BEG: Bangor Waterworks Building
~Basements & Tunnels~
Under the Waterworks building there is a labyrinthine system of basements, tunnels, and crawlspaces. Our agents have led many expeditions into these areas and we suspect that there is still a lot left that we have not seen. Many of the tunnels and basements are the most dangerous parts of the Waterworks building. They are deep in the bowels of the building and it is often hard to find the ways into some areas. If someone got hurt or stuck down there, their cries for help could likely be heard from the main floor but few people would know how to get into where the screams are coming from. Because of this, we suggest that only the most experienced urban explorers lead expeditions into these areas, and that they travel in groups of at least three.
The basements and tunnels can be broken up into three areas, determined by what part of the building they are under. One of these areas is located under the Swing Room; another is under the Machine room, Main Entrance room, and Cement Ring room; and the other area is under the Safe Room.
We start our tour of the Basements & Tunnels with the areas under the Swing Room. There are four or five (maybe more) rooms under the Swing Room. At high tide these rooms will be full of water but the water drains as the tide goes out.
First, we will explore the room located under the Igloo Machine. The entrance into this basement is a trapdoor in the side of the Igloo Machine, there is a short ladder which leads down to a small wooden platform which hangs from the bottom of the machine by a couple peices of wood and metal. A metal pipe leads down to a large round cement platform about ten feet below. It looks like it might have been the base for some sort of turbine. The platform is about four feet tall and the ground around it is still partialy underwater at low tide. Scads of wood and scraps of metal litter the floor of this room. On one wall there are two barred passageways that lead out into the Lower Courtyard.
To get to the other rooms under the swing room we have to go out to the dilapitated walkway which runs along one side of the building that the Swing Room is in. Along this walkway there are several wooden walled pits on the side of the building. Climbing down into the pits takes us into some of the other tidal rooms that are under the Swing Room. On one expedition, some of our agents explored one of these rooms. Here is an anonymous account of the experience:
"It was low tide when we entered by climbing down a wooden shaft. We got to the bottom and saw that there was still some water in the room but it was mostly mud and bricks which had crumbled from the basement wall to the right. We followed the pile of bricks into an "L" shaped room with a machine, a turbine I think, at the far end of the room. There were no other exits from the room and we could see a line of scum that was the high tide mark, it was at least eight feet up on the wall and covered most of the machine. We were in there for a while and one of us noticed the water near the entrance was looking deeper. We decided to go back up to the main floors. By the time we got to the entrance of the room, the water was ankle deep. By the time our last person was climbing out the water was knee deep... it rose more than a foot in just a couple minutes. Lukily the wooden walls of the shaft were so rotten that we could kick into them to make foot holds."
We suspect that the other rooms under the Swing room are similar to what was described above.
Also in the Swing Room is one of several ways into another group of basements and tunnels. This entrance is to one side of the stairs, it's a hole in the wall with a large metal pipe sticking out. Crawling over/around the pipe and following it into the hole leads us into a mazelike system of tunnels and basements that will take us under several sections of the Waterworks building. The tides have some effect in most of these areas... At high tide, some places with dirt floors will be submerged under up to a foot of water.
The small passage that's built around the pipe goes in just a little ways... the floor around the pipe has a thick layer of slimy grease.. after a few feet, the passage turns left and opens up high on the wall, in one corner of an "I" shaped room. A sort of balcony/crawlway leads around a corner and there is a small trapdoor in the ceiling that comes out in the Machine Room, right next to the Gear Sausage Machine. The wooden floor of this room has many large holes and missing floor boards. It is generaly safer and more interesting to travel under the floor than to navigate around the large holes. But there is a lot to see in this room, both above and below the floor. One area is sectioned off with walls of chicken wire and wood, there is all sorts of neat junk in there. In another part of the room are several deep, oven-like alcoves. We can also see the under side of the Gear Sausage and Octipus Machines. Under the chicken wire and wood area there is a long, partly water filled tunnel that leads to a small sewer-like room with a sandy floor and several small pipes leading in from different directions. The area under the Octipus Machine can be a tricky and hazardous place (lots of balancing acts and jumping around on things high above the ground) to go through to get to an opening that leads out to the courtyards. There are two other passages leaving this room. One is a narrow passage with a couple short climbs that will take us up into the Machine Room. The other is right across from that and under the floor. This one is another short, crumbling brick tunnel that is built around a large metal pipe.
This short tunnel goes into a rectangular room with a squarish "U" shaped passage leading off to the right as we come in. The "U" shaped passage does it's "U" thing and comes back in near the other end of the room. Several other passages exit this room. Two of them are openings, one above the other, that leads out to the "secret" area of the Lower Courtyard. To one side of the openings that lead outside there another tunnel built around a metal pipe, and there is another small and easy to miss hole on the same wall as that. We'll take a crawl up the tunnel near the openings leading outside...
This is a somewhat long brick tunnel with a vaulted ceiling, two and a half foot diameter metal pipe runs along the floor and takes up about half the tunnel. At the end of the tunnel is a rectangular room, with the last tunnel we went through opening up on the far right of one of the long walls. There are more large metal pipes on the floor of this room. We progress onwards to the other end of the room where the floor becomes free of the large pipes. There use to be a hole in the floor boards above but it was recently patched up... If the hole comes back, it goes up to the Main Entrance room and makes for a nice place to jump into if you're playing a game of hide and seek... Also in this end of the room, on the same wall as the tunnel that got us in here, there is another passage that takes us over some piles of bricks and across uneven, roughly built dirt floors, and into a very narrow passage with small metal pipes along one wall. The passage comes to a "T" intersection... to the left the passage gets narrower and comes to the other side of the small and easy to miss hole in the wall in the room that has the openings into the "secret" courtyard (crawling through that hole is a very tight squeeze). Back to the "T" intersection in the narrow passageway... the branch to the right is also a very tight squeez and involves crawling under a wooden beam with about a foot of clearance. A short crawl past that will take us to the end of the passage where there is a trap door that takes us to the bathroom off the Main Entrance room. From here, we will take a walk over to the Safe Room and find the stairs that lead down to the basement area under that large section of the building.
A set of stairs and two pits lead down from the Safe Room into the basement below. We recomend taking the stairs (one of our agents jumped down the pit and found it to be a much further fall than expected.. in 1993, a fireman fell down one of the pits and broke his leg). There is one huge basement under the Safe Room, but one corner is partly walled off to make a couple smaller rooms. There are two trenches, about two feet deep and three feet wide, that run the length of the room. The trenches can be seen in Steven King's movie "Graveyard Shift", in one of the scenes where they are using fire hoses to clean out the basement's rat infestation... there's a shot of some rats on a scrap of wood, surfing down one of the waterfilled trenches. In the middle of one end of the room there is a wooden structure that looks like either a bunch of shelves or scafolding stacked into a pile. Parts of the other end of the room are sectioned off into a couple small rooms and some hallway/tunnel places. One of the hallways has a cement floor that divides it into two floors. On the lower floor there is the end of a metal pipe in the wall, just large enough to crawl into but to small to turn around in... it goes in for a short ways then goes straight down.
In one corner of the basement, the corner that meets up with the rest of the building, there is a metal pipe that goes into the wall at floor level. We suspect that this might somehow take us into the basement area under the Cement Ring room, but we have not looked into it much and we suspect that there are other ways into the basement under the Cement Ring room.
Now lets take just a moment to look at some of the possible ways into the basement area that's under the Cement Ring room... There is the possible entrance through a metal pipe in the Safe Room's basement... The most obvious way in would be to go through the cement ring in the Cement Ring room.. but that's a long drop. Someone could lower some rope and climb down, or maybe find a long ladder somewhere in the building. In one corner of the Cement Ring room there's a hole in the rotten floor. There is another possible way to get in at low tide by crawling through a tunnel in the secret courtyard. Finding out what is under the Cement Ring room is high on our list of things to do on future exploratory missions into the Waterworks Building.
We have recently found out that there is, at least according to old city planning maps, a large cistern under the lot in front of the Waterworks Building. We suspect that following the stream that runs through the area under the Cement Ring room and out through the Secret Courtyard will lead us directly into this cistern or into an area of drains with connections to the cistern. Because of the constant stream of water that runs through this area under the waterworks building, we suspect that these areas of drains or tunnels might also take us under the area of Bangor Mental Health Intitute which is on a nearby hill. BMHI is still in use as a mental hospital and dates from about the same time as the Waterworks Building.
There are certainly other tunnels, and maybe even rooms, in the Water Works building that we have not yet found. One of our agents recently went on a mission into the Water Works so we could get more pictures for the website. Here is his recountance of part of the expedition:
"I was passing through the Main Entrance Room and noticed a new hole in the floor near the wall with the door to the Garage Room. I figured it just went down to the basement area under the room I was in, but I went to get a closer look at it anyways. The floor boards were broken, forming a rectangular hole with the boards slanting down and towards the wall. It only went down about four feet and there was a brick lined tunnel going under the Garage Room. I went down into the tunnel and crawled about twenty feet until it turned 90 degrees to the left. It was caved in a short distance after the turn. I didn't think to lift the boards and see if it went in the other direction as well. Makes me wonder how many other tunnels are down there waiting to be found"
"It has been over a year since my last visit to the Waterworks, which was when I found what I described above. Now, in the same room, there are other holes as well. But these holes only lead down to a very narrow passage which connects two rooms in the level below. The floor in other areas of the building is starting to feel much less safe than it used to and during my time spent in there tonight, I made sure never to land a heavy footfall."
|Photo looking down the low vaulted brick tunnel that runs behind and under the "I" shaped room.|
|Photo looking up the the short length of vaulted brick tunnel that leads into the "U" shaped room. The shiny silver stuff is some sort of matalic colored party decoration, the kind that someone might string up around a room. It's bit of a tight squeeze through this area.|
|Photo of the floor of the "I" shaped room. The floor boards, or the ones that are still in place, are not exactly what we would call safe for walking on. There is a 4 to 5 foot drop to the rubble strewn floor of the sub-basement below, which partialy fills with water at high tide. We have not yet figured out what the dark shadow in the lower left is from.|
|Photo looking down the lenght of the "I" shaped room. Most of the floor along here is missing with only the support beams left to walk along. The archway in the middle of the wall to the left looks into the under-bowels and small gears of the Gear Sausage Machine in the Machine Room above.|
|Photo of the narrow passage leading back up to the Machine Room. The passage is less than shoulder width wide making it a tight squeeze to get through or turn around in. It is also situated about five feet up from the unsafe floor of the basement, which makes it harder to get down into the room.|
|Photo, looking down a corridor under the floor of the "I" shaped room.||
Outside & Courtyard
~Basements & Tunnels~
Dam & Slipway
Main BEG Index.
Photo from under a room below the swing room. Looking up between rotten floor boards, we can see into a room below the swing room. Above that, we can see into the swing room through a hole in the floor.|
|A roughly drawn MAP|