Cotton Belt Freight Depot: Local Artists Dream Of Adding Giant Mural To Iconic Ruin (Photos)

Danny Wicentowski
Local artists want to turn the Cotton Belt Freight Depot into a 750-foot-long canvas.
Shuttered since 1959, the once bustling Cotton Belt Freight Depot is a 750-foot-long concrete ruin of graffiti, rot and trash. The structure is virtually invisible to city dwellers, hidden as it is behind a row of factories on the north riverfront.

But with the opening of the nearby Stan Musial Veterans Bridge in February, the pocked face of the Cotton Belt now greets motorists crossing the bridge from Illinois. Tom Nagel, an artist and preservation activist, wants to give those drivers a real St. Louis welcome: A 750-foot-long mural across the east facade.

"You drive across that bridge, but there's nothing there but this huge abandoned building," says Nagel. "Let's put something amazing there."

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St. Louis: A Cheap Canadian Traveler's Dream

tnimalan on flickr
"St. Louis is a cheap place to visit, eh?"
In case you didn't catch the latest issue of Canadian Traveller, the magazine that boasts a "Canadian perspective of how Canadians travel," St. Louis is a paradise for any tourist looking for a big vacation on a minuscule budget.

"When it comes to looking for free things to do, St. Louis is one of the best cities in the world," the magazine says in the story "The Skinflint Guide -- Nine Ways To Keep An Eye On Your Bank Balance in St Louis."

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6 Local Urban Explorers You Should Be Following On Instagram

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Courtesy Patrick Devine
An abandoned YMCA gym somewhere in St. Louis.

There is an insatiable appetite in St. Louis to see forgotten, abandoned and hidden spaces. The greater metropolitan area is full of them (like this ballroom, or this mall, or this hospital). At its worst, these images are called "ruin porn," a voyeuristic way for people to shake their heads at urban destruction without doing anything to improve the situation. That may be fair criticism, but there's no denying that these spaces have an eerie beauty that is hard to forget.

The following locals have turned their Instagram eyes away from selfies and brunches, and focus in on these places. Not all of them can be, strictly speaking, termed "urban explorers," but they do explore urban areas and the results are by turns stunning and disturbing (especially an image we've included in the very last page -- be warned that it is graphic and may be upsetting to animal-lovers). In pursuit of this, they don't always shoot in St. Louis, but they're must-follows for anyone who wants to see a different side of American cities.

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Photo of the Day: Nelly Gives Obama a Haircut in Bogota, Colombia Bar

Julia van Horn
Nelly gives President Barack Obama a VIP cut.
On a trip to Bogota, Colombia, St. Louis natives Julia van Horn and Jack Grelle found an amazing poster in the very first bar they visited.

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Post-Apocalyptic Portraits of Abandoned YMCA Taken by St. Louis Pastry Chef (PHOTOS)

The deep end. | Patrick Devine

By day, Patrick Devine slaves over designer macarons, tarts and cakes so intricately detailed they look like they were assembled by gnomes at La Patisserie Chouquette (1626 Tower Grove Avenue; 314-932-7935). But in his free time, Devine makes art in a very different way -- he enters abandoned properties and snaps portraits of the things and places people left behind.

"Some people don't really appreciate the photos.... It's just something that I'm drawn to," he says. "It would be really strange to have someone say, 'Oh, I grew up in that place,' or, 'I used to work there.'"

See also: Crestwood Court: Post-Apocalyptic Portraits of the Abandoned Mall (PHOTOS)

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Happy Halloween: 3 "True" St. Louis Ghost Stories

Happy Halloween, Daily RFT readers!

Don't waste your time with phony ghost stories. St. Louis has plenty of "real" tales of hauntings, possessions and more.

Here are three of our favorite St. Louis ghost stories. Click the title to read the full story.

Google Maps
Carrico Road in North St. Louis County
1. The Bubblehead Family
Maybe they were the result of experimental drug testing gone wrong. Maybe years of inbreeding caused them to look like that. Either way, a family of swollen-headed spirits haunt Carrico Road just south of the Missouri River in unincorporated Florissant -- or so says the urban legend.

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Abandoned Macy's Midwest Headquarters: An Eerie Photo Tour

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A photo once went here.
Editor's note: Riverfront Times has honored Philip Thomas's request that we remove the photos he shared with us. Also, the property manager for the Railway Exchange Building wants everyone to know that exploration of the building's vacant floors is expressly prohibited.

Original post follows (minus the photos).

What happens when a 1.2 million-square-foot shopping mecca goes dark?

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One of the Last Lemps Offers Tours of Crypt, Private Stories About Famous Family

Courtesy of Andrew Paulsen
Andrew Lemp Paulsen, of Northern Illinois, clearly resembles his famous ancestors.
Andrew Lemp Paulsen first visited his infamous family's marble mausoleum in Bellefontaine Cemetery as a toddler, and now at 28 he knows precisely where he'd like to be interred when the time comes.

Paulsen is the great-great-great-grandson of William J. Lemp Sr., the German immigrant who made his family's eponymous brewery the largest of thirty breweries in St. Louis in just a few years. Today the Lemps are better known for the string of suicides and personal problems that derailed their company than they are for their once-famous lager.

But Paulsen says he came to St. Louis this year to offer guided tours of his family's private mausoleum and share never-before-seen heirlooms, to try and change the popular perception that his family is all about spooky ghost stories.

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Abandoned Forest Park Hospital: What's the Deal with All That Leftover Equipment?

forest park hospital.jpg
Nick Zulauf
Obviously already haunted.
When Daily RFT first wrote about a collection of amazing photos from inside the closed Forest Park Hospital, it quickly became the week's most popular post. What's intriguing and eeire about urban explorer Nick Zulauf's photos is the careful documentation what got left behind. A child's trike. Rows of beds still made up with sheets and blankets. A pair of eyeglasses.

Click here for the full slideshow of the abandoned Forest Park Hospital.

But beyond mere voyeurism, we also heard from readers who wanted to know why the pictures show so much medical and electronic equipment. Zulauf found laptop computers, heaps of old phones, televisions, heart monitors, surgical lights, scales -- even a bone saw.

Couldn't some of that medical equipment be useful? We endeavored to find out.

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Post-Apocalyptic Portraits of the Abandoned Forest Park Hospital [PHOTOS]

FoPo beds.jpg
Nick Zulauf
The post-apocalyptic world of Forest Park Hospital.
When Nick Zulauf arrived at Forest Park Hospital -- closed since May 2011 -- he says he saw a lone police officer at the entrance, seemingly there to keep out the riffraff.

Click for a full slideshow of the abandoned Forest Park Hospital.

Zulauf says he asked if it would be alright to take some pictures of the otherwise abandoned 567,000-square-foot building, and the cop said that was fine. Zulauf may have failed to mention that he meant pictures of the inside of the massive hospital.

"You really can't get in through any of the external doors," he says. "I found kind of a round-about-way behind an overgrown area. There's a little storm grate. It goes right into this basement."

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