Infiltration: 2001 Journal

Buffalo State Hospital (February 2001): Liz and I arranged to meet up with some of our comrades at Dark Passage and attempt to conquer the Buffalo State Hospital, an extremely imposing former psychiatric hospital. Liz and I arrived in town early, so we made a trip to the hospital in the afternoon to do some reconnaisance and picture-taking. After pretty much circumnavigating the joint, we concluded that building was very photogenic, but not at all easy to access.
       When we returned later that night with Julia and Aaron, our hopes for getting inside were low, particularly since it was several hundred degrees below freezing. But in fact Aaron's instincts led him to what was probably the building's only entry point almost right away; a tiny little hole in a wall underneath some sort of former loading dock. This hole let out at the top of a 10-foot-tall tunnel, and Aaron and Julia quickly hopped down and reported that it looked promising. Unfortunately, I was feeling sick and Liz and I were both a little less confident about lowering ourselves into the darkness than Aaron and Julia, so we had to bail out while they went ahead and had a great evening of exploration. Alas for us!
       To console ourselves, we (yet again) visited the Buffalo Central Terminal the next day. We didn't get anywhere we hadn't been before, but it was pretty beautiful to see almost the entire inside of the building coated in ice. (Liz has some good photos at Viewing Hole Gallery.)

McGill University (April 2001): While visiting Montreal, Liz and I decided to see what we could see at local universities, even though we didn't really have any idea where to look. We struck out at UQAM, but at McGill we had the good fortune to stumble upon a wealth of nooks almost right away. At the first building we tried, which was some sort of engineering building, we found our way into a large warehousey area full of all sorts of technical projects and industrial equipment as well as a lovely elevator to nowhere in particular.

Poking around a bit more, we found stairs leading down to a some tunnels carved out of rock, leading in turn to some steam tunnels fashioned out of concrete. I imagine we must have passed through some doors that were supposed to be locked or something, because this was really much too easy. The steam tunnel system was interesting, but extremely dusty, so it was almost a good thing that it wasn't very large.
       After exiting the steam tunnels, we looked around some mechnical rooms and staff areas for a while, and then visited the upper levels of the building. Climbing out a window, we wound up on the building's lower rooftop, and from there it was just a tiny hop and climb to access the fire escape stairs which took us to the top of the school, from which we had a fantastic view of the whole campus. Of course, it being daytime, the whole campus had a pretty good view of us, too, so we left after just a few minutes. (More pictures of this expedition are available at Viewing Hole Gallery.)

Fisher Plant (Summer 2001): Liz and I journeyed to the Detroit area again, and decided to spend an afternoon investigating an abandoned manufacturing plant with some of her friends there. The Fisher Plant used to make auto bodies or something along those lines. I haven't done a lot of research, sorry. Some car thing, anyhow. Every business in Detroit is some car thing.
       In any case, we drove to the building in question, which was located in an area full of old (mostly abandoned) factories and old (mostly abandoned) houses. The plant itself was absolutely wide open -- dozens of easy entrances right off the street. The kids who live in the houses immediately across the street nearby must have some awesome games of hide and seek.

The plant was an impressive structure, though slightly lacking in character. It had been stripped pretty thoroughly, to such an extent that we couldn't really determine what each area of the five floors we investigated had been used for. We did find some neat toys, like a little automatic track that seemed designed to pull cars through a tunnel in the manner of many amusement park rides, a movie theatre, and some huge vats of something or other.

Once out on the roof, we had a great view of the city, and paused to have a delicious picnic lunch consisting of some of Pat's neverending supply of Mike'n'Ikes.

On the way back out, we heard some distinctly human-sounding noises and were pretty sure we weren't alone in the plant, but as it happened we never did run into whoever else was touring the plant at the same time as us.

New Sheppard Station (August 2001): Liz and I went to check out a few weak spots I'd noticed where they're connecting the old, north-south Yonge subway line to the new, east-west Sheppard subway line. We made our way to the Sheppard (Yonge line) subway platform, and, after waiting for the platform to clear, used a makeshift ladder the construction crew had left lying around to toss ourselves over one of the short construction walls. We then hid underneath a newly-constructed, but walled off, staircase while we plotted our next move.
       As it turned out, our next move was to sit under that stupid staircase for something like 20 minutes while we waited with increasing frustration for all the stupid passengers to shuffle out of our area and leave us in peace. Eventually they did so, or at least enough of them did so that I couldn't be bothered to wait any longer, and I attempted to hoist myself up onto the far side of the staircase we'd been sitting under. I guess I'd temporarily forgotten that I am a weakling, for when I collapsed back to the ground I was kind of surprised that it felt like I'd ripped my chest muscles in half.

Still, the show had to go on, so I pressed ahead, this time using the makeshift ladder and a boost from Liz to assist my ascent. And then, finally, triumph! Sorta. When I got to the top of the staircase, I was confronted with 12-foot-tall chain link fencing blocking off every possible entrance to the new station beyond. I managed to snap a couple pictures through the fence, but Liz and I were unable to get into the new station itself. In fact, after this particular failure, we called it a night, for my chest muscles were thoroughly mangled and aching.

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