Inside the Bunge Grain Elevator, Part 1

Bunge Grain Elevator - Minneapolis, MN

First, some background history on the location.

The Midway Bunge Grain Elevator was built in 1936, and closed in 2002. A large part of the grain elevator was torn down in 2007 to make room for a housing development. The head tower and remaining structures were planned for redevelopment into housing units, but haulted due to a slump in the housing market.

There have been at least two deaths in the elevator. In 1937 James F. Wallace, 74, died after falling down a man-lift. He was a night watchman at the Bunge. The second death was Germaine Vigeant, 20, who was exploring the abandoned tower in January 2006. Around 3:30am, the University of Minnesota student was climbing the tower with a friend without a flashlight. Vigeant fell through an open hatch on the 10th floor of a silo.

Bunge Grain Elevator, Minneapolis, MN. Only the section outlined in red remains today (July 2010)
Only the section outlined in red remains today (July 2010). The large silos and north wing of silos were torn down in 2007, the garage area facing the train tracks was torn down within the last 6 months.

I had been wanting to get inside the Bunge for a long time. We had been periodically checking it out and seeing if there was a way in for over a year. The place was locked and welded up tight.

When we stopped by on Friday night, we noticed someone had somehow bent apart two wall panels on the south side of the tower. There was a chunk of cement holding the wall panels apart. The hole was small enough for me to squeeze through, but too small for Chris. We worked for a while on wedging larger items between the panels to hold them further apart. If the chunks of cement slipped, it would probably snap shut pretty quickly. It probably took us a couple hours to get the job done. It was risky because it’s surrounded by housing. To the south across the tracks are a bunch of apartment buildings and some houses, to the north is the new housing development, to the west is the housing development’s park, and to the right there were movies in the park. Needless to say it we had to make a little noise to make it happen. The only people we saw were a young guy who went inside and looked around a little bit, and two other guys walking by who didn’t mind what we were doing.

Once we got the entrance all set, we went home and returned in the morning. We definitely weren’t going to climb up there in the dark.

The next morning we arrived, slipped into the building quickly, and started climbing the stairs. The stairs were surprisingly stable, but we were still very cautious climbing them. It was hard to count how many stories the building was – all of the floors have much higher than average ceilings, and climbing the stairs seemed never ending, even though we stopped to check out each floor.

Stairs in the Bunge Grain Elevator - Minneapolis, MN.

There were a lot of uncovered holes that you could fall through into a silo. I’m not sure if this is what Vigeant fell through, but it’s definitely likely. We were sure to be very careful of where we walked.

Open holes down into the grain silos. Bunge Grain Elevator, Minneapolis, MN.

The building has a ton of really cool graffiti and there were a lot of really risky spots tagged up. I’ve heard people refer to this location as a graffiti museum, and it really is.

The top floor of the Bunge Grain Elevator tower.

The top floor of the Bunge Grain Elevator tower. Up two ladders and you’re on the roof, complete with an awesome view of downtown Minneapolis and surrounding neighborhoods.

The top floor of the Bunge Grain Elevator tower.

Sources:
http://www.mgfa.org/html/news.cfm?ID=30
http://www.bridgelandnews.org/757

10 thoughts on “Inside the Bunge Grain Elevator, Part 1

  1. Loooove the “graffiti museum” and your background history for it 🙂 Looks like so much fun! I wish I had more time to explore places like this.

  2. I was just at the park nearby with my girlfriend and we walked over to Bunge out of curiosity. Thanks for posting your story and pictures. Do you have more pics? I’d like to see them… I don’t think I’d be so bold as to go inside myself, but all that graffiti does look cool. Did you go on the roof? Does that staircase just climb straight up to the top? That must be a hundred feet or so…

    Thanks,
    Don

  3. I just moved into an apartment by the Bunge Building and as soon as I looked at I decided that my goal of the year would be to get in there! Then i googled the building and this page came up first. It’s awesome to see that people have found out ways to sneak in there and I’ll definately be scoping it out this year. Along the edges there were cords and it almost looked like there were a few little cameras outside… did you notice anything like that when you went?

  4. There weren’t any cameras at the time, but there could be now. Since you live near by you’ll have the advantage of keeping an eye on it. Eventually someone will make an opening and you’ll be able to check it out.

  5. ive climbed this a couple times with my brother and his room mates, it was probably one of the coolest experiences of my life. we did it at night and the view from the roof is by far the coolest view ive wver seen

  6. Only the section outlined in red remains today (July 2010). The large silos and north wing of silos were torn down in 2007, the garage area facing the train tracks was torn down within the last 6 months.

    I don’t believe the above statement & diagram are correct. Current news stories (7 June 2015) are reporting that a woman fell 30′ in the Bunge Grain Elevator, and that firefighters had to climb 10 stories to reach her. At least one silo must still be standing.

    From KARE 11: The Minneapolis Fire Department found the woman unconscious and trapped on the 10th floor after she had fallen three floors. A technical doctor was sent in with a crew to remove the woman. The rescue took nearly two hours and rescue workers had to climb down the 10 flights of stairs to get the woman to an ambulance.

    http://www.kare11.com/story/news/local/2015/06/07/woman-dies-fall-elevator-bunge/28645279/

  7. Hi Mike, there are still silos, but the largest ones not included in the outline are gone.

    This tragedy occurred on the top floor of the 10 story building. There are two ladders about 6-8 feet tall each. Below the first ladder was a large hole with wooden planks covering it. The wood was sturdy enough to walk on, but she must have had enough force to break through after slipping from the ladder. If you weren’t familiar with the building, didn’t have good light, or were under the influence there would be plenty of dangerous places to fall just within the tower itself without going anywhere near the silos.

  8. Do you have more pictures to share? I’m trying to show my kids the cool (but dangerous) sites I used to explore as a child. Thanks!

    Prayers to the families that lost loved ones here.

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