Archive for the ‘Abandoned Summer Camp’ 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.

Walk With Me

The Abandoned Arcadia Campground

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Walk with me. Let me tell you a story. It’s funny, I always prefer to walk and talk with someone as opposed to having a seat. Whether it be good news or bad news, a little bit of movement goes a long way. This is a story that I have never told on this site before. I have always wanted to, but never really found the right place for it. It’s about the biggest blunder in Abandoned Wonder’s history. Two years ago this summer, we went looking for a place called the Foam Dome. It was a peculiar structure abandoned in the woods of North Western Connecticut. I’m sure that at least a few of you here have heard of it, if not have seen it. We followed our usual game plan to a T. We did our research. We knew our route. We had good weather. We spent a good few hours trekking to the abandoned site. But when we finally found it, we discovered that it was in fact no longer there. We asked around, and found out it had been demolished five days before we got there. It was a really nice hike. But I was truly devastated. But, there was nothing we could’ve done differently. Sometimes in life you can do everything right, and still come up short.

June is my birthday month. And for my 29th birthday, I wanted to go see a place that I have always wanted to cover. This is the abandoned Arcadia Campground in Rhode Island. I have done a lot of research on this place, but have yet to find what it’s true name really was. So for now, we’re just going to call it the Arcadia Campground. Some sources have said that it was once affiliated with the local camps built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back during the Great Depression. If anyone has anyone concrete information, please feel free to share. The camp was set up like most summer camps: a dining hall. Cabins. A trading post. And a water tower. Over the years, this place served a lot of different purposes. But for reasons mostly unknown, it was left abandoned in the late 1970’s. Things went rather quiet after that. Until eventually the area was incorporated into the massive and beautiful Arcadia Wildlife Management Area. Now, the ghostly remains of this old workhorse serve only to haunt these magnificent woods.

Like I said earlier, this was my birthday. I have never liked my birthday. Everything just seems to usually go wrong on this day. It’s either that or I just put so much thought into it that it never quite lives up to the hype. Or maybe I’ve just seen too many movies. I don’t know. Something to ponder, I guess. Anyhow, we made the long trek into the Ocean State early in the day. I love Rhode Island. There were times early in my acting career that I spent more time out of the year there than here in Connecticut. This was my first trip back since January. Just like the Foam Dome trip, we had everything planned out. We did our research. We knew our route. We were in good spirits. We started off down the long winding trail and into the woods. But as time wore on and the trail continued to get rockier, we began to wonder if we were heading in the right direction. Long story short, we ended up going four miles in the wrong direction before finally finding our target. It was a long, frustrating, and brutal journey. But eventually the old camp loomed out of the forest. And to be honest, the abandoned Arcadia Campground really didn’t disappoint.

The trail legit run right through the abandoned campground. You really cannot miss it. It is quiet. It is creepy. It is haunting. The place feels quite lonely. Clusters of rotting old cabins stand silently together. A massive stone fireplace stands in the middle of the clearing where the mess hall once stood. The old water tower looms over the campsite, nearly lost amongst the fading treetops. Aside from the large and littered fire pit, this place seems totally untouched by vandals. But that’s probably because it’s in the middle of the woods. You really have to want to see this place to make the long journey out to see it. What makes the abandoned camp interesting is that most of it’s old structures are made of wood. While many of the cabins have collapsed under the weight of time, the majority of them are still standing. Given their age and history, it’s a true testament to the folks who once built them. The storage bins that were once used by campers can still be seen inside, though the floors are quite unstable. The wood may be rotting. And the metal may be rusted. But even after all these years, the abandoned camp is somehow still standing.

I have included the story on the Foam Dome in this piece just to give it some closure. There were times on this walk that I honestly thought we weren’t going to find the abandoned campsite. I thought that maybe the old structures had finally had enough and collapsed. Miles away from our destination, I feared that this place could eclipse the Foam Dome as the greatest disappointment we’d ever had on our quest into the unknown. But that was not to be. And I honestly give all the credit to my partner Lassie for pushing us on into the woods, and to not give up until we found our location. Whether it was still there or not. And yes, after all of it, we did finally find what we were looking for. But like I said way back in the long long ago, thus is life. You can sometimes do everything right and still come up short. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. There will be trials. There will be tribulations. There will be set-backs. Life will lead you astray. And sometimes, you just have to do a little bit of wandering until you find your way.

As Our Campfire Fades Away

The Abandoned Camp Mooween

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

“Softly falls the light of day, as our campfire fades away.” These were the first lines of the last song we always sung around the campfire on our final night of summer camp. It was an annual tradition. Somehow, it almost always brought a tear to my eye. It was sung softly, after a night of s’mores and jolly tunes. When it was over, we all somberly went back to our tents for the night. We all knew full well that the next day, we’d all be going home. And a few weeks later, we’d all be returning to school. So I guess you could say, these lines always signaled the beginning of the end. Summer camp was always very important to me. I was in the Scouts from First Grade all the way through my Senior Year of high school. It truly made me the person I am today. And every year, summer camp was always the best part.  But no matter how hard you tried, it was always over way too soon. And sadly enough, many summer camps do not last forever either.

This place was once known as Camp Mooween, located in Lebanon, Connecticut. Fun fact: the peculiar name is actually the Mohegan word for “Bear.” Which is cool. First opening in the early 1920’s, Camp Mooween was a summer camp for boys from all around New England. Nestled right on the banks of the gorgeous Red Cedar Lake, the camp featured all of the classic summer camp activities any young youth could ever ask for: boating, camping, ball fields, rope swings, and bug juice. For decades, it was a staple of the local community and a place of great joy. Sadly, the camp was abruptly closed in the 1960’s. I have scoured the internet for a reason why, but have yet to find one. Though there were efforts to revive it, the camp remained abandoned for many years. It wasn’t until decades later that the area would re-open as a state park. Luckily, it was through the efforts of former campers to preserve their old stomping grounds and christen it as “Mooween State Park.”

I had honestly never heard of this place. In all of my research throughout the years across the area, nobody had ever covered Camp Mooween. One summer day, we were heading to a family dinner in Lebanon. Since it was later in the afternoon, we decided to try squeezing in a quick hike before our cookout. After a quick search of parks in the area, this one caught my eye. And it was honestly a nice surprise. What many people do not know is that the town of Lebanon is bloody huge. It is honestly one of the biggest towns in Connecticut. And getting to the abandoned Camp Mooween ended up being quite a journey. But when we finally did reach our destination, it was well worth the trip. After a short walk in along the banks of the Red Cedar Lake, you are greeted right off the bat by an old abandoned car. It is a bit hidden, but still very much alive. Do not ask me the make or model. I have no idea because this thing is bloody rusted to Hell, and damn near buried in the foliage.

To the untrained eye, this park is just another nice wooded area for a quiet hike. You honestly have to do a little digging to find the abandoned remains of Camp Mooween. There are many rogue fireplaces with chimneys left standing in random corners of the woods. There are overgrown ball fields and vacant lots scattered across the park. Junk of all sorts rots into the fertile forest floor. But the star attraction of the abandoned camp is undoubtedly the remains of the great hall. If you’ve ever been to summer camp, you know this is where bloody everything happens. Meals. Announcements. Skits. Everything important happens at the great hall. Lying off the beaten path, you are suddenly greeted by this former installation. The concrete framework still stands. The stone hearth is crumbling. An old staircase leads you into what was once the kitchen, where plenty of old equipment has been left behind. As someone who spent many hours working in a summer camp kitchen once, it was pretty cool to see the old stoves were still here.

But sadly, aside from the great hall, there really isn’t too much to see here. Old reminders of what once was still haunt this quiet forest. And it honestly feels like a treasure hunt sometimes. You never know what you’re going to find off any of Camp Mooween’s winding trails. It could be some random piece of camp equipment, or another foundation of a building. I wanted to write about this place because I can really relate to those that have tried to preserve it. Though she now lies in ruin and despair, this place clearly once meant a lot to these people. You can still feel the love as you walk through these now empty woods. And I can honestly really empathize with that. Summer camp was always a place of magic for me. It was a time and place where you could escape from your parents and home life for a brief time. Whether it be for just a week or the entire summer, the memories and friendships made here last a lifetime. But it always ended with those fateful lines of that somber campfire tune: “Softly falls the light of day, as our campfire fades away.”

The Top Ten Fictional Abandoned Places

Written by: Wilk

So two years ago, I wrote a piece for this site covering the Top 10 Movies to be set in abandoned places. It got a shit ton of views. So last year, I wrote a sequel: the Top 10 Movies filmed in abandoned places. Now, comes part three. I love movies. I love watching them, talking about them, and being in them. But ones that involve abandoned places always interest me. Its always fun to compare fictitious abandoned places to real ones. What sets this list apart from the last one is that those were movies where the main action took place in an abandoned setting. These films only explore them. So without further ado, I bring to you – The Top Ten Fictional Abandoned Places.

#10 – Razorback Point – Alien vs. Predator (2004)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0370263/

We start this list with a nostalgic bang. Yes, the PG-13 rating kind of killed the mood. And yes, the characters aren’t as fun as we’re used to from these franchises. But Alien vs. Predator really isn’t as bad as people remember it being. When a billionaire’s satellite picks up an image of a mysterious pyramid under the ice of Antarctica, a secret team is dispatched to investigate. Their point of access to this phantom structure is the now abandoned Razorback Point whaling station. Abandoned for decades, this former crossroads is now literally frozen in time. Our characters eventually find their way down through the ice to the pyramid, only to find themselves caught in the eternal war between xenomorphs and predators. Given that there are plenty of actual places like Razorback Point left behind in the tundras of the Arctic make it a very smooth and suspenseful set piece. And though it may take a long time for the movie to get going, it does get better with time.

avp

#9 – Camp Crystal Lake – Friday the 13th (2009)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0758746/

Truly, I am going to try my best to keep the horror movies to a limit here. We could honestly do a whole list of just horror movies. Maybe someday we will… Anyway, I know this was the remake, which not too many people were thrilled with. But I liked the remake. Maybe it was because I actually got to see it in theaters when I was a teenager…unlike the other films in this franchise. It just has a totally different experience. We all know the story. Only this time, the summer camp where Jason Vorhees tragically drowned is now abandoned. Or is it? Having closed after all the nightmarish events of the previous films, the resurrected hockey mask killer now calls this derelict wasteland home. And he will slay anyone who sets foot into what is now his domain. This includes the usual gaggle of hapless teenagers and burned out TV actors. But personally, I think the abandoned setting makes for a wonderfully creepy backdrop to a passable horror remake.

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#8 – Doctor Octopus’ Lair – Spider-Man 2 (2004)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0316654/

Unfortunately, this list is going to be mostly horror movies, as mentioned above, and comic book movies. I don’t know what the connection is there, but both genres seem to have a lot of abandoned settings. Before the MCU, this film was often considered to be the end-all/be-all of superhero films. As the second outing in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy, the webslinger this time finds himself up against a new adversary: Doctor Octopus. Portrayed in the film masterfully by Alfred Molina, the former Otto Octavius becomes an almost dark reflection of Peter Parker after a science experiment gone wrong drives him mad. On the run from the law, this newly born and conflicted super-villain hides out in an abandoned pier on the East River. The old building is slowly sinking into the water, just as its new occupant slowly descends deeper into madness. This very cool set piece serves not only as Doc Ock’s hideout, but is also the battleground for he and Peter’s final confrontation.

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#7 – Parrish Shoe Factory – Jumanji (1995)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113497/ 

This was one of my absolute favorite movies growing up. It’s just a very well-paced and enjoyable flick that anyone of any age can enjoy. We even used to play the actual board game on particularly hot summer days. One of the late/great Robin Williams’ finest roles, Jumanji tells the story of a magical board game that brings the world of the mystical jungle into our own. And when Allan Parrish (Williams’ character) emerges from said board game, after spending 26 years lost in this alternate dimension, he finds the world he once knew long gone. His parents are dead. His home belongs to someone else. His town lies in ruin. But the most memorable stop on his journey to rediscovery is his father’s now abandoned shoe factory. After his disappearance, all of his family’s money went to trying to find him. Learning just how far his world has fallen, and just how hard his father tried to find him after his disappearance, is damn near heartbreaking. Regardless of how you feel about the reboot/remake/sequel, watch this film.

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#6 – Planet Morag – Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2015381/ 

I really don’t care for the Marvel Cinematic Universe sometimes. I used to really enjoy it when it was first starting out over a decade ago. I just feel like it has grown too large, and most of the movies feel repetitive to me. That said, I absolutely love this film. I sometimes wish that Marvel would just keep the Guardians separate from the rest of the MCU. Anyways, an unlikely group of intergalactic misfits/jackasses are forced to team up to save the universe from certain destruction. Director James Gunn (as always) brings a fabulous soundtrack, memorable characters (except for his annoying brother), and a great story to life. One stop, in fact the first stop, on this grand adventure is the abandoned planet Morag. We never find out why an entire planet is abandoned, but it’s still really cool. It may be just a pit-stop in the overall film, but its still a very unique location. Plus, we get a nice call back to it later in the series during Avengers: Endgame.

Morag

#5 – Mexican Smelting Plant – Logan (2017)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3315342/

The last hurrah for everyone’s favorite X-Man, and a film that many consider to be one of the greatest comic book movies of all time. While I think they had a little too much fun with the film’s R-rating, Logan is an absolute classic and a more than fitting end to such an iconic character. Following Wolverine/Logan/Jimmy/Weapon X/Whatever on what will be his final adventure, the film opens with the titular character living in hiding with Professor X in an abandoned smelting plant down in Mexico. He drives a limo for money, and keeps a low profile after the near extinction of all mutant kind. But it isn’t long before the bad guys show up and all kinds of action ensues. But this abandoned backdrop sets the stage for what is honestly one of the most humanistic films ever made to come out of the superhero mythos. It’s a damn shame we never got a Liev Schrieber cameo, though…

Logan

#4 – Jurassic World – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4881806/

After the massive success of its predecessor and the three films that came before that, it really isn’t surprising that we got an even bigger sequel. And this one looked even better. After the bloody disastrous events of the first film, the Jurassic World theme park is now abandoned. Imagine that. Tourist shops decay after years of neglect. Trams and trolleys have been destroyed. And the dinosaurs now roam freely once again. But when a volcano threatens to destroy the island once and for all, our heroes must rally together for a rescue mission. Seeing the once captivating resort park of the first film in such a state of decay gives this film a really cool vibe. Unfortunately, this was only a precursor to a very plodding and straight up awful film. Seriously. I hated it. I thought it was worse than Jurassic Park III. But…the abandoned Jurassic World setting is really really cool.

Jurassic

#3 – Dol Guldur – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0903624/

Maybe I am being a little too negative with this piece. But when you try to turn a three-hundred page book into three three-hour long movies, things don’t usually come out so good. And that’s coming from a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan. I know it’s not Peter Jackson’s fault. But still. This trilogy was a mess. Now that that’s out of the way, the first chapter in this story tells of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins before the events of the original trilogy. Offered a spot in a mysterious company of dwarves, the young Hobbit ends up whisked off on an adventure to reclaim the lost kingdom of Erebor. Along the way, the wizard Gandalf makes a trek to the abandoned fortress of Dol Guldur. Evil spirits now haunt the empty corridors (including a rather infamous Dark Lord), and this place become a backdrop of villainy for the entire trilogy.

Dol_Guldur

#2 – Sector 13 – The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454841/

One of my personal favorite horror films. It is just so damn intense. A remake of Wes Craven’s 1977 cult classic, The Hills Have Eyes more or less proved to the world that remakes of horror films can actually be good when put in the right hands. Director Alexander Aja takes Craven’s original premise and puts a very unique twist on it all. The story follows the Carter Family, traveling across the western desert to California on vacation. After a wrong turn, they are eventually set upon by a dangerous group of people living in the radioactive hills of New Mexico. All sorts of bloody carnage and barbaric madness follows suit. Towards the end of the film, our hero winds up in an abandoned nuclear test site from the Cold War. And it is really spooky. Ghostly mannequins, derelict buildings, and old cars make this ghost town a terrifying setting.

HHE

#1 – The Shrieking Shack – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0304141/

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” One of my personal favorite films in the Harry Potter series, this story follows our titular hero’s third year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A dark figure from Harry’s past and convicted murderer Sirius Black has escaped from the wizard prison Azkaban, and is coming after him. With the help of his trusted friends and new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Harry Potter goes on quite an adventure. One of the key sites of that adventure is the notorious Shrieking Shack. It’s importance is subtly teased throughout the film. Believed to be the most haunted building in the country, this abandoned house plays a major role in the film’s climax. With an outstanding soundtrack, a darker tone from the previous films, and some wonderful new additions to the cast, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a must-see.

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And that’s our list! Did we miss any out? Let us hear about it in the comments below!