Archive for November, 2014

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Torn to Pieces

Remembering Undercliff Sanatorium

By: Sean and Amanda

The state of Connecticut is home to many well-known abandoned mental hospitals. In the shadow of the rolling hills of Southern Connecticut once stood one of our most feared and legendary facilities: Undercliff Sanatorium. Located in Meriden, CT, the grounds stood just a short walk off the beaten path of Hubbard State Park. Though several buildings on the grounds are still active state facilities, the main hospital had been abandoned since the seventies. Since its creation, it served several different purposes including a mental hospital and a storage facility. For many years after its demise, the facility sat empty and decaying. It was not until the spring of 2014 that the old hospital was finally demolished, torn to pieces over a few weeks. We were lucky enough to visit the abandoned Undercliff Sanatorium while it still stood in the early months of 2013.

First opening in 1910, Undercliff Sanatorium is still an active state facility. It has recently been renamed by the state as Undercliff State Hospital, since it is no longer used for its original purpose. Covering over forty acres in the town of Meriden, the facility was originally built to treat children with tuberculosis and other diseases. As modern medicine developed and these diseases became less common, the facility slowly evolved into a treatment center for adults. In the 1950’s, all adolescent patients were transferred to Seaside Sanatorium. (see our write-up here) In the 1960’s, Undercliff evolved once again into a state mental health facility. The main hospital officially closed in 1976, and has essentially remained unused. Much like all abandoned hospitals in Connecticut, there were rumors of patient abuse and there have been many alleged hauntings on the property.

Reaching Undercliff Sanatorium was no easy task. Due to large amounts of vandalism and trespassing, the official road signs for the facility had been removed to discourage visitors. We had read reports about some people being able to simply drive down the road and up to the facility itself. We found these hard to believe, especially considering a Connecticut State Trooper is housed on the grounds. Since it is still an active state facility, Undercliff was said to have a heavy police presence. We decided to park at the nearby Hubbard State Park. We made the climb up the mountain to Castle Craig, which gave us an excellent aerial view of the entire Undercliff campus and the surrounding towns. We then moved down the mountain to find a better way to get to the abandoned facility.

After climbing down the mountain, we came upon a road leading off into the distance. Across the road from us, we found an old path into the woods and decided to follow it. It led us deep into the forest, and eventually we came upon an open field leading up to Undercliff Sanatorium. It was massive, looming ominously in the distance as we slowly got closer. Despite all the rumors, we did not encounter a single trespassing warning. There were no fences, no signs, and we didn’t see a single police officer or security guard. The entire grounds seemed empty. It was weird. We cautiously moved closer and closer to the facility, unsure if it was illegal or not. But oddly enough, the closer we moved onto the grounds, the quieter things became. There was not a single sign of life. We continued moving up cautiously and quietly until we finally reached the hospital.

The abandoned hospital was huge. After successfully crossing the open field, we entered the parking lot of the main hospital. There were two buildings adjacent to each other.  One was a simple rectangular building while the main hospital was blockier with each floor going up a little smaller than the one below it. Both were made entirely of brick. Every single window on the ground floor had been smashed and sub sequentially boarded up. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much graffiti on the hospitals exterior. A rickety chain link fence surrounded the main hospital, but there were so many holes cut into it that it was pretty much useless. The doors were all heavily boarded up, except the main door ironically, which had been busted open at the bottom. People were able to crawl inside easily through this hole, which looked relatively new. But there were asbestos warning signs posted everywhere.

We encountered several other explorers, who helped us get inside via the opening at the main door. Inside, Undercliff Sanatorium was a maze of darkness. There are no pictures of the interior because we foolishly forgot our flashlights. The main hospital was at least seven floors, including a basement which was mysteriously flooded when the facility was abandoned. Rumor has it that the facility’s crematorium and morgue were located down there, and it was flooded to keep people away from them. Each hallway was a little creepier than the last. Each staircase was in ruin. Around each corner lay more shadows and more destruction. Vandalism was rampant everywhere. Oddly a lot of supplies seemed to have been left behind, and summarily destroyed by vandals. The main attraction of the abandoned facility was the theater. On the north side of the main hospital, which could be seen from the outside, was a large and ghostly theater featuring hundreds of empty chairs staring at a rotting stage. There was definitely a dark vibe about this place. It could be felt throughout the entire facility.

Though it has since been demolished, the darkness of Undercliff Sanatorium can still be felt. When you visit a place like this, it never really leaves you. Just looking at the facility from the outside, we could feel presence that lay within its walls. It is unclear at this time what the state plans to do with the now demolished site. Since the grounds are still an active facility, it will more than likely continue to serve that purpose. One fun rumor we heard about this place is that the Travel Channel show “Ghost Adventures” wanted to do a paranormal investigation here and even offered the State of Connecticut a good sum of money to allow them to do so. But all offers were mysteriously turned down. Unfortunately, whatever dark secrets and evil deeds this facility once held are no more. But the ghost of Undercliff will always be there.

Sound the Bugle – The Lost Nike Missile Bases of Connecticut

Posted: November 11, 2014 by Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Forts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Closed, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, East Haddam Connecticut, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, fire, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Fortress, Forts, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, House, Information, lost, Military, Military Forts, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, Nike Missile Base, overgrown, photography, Portland, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sound the Bugle

The Lost Nike Missile Bases of Connecticut

By: Sean and Amanda

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When I was a kid, we would spend hours upon hours building our own army bases deep in the woods. Little did we know, there are some still out there. Waiting to be found. Though they have been long abandoned, there is still a strong presence to be felt. There are concrete staircases leading to nowhere, old guard shacks slowly being crushed by the weight of time, and miles of underground tunnels hidden from the world of above. These are the former Nike Missile Bases of Connecticut. In the early days of the Cold War, they were built as an aerial defense system for the United States. But as time crept on and technology developed, these missile bases were left behind, fair game for nature to reclaim.

There were at one time hundreds of Nike Missile sites all over the country. Some bases were even established in Europe. There were at least twelve known in the state of Connecticut. Most of these sites were coastal or along the Connecticut River. Others were in place as a defense for the city of Hartford. First established in 1945 as a project for the Army, the Nike Missile sites were created as a new form of defense against aerial attacks on the United States homeland. By the mid-1950’s, there were sites in almost every state in the union. But also around this time, technology began to develop. The Army was moving forward with more advanced forms of missile defense, and Nike slowly became obsolete. It wasn’t long until the project came to end.

With most sites being a part of active military bases, their shutdown was not a big deal. Some shutdown sites were demolished. Others were donated. But a few were simply left to rot. We visited one such site. Most of the bases in Connecticut have been demolished completely, refurnished for new purposes, or used as recreation areas. But there is one that still stands. Hidden away deep in the Meshomasic State Forest, this site featured two compounds: B and C. They are both within a mile or so of each other. Where to find these sites can be found online with a little digging. We strongly advise you use Google Maps if you ever plan on visiting this site. It is not an easy trip in at all.

As soon as you cross over into the Meshomasic State Forest, the road becomes very treacherous. It is all unpaved, rocky, dirt roads going forward. Do not take a car that is low to the ground, or any vehicle that you don’t mind getting a little dirty. If you’ve got a truck or an SUV, take it. Aside from the poor road conditions, the state forest is a true sight to see. Since it is rather difficult to get to, it is not heavily frequented by hikers or bikers. We found relative solitude for most of our trip in. There is no exact street address for either missile site. But we used Google Maps to chart a relative location for both of them so we knew exactly what to look for.

We arrived at Site C first. It is the easier of the two to find, mainly because most of what remains of the site is above ground. It is marked by an old guard gate, with a slowly decaying road leading upward. This proved to be a nice place to park our car. After a short walk up the old road, we found what remains of the base. It was marked by a concrete staircase to nowhere, leading onwards. We walked up the staircase and continued down the path. Several odd looking buildings still remain, though a few of them are full of beer cans and trash. Also, always watch where you step. There are partially filled in manholes all over the site. Only once were we able to find one that you can climb down, but it did not go far. It was also full of snakes. There are also multiple collapsed buildings on this site. Whether they were torn down by man or by nature remains to be seen.

Site D was our second visit. It is a good stretch further down the labyrinth of dirt roads, marked by a similar entry way as Site C. This site has a paved road leading into it. The road is in surprisingly good shape, though it is covered in graffiti and old fire pits. Both sites have a lot of evidence for partying, which was discouraging. A short walk down the road, we found several former foundations of buildings. We also found an old trail of old power lines which lead further into the base. Following this trail, we found multiple mounds of wood chips. This usually indicates something was there, but has now been destroyed. Continuing down the road, we came across a big empty field. Though it may not look like much, it was what dwells beneath your feet that makes this site special.

Much like Site C, there are many filled in manholes all across the base. There are also several just plain cement lots. But do not be deceived. Beneath the cement, lie the underground bunkers of the Nike Missile Site. There are very few ways down into the tunnels. But we found one. By gaining access through an old ventilation hatch, we were able to get into the underground tunnels. We do not condone or recommend this. It may not be illegal, but the tunnels are extremely dangerous. They are heavily flooded in some parts. The air is not very good. And it is completely dark down there. Do not even think about going down without all of the proper safety equipment. Getting in involves a lot of crawling on your belly, covering your face, and hoping to God the batteries of your flashlight hold out.

Once a thriving part of the United States military, the Nike Missile sites are now nothing more than the ghosts of the Cold War. Though many of the former sites have been destroyed or are on private property, this site strangely is neither. It was simply left behind. Of all the places we have explored, few have shown just how fast and furiously nature can reclaim the land. The sites lay in ruin. But if you look closely, you can still see the shadows of what this place once was before the final bugle sounded.

We stumbled upon this while hiking in the woods the other day….

Hiding in Plain Sight – The Wonders of Seaside Sanatorium

Posted: November 8, 2014 by Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Connecticut, abandoned home, Abandoned Hospital, abandoned new england, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Bird Watching, Birds, Broken, Cabin, Children, Children's Hospital, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, fire, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, House, Information, left behind, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, Ocean, Ocean View, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, seaside, Seaside Sanatorium, State Parks, Stories, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Waterford, writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hiding in Plain Sight

The Wonders of Seaside Sanatorium

By: Sean and Amanda

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Overlooking the waters of Long Island Sound stands the hauntingly beautiful Seaside Sanatorium. One of Connecticut’s many abandoned former mental health facilities, Seaside holds a dark past. With the waves of the ocean crashing against the shores a few yards from the facility, Seaside is as captivating as it is depressing. As one of the only major abandoned locations that is legal to visit, we have checked out Seaside Sanatorium on multiple occasions. During the winter, it is an empty and sad shadow of its former self. But during the summer, the grounds become an active place for swimming and recreation. Located in the town of Waterford, CT, Seaside sits seaside to the Atlantic Ocean. It is located along Shore Road in Waterford. While it faces the ocean, the grounds are nestled within a rather active neighborhood.

While the state of Connecticut is home to many abandoned medical facilities, Seaside Sanatorium is one of the more picturesque locations. The building itself was designed by the famous architect Cass Gilbert, the same man responsible for the famous US Supreme Court building in Washington DC and New Haven’s Union Station. The facility was opened during the early 1930’s, seeing a long and colorful history that lasted until 1996. Over the years it has served as a children’s hospital, a treatment center for the elderly, and a facility for the mentally handicapped. Sadly, the facility was home to several incidents of violent treatment of patients in the early 1990’s which would ultimately cause the demise of Seaside. It now sits abandoned, though it can be legally walked as a recreation area.

Our trip to Seaside was very easy to plan. There is a ton of information online about the facility including its history, location, where to walk, and where to park. It is in the middle of a residential neighborhood on Shore Road. Located right next to the abandoned grounds is an active state facility, so do not get mixed up. When you first arrive at the location, it will look like you do not belong. But trust us; it’s okay to be there. Online we found the official address to be Seaside Drive, Waterford, CT. Our GPS took us down Shore Road, located in close proximity to Harkness State Park. The facility is on the left, along the shore of Long Island Sound. Seaside Drive is NOT where you park. There is a steel gate blocking traffic into the facility. That is not where you belong. To the right of the gate is the active state facility. To the left of the gate is a parking lot, where it is legal to park. It is then a very quick walk onto the grounds.

There are several smaller buildings that are empty towards the parking lot. There is also what appears to be a security office and a Port-O-John. The first large building that we came across is the Nurse’s Quarters. Though it is slightly smaller than the actual hospital, it is just as picturesque. This building is effectively impossible to get into without vandalizing it. The windows are all boarded up from the inside. There are locks on the entrances. And the steps on all of the fire escapes have been removed. We would not advise you to try anything stupid. Besides, a family of very large sea birds called Osprey nest in the upstairs of the nurse’s quarters. You do not want to mess with them. Through not as good looking as some large birds, the Osprey family is just as strangely mesmerizing as Seaside itself.

Moving on past the Nurse’s Quarters, we came upon the hospital itself. Directly overlooking the ocean, it is a good sized building. There are four floors to the hospital. The main entrance is sealed up very well with boards, locks, and nails. Most of its windows are broken, and the inside walls are coated with graffiti. Large flocks of much smaller birds nest in different areas of the building. Facing the ocean lays the facility’s abandoned recreational area. A derelict chess board still stands with its two seats still intact. A broken down merry-go-round lies in ruin. What remains of the playground is overgrown with vines and vegetation. A child’s slide is still there, its yellow paint job slowly chipping away. Atop the building is a rusting weathervane, shaped like an old school whaling ship. Behind the building is what remains of Seaside’s parking lot.

The facility is very easy to get inside. There are many places that would be an easy jump or climb to get inside the facility. We do NOT recommend or condone this though. The facility is very unstable on the inside. And though the grounds of Seaside are legal to walk, it is ILLEGAL to go inside the facility itself. On most days, during the summer especially, there is a security guard on duty who is authorized to detain any trespassers. On one of our visits, one of these security guards saw us taking pictures of the buildings and came over to tell us all about the facility. He explained to us the history of the buildings and what plans the town of Waterford hopes to have for the grounds for the near future. He also gave us fair warning not to go inside the facility. He was very respectful and informative. We ask that you respect the guards and their job to keep people out of the facility.

Even though you cannot legally go inside Seaside Sanatorium, it is still well worth a visit. The grounds are very popular for dog walkers and beachgoers during the summer. But no matter what season you go, the buildings are just hauntingly breathtaking. They are something that you will never forget. There have been many rumors throughout the years of the grounds being demolished for either a condominium complex or a strip mall. But none of these rumors have come true yet. Until they do, Seaside Sanatorium continues to sit hiding from the world that left it behind in plain sight. Waiting.

Camp of Shadows – The Mystery of Camp Connecticut

Posted: November 4, 2014 by Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Connecticut, abandoned new england, Abandoned Resort, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Birds, Broken, Camp Connecticut, Children, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, dreams, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Ghosts, Haunting, Hebron, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Marlborough, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, research, route 85, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Stories, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Camp of Shadows

The Mystery of Camp Connecticut

Written by: Sean L.
Photographs by: Amanda H.

Nestled deep in the woods bordering Colchester and Hebron, Connecticut, lies a place of mystery. Though allegedly not completely abandoned, it is a shadow of its former self. Countless rumors have emerged throughout the years as to why it closed, but nobody seems to know for sure. I’m talking, of course, about Camp Connecticut. Having lived in the area my whole life, I had visited the empty camp several times in my youth. It has been a staple in the community for as long as I can remember. It was seen as a “rite of passage” to sneak into the camp when I was young. Though little of the actual structures of the camp remain, the ghosts of the past still hold a strong presence over this former summer hotspot. Growing up around Camp Connecticut, every kid I knew seemed to have a different story about why this place was abandoned. One of the most popular rumors was that one of the camp counselors went crazy and killed several campers. Another popular one was that the daughter of the camp’s owner was drowned in the lake.

No such evidence to support these claims has ever been found.

The rumors of satanic activities and Devil worship were also very prevalent. Stories of hauntings and paranormal activity were strong as well. As part of my high school news team, we were planning on spending the night at the abandoned camp in an attempt to gather evidence of the hauntings. Our investigation was shut down though by the local authorities.When researching this site for our current investigation, we found little to nothing online about the camp. There was no information on this mysterious place anywhere. Even the website of the alleged owners of the site, the local Shriners, was mysteriously taken down. There were a few photos on some very old blogs, but mostly Camp Connecticut seemed to be a place forgotten by the public.There is a main entrance on Old Hebron Road, but it is now heavily watched by multiple security cameras. Through the use of Google Maps, see Rule #4, we were able to find a way into the camp via the local Airline Trail.

Camp Connecticut is deep in the heart of darkness. It is protected from the outside world by a forest of dense foliage and thick woodlands. The main entrance is now blocked by a sturdy metal gate that is locked at all times. There is, however, one old trail into this lost world. It has been nicknamed “Hell’s Trail.” It is lies off the Airline Trail just over the Hebron border along the banks of the winding Judd Brook. Parking at the Old Hartford Road entrance of the Airline, it was a little over a mile walk to the mouth of the Hell’s Trail. This is not an easy path. Being an unofficial trail, it is not maintained like the rest of the Airline. The only users of this trail are the local wildlife and people like us looking to get a glimpse into Camp Connecticut. The trail follows Judd Brook as it winds through the woods.

The deeper you go, the quieter things become, until you are left in complete silence. About a mile down the winding trail, you will find the remains of Camp Connecticut. The trail leads directly into the camp, only the path is blocked once you cross into the property by a very large fallen tree. The fallen tree has clearly been placed here for a reason. A crude sign is stapled to the fallen log with a clear warning from the “Camp Connecticut Board of Directors.” The sign states “No Trespassing” and that “We are watching you.” They aren’t joking either. Multiple security cameras can be seen from the trail guarding the property. Beyond the fallen log lies a large clearing with small piles of junk scattered around. There are several roads visible leading off further into the camp. It is quiet as a tomb. It is the middle of summer. Yet there are no sounds of birds, or bugs, or anything. Just silence.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We explore what we can for the next few hours. Climbing up the nearby cliffs, we were able to get a better view of the camp. A single lean-two is still standing deeper into the camp. There is also an abandoned truck and several more piles of junk. We also found a very well hidden and well maintained tree stand, meaning someone is still using this property for something. Coming off of the river there is also a small pond. This pond is allegedly where most of the devil worship is supposed to take place. We saw no such devil worship. But that is all that is left of this former summer camp. There is, however, some sort of presence here. There is an ominous feeling in the air. It is hard to explain.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our investigation of Camp Connecticut left more questions than answers. The alleged owners of the site remain elusive. The local Shriners are said to own the camp. But their website cannot be found. At the gates of the camp, we even found an old sign for the Shriners. Lately we have even heard rumors that camping is allowed on site with permission from the owners. But much like everywhere else surrounding this strange place, these are only rumors. On our journey we found no ghosts. No devil worship. No Shriners. Just a sad, empty, and foreboding former summer camp heavily guarded by a silent army of security cameras. But the mystery continues. Who are the mysterious Camp of Connecticut Board of Directors? Who, if anyone, is watching these security cameras? But even more importantly, what are they hiding?

— Any questions, comments, etc.? Feel free to comment on this post and we will get back to you asap! —