The silos

Jake Hayden puts readers into his shoes on his day trip to Klondike


Hayden at Klondike leaning against one of the silos.

The air was a pleasant 72 degrees with the gentle breeze, the air felt pure with no humidity and no noise. I passed a speed limit sign that I was not obeying by a slim margin, I was too busy enjoying the morning to worry about how fast I was hurtling toward it. Cottleville was still sleeping, all of the shops dark and empty at this time in the morning. All of them would be opening in a few hours and the small town would churn with activity as it always did, but right now the stillness of the town was serene. It was a Monday in May, and should there have been school that day I would have been waking up about that time, ready to withstand a day of tests and lectures. However there was no school that day, must’ve been a national holiday or something. I’d imagine that the average student my age would have utilized the day as a block of time that they could use to sleep until the sun was on it’s way down, but I personally prefer spending free days like this living as much as I could. Earlier that morning I was awoken by my alarm clock at 5am, and I had glared at it wondering if it was worth waking up or if I should have just gone back to bed. I was glad that I had decided to get up. Michael’s house wasn’t too far from mine, only a few miles. In a matter of minutes I was pulling into his driveway, where he was leaning against his garage door.

Michael was the same as me. Him and I were aspiring filmmakers and admirers of the world. Always ready to take the beauty that we observed and turn it into film. He was wearing a dark plaid shirt and worn jeans, he shouldered his backpack which was probably filled with film gear and extra clothes. He strode over to the backside of my car as I released the trunk. He threw his pack into it, slammed it shut, and jumped into the passenger seat. I could tell by his face that he was tired like I was, but he was charismatic as usual, ready to make the most of the day.

On the way there we talked about a little bit of everything. Movies of course, girls of course, what we were going to do that day, how happy we were to be off of school. The sun was ascending slowly in the sky, tinting the sky a healthy orange hue and setting the clouds on fire. We had decided to head up to state park half an hour away. The place was a quarry during World War II where it was known as Klondike Quarry, but afterwards became a state park. Klondike park had a gorgeous lake, hiking trails, playgrounds, campgrounds, and scenic overlooks. Me and Michael were there for the history though, the remnants of the quarry and the echoes of the past. Urban exploration had always been a passion for the two of us, plus our findings always looked great on film. We had heard that deep in the woods where the hiking trails became thin there were old buildings from when there had once been sandstone mining operation. I parked my car near the shower house that the campers used to rinse off after a night of s’mores and hotdogs. Michael grabbed his pack and I grabbed the camera bag and we started down a worn dirt path with an old brown sign sitting nearby that read, “Power Line Trail”. Not 100 feet down the trail we found something film worthy. Nestled in a semicircle of tall healthy trees was an old shack that clearly had not been used in several years. The shack had a rusty orange and brown exterior with a roof made of tin that looked like it was tired of its job. There was a big lock on the big iron door that made it clear that the park officials didn’t want anyone in there. The shack sat on a bed of white sand, and was surrounded by tall wispy grasses. Next to the shack was a big rusty silo shaped building that stood about 30 feet tall. The buildings were obviously built around the same time as they both were covered the same layer of rust. Michael and I unpacked and shot a little bit of video in the area, not a whole lot but we got some good stuff. Birds chirped in the trees and grasshoppers buzzed in the grass, enjoying the summer wind like Michael and I were. We packed up our stuff and started to get back on the trail.

“Wait, hang on what’s that?” Michael asked after walking for two seconds. I turned and followed his finger to see where he was pointing at. Behind the shack there was a wall made out of old cement that only rose about 3 feet off of the ground. On the other side of the wall there must have been a drop because all we could see was open air.

“Hopefully something cool.” I supplied. We walked over to the wall and took in the landscape that spread before us. A power plant shimmered a few miles in the distance, humming with industrious energy. Beyond the plant was nothing but fields and trees for miles and miles. In front of the plant was a snaking river, curling back and forth with it’s vast churning waters, must’ve been the Missouri River. We couldn’t see anything else because of the lush collection of trees that was gathered in front of the river. Directly under us on the other side of the wall, there was a drop of about 10 feet. I didn’t even need to ask Michael if he wanted to go down and explore, he was already climbing over the wall. I shouldered the camera bag and vaulted myself over the wall. I landed squarely on the ground, which seemed to be made of concrete that had been overgrown with weeds and grasses. It occurred to me that we were standing on the roof of an old building, or maybe a wall that had fallen over. We walked over to the edge of the concrete platform gingerly. Over the edge of this one was a 15+ foot drop. A little bit too high in the vein of safety. We scoured the environment for an alternative way down for a few seconds. I spotted a protrusion of concrete that could be used as a foothold about halfway down the wall, and after considering it for a second I steeled my nerves and lowered myself over the edge of the wall. My left foot found the concrete and my right foot drifted down slowly to join it. I balanced myself and then jumped down to the ground. Michael followed and landed right next to me. Trees inhabited the area dominantly, with the sounds of birds and other wildlife warming the place into a sort of natural haven. The morning sun shown through the branches in rays of light, peppering the forest floor in abstract glowing shapes. There were fallen slabs of concrete everywhere, laying in clusters all over the place.

“There had to have been a building here at some point, I mean look at this place!

There are pieces everywhere.” Michael observed.

“Yeah man, I wonder what this was back in the day…” I wondered, “It looks like this place has been destroyed for a long time.”

The wall that we had jumped off of was a towering rectangle of cement bricks, which were now covered in ivy that was trying to reclaim it. Where there wasn’t ivy there was graffiti, words and portraits and movie characters covered the wall, all in typical graffiti colors.

“Maybe we can find more deeper in the woods” Michael suggested, pointing to a trail that carved itself into the brush. I nodded at him and mumbled in agreement as we strode into the trees. We walked for a little bit, marveling at the sights and sounds that nature provided us with, all of the while gathering bits of video here and there. We rounded a corner where it looked like an old drainage pipe used to be. Where the pipe used to drain was now a ruthlessly steep mud hill that must’ve been a few hundred feet in length. The hill’s width was only a dozen feet or so, with trees flanking on either side. Way at the bottom of the hill were three silos, arranged in a triangle, all made of concrete and standing easily 70 feet tall. The diameter of each silo was about 10-15 feet, massive yet well hidden in the lush of the summer woods. I looked at Michael, who stopped his marveling of the silos to look at me. Both of us had our trademark goofy grins on our faces. I nudged him and started to make my way down the hill, which was a combination of carefully shifting my weight from foot to foot and sliding several yards at a time. I slid onto the bottom of the slope and dusted myself off, Michael was close behind. I unzipped my bag and grabbed the camera. Michael put his hand on my shoulder.

“This my friend is what it’s all about.” He said while looking up at the concrete monsters before us.

“Shall we?” I asked with a gesture to a path leading to a pit that nestled itself in between the structures.

“We shall” Michael answered with a grin. We proudly walked toward our discovery.