Archive for the ‘Abandoned Business’ Category

The Abstruse

The Abandoned Westledge Ski Slope

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

It’s an unusual word, isn’t it? Abstruse. I had never even heard of it before. I asked Lassie if she had either, but she had the same answer. “Is that even a real word?” Yes. Yes it is. You can look it up. Originally I had titled this article “The Obscure.” With the global pandemic still ravaging our homeland, we’ve had to get a little bit creative with the places that we visit. We don’t like to go too far, since we can’t really stop anywhere to grab a bite to eat or anything. We don’t like to leave the state, as we both still have jobs to do. And we both still believe in following the physical distancing guidelines. Plus we have covered pretty much every major abandoned place here in Connecticut. So…that kind of narrows down where we can and cannot visit right now. So as you can see if you’ve been following our blog for the last few months, our investigations have been kind of unconventional. A lot of them have been in the middle of the woods. They’ve also been ones that nobody in our community really pays attention to.

Allow me to introduce our latest subject: The abandoned Westledge Ski Slope. It all began in summer of 1969. If that song is now stuck in your head, you have my sympathies. Anyhow, the ski slope was built along the edges of Westledge Mountain to service the aptly named Westledge School. You see, skiing was becoming kind of the fad up here in New England during this time period. We have covered several other ski slopes in the past that followed very similar paths and suffered the same fates as Westledge. It was a big hit at first, servicing as a simple single-towing ski system used mostly by the students of the Westledge School. Their system was unique, as it was one of the first electrically operated towing lines. This had it’s advantages and disadvantages, for being efficient/quiet but also very slow. Unfortunately, Westledge School came under new ownership in 1978. The land that the ski slope operated on was divided up between the new school and the local land trust. And thus, the Westledge Ski Slope was no more.

Like I said earlier, we were a bit vexed on what to cover for our July piece. Due to the ever growing heat, we also wanted a place that didn’t involve too much hiking. I had stumbled on Westledge Ski Slope during the early days of the outbreak, and had kept it aside on my list of potential places. Since it was kind of obscure and fit all of our criteria, we decided to pay a visit. In the middle of July, we made our trek out to the area. Not wanting a repeat of our earlier adventure in Rhode Island, we were sure to bring lots of water and map out our route exactly. It had been a long time since I had been out to North Western Connecticut. And I had honestly forgotten how beautiful it was. We arrived at our destination, only to find that the parking area had been mysteriously closed. Luckily, we had mapped out our route better this time. We found a different one a short drive away. It made our hike a bit longer, but the forest out here truly is captivating. It was about a mile in before we came upon the abandoned ski slope.

The first thing to greet you here is the main attraction: the abandoned rope tow shed. It is a small but sturdy building, and honestly is quite funny looking in it’s own way. With a triangular roof and decorated with some bizarre oddities, the building is rather interesting. Inside is plenty of old machinery, but be wary as the floor is quite unstable. There are still several old utility poles standing around the shed, but they blend in quite well with the trees surrounding them. A few of these trees have random articles of clothing tied around them, such as ties, jackets, and shirts. I found that to be kind of strange. The slope itself is steep as bloody Hell. But we had to walk all the way down it. Along the way, the old post used as part of the rope tow system still stand. Unlike all of the other slopes we’ve seen in the past, they aren’t traditional posts per se. The wheel system was actually attached to the trees themselves. Over the years, the old metal wheels are slowly being devoured by the trees growing around them.

Eventually we made it to the bottom of the slope. Here, we found the wrecks of several old cars. But they were so overgrown, we couldn’t get the best pictures of them. Then came the hard part; getting back up the slope. I see now why this hill was used as a ski slope. But using the old wheel systems as breakpoints, we eventually made it to the top and began our hike back to the car. So is the abandoned Westledge Ski Slope worth a visit? Depends on your taste. You see, the word “abstruse” means obscure or mysterious. And that’s what places like this are. And usually for good reason. Aside from the rope tow shed, which is really cool, there isn’t much to see here. But if you’re looking for a good hike and something different, check it out. Places like this one usually don’t get enough attention these days. They end up getting lost to the pages of history. They are, as you would say, obscure. But like the word “abstruse,” just because you’d never heard of it before doesn’t make it any less interesting.

Frozen Hearts

The Abandoned Eyrie House

Written by: Wilk

Photographs: Lassie

Damn, these times are hard. We can’t go to places we want to go. We can’t get the things that we need. We can’t do the things that we want to do. I am stuck inside day in and day out doing voice-overs. Lassie does what she can around the house. But our dog sure does love the company. Some birds just aren’t meant to be caged. See, we have a system when we go exploring. Since it’s usually a long drive, we always go out for a drink and a hot meal afterwards. If there’s a used bookstore or a vintage toy store in the vicinity, we’ll check that out as well. But we can’t do any of that right now. And that sucks. I made a list at the beginning of the year of places I wanted to explore all over New England. We’ve sadly had to postpone most of that. Stress the word most. It’s hard to stay positive in this situation, but we’re going to do our best. There’s always a couple of local places I keep on the back burner just in case. And while today’s subject may not be much to look at, but she is a legend in these parts.

This is the abandoned Eyrie House. We have covered a lot of places in the Mount Tom area of Western Massachusetts in the past, but this one has always evaded us. First opening in 1861, this place has seen a lot of history. She started life as a hotel overlooking the absolutely picturesque valleys of the Holyoke area. But the hotel faced a lot of competition, and business began to decline over the years. Much like the nearby ruins of the Apsinwall Hotel in Lenox, the Eyrie House met an unfortunate end due to vicious fires. Legend has it that the owner of the Eyrie House was alone at the hotel, and attempted to cremate one of his fallen horses in 1901. The fire got out of control, and with help so very far away, the Eyrie House never had a chance. The hotel burned to the ground in a fiery inferno, leaving behind only her sturdy stone frame. The grounds were eventually sold off to the local government and added onto the Mount Tom State Park area.

I first went looking for the Eyrie House way back in the summer of 2017. I had a rehearsal/table read up in Amherst early one Saturday morning, and decided to stop for a hike on my way back. But when confronted with the in-season $10 parking fee, I decided to save it for another time. Flash forward to 2020. Given its proximity, long/lonely hike in, and the current situation of social distancing, we decided that the Eyrie House would be a perfect trip for our March article. An unexpected snow had fallen the day before, and we were both getting a serious case of Cabin Fever. So we hopped in the car and went for a drive. The Mount Tom park can be tricky. Like I said earlier, we had covered other abandoned attractions in the area before. And each one had it’s own way in. Today was no exception. Our directions took us down a quiet country road to a road-side dirt parking lot. From there, it was a two mile hike in to the abandoned Eyrie House.

It was a long and icy climb to the ruins. But we were mostly alone. We slipped and slid all the way up. But we made it. There may not be too much to see here, but the ruins of this place certainly are special. The great stone frame looms over the Connecticut River valley. The old archways still project a strong sense of grandeur. And the area has clearly been protected and cherished for a long time. But the one thing I took away and will always remember about the abandoned Eyrie House was the frozen heart. While walking along the outer frame of the house, I found a patch of ice. It was frozen into the almost perfect shape of a heart. Though the sun was setting, and the breeze was chilling, I couldn’t help but take it as a sign of hope. Most may not believe such things, but I do. Hopefully, someday soon, this time of great sorrow shall lift. But until that day comes, let’s all stay strong. Be thankful for what you have. And watch out for each other.

EY5

“Don’t allow our doubts of today limit our tomorrow.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

Salmon River Specter

The Abandoned Brown’s Mill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

There have always been ghosts in the forest. Things appear and disappear. Specters dart from tree to tree. Sometimes you can’t shake the feeling of being watched. And nothing is ever what it seems out here. I spent many hours of my youth roaming the woods of New England, looking for adventure. A good chunk of those hours were spent in the nearby Salmon River Forest. It is a fascinating place indeed. Marlborough, Colchester, and East Hampton all share it at certain points. And while these three towns are the epitome of middle class life, the Salmon River Forest is something else entirely. Just a few short miles away from the hustle and bustle of their respective town centers, you can find true natural beauty. It almost feels more like Vermont out there. The aroma of roaring fires and the sounds of running water float through the air. Fly fishermen stubbornly cast off from the river banks at all times of the year. And the woods beckon with a soft green serenity. But there is one place here that disrupts this tranquility…

That place is the abandoned Brown’s Mill. It has truly been a ghost for us. As I previously mentioned, I have been trekking through these woods for years. And I had never even heard of this place until a few months ago. While searching for information on another abandoned mill we had recently covered in Manchester, I came across an article on this place. I wrote the name down, so I could come back to it at some point. But then, the article mysteriously disappeared. So I went looking on Google Maps, only knowing that this place resided along the Salmon River. I eventually found it on the street view. But then this also mysteriously disappeared. I thought that was it. Whatever was left behind must have been demolished. As this is usually how it goes. We find a place right after it’s been destroyed, like the Foam Dome. Case closed. Until a few weeks ago. I just happened to be searching for new places to explore this year, and bam. There it was again. It was almost as if this place was taunting me with it’s presence. We had to go check it out.

I usually talk about the history of a place early in my articles. But I still haven’t found anything on this place. The abandoned Brown’s Mill is a blank space on the map. It was also not an easy trek to explore. On our journey, I expected it to be a long hike in to find something very much lost in the woods. But that is not the case. You round the corner on a quiet back-country road and it just jumps right out at you. The skeletal grey remains blend in quite well with the surrounding woods. A cozy house sits right next to the grounds. The ruins sit along the banks of the river, so there is no real way to hike in. So we had to park farther down the road at one of the fishing spots by the Salmon River and walk in. It was cold and grey, but the mill was worth it. There are plenty of NO TRESPASSING and KEEP OUT signs along the buildings. But none of them seem very official. Some are even just spray painted onto the crumbling foundation. None the less, we had to use some creative techniques to obtain our photos.

The abandoned Brown’s Mill has clearly seen much better days. It looked and felt like it could collapse in on itself at any minute. There’s clearly been some fire damage around the central hub. Rickety chain-link fences attempt to shield off the more dangerous sections. Plenty of mill machinery has been left behind, but they are now nothing more than ghastly hunks of rusting metal. The ornately carved roof is still there in a few parts of the old mill, but just barely. The skylight pours into the old mill like a ship taking on water. Chunks of wood, plaster, and brick coat the ground in droves. But believe it or not, though, vandalism does not seem to be much of an issue. There was a bit of tagging here and there. But the abandoned Brown’s Mill seems to be relatively untouched by any unkind visitors. Which is nice to see. The whole place honestly feels like the skeletal remains of what once was. It’s like this place died a long time ago, and time has slowly been picking it apart piece by piece ever since.

We didn’t stay too long. I can honestly say that there really isn’t too much to see here. I wish I could’ve seen it five, or even ten years ago. The old machinery is really cool, and makes me wonder how/why it was all left to rot. But the remains of the mill sit very exposed to the outside world. A cozy house sits within a stone’s throw. A country road runs straight passed it. And the Salmon River forest is always so very teeming with life. Plus there’s plenty of NO TRESPASSING markers painted all over this old beauty. Whether they’re legitimate or not is irrelevant. Visitors are clearly not very welcome here. And that’s honestly okay. The abandoned Brown’s Mill will continue its slow and steady decline into total destruction. Her heyday’s of usefulness have been outlived. This is not the first abandoned mill that we have covered in the area to meet a similar fate. In the days of future past, this structure will be long gone. But her spirit, much like her former vessel, will continue to haunt these majestic woodlands.

The Top 5 Abandoned Places of 2019

Close out the year by checking out our new video on the Top 5 Abandoned Places of 2019! We’ve been all over the East Coast this year, and thank you to all that have been along for the ride.

As Above, So Below

The Abandoned Clausland Mountain Tunnels

Part I

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Why do we seek the dark? Is it the mystery? Is it the unknown? Some find comfort in the darkness. Others find only fear. Myself, personally, the exhilaration makes me feel more alive than anything else. Not knowing what’s around the corner, or the thinking what would happen if your flashlight dies, makes exploring the underground some of our coolest work. Believe it or not, most of the inquiries and search terms we get on this site are seeking abandoned tunnels. So again, I ask, why do we seek the dark? Why is it the abandoned tunnels that people find most tempting and fascinating? It can be quite frightening, and yet also very enlightening. We have explored the underground on a number of occasions, and each time has been a little different from the last. We’ve covered the tunnels of abandoned mental hospitals, to the underground bunkers of old military bases. What would surprise people isn’t the quiet beneath the Earth, it is the noise. Every little movement, shudder, or disturbance ripples through the blackness like the shattering of a window. But then, all returns to silence. Sometimes sharply. Sometimes slowly. As if nothing had every happened. It’s an eerie feeling, almost as if you’re expecting something to happen. But nothing ever does.

Our final investigation for 2019 took us once again to the great state of New York. We’ve covered a few things here, mostly in the Hudson River Valley, and they never disappoint. And today’s subject is no exception. What we have here today are known as the abandoned Clausland Mountain Tunnels in Nyack, New York. First built in 1910, this area was once known as Camp Bluefield. Here, National Guard troops trained and were stationed year round. The tunnels were apart of their training rifle range, used for traveling up and down the range without danger. They caused untold stress and disruptions with the locals, and were forced to close down only a few years later. Since then, the area served many different purposes. But none of them ever really stuck. Eventually, the former military base was completely abandoned. And, as we all know, this is when the vandals and vagrants began to encroach. Fortunately, the grounds of the old camp were eventually added onto one of the more secluded state parks in the community. It is here that the old tunnels have remained dormant ever since. And so, on our ninth anniversary trip, we decided to go hunting for this long lost military fortress.

It was a long hike in, and the tunnels blend in quite well with their surroundings. But we found them. My advice to any potential visitors: follow The Long Path. You will have to cross between two state parks and through a very wealthy neighborhood to get there. It can get really winding and difficult, and there were several massive fallen trees blocking our path on the way in. We lost the trail a couple of times due to some missing markers, but if you stay on it you will find the tunnels. I honestly missed them on our walk in. It was Lassie who had to call me back, because I had literally walked right passed them without noticing. It sounds silly, but you will understand if you ever visit this place. The tunnels run for miles, and they blend in with the surrounding forest quite well. They all run in a straight line. There are no twists or turns, since they were used to travel up and down the shooting range. There is actually a ton of graffiti coating the outer walls. And yet, there are certain sections that remain mysteriously untouched by the local painters. This artwork ranges from the offensive, the comical, and the outright beautiful. One of my personal favorite pieces we discovered has been included below, for obvious reasons…

Obviously, the main thing we were after on our visit here was getting inside the abandoned tunnel system. And I encourage all visitors to at least peak their heads in. Be very cautious, though. The tunnels are absolutely infested. Not with bats. Not with mice. Not with vagrants. But with crickets. Yes, you read that right. Crickets. They are called spider crickets. They look like crickets, but they jump like spiders. They congregate on the ceiling and upper walls of the tunnels in large hives. Walking by won’t disturb them. But if you just happen to shine your light on them, the entire colony will spring into action to defend itself. We were about half-way through our first tunnel when it all of a sudden started raining crickets on us. It was bloody shocking. We honestly had to run back a few steps just to assess the situation. But, if you keep your lights low they will mostly leave you alone. Stress the word “mostly.” After exiting the tunnels on our first trek in, a massive raven flew right over our heads. He cawed in a very slow and methodical way, as if laughing at us for getting spooked by the bug swarm. It was one of the few sounds we heard while visiting this place that were not caused by us.

One of the most interesting characteristics of this place is just how inventive some of it’s visitors can be. We found several ladders propped up inside some of the tunnels, so that they can be accessed easier from the outside. Getting to the top of the cement structures can be challenging, since they are rather tall and all of the inner staircases have been removed. So large tree branches have been braced along the sides with screws drilled into the wood two by two. These screws are in a carefully measured pattern, so they can be used as footholds whilst scaling the fallen tree limb. It’s actually quite ingenious, if you think about it.  We also found all sorts of painting equipment stored in little caches all across the base. It goes to show that whomever is frequenting the abandoned tunnels is more organized than most that we’ve seen…I honestly had to break this piece up into two parts. That’s how much there is to see here. With the chaos of the holiday’s and the unforgiving New England weather upon us, the second half of this piece will be coming in January 2020. But until then, Happy Hunting.

Roll River Roll

The Abandoned Adams Mill Dam

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

We’ve lived in Manchester, Connecticut, for the last five years now. We’ve had some ups, and we’ve had some downs. It’s a beautiful town with a lot of rich history. Plus it seems to grow a little bit more each year. It’s a place where you can spend all day at the shopping mall, or hiking out in the woods. You can get pretty much anywhere you need to go in this state within ninety minutes from it. But unfortunately, this will be our last month here in Manchester. It’s been a fun ride, but it is sadly time for us to move on. We have so many memories here. But, with a few weeks left on the month, we decided to try and make a few more. There’s so much to see and do in this little city. We’ve been spending some time on Main Street. We’ve been hitting all the charming little bars we’ve always wanted to check out. And, most importantly, we’ve been exploring some of the more mysterious/forgotten parts of Manchester. And our subject today has been ingrained in this town’s history for an entire generation.

Though now out of business, the Adams Mill Restaurant was once a legend in these parts. Most people knew it as the place where you get a free meal on your birthday. But its history goes back much further than that. First established in 1863, the Adams Paper Mill became one of the strongest and most prosperous mills in the area. Her turbines were powered by the neighboring hydroelectric dam along the Hockanum River. As the years went on, though, times began to change. The Adams Paper Mill would eventually be struck down, rise again as the Adams Mill Restaurant, but then recently changed ownership. The dam, however, has had a much more checkered past. It was not financial hardships that brought down this old power source. It was the unforgiving New England weather. The dam faced many challenges with flooding over the years, before finally bursting during the Hurricane of 1938. She now lies in ruins in the woods behind the old restaurant, broken and abandoned.

As I’ve said a thousand times on here, we absolutely love hiking. It’s our favorite thing to do together. This passed summer, we finally checked out the abandoned paper mill along Union Pond here in Manchester. I was never able to find a name for it while I was doing my research. I did, however, come across the abandoned Adams Mill Dam. And so, with a little time left, we decided to check it out. The leaves had started to fall, but there was still a fair amount of warmth in the air. The ruins of the mill lie along the Adams Mill trail, which can be accessed through the parking lot of the old restaurant. They lie along the quietly roaring Hockanum River. I must warn you now, though: this trail is NOT very maintained at all. In fact, it is overgrown as bloody hell. There were many times that we had to wade through waist high grass and vegetation just to move along the trail. And to top it all off, you do have to cross an old railway trestle to get from one said of the trail to the next. So please, watch your step.

After a long and sweaty hike, we finally found the abandoned ruins of the Adams Mill Dam. Located along the busiest section of the brook, the old brick ruins loom out of the fading trees. As always, colorful and wild graffiti coats most of this place. There is a small brick building at the top, and a small tunnel system at the bottom. Several manholes and ladders can lead you from section to section, but they really don’t look very sturdy. The windows of the building are rusted steel bars, yet provide you with an excellent view of the river. This was the main wheelhouse of the damn, though it now completely devoid of anything overtly interesting.  There are no sounds here, save for the running water nearby. Beneath the wheelhouse are the old sandstone tunnel systems. Strangely enough, they all still seem to be quite sturdy. Though it has been many years since any water passed through these spillways, they have clearly had quite a few visitors. Trash, graffiti, and vandalism are rampant down here.

I honestly wish that there was more to see here. But regrettably, there just isn’t. It’s a quiet place, in a quiet part of town. Though the abandoned Adams Mill Damn may have a lot of history to it, I honestly wouldn’t recommend a visit. Anything that was really worth checking out is long gone. Though the spot is clearly enjoyed by the local teenagers and pranksters. It holds the title of our last investigation here in the “City of Village Charm.” We’ve covered the once pristine Case Cabin, the broken down Union Pond Mill, and the old Nike Missile Bases. But our stop here along the Hockanum River will be our last for our time here in Manchester. The prophets of old used to say that life was like a river. The current carries you from place to place. Night and day. Rain or shine. The river just keeps on flowing. You can fight the current as hard as you want. But there is no escaping. But, thus is life. Things change. Whether you want them to or not. So you might as well just sit back, enjoy the ride, and see where the current takes you.

Who Goes There?

The Abandoned Union Pond Mill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Abandoned places can be very fickle things. Some are cast aside, left to rot on their own. The world quickly forgets about them and wants nothing to do with them. Others lie dormant for years, but eventually find their resurgence. Old mills are converted to apartment buildings. Failed businesses are resurrected with new ideas. Colossal historical landmarks become preserved ruins and tourist attractions. But there is sometimes a darker side to all of this. Some abandoned places become black holes when they are cast out into the cold. Having failed at their calling purpose, they eventually turn into something ugly. And that is what we have here today. It was once a thriving staple of the local community, wearing many different hats over the years. Now, it is nothing more than a dark and twisted reflection of its former self. This, among other things, are what make this place so unique. And while so many people know about it, very few seem to know how it got this way.

I have yet to really find a concrete name for this mysterious place. I’m just calling it Union Pond Mill because of it’s proximity to Union Pond. But everyone in Manchester knows about it. The mill was first built in the early 1900’s, working with both wool and paper. Located alongside the Hockanum River, the mill was at an ideal crossroads in the town of Manchester. It was unfortunately forced to close down around the turn of the century after polluting the nearby Union Pond. After this, the facility was purchased by the Boticelo Corporation, and started a new life as a recycling center. This, sadly, also wasn’t meant to be. After a few short years, the Union Mill was forced to close its doors once again. This time for good. The ground are allegedly now owned by CL&P, and supposed to be still up for sale. I talked to some people who said they once used the abandoned mill as a makeshift skate park. Many others steer clear of this place due to the number of unsavory characters said to stalk the halls at night.

Finding the abandoned Union Pond Mill isn’t too difficult. As I said, it is right smack along the side of a very busy intersection in Manchester. If you know where to look, you will find it very easily. We had talked about investigating this place for a long while now. We had just never found the time to go take a look around. Having lived in Manchester, we had driven past it many times. Sometimes it looked like it was being demolished. Sometimes it didn’t. But one summer afternoon, we decided to go looking for it. After taking a short walk through the woods, we came upon the abandoned mill. There was not a single NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT sign on our way in. And once you arrive at the abandoned property, everything seems to just fall silent. There were no birds singing. The summer bugs all seemed to disappear. And even though a busy road was right through the trees, the mill was quiet as a tomb when we arrived. That said, it didn’t take long for us to get the feeling that we were being watched.

There is plenty of old equipment, broken bottles, and discarded trash littering the wasteland. Colorful and kooky graffiti coats the rafters. Many old fire pits have stained sections of the cement floor pitch black. Vines and vegetation grow from any facet of building they can reach. But other than the liter, the warehouses are shockingly devoid. It was a breezy summer day. And each little burst of wind caused the very foundation of this place to tremble. There were times walking around the abandoned mill that I thought it was going to collapse at any second. You can still get upstairs in a few places. Just watch your step, as everything in here feels incredibly precarious. Plus we found evidence of somebody living up there. Some demolition has obviously been done. The main chimney has endured a lot of vandalism, but still stands silently tall at the front. Clearly someone is checking up on this place, as there are many paths through the undergrowth that guide you from section to section of the mill.

As we began to head out from the mill, I saw the shadow of a person from the other side of the main wall. It followed us as we began to move out. They were not chasing us. Just slowly trailing a few steps behind us. No noise was made. The shadow just moved through the outside underbrush after us. This was honestly one of the very few times I’ve felt genuinely nervous while out exploring. I am not ashamed to admit that. Whoever it was stopped pursuing us once we cleared the main gate. From the moment we arrived, I knew someone…or something was watching us. It is a feeling you just can’t shake. This place has quite the reputation for being a haven of the outcasts. And as we learned that day, this reputation is justly deserved. It was probably just a homeless individual keeping watch over their spot. But still. You can never be too careful, especially in a place like this. The sounds of work and jobs are gone from here, now. Only mystery remains.

The Bruin Ruins

The Abandoned Boston Bear Dens

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I’ve never liked going to the zoo. Ever since I was just a kid. I know that they do a lot of good. I know that many of them help rehabilitate wildlife. I know that they bring so much joy to so many people. It’s just the idea of these amazing animals in captivity where they don’t belong has never sat well with me. I’ve always had a soft spot for animals. Maybe it’s because I grew up with more dogs in my house than siblings. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always felt like I had a stronger connection to animals than other people. I don’t know, and frankly, this line of thought is getting depressing. Moving on. We’ve covered a couple abandoned zoos in the past, most notably the Shade Swamp Shelter in Central Connecticut. They’ve always been kind of creepy. But this place was a bit more unique. For starters, this is only a forgotten piece of one of the largest zoos in New England. Also, it currently stands in the middle of the biggest city in the North Eastern United States – Boston, Massachusetts.

This is Franklin Park. Say hello, everyone. It is more, or less, the equivalent of Boston’s Central Park. As in, it is the largest park within the city limits. First opening in the early nineteen hundreds, one of the key features of the park is the zoo. When it’s doors first opened in 1908, Franklin Park Zoo was free to the public, covered a great distance across the park, and housed many different exotic animals. For many years, the zoo was a big hit. However, it unfortunately was just hitting its stride as the rest of the country began to fall on hard times during the mid 1920’s. She sadly fell into disrepair, until 1958 when the grounds were acquired by the local government. The zoo was brought back to life in a big way, and flourishes even today. But during this time of renovation, certain sectors of the grounds were cut off and left to rot. One such part are the now abandoned Bear Dens of the Long Crouch Woods. The animals, of course, did find other homes in the expanded zoo. But their old enclosures were deemed to expensive to take down.

March is Lassie’s birthday month, and we go on a short mini-vacation every year to celebrate. This year, we had chosen Boston as our destination. Naturally, we looked for at least one abandoned place in the city to check out. Truth be told, I hadn’t been to Boston in four years. I had filmed plenty of movies and commercials up there when I was younger, but hadn’t been around that way in a long time. After a bit of searching, we both became captivated by this place and decided to pay it a visit. Lucky for us, we got some pretty decent weather. Also lucky for us, Franklin Park is only a few blocks walk from the nearest T-station. We made the trip in the early morning, so as to get the most out of our day. The park was mostly quiet, given that it was a school day and all. It is also full of amenities, including the aforementioned zoo, a school, and a playground. Unfortunately, we chose not to bring our camera since we had plans in the city later that afternoon. So all of these photos were taken on our phones.

The abandoned Bear Dens lie in the northern most point of the park, also known as the Long Crouch Woods. And I can honestly say, they are very striking. Against the grey backdrop of the Spring New England skyline, the old bear dens are rundown but still very grand in stature. All of the metal framework is quite rusted, and much of the stone is crumbling. Yet the sheer size and elegance of it all gives this place a very sturdy and unique look to it all. The mix of grey stone and brown metal make for a strong outward appearance. At the very top of the stone frame, the carvings of two bears and can still be seen. If you’re feeling daring, you can still peek into a few of the old sleeping quarters in the back. A very nice Park Ranger did come to check up on us. He unfortunately did not have much information to tell us, but let us take all of the pictures that we wanted. Which was nice. In my experiences, security guards can be a real hit or miss. Some can be really cool, like this gentleman. Others, however, can be real assholes.

We stayed for a decent amount of time. There isn’t too much to see here, but it is a really cool place. As far as I know, the abandoned Bear Dens are completely legal to visit. Just be cool about it, as the Park Rangers obviously keep a close eye on this place. And rightfully so. There was hardly any graffiti or vandalism here, but there were some rather unsavory characters snooping around after we left. Much like the bears that once roamed this unique place, it is has a rough exterior and a certain majesty about it. We of course visited the regular zoo once we were finished exploring, which I highly recommend. As I said earlier, I usually don’t like visiting zoos. But this place is very special. I personally found the hyenas to be my favorite exhibit. The park has so much history to it. The bear dens still stand tough after all these years. The zoo itself is so full of life. And just because you didn’t like something for years, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind.

 

Tears of a Mountain

The Abandoned Mount Beacon Railway

Written by: Wilk

Photographs: Lassie

Most people like to go the beach on their vacations. Somewhere hot, where there’s a soft ocean breeze and they put little umbrellas in the drinks. I am not one of those people. I don’t like sand. It’s coarse, and rough, and irritating. And it gets everywhere. (References, we’ve got them.) Personally, I prefer the mountains. Always have. Always will. Whether it be winter or summer, they are my favorite places to visit. There is just something so breathtaking and awe-inspiring about them. I’ve been climbing them my whole life. From my time in the Scouts, up until now. There is just no better feeling than reaching a beautiful mountain top after a long hike. By the way, this will be our 100th post here at Abandoned Wonders, so be warned. There will be a lot of reminiscing moving forward. While vacationing in New York, we decided to climb one of the local mountains – Mount Beacon. Little did we know at the time, this place holds a story and a secret that sets her apart from most mountaintops.

It was once known officially as the Mount Beacon Incline Railway, located in the absolutely beautiful town of Beacon, New York. First established in 1902, the railway was a very popular tourist attraction for much of its heyday. If you have ever rode Mount Washington’s Cog Railway in New Hampshire, this establishment was very similar….just on a much smaller scale. A trolley system ferried guests up the picturesque mountaintop to an old fashioned casino, luxurious hotel, and a gorgeous view of the Hudson River Valley. For decades, this place was a staple of the local community. But as we all know, time stands still for no one. Eventually, financial issues caused the downfall of the railway. And while she went out of business in the 1970’s, she was also added to the list of National Historical landmarks. Unfortunately, not much still stands of the attraction after a vicious case of alleged arson destroyed most of the buildings atop of the mountain. Now, all that remains of this former hotspot are the memories of what once was.

While on our trip to the Hudson River Valley, we decided to take a stop at the nearby Mount Beacon. Having just toured Bannerman Castle the day before, we thought it would be an appropriate follow-up. At first glances, this place appears to be like any other mountain hike. But if you take a closer look, there is so much more than meets the eye. The old train tracks still run down the side of the mountain, like a trail of tears from the former summit. About half-way up, a few old train trolleys rust into oblivion. Honestly, the train tracks are hard to photograph, due to the large amount of vegetation growing around them. A trail of rotting utility polls lead upward like a twisted trail of breadcrumbs. Atop of the mountain, the old wheelhouse lies in ruin. The brick hull of the building crumbles, whilst the heavy machinery inside is actually in pretty decent shape. Minus the myriad of graffiti, of course. But the hotel and casino are long gone, unfortunate victims of the fire that once consumed this lonely mountain. Funny enough, you can even get a great glimpse of Bannerman Castle itself from up here.

I wish I could say that there was more to see here. But this is definitely a piece for all the hikers. And trust me when I say, this was one Hell of a hike. But it also had one Hell of a payoff. It seems the old railway has finally met her doom at the top of Mount Beacon. While there are movements to restore it to its former glory, there is regrettably not much left to save here. The old train tracks are slowly being eaten alive by the forest around them. Where the hotel and casino once stood are now nothing more than ruins. The wheelhouse has become a target for the local vandals. And yet, the view from the top of the pinnacle’s highest peak is still bloody breathtaking. That, my friends, is one thing that will always set this place apart. The Hudson River Valley is truly one the most amazing places I have ever seen. And there is no better place to see it than atop this amazing mountain. Though time seems to march on without the Mount Beacon Railway, nobody will ever be able to take that away.

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” –Greg Child

 

Exodus: Chapter 1

The Abandoned Sacred Heart Church

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

This is one of those rare pieces where I am not going to reveal the location of this place. If you know this place (and I’m sure a lot of you do), please don’t make a comment or anything. It will be deleted. We really want to provide some respect for this fallen place of worship. Ever since we got into this, and ever since our time in Alabama (where churches are EVERYWHERE), we have wanted to find and explore an abandoned church. There’s just something mystical about them. A few years ago, a reader tipped us off about one in the New Britain woods. But we were never able to find it. This one was sitting right in front us. We just needed a closer look.

It was an early Saturday morning, in the waning days of Summer 2018. We had just had breakfast down the street at a nice little diner. I had heard stories about this place, but we finally had a chance to go check it out. It is a place I had driven by for many years during my childhood. I was always captivated by its sheer size and elegance. And even today, in her derelict state, this once mighty church is still quite captivating. Moss and water damage eat away at her outer hull. Graffiti coats the outer walls, though someone is clearly trying to combat it. The once lively parking lot and front entrance are now empty and desolately silent.

We did not go inside this church out of respect. All the photos you see here are taken from a sadly gaping hole that vandals have caused on the back doors. Someone has literally busted through the plywood to get inside. And these are the people that give us all a bad name. This was once a place of light, community, and hope. But now, it has become a playground of destruction and despair. And regrettably, abandoned churches are becoming more and more common across the region. With higher repair costs and declining attendance, many churches are closing their doors. Will there be hope for this place someday? The world will decide. The world always decides.

“Holiness is in right action and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What God desires is here, and here, and what you decide to do everyday to be a good man – or not.” – Kingdom of Heaven (2005)