The River and the Drop-Off
As Dani and I did in our earlier expedition along the Trinity in Fort Worth, we decided to take a trip with Ben along the same river in Dallas with a similar end in mind.  And did we luck out!

We started out at Trammell Crow Park park in Dallas where there was a nice little boat launch. 

A little further downstream from there you can see parts of downtown in the shot, although most of it is out of the left of the frame.

We think this may be where The Mouth tunnel actually empties into the river, although it was impossible to say for certain. 

For reference, the slits at the bottom of this structure were maybe five feet across.  I couldn't begin to guess at how deep they were.

This is right at the end of Turtle Creek Blvd, so that would certainly make sense.

A little further downstream you could get an idea how high the river climbs.  That's the end of a tree trunk behind me on the base of the bridge support.

The current was surprisingly fast throughout the river as well.  I was able to gauge our speed with the GPS.  Without rowing, the river was able to quickly accelerate us to almost 3 MPH.  That doesn't sound like much, but that's about as fast as we could push the boat on our own power in still water.  That meant that rowing upstream was almost a complete standstill! 

Here's a better view of downtown as we checked out a "levee tower" (I don't know what they're actually called) for any interesting tunnels. 

None here, but...

Ah, a tunnel!  It looks pretty small in this picture, but...

... the ceiling was the perfect height for canoeing!

I was able to propel us by pushing off the ceiling with my hands.  This actually turned out to be more efficient than rowing (albeit more strenuous since it is obviously an awkward motion), so I kept it up while Ben (at the front) steered us away from the walls and Dani directed the flashlight.

In several spots the ceiling did get pretty high, so we had to resort to rowing again.

It is really difficult to get a sense of scale looking at this picture, but this column went straight up to the surface.  It was perhaps 30 feet up and was about 6 feet in diameter. 

The shot was taken hurriedly since we were avoiding the water seen here pouring down one side.

Update: I have since revisited this spot from above and used the "laser" tape to get a reading.  It seems I was a little short before; it is apparently 55'5" at approximately the water level we had when we were here in the canoe.

And here is the end of the tunnel for us canoers.

As well-lit as this section was by the presence of a grate high above us, this room was too large for the flash to yield much of an effect.

What you're seeing here is water (the white streak in the middle) pouring down an almost vertical 10 foot high incline.

Looking up the incline, there is a tunnel very much like those we explored at the start of Three-Way.  It was the same shape as those tunnels and almost as large (it was hard to gauge the size since it was so high up).

Since you're wondering...

There was no easy way to reach the tunnel above, especially considering that we were in a canoe on water that was almost certainly 6 to 10 feet deep.  As was mentioned above, the water from above was pouring 10 feet down this very steep incline (maybe 80 degrees), so it was impossibly slick.

There was a grate at the surface above us at least 30 or 40 feet from our canoe, but the lower rungs on the wall below it were about 6 feet from the canoe, and it wasn't exactly the sort of situation where you could stand up and jump toward them!  Even if you could have reached these, they did not lead toward the tunnel at the top.  However, it would have been nice to have gotten a GPS reading through the grate at the top.  Ben was lined up to be able to see straight up to it, and he thought he saw someone walk across it at one point.  There were certainly cars driving right near it that we could hear in any case.

The other side of this "room" held a little more promise for reaching the tunnel above.  There were single iron rods that protruded from the wall here, and these went all the way up diagonally from the water where we were to the tunnel at the top of the incline.  It would be incredibly risky, but I would be willing to try it should no other options present themselves.  Just not on this trip.

As you can plainly see, there were tons of plastic bottles and styrofoam cups.  They were obviously deposited there by the tunnel at the top of the drop-off, but they did not travel much further beyond it.  Once they hit the water, the flow tended to be submerged and the water at the surface was almost at a stand-still.  As a result, the debris was held in place just like a ping-pong ball gets trapped by a reversed vacuum flow.  You literally could not see a square inch of the surface of the water for perhaps 20 feet or more in this area for all the junk!  Picture the trash compactor scene in Star Wars.

With no options available to us at this point, we were going to turn around and head out.  Well, guess what?  The tunnel was just narrow enough that we couldn't turn the canoe around!  We had to turn around in our seats in order to paddle properly.  Actually, I paddled and Ben assumed the role of "ceiling pusher" in the parts of the tunnel where that was an option.

When we finally "surfaced" and took a look around on the levee, there was a "levee tower" at the top, and Ben knew exactly where this was.  There was no way we could fight to river current and head upstream, so he called a friend who lived nearby to give me a ride back to the car so I could bring it downstream to the canoe.  Total distance from the start: 3 miles.  By the long and winding path of the river?  Who knows, maybe 5 miles or so.

Here's a view from the top of the levee where we exited.  (If you saw my photo collection, you would know by now that I have a near-fetish for the Dallas skyline).

You see the pair of tire tracks on the far right of the frame?  That's the tunnel.  It is the raised land between the two dry "ponds" heading over toward Industrial Ave.

As of this writing we don't know anything about the tunnel above the Drop-Off, so stay tuned!

Additional details about this trip can be found in a more lengthy write-up posted on my Journal page.  Jump right to the account of this expedition here.

Alexplored 10/2/04.

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