Base Edgar - Crowded

I was joined on this exploration of the abandoned radar station in Edgar by none other than Mr. Jack Morningwood, who had expressed an interest in this location for almost a year. This exploration focused on the combined mess hall, kitchens, workshops and garages.

Today's highlight was all the additional persons also visiting this
abandoned base. Approximately 15 to 20 Police SWAT team members were conducting exercises in the lower 'Town' subdivision within several of the houses there. Here for your enjoyment is a video entitled 'Cops, Kitchens, Guards & Garages' . . .

It had been threatening rain for the day but fortunately this meteorological menace did not materialise off for us. Although a little pinch of drizzle never does hurt a prepared explorer and works to one's advantage by keeping the guard in his/her shack.

While negotiating our way onto the property, Jack & I almost ran into a
contractor who was test running the emergency generators - the only equipment still serviceable on the base. Its always a bit of a shock to come across an unexpected vehicle idling on a street in this abandoned town.

We proceeded to the kitchen / mess hall in a disorderly manner and obtained a P.O.E. in very little time. With the exception of the recent excavation outside the building, all appeared as I had last left it.

Well, perhaps not all. I did not notice the absence of the funky-looking mixer attachments by the food mixer. This may mean the UrbEx community has kitchen appliance fetishist within its ranks.
The full exploration of the building was cut short by an audible alarm. Closer inspection revealed new wiring which was all the excuse I needed to get out.

Both Jack and I thoroughly enjoyed taking in the fall colours in the greenhouse today. Although the skies were gray and cold, this did not dampen our time in the garden. The riotous colour of sumac and other nondescript vegetation laid a stark contrast to the overcast 'blah-ness' above.

All of the bay doors were open in the garage complex during this visit. I suspect this was done a few months ago during the Discovery Channel's filming of 'Canada's Worst Driver' . . . just less things for these 'road threats' to bump into.

All the workshops also appeared intact but as with most of the other buildings, were sporting new plywood. The contract carpenter had been quite busy installing new boarding on just about every door and window on the base. Also new during this visit are some very cute 'Smile, You're On Camera' stickers. Add this to the one-hundred new 'No Trespassing' signs posted every 5 metres on the perimeter, I should think that only the blind and illiterate would not get the message.

My fellow UrbEx buddy 'Journey Lady' has this thing for fire extinguishers in abandoned buildings. This one is for her. I am altogether unsure if alarm pull stations hold any interest for her but here's one anyway.

When I mentioned earlier about what a wonderful display of colours there was in this neck of the woods, I did not expect myself to attempt to co-ordinate these rich variated colours into images of the school and the church as well. Heres an attempt.

I had rather enjoyed the fire hydrant and flow control valve stem in this shot. I imagine that someone had a difficult time determining whether they liked these appurtenances coloured yellow or red.

Readers may be wondering why I've not yet come to the nasty part about all the local constabulary playing SWAT in the houses - I'm addressing this now because I just wanted you to scroll to the bottom of the page. These training sessions are a real physical menace to the property and I see the damage everywhere - including their trash (typically Red Bull and power-bar wrappers).


The Coffee Conundrum

I hooked up with fellow explorers 'syn' and 'zong' (aka 'makewiththebits') to conduct a further exploration of my favourite abandoned brewery. Although this was my fourth such trip into this massive complex, I still have yet only explored less than half of the facility.

As syn and zong were running a tad late, I decided to document their approach into the facility from the roof-top . . . I was fairly impressed how well the fellas blended into the background while in super-ninja-stealth-mode.

As I had not yet toured through the brewery's hospitality centre (read: beer tasting room!), I made it a point to explore this area first. This space was, I'm sure at one point, beautifully appointed to host countless thirsty guests after their tour of the brewery. The room features natural stone and wood materials.

Shown here is a lovely rock waterfall and the impressive stone hearth / fireplace. Equipped with a hot hostess, many would have considered this place back in the day 'beverage nirvana'.

Much of the hospitality centre has been ripped apart by contractors recovering material for re-use so it now appears a ghost of its former glory. Speaking of glory, no golden barley-water was to be found at the bar . . :-(

Of particular note regarding the very strategic location of the tasting room - it is sited directly below the former corporate offices. Coincidence? - I think not.

Behind the tasting room bar are conveniently located washrooms. The natural stone theme is carried through here as well. Very disturbing however, is the horridly garish choice of ceramics.

Toothpaste and tooth brushes were found in the Tasting Room fugly-a$$ washroom confirming my suspicion that the corporate managers occasionally spent the night at the bar.

As the crew pushed on to yet-unexplored areas of the facility, we took some time to photograph the gutted room where I suspect the bottling operation was housed.

For some reason today, I just could not get enough steel girders / 'H'-beams. Perhaps it is simply an iron deficiency.

One end of the bottling room contained a shallow lake. Since it had been raining intermittently for the last several days, I conclude that there may be a leak in the roof somewhere.

When I look at this image, I imagine Gollum climbing to the top of an island in an underground lake . . . weird !

Lone chairs seem to be ubiquitous with these larger abandonments. As no exploration is quite complete without taking one of these 'di rigeur' camera shots, I have included one here.

This was a really nice chair by-the-way. I could only wish to have such a chair for my desk at the Office.

Since I'm feeling like some more black & white images after that lovely chair-shot, I present here an old-skool dolly and a pipe-threader all found (very!) close to the occupied portions of the facility.

The team finally pushed into a yet-unexplored portion of the facility. This large room was rather dark with the exception of a hole in the roof which provided some interesting lighting effects for this small wooden pallet of material.

I should hope that some of the blog readers out there(you average almost 800 per month to this blog)are starting to wonder why the the title of this post is "The Coffee Conundrum". Well, I shall get to that now.

Within the ill-lighted room mentioned previously, one of the first pieces of equipment encountered was this dusty machine used to bag coffee. Some may recall that 'Aurora Beverages' along with 'National Roasters' still occupy leased space here.

As we further explored this space, we identified numerous other pieces of equipment and machinery present all in a similar state of dis-use. Although there had to be several short years of dust and debris on the equipment, an entire coffee process line was operating here; roasting, grinding and packaging coffee.

What was highly unusual about this abandoned production space was the large volume of abandoned stock. There were numerous pallets of un-roasted (or green) coffee beans everywhere.

Several bags had been split open 'spilling the beans' perhaps by accidental movement of the product, by highly caffeinated rodents, or by O.P.P. Tactical and Drug Enforcement Officers back in 2004.

If I had to guess, I would estimate there to be the following volumes of coffee stock (all approximate of course):
  • 120 x 60 Kilogram sacks, and
  • 20 x 900 Kilogram 'supersacks'
This would give us approximately 25,200 Kilograms of green coffee beans. At approximately 80 cents per kilogram (whole-sale import), there would have been just over $ 20,000 of inventory. Given $6.00/1 Kg tin, I would peg the 'street value' (read: grocery store aisle) at just over $ 151,000. Them is a lot a beans - and we haven't even considered the value of all the process equipment yet.

So - I'd like to hear from the readers - what reason(s) do you think someone would walk away from so much investment ?
Please comment here on the post (or eMail me if you must) to discuss your theory.

Additional bit'o'information - Vince DeRosa (who has several properties to his name in T.O. and the Hammer), is C.E.O. of Fercan Developments, the company which purchased the former Molson Brewery. Vince also happens to own National Roasters, the coffee company, and Aurora Beverages who lease portions of the building. After the marijuana bust in 2004, Justice of the Peace Sue Hilton issued a non-communication order between the accused just released on bail and Vince DeRosa.


NYC High Line

My very excellent brother, whom I shall call 'DressyMonday' happens to be a prisoner, erm, . . I mean 'resident' of New York City. Although he is not an 'Urban Explorer' by our community standards, he does have an appreciation for my hobby and since moving to Manhattan, has developed a genuine interest in exploring his metropolitan environment and its rich history.

DressyMonday called last week to do some brief catching up with me and also told me that he obtained a set of tickets for a hot site participating in the 5th Annual openhousenewyork Weekend held October 6 & 7, 2007. Specifically, he had tickets to tour part of the abandoned High Line. Obviously, I did not let him off the line until he promised to take as many photographs as his memory card had space for. Presented here are his images and some history about the High Line.

DressyMonday sent along this photographic report of his tour of this
historic elevated rail viaduct. The tour took place in the Chelsea/Hells Kitchen neighbourhood at the still-untouched rail yards section and was organised by the NYC Dept of Parks & Recreation, CSX Transportation and the Friends of the High Line.

Here, DressyMonday conducts a self-directed field sobriety test . . . He was quickly derailed.

Here, an image of rail track, forged at Bethlem Steel, another highly regarded UrbEx abandonment.

I immediately thought of my UrbEx buddy Fedge when I saw this image.

Alpine meadows and sylvan terraces come to mind looking at how opportunistic vegetation took hold here.

One is reminded how very close the city is with this shot of the station.

I can almost 'hear' this steel rust in this shot.

Thanks for the great shots DressyMonday !

Some History of the High Line

Transportation of goods such as perishable food stuffs (think about the meat packers), raw materials and manufactured goods to and from market has always been an important consideration for any growing city. To this end, In 1847, the City of New York authorized the street-level railroad tracks running down Manhattan's West Side.

Shown here is the present-day path of the High Line running along the Manhattan's West Side from West 34 Street near Javits Center to Gansevoort Street in the West Village.

Given that there was just over one-hundred street crossings, it is a no-brainer that the number of people killed by these trains led to 10th Avenue becoming known as "Death Avenue" (see note below).

2 September 1895, Boston Daily Globe, pg. 4:
"One of the avenues of New York city is called 'death avenue', from the fact that over 100 people are killed or injured annually by passing steam trains. It ought to be a desirable location for undertakers."

In 1929, the city was forced to elevate the length of track now known as the High Line to remove the trains from the roads. This raised viaduct, or the High Line, as it became known, was built between 1929 and 1934 and runs twenty-two blocks along the west side of lower Manhattan. The remaining structure, now more than 75 years old was built to last.
Shown here in this March 1933 image, is the sturdy bare steel construction before the reinforced concrete deck was laid down. This was designed at the time to safely support two fully-loaded freight trains.

With its official opening on June 28, 1934, the New York Times called the new High Line "one of the greatest public improvements in the history of New York". And indeed it was; this elevated freight railroad was designed to pass through, or just beside, the buildings whose businesses it served, such as Armour Meat Packers, National Biscuit Company (10th Avenue and 15th Street), and the Manhattan Refrigerating Company (now apartments).

Shown here in this 1930's image is the line passing through the Bell Laboratories building (near 'Westbeth' - or West Bethune Street). In order to eliminate vibrations that would have disrupted precision instruments, the railroad built caissons independent of the building.

Other sustomers included Merchants Refrigerating Co., Swift & Co., Wilson Meats, Cudahy Packing and Spear & Co. The St. John's Park freight terminal at the south end was used by customers including Borden, Colod, Libby, Sealright, Shannon Bros, Magazine Shippers, Woolworth, Universal Carloading and Western Carloading.

Shown here is a June, 1933 image showing the USPS Morgan Parcel Post Building, which had its own spur.

From Rail-to-Ruin - The Immediate Decline
By the time the first delivery took place on 1 August, 1933, a large portion of NYC manufacturers were being adversely affected by the Great Depression. Within a few short years, almost a third of U.S. railways entered into receivership. By the mid-1940's, advertisements such as this one on the right practically begged manufacturers to locate along their serviced route.

Improvements to interstate trucking in the 1950's and competition from other shipping ports sounded the death knell for the freight line. A portion of the High Line, south of Bank Street, was demolished as a direct result of the decline of rail commerce. In November of 1980, the final train to rumble down the tracks moved 3 box cars of frozen turkeys.

The Future
Threats to tear down the viaduct came from property owners and developers in the 1990's. Joshua David and Robert Hammond responded to this threat and founded the community group, Friends of the High Line. The group is actively pushing for the preservation and re-use of the former rail bed as publicly accessible park or green space. Proposed designs includes gardens, floating ponds, sundecks and lookout spots over the Hudson River, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Although they have met with some limited success, the fight is far from over.


Cottages of Boston Mills

This post is a bit of a clean-up from a trip earlier in August which also included the Barber Paper Mill, the 'Mill Madness Run', and the Cheltenham Brickworks and Badlands. Hey . . . left-overs are often great !

Boston Mills takes its name from a small village which used to exist between Cheltenham and Inglewood. Very little is known about the cottages other than some sixteen or so cottages were built, nestled adjacent to each other between the Credit River and Chinguacousy Road sometime in the 1960's or 1970's.

Today, only five of the former cottages exist (now residential homes), with the remaining cottages either demolished or in an advanced state of structural decay. Of the remaining cottages, less than a handful is safe enough to be explored.

What is interesting about these particular abandonments is of course the fact that they are adjacent to each other which hints of some collective organisation. Perhaps this was a retreat at one time or simply just a group of rental cottages. Another point of interest at this location is the unusual number of personal effects left behind within the structures. Some rooms contained furniture, kitchen cabinets were full, and even a typewriter was present. (I've included a wiki-link for those n00bs who have no freak'n idea what a typewriter is)

From all the graffiti and paint-ball hits on the walls, the buildings have seen a level of activity but it appears that the visitors were kind enough not to smash everything and left all the personal debris in place. I did notice however that this fine bottle of vermouth was drained dry . . . those Hooligans !

It is obvious that the fella who occupied this room (below-left) was a HUGE Rolling Stones fan. Did you know that John Pasche designed the iconic 'tongue and lip' design in 1971 for the Stones. In other news . . . Scientists are harvesting stem-cells from Keith Richards in search of cure for mortality.

It has a very long time since I've seen such beautiful retrolicious furniture like this. The handy cabinetry built into the end of this sofa hid your Dad's booze and skin mags out of site from your mother.
To get some more retro-kicking furniture try these links - link#1, link#2, or link#3.

These images here remind me Ernest Hemingway's place down in Key West . . . just the way he may have left it in 1961 (from the look of the furniture). I could almost see an inibreated Ernest chasing after some polydactyl pussy.

Discarded out in the yard is an old public address system. From the label on the unit, it was obvious it was from a school (library, principal, etc.). It's a rare day that I come across a turn-table, even more rare when said turn-table is incorporated into a vintage piece'o'junk like this.

There is not much left of these cottages. I could suggest that you check these gems out if you happen to be in the area, but you could very well drop through the rotten floorboards, sue me and then I would not have a car to live in . . . so - just enjoy the UrbEx goodness provided for you here.

A quick bit'o'history about Boston Mills (no - not the publisher in nearby Erin)

From the Caledon Heritage Committee
32 Sideroad and 2nd Line West
Early names for this village, which backs onto the Credit River, north of Ferndale, include The Credit, Boston and Caslor’s Corners, after Hiram Caslor, who owned the sawmill and carding mill in the early 1850’s. Name does not appear on the Tremaine’s 1859 map and is shown as Boston on 1877 historical atlas. In 1860, in a witty jest, Caslor painted across the front of the mill the name “Boston Mills” and so it remained. The first school was built in 1830. It burned down in 1893 but was soon replaced. It was the last one room school house in Peel County and in 1964 it became the Boston Mills cemetery mortuary. When the Hamilton and Northwestern Railway arrived in 1870, the hamlet was thriving. A bakery and blacksmith shop was flourishing and so was the hotel. Once Inglewood became the major business center, Boston Mills started to diminish. Fire levelled the mill in 1910.