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Journal: GLF Grain Elevators

A few young trees sprout from the roof of the GLF Grain Elevators, seen in Liz's pictures.
GLF Grain Elevators (mid May 2003): Acting on a tip from a Swiss colleague, Liz and I decided to investigate some of Buffalo's abandoned grain elevators.
        The buildings we were interested in are clustered together on some sort of industrial island or peninsula, and it was only with difficulty that we were able to find the bridge leading from downtown Buffalo to the land of the grain elevators. Once across, we gave up on following the horrible map we had and decided to just look at the nearest abandoned grain elevator. Liz parked in a secluded spot behind some weird construction vehicle, and we then strolled across an old parking lot towards a very decayed building with the letters "GLF" emblazoned across three of its silos. ("Great Lakes Flour" was Liz's best guess, but according to Buffalo explorer Jyro it actually stands for "Grange League Federation", and the oldest building in the complex dates back to 1909.)
       The complex appeared long abandoned, with cracking foundations, unstable looking walls and decent-sized trees sprouting out of its roof. Liz began taking pictures and I began filming as we strolled between some of the buildings down to the pretty canal separating the elevators from the mainland.
       A few fences and gates in the area seemed like nothing more than decorations, and the buildings themselves were wide open. Large holes in the bottoms of the elevators were easily explorer-sized, and only some very thin, brittle plastic sheeting stood between us and the basement of one of the buildings.
Hole in Silo
Both the buildings and elevators were accessible in many places, but we stayed well clear of the boats in the basement.
       Looking through a large hole where some of the plastic sheeting had fallen off, we were surprised to see that the basement of the nearest building was filled with speedboats. Nice, shiny speedboats, of the type you wouldn't expect to find in the basement of an abandoned grain elevator. Steering clear of those, we moved through a courtyard to the next large building, where we peeled back more plastic to look in on more elevators and more basements full of boats. How very odd. We began to walk towards the water to see if there was a busy boat launching area we'd missed.
       Just as we began to walk down towards the water, however, the courtyard and indeed the whole neighbourhood filled with a tremendous wailing alarm, like the whole island was under sudden air attack.
       "Is that for us?" Liz shouted over the alarm.
       "It must be, though I don't know how we set it off," I shouted back, quickly scanning the buildings around us for motion detectors and seeing nothing. "Anyhow, let's go."
       We retraced our steps between the buildings and back towards the road. As we approached the parking lot we'd crossed earlier, we saw a middle-aged man standing near a recycling bin and staring at us suspiciously. "Hi," we said cheerfully. "Hi," he said confusedly. We continued to walk briskly past him towards the car before he could form a question about the sirens blaring across the whole area.
No Doing Stuff
We only noticed this sign on our way out.
       Hopping into the car and pulling away, we now spotted for the first time a large sign on a gate in front of the complex reading, "NO TRESPASSING: VIDEOTAPING AND DIGITALLY RECORDING DEVICES ARE STRICTLY PROHIBITED". These people were obviously very sensitive about their privacy. I put my digital videocamera away and we started to drive out of the area. As we began driving across the bridge off the island, we were passed by a white security truck driving the other way, almost certainly in response to the alarm we'd set off a few minutes earlier. I imagine the driver took a long hard look at Liz and I as he drove past us, but I can't say for sure, since we both kept our eyes fixed straight ahead and did our very best not to notice the security truck. As we came off the bridge and back onto the mainland, we decided to take advantage of our proximity to the interstate and bid fair Buffalo adieu.
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