I've been wanting to hit this drain up for years, for several reasons, but mostly because it is red brick and huge compared to the rest of the town's system. It also had the supposed advantage of not being marked as a combined sewer outfall (CSO) like the other outlets along the river. I was hoping this meant there wouldn't be any raw sewage in it, but once again, this wonderful city proved me wrong.
I had visited this place with a tripod in hand several times in the past, wading through brambles and stinging nettles and climbing over precarious piles of concrete and old waste on the way out, always carrying too much crap, wearing bad shoes, old jeans, middle of the summer, but at least with equipment to photograph the fucker. Always it was flooded with at least two feet of water at the mouth, with the ditch leading towards it much deeper than that. Then, one day last autumn, I made the walk wearing almost new shoes, carrying no tripod, and with only a single headlamp with depleted batteries for light. Of course this time it was almost dry at the mouth, and very dry further in.
Naturally I decided to ruin my shoes and wander into the water to get in. At the mouth it smelled like hydrogen sulfide gas, which should have been my sign to turn around. H2S is a very poisonous gas which also has the complication of paralyzing the olfactory nerve at higher (read dangerous) concentrations. Theoretically if it had been that high I would have stopped smelling it after one or two breaths, which I didn't. Also I don't really like my lungs and this was a good way of getting even with them.
In any case, I made it about 25 feet in before I started to notice that the 6 inches or so of water was becoming more cloudy and brown instead of less, and there were little clusters of corn floating around in it. I tried to convince myself that it was a little after harvest time and there was likely to be lots corn washing into drains. I would have succeeded if it weren't for what happened next. At this point, I'll leave it as an excersize for the reader to guess from the title of this page and the context which substance I was standing in with my non-waterproof shoes on. Perhaps you'd like to hope that it was some kind of wonderful maple syrup which was flowing between my toes, or maybe a plate full of thanksgiving dinner with fresh sweet corn.
Unfortunately, none of these were the case. I was standing in regular, good old fashioned human feces. About 100 feet in, right at the edge of the water, I found the source. It seems one of the businesses above the drain, not wanting to go through the massive expense of getting a proper sewer hookup, had just drilled a hole straight through a newer concrete section of the drain which spanned this part, stuck a pipe in it, and proceeded to shit down it almost continuously for the next 10 years. I tried to get a picture of the small and quite recent fecal mound, for you, my wonderful reader, but was stymied by my lack of tripod.
Anyway, the rest of the drain was pretty ordinary. The red brick sections had only been left intact where they travelled under the road, and the drain narrowed and became, you guessed it, a regular CSO after about 300 yards. What few blurry pictures I got are presented for your pleasure on this page. When I go back with waterproof boots and a tripod to photograph the shitpipe an update will be posted.