was gated, and it was almost a mile of walking to get to the site. We started off climbing over piles of rubble from the strip mines that surround the complex. Soon, we emerged across an artificial lake from the complex. The sheer size and number of buildings and catwalks that made up the complex was just amazing. I had expected it to be about 1/4 the size it really was! We set off walking around the edge of the lake that appeared to be the shorter route over to the buildings.

When we were about halfway around, an obstacle presented itself in our path. To continue around the lake, we had to scale a ~15' artificial cliff with many loose rocks. After looking around for the safest route (or so I thought), I scaled the cliff without any real problems. Didley-Boo followed, but when she was about halfway up, she exclaimed that the many of the rocks were loose and she didn't feel safe climbing up or down from there. This wasn't good. I asked her if she could hold her present position for a couple minutes, and ran around to the end of the cliff, sliding down a part that wasn't as steep. From the bottom, I helped her down, and we admitted defeat to the mighty Cliff and walked around the far side of the pond instead. It was an easy walk, with many great views of the immense complex.

As we approached the buildings, I noticed a truck parked close to one of them and was spooked for a minute. But it turned out to be an old truck with flat tires, so we continued uphill and entered one of the catwalks, which led downhill to the bottom of a building at the far end of the complex. There were two larger buildings, about 6-8 stories tall, and a smaller building to the side about 4-6 stories tall. All of the buildings were connected by interior catwalks alongside conveyors which went up and down at different levels. Most of the buildings were practically empty inside, aside from a few catwalks and stairs connecting different levels. From the bottom of the smaller building, we went back up the catwalk we had come down, and continued past our point of entry to the top of the catwalk, which I think was near the top of the main building. A conveyor led from here across the back of the main building, but it was a dead end with surprisingly no stairs or ladders leading down, so we returned to the near side of the building, went downstairs, outside, and back inside again. From here, we were able to climb around the main part of the building, which was comprised of about 4 different levels connected by stairs and catwalks. We followed the catwalks over to the far side of the building, noting that it was eerily quiet inside, which gave one the impression of imminent danger, or another lurking presence, while in reality there was practically no chance of anything or anyone being there that far out in the middle of the woods. We went outside on the second(ish) level, and found a catwalk that came straight out of the ground which headed over to the second larger building of the complex. Entering through the window of this catwalk, we were surprised to find that it became a tunnel which headed towards the building we just came from. Since presumably, it went straight inside, we didn't explore it and instead followed the above-ground catwalk over to the second building. This one was in an even worse state of disrepair than the first. It was a long and relatively low building. At the near end, there was a ~7 story tower which we climbed to take pictures of the rest of the complex from. The last 2 flights of stairs were ready to crumble to the ground, but we made it up. From there, we noticed lights on inside and near the office booth in the middle of the complex. Given the state of decay of the buildings, this was slightly alarming, but since we had neither heard nor seen any sign of anybody, we dismissed them as a security precaution, and left the complex. This time, we attempted to walk around the closer side of the lake, which was a bad decision as we ended up climbing over an angled tailings pile with unreliable footing and many rocks that were threatening to slide down the hill if we made one wrong move. But we made it across alive, and emerged from the woods just as it was becoming too dark to see where we were going.

Along the road on the way back, we saw something that neither of us had ever seen before...a moose was running alongside the road, running away from our headlights. It didn't even duck back into the woods, but preferred to run faster alongside the road. I snapped a quick picture of it right before it gathered its wits and dived into the forest.

We stopped in Plattsburgh for the night, and while I was looking over DeLorme's atlas, I noticed a fort ruins on Lake Champlain, only a few miles off the interstate between Plattsburgh and Montreal. So the next morning, we decided to pay the place a quick visit on the way up. Looking at the fort from across the water, it looked like it was mostly still standing and had 2 floors of rooms, similar to Fort Gorges in Portland, ME (now in the LD. So we set off on the trail which headed in the direction of the fort. Since it was right on the lake, and there was nothing to tell us otherwise, I assumed it was public land, which would make it the first legal place we had explored so far.

The first thing we saw coming onto the fort grounds was a row of tall arches. Then, we saw that most of the fort had already been destroyed. But a few holes in the ground across what had been the courtyard area led to a series of rooms on 2 floors which was what we had seen from across the water. We explored it at a leisurely pace, taking pictures, and headed out. A couple kids on bikes rode across the courtyard area as we were leaving, and shouted "Hey!" at us. We waved back, but kept walking at a relaxed pace. When we were about a block away, we turned around to find, to our surprise, a sheriff standing in the middle of the trail. He kindly asked for ID, I gave him mine, Didley-Boo didn't have one with. Then he motioned for us to follow him back to the shore. "But we can't get back to our car going that way," I explained to him. He said that his boat was down there, and they needed to bring us to the boat to arrest us. What?? I couldn't believe this. There was no possible way that we could get arrested here, on what, to us, was clearly public land. But he brought us down to the boat, where to our extreme surprise, there were 2 other sheriffs, a local town cop, a New York state police officer, another boat patrolling a few yards away from shore, and a helicopter circling overhead above the fort. Apparently the border patrol was nearby as well - the Canadian border was only 1/2 mile from the fort. And exactly who was paying for all this security for a small ruin of a fort, I wondered to myself. If it was my tax dollars being spent, I would be very upset. Didley-Boo later commented that the owner of the fort was probably the richest person in town.

From this point forward, despite the first sheriff's calm and seemingly friendly attitude, all of the officers that spoke to us, including that sheriff, were incredibly rude and offensive. They checked my ID, and the two kids on bikes, and spent quite a while logging our information. While they were doing this, I realized the gravity of the situation. I kneeled down and started crying. For real. I wasn't faking it. The rude NY state police officer asked, "What're ya bawling about" in a nasty tone. I explained that I was an engineer, Didley-Boo was a graduate student in creative writing, and even one trespassing ticket would be devastating to both of our careers. I'm not sure how much of the rest of this I explained to him, but if we did receive the tickets, I would necessarily do what it takes to get them dismissed, even it it requires a trip back there to explain to the court that there were no signs and we presumed it was public land. The police insisted it was posted, and we did see a few signs along the shore, after they pointed them out to us. But, contrary to what the police wanted to believe, there were absolutely none along the trail we had taken to the fort.

After a few minutes, the rude NY state officer told us sharply, "Hit the road." I don't know what exactly caused them not to give us the tickets, but we were relieved. Perhaps a combination of no signs posted, the crying, and the fact that the case would probably be dismissed anyway. I politely asked him if I could ask him one more question, but his response was an abrupt "No," followed by some other strong and uncalled-for statements that I don't remember. Talk about unprofessional behavior. Police in many countries wouldn't get away with this. It's an interesting phenomenon that American police in general have evolved to behave and talk in an offensive manner on a regular basis, and routinely get away with it! I've had at least a couple experiences with this in the past - the majority of my experiences with American police fit into this category, and I've heard of many other cases.

We headed up to Montreal, and the rest of the week went well. Didn't do any real UE for the rest of the trip, not that the near-arrest would've changed anything but we weren't planning on it anyway. After all the places we had trespassed at during NEOPEX, most with active security, it was hard to believe that this happened here - a small ruin that we thought was public, and almost didn't take the time to stop for.

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Rat-Hole Chic

Location: Hudson Valley NY
Gender: Female
Total Likes: 0 likes

bringing it back.

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Re: Post-NEOPEX UE stops
< Reply # 1 on 8/20/2004 2:45 PM >
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Posted on Forum: UER Forum
Damn, the one time I got caught, i video taped the whole thing. I couldnt stop laughing once i got in the car either. I talked that guy in circles until he was asking me about my web site.

Drie -

"In the absence of the living, there still exists a life."
UER Forum > Journal Index > Slim Jim's mission logs > Post-NEOPEX UE stops (Viewed 2241 times)

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