Went Not Away

The Abandoned Wonders of Voluntown

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Past a few dead end roads and down a lost highway is Voluntown, Connecticut. We’ve traveled through this old town many times, mostly passing through on our way to Rhode Island. It has always been a fascinating place to me. I have fond memories of camping here when I was a child. I also had my high school graduation party here, at a friend’s beach house on the nearby lake. It is a sleepy little town, with a very old school New England feel to it. But much like most older communities of Connecticut, Voluntown has had it’s share of tragedy and despair.

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The town of Voluntown was first established in year 1721. It stands at the very eastern edge of Connecticut in New London County, sharing a border with the neighboring state of Rhode Island. Interestingly enough, infamous Revolutionary War traitor Benedict Arnold once owned land here in his early days. It is primarily a farming community today, with dairy and tree farms being a key source of income. According to their town website, over two thirds of the town’s landmass is made up of state forest property. The main road to cut straight through the town en route to Rhode Island is Route 138. It is along this road that we discovered a few abandoned of Voluntown.

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The mystery starts a few miles down the road. At the intersection of Route 201 and 138, an old sign can be seen sticking out the vegetation on the side of the road. Upon further investigation, this beat up old advertises the “Voluntown Package Store – Old Fashioned Service.” A short drive later, we found said package store. And sadly enough, it is in just as poor shape as its old sign. Everything has been folded up and left to rot. Even the antique gas pumps still stand outside the abandoned station. Just a stone’s throw across the street lies some sort of abandoned warehouse with a junk yard out back. We were not able to get too close after coming face to face with a large guard dog, so clearly someone still watches over the property.

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During King Phillip’s War, one of the first major armed conflicts in North America, a group of settlers volunteered to stand and fight. Historically, it is said they “went not away.” These are the men that Voluntown is named after.

And for good reason.

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