Monday, April 20, 2009

Climbing to the Top of Mt. Hudepohl

The stars had aligned and surprisingly everyone in the usual crew was able to get together. SeicerZach, RJ and myself all made plans to meet up on a Thursday evening; one of the first nice, warm and sunny evenings of the spring. As the sun went down we piled into the borrowed 1996 Mazda MPV mini van until arriving at our destination. Like soldiers out of a Blackhawk helicopter in Somolia, we jumped out of the van and hit the pavement armed with our cameras as opposed to assault rifles. Cautiously walking with camera bags on our backs, tripods and flashlights in hand, we approached the target. Our mission had one goal: Reach the top of Mt. Hudepohl.

This building had served as the local Hudepohl Brewing Company's main headquarters from 1946 until 1987. Seicer and I had been here last January, but were only able to see the basement and cellars of the structure. This time we were going back with our resident climber a.k.a. RJ.

The building appears as if it is two buildings. It was actually, at one time, one large building. After being abandoned for quite some time, a company named Hudepohl Square L.L.C. purchased the property with the intent of renovating it. The remaining sections you see today were to be refurbished, but a large section of the middle of the building was demolished. For some reason or another construction was halted leaving the building as you see it in these photograhs. The building has actually been declared a public nuisance (according to the numerous papers stapled to it's outside) by the city. I assume the property owner doesn't want to invest anymore into it until plans for the new Brent Spence Bridge are finalized since a proposed new alignment would go straight through this property.

Ascending fences for someone like RJ is no problem at all. When you're a rower on a crew team your upper body strength is quite impressive, for the rest of us climbing can be a bit more of a challenge. While not as gracefully as RJ, I made it up over the chain link obstruction as Zach and Seicer followed. Crumbling and unsecured brick of the partially demolished brewery was the next challenge. An old wooden ladder, only God knows how old, helped us vanquish this second obstacle. Following the climbing, some of us were back in the Hudepohl Brewery once again, for others this was their first time.

Flashlights were turned on. The light from our electric torches gave view of old equipment, trash and remnants of the brewery's former life scattered amongst the floor. The stairs were located. Climbing over crumbling brick we made our way up to the second floor.

The second floor had some sort of steel cage around one section of it along with shelving units and more trash. Easing our way towards the edge we could see out over the entire property. Uneasy about the height and the obvious drop off, I gripped onto a steel beam as I set up my camera. Reaching the top was the goal, not falling off.

After a photograph break we proceeded upward. There were two hallways of stairs. One lead through a network of catwalks up to a locked door, the other up to a sketchy set of stairs that can be seen in the above photograph. Since door number one was locked, we made our way up towards the "sketchy stairs." Here there were no doors, just a straight drop off down to the ground if you went straight or a climb up a set of stairs that seemed to have very little support to your left.

RJ was bold enough to tempt the support of the stairs, while the rest of us opted to find another way to the top. We retreated back down to the first floor, using flashlights to navigate our way.

As we searched for another staircase to the top we slowly walked through the room seen in the above photograph. Two of the high powered flashlights began to die leaving us only with a mini maglite and cell phones to light the path. I managed to trip over something and after stumbling to keep my balance, turned around to find a vintage cash register. I'm not sure what it was used for at the brewery or if it was even used at the brewery. It may have just been stored here along with a lot of the other junk, but it was certainly an interesting find.

Following some more photographs, stumbling and flashlight guiding, we found another staircase. There were no doubts about the integrity of this staircase. It was safe, secure and (hopefully) going to take us straight to the top of the building. The staircase also provided a nice view of the west side of the city as we climbed:

This time, we found no locked doors at the top of a staircase. In fact, there wasn't even a door. We walked straight out onto the roof, greeting RJ who had been up here snapping photographs for some time.

-This structure atop the roof was once used to support the neon "Hudepohl" sign that once adorned the top of the building.

We took the next half hour to snap photographs from a perspective that not many have the opportunity to see, the nighttime view from the top of the former Hudepohl Brewery:

Part 3: Hudepohl Tour 3


  1. Keep 'em coming!! Always enjoy these trip reports!!

  2. Looks great ronny.. really like the night pan and the last image... that smoke stack really carries your eye across the photo

  3. My grandpa and dad used to work there... nice shots.

  4. This is a great part of Cincinnati's past. Would love nothing more than to still have that building it working order, pumping out the Hudepohl!

  5. I can tell you a much easier way to get into hudepohl if you ever want to go back. Just message me on myspace or something as I'd rather not post it in public

  6. I'd love to see a pic of the old neon Hudepohl sign if anyone had one. Also, the pic of everyone standing at the base of the smokestack would make a great album/CD cover.

    Great job! Keep it up.

  7. Was just out scouting today, saw some guy throw some tires over and then re-arranged the cones to look "official" as I was driving by giving him the eye.

    Would love to see the inside of that place with the play of sunrise.

  8. How exactly do you get here? I would love to be able to explore it and take some pictures but have no idea where to go from the highway.