Urban Exploration isn't terribly mediapathic, and a lot of people in the community seem to avoid the press like the plague. A fair number of them have been burned by misquotes, frankenquotes, and just downright awful reporting. It doesn't always have to be that way, though. The Urban Explorers of Minnesota seem to wind up in the news a lot, either because of incidents like the "Landmark Six" arrests in December 2003, or for other reasons. Sometimes the media's even interested in Urban Exploration just for it's own sake.
I seem to wind up talking to reporters, journalists, and so on fairly often. It's not that I'm a media whore or anything, but more that I'm not afraid to do so, and have somewhat mastered the art of speaking (and writing) in sound bites and usable quotes. Hey, someone has to do it. I've collected some past print media bits here on this page; it'll be updated periodically as new events occur. :) Transcribing television appearances is more trouble than it's worth, and with several bits edited between broadcasts, it's hard to pick the "definitive" form of any statement. Sorry.
If you're here because this is the first page that a search engine returns when searching for my name, you most likely want my photography site.
Urban exploring, which takes people to caves, old tunnels and abandoned buildings, stems from natural curiosity, said Mike Gilday, an explorer who knows the six men arrested.
"People who are inquisitive, they wonder what's under that manhole, what's inside the abandoned building. It's a real eye-opener," Gilday said.
Some places they explore have historic interest. Gilday got into urban exploring because he's a photographer. Their intent is to leave the places they go "as pristine as possible," said Gilday, 25.
"You can't call up the public works department and say, 'I would like a tour of this drain,' " said Gilday, of St. Paul. "It's the way for the Average Joe to see these things."
[Karl] Stoerzinger and Mike Gilday, another member of Urban Exploration, speculated the city of St. Paul covered the entrances in an attempt to keep people out. The speculation could not be confirmed with city officials late Tuesday.
The two men said someone might have started a fire in the caves and the fumes remained for weeks because the entrances were blocked.
Stoerzinger said the air smelled like "bad paint fumes".
Gilday, 25, of St. Paul, said he had a long time interest in the caves.
"We try to hold to the Sierra Club motto," he said. "Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints."
Two frequent cave visitors - Karl Stoerzinger, 20, and Mike Gilday, 25 - were out exploring Wednesday near the same cave network where three teenagers dies and another was seriously injured from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The young men, who call themselves photographers/historians/explorers, carried cameras and an encyclopedic knowledge of the wonders and hazards of cave exploration. Basically, they maintained, there are two main crowds of people attracted to the caves.
"There are types like us who are there to look at it, photograph it and historically document it," Stoerzinger said. "The other crowd, they love the caves probably more than we do."
They're there to drink, smoke, and party, he said, "the kind of stuff that parents aren't going to let them do in their basements."
The historians/explorers/photographers are drawn to the caves because they're interested in the history of the area and in the world around the, Gilday said. "Some of us see it as a very important remnant of St. Paul's industrial history," he said.
While the April 27 tragedy in the Wabasha caves is unfortunate, it's a tragedy that could likely have been avoided. The city's decision to ineptly and incompletely seal the cave complex, thus virtually eliminating air circulation through the thousands of feet of sandstone passageways is a grievous, short-sighted mistake completely in character with St. Paul's history of apathy toward its underground treasures.
Where other cities would protect and preserve these beautiful and historically significant manmade attractions — some of which date to the mid-1800s — St. Paul has historically taken a less caring approach.
Carver's Cave, a large, beautiful cavern with historical and religious significance to the Native Americans, was dynamited in the early 1900s to create a railroad right-of-way. Fountain Cave, where Pig's Eye Parrant founded St. Paul, was filled in as part of a construction project in the 1960s. Numerous other caves throughout St. Paul are also sealed, destroyed, filled, forgotten or contaminated with sewage.
It's terrible that three teenagers died Tuesday, but does it have to result in the knee-jerk sealing or destruction of an important, if already neglected, piece of St. Paul's history?
Police described [Girard W.] Goder as an urban explorer, but local urban explorer Mike Gilday said Goder is unknown in the tight-knit community.
Urban exploring, which takes people to caves, old tunnels and abandoned buildings, stems from curiosity, Gilday said. Many who take part are interested in history or photography, he said.
Gilday said Goder recently posted a comment about his gunpowder discovery on an urban exploration Web site, writing "I actually have 50 lbs. of it sitting in my garage."
On February 7th, for instance, Michael Gilday was in Swede Hollow Park shooting a film with friends when he spotted two teenagers enter the park. "They were dressed really, really nice," Gilday recalls, "like they'd just come from church." He watched as they slipped through the fencing of the adjacent Stroh's Brewery and disappeared.
The pair emerged some time later dragging what Gilday describes as a roughly 200 pound slab of copper piping. "They were going along slipping, sliding in the slush," he says. "It was pretty comical."
Gilday eventually reported the theft to the police, including the tag number for the Ford Probe they were driving. The perpetrators, however, have never been caught.
Police were called about people removing a manhole cover at Kellogg Boulevard and St. Peter Street and entering a sewer system at about 11:45 p.m. Monday [12 September], said Officer Pete Crum, department spokesman.
When three men came out, officers arrested them. They told police they were urban explorers, Crum said.
Urban exploration involves "exploring the hidden, secret and forgotten nooks and crannies of society," which could include caves, old tunnels and abandoned buildings, said Mike Gilday, a local urban explorer. "More so than a hobby or activity, it's a mind-set, a curiosity or desire to explore the artificial frontiers of civilization."
St. Paul police have arrested urban explorers within the past two years at the former Schmidt brewery on West Seventh Street and a cave on the West Side bluffs.As many as 80 people actively participate in urban exploring locally, but there are an untold number of "armchair" explorers, Gilday said.
"While most authorities would doubtless prefer that none of us do what we do, I imagine most would admit, albeit grudgingly, that the irresponsible five percent of the community" causes 85 percent to 95 percent of the trouble, Gilday said.
The explorer who calls himself Max Action said they refrain from theft and vandalism. "Many explorers," he said, "almost religiously follow the backpacker's commandment: 'Take only pictures, leave only footprints.' "
Police and urban explorers alike say the presence of so many people crawling around abandoned buildings and under the city is raising security concerns, especially after Sept. 11, 2001.
"There is some concern that the knowledge we have can be used for nefarious purposes," said Mike Gilday, a photographer and urban explorer.
Gilday and others say that what they are doing is chronicling forgotten and exotic places for future generations.
"I was amazed to discover all of these things that are just beneath the surface and just hidden away that we don't see," he said. "People go to work each day driving over 20-foot storm drains that they're not aware of what it looks like or that it's even there. The allure is seeing these places naturally."I don't think I ever said that last part, or the first part, but I at least sorta agree with the sentiments...