CINCINNATI – Were four Northern Kentucky University students working on a school project when they broke into the abandoned Hudepohl brewery or were they "urban exploring?"
No one is saying for sure, but when one student fell down an elevator shaft and had to be rescued by the fire department - and when all four were charged with trespassing - it pointed out the danger that can come with the thrill of venturing into these historic sites.
There's a reason why "Keep Out" signs are posted and barbed-wire fences surround these old relics.
But one urban explorer, who didn't want his identity known, told WCPO the rewards lying inside old buildings are worth the risk.
"The attraction, I guess, is just curiosity," he said. "You want to go in and see what it's about."
These explorers, armed with cameras, say they often travel in groups to see the abandoned past first-hand.
"You're seeing untouched history - an office where people have just up, left. The building's closed down, but desks are still there, notepads are still on the table."
It's a popular adventure. Search the Web for urban explorers in Cincinnati and you find links to a variety of groups and blogs, including:
> Queen City Discovery (see photos and articles from the Kings Island Inn and other sites);
> Forgotten Ohio (featuring abandoned amusement parks, drive-ins, schools and bridges);
> UrbanExplorers.net (including a map and photos of tunnels at UC);
If you want to play it safe and explore some of Cincinnati history, there are guided tours of the abandoned subway and the Brewery District.
The Cincinnati Museum Center conducts an annual subway tour in May, weekend tours of the Union Terminal rotunda and other events at local landmarks throughout the year.
The Cincinnati Brewery District offers several tours to the sites of breweries - some underground - from one or two centuries past.
Other tours will take you to the popular craft beer breweries still pumping out beer around town.