Archive for the ‘Manchester CT’ Category

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.

My Sweet Summer

The Abandoned Case Cabin

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

What is it about summer time that makes it so magical? To me, it always seems like the shortest season. When I was a kid, August was my least favorite month of the year. And it was because the shadow of September and the dread of going back to school made it so hard to enjoy anything. But July, that was always the best. Vacations. Ice cream. The beach. Hiking. All the best summer memories come from July. And yet it always feels like the shortest month of the year. You had no worries about school, or homework. All that mattered was having fun. But I guess that’s just the brevity of human existence. Enjoy what you can while you can, because time stands still for no man. And few places we have ever visited have experienced such an extreme fall from grace as the once adored now abandoned Case Cabin.

In 1862, two brothers of the well-known Case family purchased two acres around the beautiful Case Reservoir in Manchester, Connecticut, and this is where they built their summer home. The Case family were successful industrialists from the area who owned and operated multiple factories and processing plants. The exquisite log cabin was first built in 1917 using sturdy chestnut wood from the neighboring forests. Throughout the early twentieth century, this place was the vacation paradise of the wealthy Case family. But much like the summer beauty, the prestige of this wondrous place eventually waned. The prestige of the family slowly came to end, and the summer home was eventually left behind.

We have visited Case Cabin many times over the years. And with each passing visit, the magic of the grounds disappears ever so slightly. And this was the visit for us where the most changes had been made to the grounds. There was a time where there were no fences, security systems, and renovations. The back and side decks were once accessible, now removed from existence. The entire back house has even been demolished at this point, leaving only a bare foundation of stone walls and broken memories. While a family of chubby bunnies now happily resides within the perimeter, the entire Case Cabin has been sealed off by a chain link fence. A few yards away, the boat house still stands. An old swimming ladder still pokes out of the nearby pond.

Much like the passing days of summer, the time for Case Cabin seems to be sadly drawing to a close. Though she was once enjoyed by the local high society, today she is nothing more than a withering spirit. She is lost to the slow decay of time, at the mercy of the unstoppable sands of the hourglass. But that’s what makes places like this, and summer itself, enjoyable. We know that our time is short, which is what drives us to make the best and most out of each moment. She once had a flourishing history and pedigree. But those days are gone. The sun is slowly setting on this once wondrous and wealthy place. Case Cabin will inevitably be gone someday. But the memories will always be with us.

“The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.” -Troy (2004)

Turn the Corner — The Ruins of Manchester Drive-In

Posted: May 27, 2015 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cinema, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, abandoned new england, Abandoned Theaters, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Automobiles, Bolton, Broken, Cinema, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Manchester, Manchester CT, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Showcase Cinema, State Parks, Stories, Theater, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Turn the Corner

The Ruins of Manchester Drive-In

Written by: Sean L.

Photography by: Amanda H.

Movies. Popcorn. Soda Pop. Greased back hair. Your best gal in the backseat of your Chevy. Just another Saturday night. There was a time. Most of us here are a little too young to remember these days. But back in the late nineteen fifties and early sixties, the drive-in movie theater became a bit of a phenomenon here in the US. There were at one time over four thousand drive-in movie theaters all across the country, mostly located in the rural sections. They were the place to be come Saturday night, not just for movies but for a chance to show off your ride. But for the old Manchester Drive-In, all of that is gone. Opened in the early 1950’s, the Manchester Drive-In was one of many drive-in theaters to pop up in Connecticut during this time period. As opposed to the drive-in theaters of today, Manchester had only one screen. It could hold over five hundred cars per showing. But over the years, the excitement and the wonder of drive-in movie theaters began to wane. Most of the theaters across the state began to steadily close their doors, including the Manchester Drive-In.

Unfortunately, the theater went out of business in the early 1980’s where it sat empty and abandoned for almost twenty years. It was finally purchased locally in 2006 to become a park along the Hop River in Bolton, Connecticut. Today, the former drive-in theater that once held over five hundred eager movie goers is now nothing more than a ruin. The pavement of the entrance way is cracked and crumbling. The old sign has become completely engulfed by wines and weeds. The lot itself has become completely impassable due to massive amounts of brush and vegetation. A few old speakers still stand along the outskirts. There is a pile of burned wreckage in the back that was once the theater’s concession stand. But most haunting of all, the one screen itself still stands. Though it is now a skeleton, it is hard to believe that this decrepit structure once played some of the most classic and timeless blockbusters of our time. It casts a shadow over its former glory. But if you look closely just enough, you can still see what this place was once like way back in the summer of 1962.

“Someone wants me. Someone roaming the streets, wants ME… Will you turn the corner?”

American Graffiti

 For more photographs please visit and like our Facebook page! Click HERE!

Field of Broken Dreams — The Abandoned New England Sportsplex

Posted: May 6, 2015 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Baseball Field, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, abandoned new england, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Manchester, Manchester CT, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, Three Strikes Out, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Vernon, writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Field of Broken Dreams

The Abandoned New England Sportsplex

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out to the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks. I don’t care if I ever get back. So let’s root root root for the home team, if they don’t win it’s a shame. For it’s One. Two. Three Strikes. You’re out, at the old ballgame. The lyrics sound very different when you simply read them, not sing them. I could almost faintly hear that classic tune floating through the air as we walked across the now silent New England Sportsplex. It was a sunny afternoon in early May, the perfect time for a baseball game. But there’s nothing here anymore. What was once a beloved classic song of fun and enjoyment became a haunting tune for this old abandoned ballpark. The laughter of children and the cheers of the crowds long since passed still echoed across the overgrown wasteland. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself, how had it come to this?

It began back in 1994. There was a strong interest in the local community of Vernon, Connecticut, to build a new recreational center. Local softball leagues, both for adults and children, were looking for a place to play in their area. So, with a purchase of two million dollars, construction began on the New England Sportsplex. It was at the time to be the largest softball park in all of New England. It was comprised of four fenced in and lit diamonds, a snack bar, and an on sight bathroom facility. The complex would be able to house an estimated five thousand fans at a time. Since the land was in a non-residential area, the town of Vernon had high hopes for it. The future was bright. But as we all know, nothing ever goes quite according to plan. Due to a steady decline in interest and complications with the nearby wetlands, the park was eventually closed and left abandoned.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We visited the abandoned New England Sportsplex on a Sunday in early May 2015. We had seen it from the neighboring I-84 multiple times in the past, but had never been able to actually stop and investigate. The old complex is right off the highway, and very visible if you are headed eastbound towards the Mass Pike. Though the fields have become overgrown and lost to the vegetation, the old score boards still peek out from the brush. The forgotten bathroom facility and snack bar are now boarded up and covered with graffiti. A large FOR SALE sign is pointed towards the passing highway, though it is much less noticeable than the abandoned complex standing behind it. There is a patrolled commuter lot and a local park on the same street as the old complex. Chain link fences surround the entire perimeter of the complex, though we did not find a single NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT sign posted along the property.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Walking through the abandoned New England Sportsplex was like something out of a bad dream. Two chained gates stand guard at the entrance of the park. What looks like it used to be the old parking lot is still sitting out front. The main road through the complex is also still intact, though it is slowly crumbling due to its lack of care. Each scoreboard from all four diamonds is still standing, and they each appear to be in relatively good shape. The diamonds themselves, however, are completely overgrown with brush and weeds. We had hoped to find a few bases, maybe even a pitching mound, lost in the undergrowth. But we had no such luck. Curiously enough, all of the cement dugouts from each field are also still intact. We found various items inside them, including a turned over picnic table. The bathroom facility and snack bar are both heavily boarded up. There was no way inside without breaking in.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tom Hanks famously said in A League of Their Own, “There’s no crying in baseball.” But I believe there must’ve been at least a few teary eyes in the house when this place closed. In the immortal Kevin Costner classic Field of Dreams they say, “If you build it, he will come.” But nothing came off this failed establishment. Over the years, corporations and town committees have fought over the land. Since it is in plain view of the highway and right next to the on/off ramp, the land has always been a desirable location to build a large super store. It was almost a done deal with Home Depot a few years ago, but nothing has ever come of it. The land still sits empty and abandoned. There are no more good times. There are no more home runs. There are no more peanuts and crackerjacks. Because in life, just like baseball, its one. Two. Three strikes. You’re out.

The Cabin in the Woods

Exploring the Abandoned Case Cabin

Written By: Sean L.

Photographs By: Amanda H.

    Off the beaten path, where the land meets the water, there is a place that time has forgotten. It was once the place where families grew and where childhoods were enjoyed. Deep in the heart of Manchester, Connecticut, it is the home of memory and the sanctuary of the lost. This former kingdom of joy sits at its final resting place along the banks of Case pond, nearly lost amongst the thick forests surrounding it. People walk by this place every day like clockwork, but only a few take notice of it and even fewer can really appreciate it. This is Case Cabin, the former summer home of the wealthy and renowned Case family.  Though it has remained abandoned for many years, the cabin still stands, a shell still clinging to the memories of the past. The sounds of life have long since been silenced, but somehow, this place still speaks from beyond the grave. There is a presence here, the lost memories of the past still haunting the long empty halls of this former summer home.

In 1862, two brothers of the well-known Case family purchased two acres around the beautiful Case Reservoir in Manchester, Connecticut, and this is where they built their summer home. The Case family were successful industrialists from the area who owned and operated multiple factories and processing plants. The exquisite log cabin was first built in 1917 using sturdy chestnut wood from the neighboring forests. Throughout the early twentieth century, this place was the vacation paradise of the wealthy Case family. Many parties were celebrated here during the roaring twenties, and the family commonly lived here during the summertime. But much like the summer beauty, the prestige of this wondrous place eventually waned. The prestige of the family slowly came to end, and the summer home was eventually left behind. The Case family remained a powerful and successful family until the 1960’s, when their company was bought out. Over the last few years, their former land has been steadily acquired by the town of Manchester as part of an initiative to create more open and recreational space for town residents.

Case Mountain Recreation Area is a large town park located in Manchester, CT, just over the border of Bolton/Glastonbury. It is commonly used today by locals and visitors from all over the state for walking, hiking, and kayaking. The focal point of this park is Case Pond. It is a small body of water with several little streams flowing into it. Along one side of the pond are a series of large houses. Most of them have little boat houses or docks along the banks of the pond. On the other side, is Case Mountain Recreation Area. This area was made possible due to land donations and conservation from the town of Manchester and from several families in the area. The town of Manchester purchased several acres for the recreation area a few years ago. Included in that purchase, was the former Case family summer home. Most recently, the cabin was the setting of an independent horror film entitled Animal. The film starred Joey Lauren Adams (Mallrats) and Keke Palmer (Akeelah and the Bee).

We visited the park on a beautiful fall day in 2014. A short drive from our home, we parked at the Birch Mountain entrance to the Case Pond Recreation Area. Though it is located right next to the busy Route 384, the park is relatively quiet and peaceful. On either sides of the trail, there are wealthy neighborhoods. The park is also rather heavily frequented. We ran into quite a few fellow hikers and a few mountain bikers. Case Cabin is across a stone bridge on the quieter side of the park, sitting silently along the bountiful banks of the pond. The house has a very rustic feel to it. It is like a very large old log cabin. All of the windows have either been boarded up, or strangely covered with cardboard. All of the doors into the house have been heavily padlocked. What made the house so curious to us is that while the house is slowly decaying, it appears to have been virtually untouched by the outside world. It is the first abandoned place that we have visited to have no litter on the ground or graffiti on the walls.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The windows have been boarded up, but it looks like they have been there for years. The house has been left to rot, but people seem to have left it alone. It was puzzling, to say the least. Though a chain link fence protects the house, there are several weak spots which make it look easy to get around. We do not condone or recommend this though. The deck in the back is incredibly unstable. It is in a very bad state of disrepair, with loose or even missing floorboards. It also has a strong tilt to it. Next to the cabin, lies a strange green house. The windows have all been boarded up quite sturdily. Broken glass is all around it, which means that it has been a victim of vandalism in the past. We are not sure what this house is. It is considerably smaller than the cabin, and looks to be much newer. It is also in a very bad state of disrepair. However, much like the cabin, there are several openings that are used by birds and squirrels to nest inside.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The cabin also appears to be very protected, outfitted with a very up to date and top of the line security system. Motion sensors and anti-burglary alarm systems are positioned all along the outer walls of the cabin. These sensors send signals to their base of operations, most likely the local police station, and then the alarm systems are triggered. Clearly, someone does not want this place to be disturbed. It has been deemed a landmark, and though the town continues to put up measures to protect it, they clearly have no plans to restore this former summer home. Over the years, windows have been boarded up, doors have been locked, and fences have been put up rather than restoring or demolishing the old building. Instead, it simply sits in silence, waiting for its final judgement day to come. Though it was once a place of light and joy, it is now nothing more than a cabin in the woods.

Everything Must Go

Visiting Manchester’s Abandoned Car Dealership

Written by: Sean L

Photographs by: Amanda H

IMG_3195

   Good credit? Bad credit? No credit? We finance everyone! Zero money down, zero percent financing, zero hassle! Get approved today! Everything must go! Come on down! Yeah, car dealerships are seemingly everywhere today. These lines are recognized by just about everyone, because they are something that we are all familiar with. It’s impossible to avoid. We hear about them constantly on the radio. Their advertisements invade our favorite television shows. Their giant billboards decorate our highways. Most car dealerships today are family run, seemingly age old dynasties. They are empires, ruling over the world of used cars with an iron fist. But what happens when these empires inevitably crumble? What happens when there aren’t any more customers, or cars to sell? What happens to the giant inflatable gorilla and all the tacky promotional stuff that these dealerships use? It all fades away. Like a dying tree, these places fold up, and their ashes are cast to the four winds, leaving nothing but empty lots and broken dreams.

IMG_3193

We visited one of these fallen empires during the early days of 2015. Formally known as “Family Auto of Manchester,” this former dealership was open for about twenty years. Located along Main Street, Manchester, the dealership was in a pretty decent location. There are, however, much larger dealerships in the area that caused competition. It went out of business about a year ago. From what we could find in our research, the place was not very well liked by its customers. We found one scathing review on Google Plus condemning the dealership for its unprofessionalism, poor service, and disrespect for its female customers. Perhaps things like this had something to do with its downfall. I can tell you that ironically, I shopped for a car here once when I was sixteen. It was an Acura Integra. Though I saw no real issues with the place, I didn’t end up buying the car because I was just too tall for it. Seven years later, I returned to this place, though it is now abandoned.

IMG_3197

“Family Auto of Manchester” is located right on Main Street, Manchester. Though it is not nearly as trafficked of a road as others in Manchester, it is still a pretty busy area. It is right next to a heavily used gas station and a few small businesses. It is also right down the street from a Walgreens and the lovable local watering hole The Main Pub. Funny enough, there are also several auto repair shops located very closely to the abandoned dealership. From what we had gathered, lots of people parked their cars at the empty lot when they could not find street parking. Whether this is legal or not remains to be seen. So for our investigation, we simply drove up and parked alongside the abandoned dealership. Luckily, this was all before we had piles of snow on the ground. The lot itself was in really bad shape. There are pot holes everywhere, and cracks ripple through the pavement like a spider web. Thick yellow grass protrudes from the cracks here and there. We also found piles of leaves and a few tires scattered around the lot.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The building itself is in moderately good shape. Though the paint is now fading and aging, the building was clearly never a very good color. It’s rather bland tan paintjob is now accented with a decaying brown. Only one or two of the windows have been broken, and there appears to be no structural damage. The walls, however, are absolutely coated in graffiti and gang signs. It’s everywhere; on the walls, on the windows, on the pavement. The place is definitely a hot spot for teenagers and delinquents who have nothing better to do with their time. Along the outer windows, there are still brightly colored and worded signs offering hassle free financing and credit approval. Old wiring and air conditioning units still cling the walls, though they have been devoid of power for some time now. Attached to the building is the garage. Clearly some sort of animal is living in here, as we found evidence of it and because there is a perfectly sized hole that has been made in the garage door. This was also the way inside of the dealership.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It is rather dark and foreboding inside the garage, but inside the dealership is very bright. The outer wall of the building is solid glass, so you can see inside no problem. The inside of the dealership is very eerie. Most of the furniture has been left behind for some reason. Inside the main office, a desk still sits with a once comfy looking chair accompanying it. Out on the sales floor, a large round table and four chairs still sit, waiting for the next deal to be made. Several desks are pushed into the corner, with stacks of old paper and other liter strewn across them. A bunch of old computer parts and car manuals lie in ruin on one of the old tables. There are even a few carpets left behind on the floor. A pair of old school vending machines, the kind where you put in a quarter and get a handful of candy, are back along the wall, though they are now empty and covered in dust. Sadly enough, a forgotten plant still waits for water as it gathers sunshine in the main window.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Having been here and test driving a car here all those years ago, it was very interesting to return now that the place is abandoned. The lot once full of beat up used cars now lies empty and broken. I stood in the exact spot where I turned down an offer to buy a car here. And today, I am very glad that I did turn down that offer. Not just because of the height issue, but because this place has completely fallen into darkness. To answer my question from earlier, this is what becomes of these once illustrious car dealerships when their empires finally crumble. There are no more radio ads, no more tacky gimmicks, and no more used cars. They simply lie in ruin, waiting for a day that will probably never come. Though it has long since gone under, “Family Auto of Manchester” still haunts the main street of this busy little town. And even though its signs still beckon eager car shoppers to enter its gates with the temptation of financing, you won’t find any obnoxious salesmen or tacky decorations here. Everything is gone.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


 

The Changing of the Guard — Hiking Manchester’s Former Nike Base

Posted: February 17, 2015 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Baseball Field, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Forts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Birds, Bolton, Broken, Children, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, fire, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Fortress, Forts, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, House, Information, left behind, lost, Manchester, Manchester CT, Military, Military Forts, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, Nike Missile Base, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, The Walking Dead, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Changing of the Guard

Hiking Manchester’s Former Nike Base

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

We have visited quite a few former military installations across New England over the last few years. Most people find it hard to believe that there are so many sites out there left abandoned by the military, but they are out there. You just have to look a little harder for them. Some are simply hiding right under the public’s noses. We have covered abandoned coastal fortresses in Rhode Island, deserted Air Force bases in Massachusetts, and of course the decaying Nike Missile bases in Connecticut. Here in our home in the Nutmeg state, the Nike Missile bases are some of the more iconic and well known abandoned places. We have explored most of the Nike Missile bases that are still standing across the state. Most have become lost and forgotten sites, falling victims to nature’s fury and mankind’s neglect. But a few of these sites have found salvation through resurrection.

During the most vicious years of the Cold War, there were at one time hundreds of Nike Missile sites all over the country. Some of these 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 US 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. See our write-up on Portland’s Nike Missile base here (https://abandonedwonders.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/sound-the-bugle/). On an early spring weekend, we decided to visit another former Nike Missile base in Manchester, Connecticut. The base was in operation between the years of 1956-1961. When the site was decommissioned by the United States military in the early 1960’s, the site was returned to the town of Manchester. Over the next few years, the town began to make use of the property by turning it into a recreational area. All of the missile launch pads have been removed, and most of the old buildings are still standing. The site is known today as the Nike Site Recreation Area.

Finding the site is no problem. Just google it. It is in close proximity to a few nicer residential neighborhoods in Manchester, not too far from the Glastonbury town line. A large and well maintained sign will welcome you to the area, as opposed to the armed guards that once protected this place. When entering the park, the main road will take you right into the heart of the former base. All of the buildings still stand, and there is ample parking. Though most of the buildings appear to be abandoned, they are not. One of the older buildings has been converted into ballet studio. Another one is now a preschool/daycare, with a brightly colored playground outside. All of the other buildings appear to be used just for storage. One is rumored to be a shooting range, but we found no such evidence to confirm this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though they are still in use, the buildings all look abandoned. A lot of the windows are boarded up and they are not in the best of shape. One building even has white hand prints scattered all along its outer wall, though we would guess this is from the preschool from across the lot. Standing right behind the old buildings is a baseball diamond. Though it was not in use while we there, it is clearly maintained. There were actually a good number of people here when we visited, but they were all congregated in the main area of the base. In order to get a real glimpse of the former site, you have to do some walking. There are a clear line of trails throughout the park. While following the main trail further into the base the old overgrown chain link fences can be seen, still protecting the grounds.

Following the trails into the base, the old access roads into the missile site can still be seen. We followed them through the fences and further into the woods, leading to a large clearing with large power lines overhead. This is where the missile launch pads were once located, remnants of them can still be seen. Continuing down the trail, we found the three former missile platforms. Each of these is a large cement foundation with a rusty metal blast plate attached, used to protect the concrete from the rocket’s heat. Alongside of these, there are several collapsed ruins that were once small buildings. Scattered amongst the site were random items such as old tires, cement markers, and old telephone lines. Closer to the main grounds of the base, there is the old water pump station. A large blue tank stands beside an old cement building. Both have become very rusted and covered in graffiti. 

Though the site is designated as a recreational area, it clearly has its share of secrets. We found one small underground bunker that we were able to get into, though it was merely a small electrical duct. Mixed amongst the trees, the old wire system can still be seen. We even curiously found a large area of the grounds that was literally coated in broken glass sitting beside a dying fire pit. Either the Terminator has recently returned from the future, or this place has a vandal problem. Unfortunately, it will not be long before all of these ruins disappear. Though the remnants of this place’s past are slowly fading away, there are still reminders everywhere of what it once was. The Manchester Nike Missile Base may have swapped its garrison of soldiers for children and tiny ballerinas, but the ghosts of the Cold War still haunt these wooded grounds.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.