Q: Who are you guys?
A: Well, I'm Alex(plorer), and I put together this site. Originally, it was just me going out exploring with my partner Dani, but since then I've gone on many more expeditions with other friends and people I've met on-line and/or through this site. As of this writing in early 2007, I've taken ~40 friends exploring just since I started this site (and many more before then who I can't even remember now).
Q: What is Urban Exploration?
A: Loosely defined, it is the exploration of anything built by humans. The trick is to find places that actually count as "explorable." To me, this means that it is largely unknown by the general population. Bonus points if they're walking directly above such a place. Typically, UrbEx (as it is commonly abbreviated) breaks down into exploration of underground passages (e.g., drains, steam/utility/access tunnels, etc.) or abandoned buildings or other areas. This site tends to emphasize the former, but you can find more in the other categories by browsing other UrbEx sites. Find some here.
Q: What's the philosophy?
A: In a nutshell: Take only pictures, Leave only footprints. We do not vandalize, steal anything, or break into anywhere. We are not interested in these activities, only exploration for its own sake. We welcome anyone who wants to join in the fun of exploring. So long as you are a mature, ethical, and responsible entity, feel free to contact me.
Q: Will you tell me where [insert name of something explorable found on my site] is?
A: No. That's why it's called exploring.
Q: How many people
have you gone exploring with?
A: I've completely lost track now, but close to 40 (as best I can count). And since I started this site, I have met a number of other individuals who found these pages. Some of them have provided me with tips about and directions to great places to explore, and some of these guys (and girls, of course!) have actually put on their boots and gotten into the fun.
Q: What do you
get out of this?
A: There are dozens of reasons to engage in this pursuit. A few that apply to us:
Q: What kept you
A: Every tunnel leads somewhere different. And who knows what you'll find? I've never run across a hidden trove of Nazi gold or Dracula's crypt, but ever time I've ever gone exploring, there's alway been something new and different, sometimes small, sometimes dramatic. There are always new places on my "to do" lists, so I tend not to re-visit sites. However, if I have someone interesting in seeing something really interesting, then I have a set of "greatest hits" I will draw from, depending on what is closest and what I'm in the mood for. Sometimes those visits yield surprises and I'll find things I didn't notice the first time through.
Q: Why did you
build this site?
A: Obviously, I and apparently many others find this interesting and enjoy reading about it and seeing the sights. I didn't start taking pictures of the places we were visiting until several months after we had been doing this... when I happened to discover that there was a name for this whole "urban exploration" thing. On the other end of it, I think it reveals something that should be appreciated by all: the infrastructure that keeps your city above the water, for one thing! Enjoy your visit!
Q: Do you have
any good stories?
A: I would like to think the site is full of them. However, the best place to check would have to be my journal page. That's where I collect accounts of various expeditions that I've related to friends by email. I usually go into a lot more detail there than I do on the gallery pages, although they compliment one another.
Q: Where did these
goofy names for the tunnels and other places come from?
A: Yeah, most of the names are pretty lame. I purposely don't put a lot of thought into them. We just name them according to the most salient characteristic. We saw beavers (or thought that's what they were), at the so-called "Beaver Tunnel" in Fort Worth, so that's what we named it. It was easiler than saying, "That tunnel on the west side of downtown in that big canal that leads to the Clear Fork of the Trinity..." Dani doesn't remember which tunnels were which most of the time anyway, so this is the best shorthand I can come up with. The only clever names so far have been ones like "The Rat Race" (which runs under downtown Dallas and actually featured a rat) and "The Unsettlement" (which runs next to a settlement of homeless people and is pretty scary). Those were named by Ben and Brei, respectively, so I guess that shows I have no talent in this department.
Q: How do I get
my girlfriend to go exploring with me?
A: Find the right girlfriend. And hang onto her! Seriously, that's part of it, sure, but I've brought a lot of girl friends (plus the girlfriend, of course) through tunnels before. They all seemed to like it. Especially if you promise to go shoe shopping afterwards.
|About the tunnels|
Q: Are these sewers?
A: Hell no! For several reasons that should be pretty obvious, drainage tunnels are separate from the sewer system. That being said, there have been a couple places were septic tanks were apparently leaking into the tunnel. (Admittedly, this is a tiny fraction of the dozens of tunnels we have explored so far).
Q: Do you ever get lost down there?
A: No. As interesting as it would be to have a labyrinth underground, that just isn't practical. Tunnels are designed much like a river system or a tree would form naturally (the purpose of these structures also being the movement of water). Generally, multiple smaller tunnels feed into a single larger tunnel. Even if you detoured into one of the smaller tunnels, usually you end up further and further upstream until it gets too small to continue. Then you would just turn back and end up in the main tunnel again. And you always know which direction is up and downstream. Just look at the water.
Q: How big are the tunnels?
A: In terms of diameter, they can be quite large. There have been a few we've been in where the ceiling was more than 20' high and the tunnel was equally as wide. In terms of length, things can vary quite a bit. Some tunnels turn out to only go for a few hundred feet (though I don't even report duds like this on the site) whereas some tunnels we've been through have gone for upwards of seven miles (that's the record as of this writing).
Q: Do you ever see any rats?
A: Only very rarely. Usually, they're trying to get away as soon as they hear you, which is long before you ever reach them. After all, if you were tiny and furry, would you stick around to see what big, lumbering creature is making his way toward your cozy little home? We're lucky if we even manage to see them. If you're interested, I catalogued the various creatures we have run across on my Wildlife Encounters page.
Q: Do the tunnels stink? Are they dirty?
A: The tunnels clean themselves out every time it rains. Very little debris remains. Some tunnels have some top soil run-off, but most have solid concrete floors. They rarely smell worse than wet concrete... which is pretty much all they are.
Q: You ever see any cave-ins?
A: While there are a few places where the walls have aged and parts crumble away, there are *no* major cave-ins. If cave-ins were the norm, the streets would likely be flooded every time it rained. No, these tunnels are built to last probably hundreds of years. In fact, one of the tunnels we have been in under Dallas clearly was built nearly a century ago and it has held up quite nicely.
Q: What's the weirdest thing you've ever found down there?
A: That's kind of subjective, but I compiled a list of some of the objects we've run across on my Found page.
Q: Do you ever run into anyone in any of these tunnels?
A: So far, nope. Drainage tunnels are typically a little damp, so they aren't the best places to settle into. Note, however, these are (like other items on this page) exceptions to this generalization. We have seen evidence of people using these tunnels to stash their belonging and to get from one place to another (e.g., fresh footprints!). It's just that homeless people would rather steer clear of anyone crazy enough to wander into a tunnel with them. There's more about that on the Homeless Encounters page.
Q: What about dead bodies?
A: No, I've never run across any. Honestly, the drains would be a bad place to hide a body. I mean, it would take a major effort to drag one down there, then it's just going to get washed back out the first time there's a really hard rain. Yeah, I've probably thought about this too much to make my enemies comfortable.
Q: How deep is the water?
A: Typically, not very. And this is a testament to the skill of the civil engineers and workers who design and build these tunnels that there is rarely more than a couple inches of water on the floor. Tunnels are designed to move water out of urban areas and into larger waterways. There is no benefit to letting water stand in place. In fact, this would be a very bad idea. However, we have run across a few places where the water was deep enough to require a canoe, but those were generally the exception, and were almost always places where the drainage system was about to empty its contents into, for example, a canal or river.
Q: What kind of equipment do you need?
A: A cheap pair of rubber boots and a couple flashlights are the minimum essentials, but you can end up carrying a lot more than that. In fact, our gear takes up a page of its own. Read about it on the Gear page. Also, check out the Tips page.
Q: Don't you ever get claustrophobic?
A: No, thankfully. However, if you do, then don't go! It is often a very long way back to the surface if you happen to be struck with a sense of impending doom and a desperate need to see sunlight in a hurry.
This site exists to promote the hobby (or whatever it is) of Urban Exploration and to encourage discussion among participants. We will not be held responsible for your stupidity or lawlessness if you are injured, arrested, or otherwise institutionalized as a result of emulating the activities described in this site. You are responsible for you own actions and/or carelessness.
These pages contain a wealth of information a variety topics (e.g., civil engineering, ecology, sociology, etc.). We happen to be amateurs in most of these areas, but are always interested in learning more. If you have anything to elaborate on things you see/read in these pages or know of any other interesting places to visit in the DFW Texas area or in southeastern Louisiana, please write me.
The contents of this web site are offered freely, but do require time and money to maintain. If you find this site useful and/or entertaining, please help to defer the costs by donating to via a credit card through PayPal. Thanks for your support.
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