Abandon All Hope

Remembering Sunrise Resort – Part: II

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Much like the city of Pripyiat, the home to the workers and families of the Chernobyl tragedy, Sunrise Resort was literally abandoned overnight. However, it was not because of a nuclear disaster. Sunrise Resort, which had stood for decades, had become a thing of the past. Over the years, attendance to the once popular vacation destination steadily declined. When it finally went under, the owners were able to sell the land to the state of Connecticut, who hoped to use the grounds as a camp for the disabled. Unfortunately, this never happened. Over the years, Sunrise Resort stood empty and alone, nothing more than a sad afterthought. Because the land had been purchased by the state, it was designated a state park. This created a massive legal loophole, making this large abandoned resort completely legal to visit.

Our return to Sunrise Resort came just two days after our initial discovery. We arrived early in the morning, intent of covering every inch of the property. Luckily, the sun was out and the weather was fair. We drove directly up to the resort this time, rather than walking in. The gates from the guard shack at the front were still closed, so we parked there. At the very front of the property, two large older buildings stand. They have large padlocks on them, and are used by the state for storage. They are the only buildings on the property to still be in use and that have been untouched by vandals. Beside them stand the old dining hall. Windows have been smashed, furniture has been removed, and the old fireplace is now full of trash. A road connects the entire camp together. A large stray dog accompanied us as we began our descent into the wasteland.

Our first stop was the main office. I first walked down these steps was I was in the sixth grade. I was on a class wide picnic, and this place was full of people having fun. I did not return until I was twenty one years old. There weren’t any more people, and the fun times were long gone. The glass doors to the office were smashed, littering the ground with large chunks of broken glass. Inside the office, papers and all kinds of debris coat the floor. We found several first aid kits that had been torn apart, though curiously only the syringes were missing. There were also gaping holes in the walls, with all of the buildings copper wirings torn out by scavengers. This was a common trait throughout the resort, as we found almost every building suffered this fate. On the wall, in red crayon, was written: “No God. No Joy.”

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Beside the main office stood the old pool. The last time I saw this pool, it was full of water and happy children enjoying the vacation. Now, it lies empty. The water and swimmers are long gone, with the pool now only holding nothing but graffiti and debris. This ranged from tree branches, garbage bags, and even a roller chair. The pool had a window on the deep end, where people could watch swimmers from. We moved on into the pool house to reach this window. Lockers had been ripped open. Walls had been trashed. Even a few bathing suits had been left behind. We then reached the room with the window looking into the pool. A large colorful octopus was painted on the wall.

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Moving past the pool, we found the cabins. Sunrise Resort offered all kinds of camping, and cabin camping was very popular. Most of these cabins still stood untouched. The clean sheets were still waiting for the next guests, neatly folded atop the beds. The bathrooms were all still fully stocked. Notes indicating checkout time were still there. Past the cabins, we explored “The Frog.” This was the restaurant of the resort. The tables were all neatly stacked up in one corner. A bible lay abandoned on the ground. An old tabletop Christmas tree had been knocked over. The run down television set had been smashed. Several vending machines still stood against the back wall, though there was nothing left inside of them. Packets of mustard and ketchup were still sitting in their dispensaries, though they had long since gone bad. We continued down the road, leading us to the banks of the Moodus River.

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Along the river stood a series of cabins. They were each three stories high, and completely ransacked. In one of these cabins, the room at the top floor had been converted into a makeshift sex den with a heavily used mattress and condom wrappers galore. Beside these cabins was the now empty boat house and the dining hall that we had originally seen the other day. After a short lunch in the old gazeebo, we explored this large building. Carpet was ripped up, windows were smashed, and walls were demolished. Against the very back wall stood a fireplace with a sturdy chimney. A few fire logs were still inside. The kitchen was completely dark, but most of the equipment had been gutted. Several empty pavilions stood outside. Rather than taking the rickety staircase we had seen last time, we continued up a different path back into the heart of the resort.

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We passed several more sets of cabins until we came up the children’s area of the resort. It was complete with a small building, where kid’s artwork still hung from the walls. An old overgrown wooden playground stood beside it. A small in-ground pool was at the front of the area, though its water was now stagnant green. An old push car had been unceremoniously dumped into it. A miniature golf course was there as well, though now completely overgrown. At the farthest side of the resort stood the apartments. Two large buildings full of apartments were there: one high-rise and one low-rise. They were totally ransacked by vandals, though a small family of raccoons guarded the basement. Finally, there was the spa. Workout equipment and machines were still there, abandoned overnight just like everything else here.

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With our daylight dying, we decided it was time to head home. We began to head back to the car, bidding farewell to the abandoned Sunrise Resort. Though we didn’t know it at the time, this would be our last goodbye. Stay tuned for Part III next week.

Stay tuned for Remembering Sunrise Resort Part III coming next week!!

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