Get yer urban exploration/dead mall fix right here
June 16, 2008 7:59 PM   Subscribe

"Q: What the hell is this site about? This is a site about urban exploration in the Ozarks." Abandoned water slides, underground tunnels, abandoned buildings and half-demolished malls throughout Missouri were all once fair game for this blog, and remain fair game for those who post in Underground Ozarks' forums.
posted by limeonaire (25 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fun post! When I was younger, I used to spend two weeks of every summer with my dad and stepfamily at my stepmother's uncle's cabin in the Ozarks, and we visited every tourist attraction in existence (that abandoned waterslide looks familiar). This post makes me want to go back.
posted by amyms at 8:25 PM on June 16, 2008


From one of the comments in the "half-demolished malls" link :

So sad to see River Roads get the wrecking ball, but someday in years down the road the same thing will happen to places we St. Louisans love now like Chesterfield Mall, West County, and Galleria (which is already starting to get kind of shady as it is).


It's amazing. Had I sat down for hours with the intention of summing up all that is St. Louis MO, I couldn't have possibly done a better job. The love of suburbia, the nostalgia for better times, and, ultimately, the unquestioning resignation.

Goddamn it, there's just so much of America in that one sentence.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:29 PM on June 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yeah, this site is cool. Back in high school we all debated about the Albino Farm. It's a good thing to go out and look for while young, high and in the Ozarks.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:37 PM on June 16, 2008


(To give a little background, River Roads Mall is located in Jennings, a severely-blighted inner-ring suburb of St. Louis. The other malls are in middle- and outer-ring suburbs. St. Louis itself could basically be described as an Urban Doughnut, with settlement on the outer edges, and a more-or-less decaying, empty core. I wrote about it before here, so no need to repeat.)
posted by Afroblanco at 8:43 PM on June 16, 2008


Wow. Dogpatch is a little different than what I remember.
posted by Ugh at 8:53 PM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I remember a lot of those places from growing up in Illinois. Great links - thanks.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:54 PM on June 16, 2008


Ah, Jesus.

Fucking Hydra-Slide. I remember that as a kid -- that was the HARDCORE slide where if you hit this one curve on the way down JUST RIGHT you would go FUCKING AIRBORNE and TOTALLY LEAVE THE GROUND and there was this one time that this one kid did it, and he TOTALLY HIT THE HIGHWAY AND DIED and it was so fucking metal. There was another waterslide park right next to it...Jesus, I can't remember the name, but it was the easier slide, the one no one died on.

I actually remember that the other slide (not the Hydra-Slide but the other one, fuck, I wish I could remember the name) was the first place I saw a Ferris Bueller t-shirt, on this really foul-mouthed tween girl I really liked who would yell HOLY FUCKING SHIT on the slide, and I was still this well-mannered kid who never stepped out of line, and the only thing I could think to yell back was MY SENTIMENTS EXACTLY, which in retrospect is why I never got any over-the-swimsuit action before I was in my 20s.

And the goddamn acid tunnel. I actually walked through it with a couple of fellow Missouri State students (it was still Southwest Missouri State at the time) as part of a project for a course in New American Religions (we took some photos of the graffiti in there, Satanist symbols and whatnot). I remember being scared shitless going into that tunnel, because the damn thing only crosses I-44 diagonally (IIRC), but it's long enough that (at least at dusk) you can't see the other end, so you don't know what the hell's down there. Minus the trees, it's very Blair Witch in there.

I heard tell a few years later that the state troopers had the thing pretty well monitored, which seemed reasonable, as one end of that tunnel spills out right next to an American Inn motel parking lot. How those guys got ATVs down there I have no idea, but nostalgia alone compels me to owe them a beer. I also remember that a kid from our high school had sex at that American Inn, so when we were on a bus for a choir trip and passed it on 65 or I-44, we'd all stand up and salute. We did it twice on one trip to Worlds of Fun where I snuck whiskey in a Listerine bottle, and...ah, fuck I'm old.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:36 PM on June 16, 2008 [10 favorites]


Was the other slide Wet Willy's Waterslide?
posted by Afroblanco at 9:51 PM on June 16, 2008


Friends, I recently stood on the shore of the underground lake on that site. The deflated inflatable raft these guys used is still there. In two weeks I will return with a fresh boat.
posted by LarryC at 10:26 PM on June 16, 2008


We did it twice on one trip to Worlds of Fun where I snuck whiskey in a Listerine bottle, and...ah, fuck I'm old.

Worlds of Fun = Disneyland for us hick kids of the Great Plains. And, OMG, when they opened Oceans of Fun we thought we'd died and gone to heaven.

"ah, fuck I'm old"... I hear ya, middleclasstool.
posted by amyms at 10:33 PM on June 16, 2008


At first glance at this site I was like: "Dogpatch closed?" I went there a few times as a kid during our annual family vacations to the Lake of the Ozarks in the '70s and '80s, and one final time as a jaded college student in the early '90s. The hillbilly general stores, the hokey jamborees, the jokey phrases painted on everything, all broken-down and covered with ivy. Sigh.

Then I realized the decayed amusement park on this site was Dogpatch USA, in Arkansas -- whereas I used to go to Dogpatch Village, right by the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. It's still there, apparently. Someday my kid will get a Missouri vacation to learn about his ancestral people, and he'll leave Dogpatch full of funnel cakes, with sore hands from too much skeeball, and vaguely scarred for life from all the hillbilly nostalgia, just like I did.
posted by lisa g at 10:47 PM on June 16, 2008


Afroblanco: You forgot to mention the implicit racism, endemic to St. Louis and certainly present in that comment. Its aura finds its eastward boundary in Clayton, and only gets stronger from there. Maybe that will change as things get "sketchier."
posted by invitapriore at 10:54 PM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


@ Afroblanco

Wet Willey's is outside of St. Louis, right on the south side of 44. Close to Rockwood if that helps.

As for the post, thanks. I went to school in Springtown and remember the water slide, although it was closed up by the time I went there. My mother grew up in Ozark and we went down there all the time for visits when I was younger, but I don't ever remember going to the water slide. Anyone been in the little tunnel/weird space under Drury's campus? Entrance to the north of the church and comes out in the History/Foreign language building. Or so I've heard.
posted by friendlyjuan at 11:07 PM on June 16, 2008


Afroblanco: You forgot to mention the implicit racism, endemic to St. Louis and certainly present in that comment. Its aura finds its eastward boundary in Clayton, and only gets stronger from there. Maybe that will change as things get "sketchier."

Very very true. I'm tempted to blame the downfall of STL (and similar cities) on a deadly cocktail of racism and lack of imagination.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:14 PM on June 16, 2008


Yes, the water slide next to Hydra-Slide was Wet Willy's.

As for these locations, I've pretty much been to them all, some not in a couple of years, some surprisingly recently. I live in downtown Springfield, and hang out with some graffiti artists, tagging along with them in the middle of the night, just to see what they do.

In one particular case a couple of years back I was renting part of an abandoned grain silo/dog food factory for studio space. Though it was discouraged to enter much of the factory floor, grainery, catwalk area, or really any of the 11 floors above the studio space, I did all the time.

One time I had some friends up there on the roof at 3 AM, drinking and playing among all the machinery, railings, manvators, catwalks, what have you, when a phalanx of cops sped up, convinced they caught a crew of trespassers, and demanded we come down.

I bid my friends to stay, I'll take care of this, and begin my 12 flight descent, much of it using outdoor service ladders made of rebar, impatient cops with spots on me the whole time. Took about five minutes.

By the time I reach bottom, they're kind of pissed, and anxious to haul me in for trespassing. I then show them my keys to the place, explain that it isn't exactly abandoned, I'm a tenant and we have a right to be there.

Resigned to the fact that there's nothing they can do, they convey to me that they hope I don't kill myself up there, but it would serve me right if I did. Smartass.

Later, when I stopped renting, the owners cut out all the rebar fire escapes and service ladders.

My favorite ruined spot in Springfield is the abandoned Girl Scout camp ruins next to Lake Springfield. Just gorgeous.
posted by sourwookie at 11:14 PM on June 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


I could totally picture myself in these places, circa 1988 wearing my neon-green tank top, some floral-print Bermuda shorts and plastic shades while ZZ Top blared in the background.

So why did a place with this much awesome decline so much?
posted by Deep Dish at 1:05 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Holy shit. Wet Willy's and the Hydra-Slide. The childhood flashbacks, they are rushing through my mind.
posted by chillmost at 3:16 AM on June 17, 2008


The malls are the soon-to-be ghost towns.
posted by brevator at 5:52 AM on June 17, 2008


I live in downtown Springfield, and hang out with some graffiti artists, tagging along with them in the middle of the night

Very punny.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:59 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wet Willy's. Thank you.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:21 AM on June 17, 2008


Anyone been in the little tunnel/weird space under Drury's campus?

I'm of the opinion that's a local legend. Though if anyone's willing to prove me wrong, I'll be in town a week from Friday, and I will buy the beer. ;)
posted by middleclasstool at 9:17 AM on June 17, 2008


some floral-print Bermuda shorts

You mean Jams, rite?? Cuz I have like a billion pictures of me and my brothers playing mini-golf in Branson wearing Jams, camo tank-tops and (*shudder*) biker shorts. 1988 was the shit.
posted by mattbucher at 3:13 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I also remember that a kid from our high school had sex at that American Inn, so when we were on a bus for a choir trip and passed it on 65 or I-44, we'd all stand up and salute.

Hell, I knew a guy who died in a meth-lab shootout with the cops at that American Inn.

And fucking Hydra-Slide. You could switch lanes on that deadly son of a bitch.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:26 PM on June 17, 2008


And fucking Hydra-Slide. You could switch lanes on that deadly son of a bitch.

Yep. That was the goal, and that was why they out-lasted Wet Willy's.
posted by sourwookie at 5:02 PM on June 17, 2008


Hell, I knew a guy who died in a meth-lab shootout with the cops at that American Inn.

I want to party with you, cowboy.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:38 PM on June 17, 2008


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