Drake St. Storm Drain

As with many of the storm drain outfalls along Shepard Road, this tunnel was formerly a sewage outfall. These days the sewage from pipes and upper-level tunnels is diverted into interceptors, and many of these deeper systems with riverfront outfalls are used to carry stormwater from the city streets to the river. The previous incarnation as a sewer is evident in the shape and style of the sandstone and brick sections of tunnel, most of which originally date from the late 1800s. Newer sections were re-lined and separated from the sewers in the late 1980s and 90s. (Click here for some pictures of active sewers from the same era).

The modernized tunnel outfall, and an old carving on the river bluff nearby.

A variety of 1800s carved sandstone and brick passages, some leading to dead ends and some shrinking to calcium-lined crawl tunnels full of smashed ceramic pipe.

The object of our trip, as seen from above, below, and on a sewer map. This stairway of 1-ft high brick steps used to provide a gradual and erosion-abating drop for sewer flows from the shallower tunnels to this river-level outfall system. At the top the stairway is blocked off where it once connected to two street tunnels and the west 7th Interceptor.

The back-pain inducing side tunnel to Hell, and two modernized dropshafts. Ladders are rare and usually lead to the middle of the street, so aren't safe to use. The last shaft seems to be a popular design for St. Paul's sewers-turned storm drains, seen in many places. It's comprised of a double shaft separated by a concrete wall, a high/shallow tunnel entrance, an impact plate of steel, and two manholes at the top (one each side of the wall). Sadly, there is almost always no way into the shallow-level tunnels from below.

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