J. Rieger and Co.’s intriguing excavation project

By Paul Thompson
Northeast News

So you’ve recently unearthed a sealed passage in the more than century-old building that houses your distillery, at the site of the former Heim Brewery bottling facility in Kansas City’s East Bottoms. What do you do? If you’re J. Rieger and Co., you find a shovel and start digging.

For the curious folks at the distillery, the excavation began as a labor of intrigue, a topic of running speculation.

“This wall is concrete here, and then there were brick pavers like what you see down here at the base. It was all the way up,” said Lucy Rieger with J. Rieger and Co. “So it looked like somebody covered up a tunnel. We always talked about how one day it would be cool to open it up.”

What could be behind the wall? A post from the J. Rieger and Co. Facebook account on September 26 offers some tongue-in-cheek suggestions from those who work at the distillery. The top suggestions? Treasure, really old beer, scary mob-related things, or White Walkers from the hit HBO show Game of Thrones.

The answer is still a few days of manual labor away. Once the brick wall was taken down, the J. Rieger team saw a concrete wall some 20-25 feet from the opening, along with a mountain of dirt. After some initial digging, they found that the dirt obscured a stairwell leading underneath the facility. The stairwell could lead to a dead end, but there is at least some hope among the dig team that it could also lead to a hidden room underneath the building.

There are historical reasons for believing that there could be more to the tunnel. Heim’s bottling facility was completed in 1901. The original Electric Park was constructed shortly thereafter, right across the street at the current site of Knucklehead’s, a popular bar and music venue.

“We know that they used to pipe beer underground from the brewery to Electric Park, and that was something that people had never seen before,” said Reiger. “(The tunnel) could have been for piping beer or rolling barrels. We don’t really know.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the original Facebook post, J. Rieger and Co. had already reached nearly 25,000 people. Some came up with their own ideas about what could be hidden beneath all that dirt, sparking a thread that had attracted more than 1,000 reactions and nearly 100 shares by the morning of Thursday, September 28.

Rieger expressed surprise at the attention that’s been paid to the J. Rieger and Co. dig operation, but added that she’s happy that the project could help draw attention to the East Bottoms neighborhood. J. Rieger and Co. moved into the former Heim Brewery bottling facility in 2014, and have been outspoken supporters of the East Bottoms ever since.

“We’ve always loved this area. We looked at stuff in the Crossroads, we looked at stuff in the West Bottoms, kind of these areas that are considered cool now.” Rieger said. “They have their own appeal, but we thought that this area was so special and unique, and it had room for us to grow as a company.”

As for the excavation project, Rieger promised that she would keep everyone on social media updated with any breakthroughs. In the meantime, she’s keeping her fingers crossed that the digging will lead to a fun discovery.

“We just want to dig a tunnel and hope it goes somewhere cool,” Rieger said.

A look inside the J. Rieger and Co. distillery in Kansas City’s East Bottoms neighborhood.

Comments are closed.

  • Council committee considers Buck O’Neil Bridge, KCPD IT consolidation, FIFA World Cup in busy meeting

    December 14th, 2017

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News The City of Kansas City, Missouri’s Finance and Governance committee had a busy morning on […]

    New bike lanes proposed for Northeast

    December 13th, 2017

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News Kansas City’s Public Works department is looking to spend roughly $475,000 on bike lanes in […]

    Edgemoor MOU passes unanimously through Airport Committee

    December 13th, 2017

    Paul Thompson Northeast News In a surprise twist, the full City Council is expected to discuss the City’s Memorandum of […]

    More cracks revealed in relationship between KC Pet Project, animal control

    December 13th, 2017

    Paul Thompson Northeast News Over the past 15 months, Kansas City, Missouri has focused a microscope on the Animal Health […]

    Amazon is coming to town – to Sheffield Place, specifically.

    December 13th, 2017

    Melissa Wharton Northeast News For the holiday season, Amazon has sent out their sleighs: 53-foot trucks stocked with toys, books […]

  • Candlelight vigil for 2017 homicides at Norton Heights Community of Christ Church

    December 13th, 2017

      Dorri Partain Northeast News Norton Heights Community of Christ Church, 436 Norton Ave, remembers those who lost lives to […]

    VIDEO: Independence MO Police Officer Tom Wagstaff’s homecoming, Friday December 8th, 2017

    December 8th, 2017

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Today’s motorcade for Independence Police Officer Tom Wagstaff was not the first motorcade to travel down […]

    Sheffield Place makes another family’s dreams come true

    December 6th, 2017

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News When Janee Reed first checked into Sheffield Place, she was simply looking for resources to […]

    KCI community workshop comes to Gregg/Klice

    December 6th, 2017

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News Reliable Wi-Fi, comfortable seating, more outlets for phone charging and easier access to amenities were […]

    Kansas City school children receive free eye exams and glasses

    December 6th, 2017

    Melissa Wharton Northeast News Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences is partnering with OneSight to provide free eye exams […]

  • What’s Happening

    CID: Children’s Choice Daycare and Elvira’s Cakes

    Legion fountain and Van Brunt icon

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Originally designed as an ornate drinking fountain by noted Kansas City Sculptor Robert Merril Gage, the […]

    retorts illustrated by bryan stalder

  • Local Weather