Archive for the ‘Military Forts’ Category

Top 5 Abandoned Places to Go Hiking

Posted: March 20, 2017 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, abandoned home, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, abandoned military bases, abandoned mill, abandoned new england, Abandoned Railway, Abandoned train station, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Berkshires, Bolton, Broken, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, dreams, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Fortress, Forts, Graveyard, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, Massachusetts, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, nature, new england, Nike Missile Base, overgrown, photography, Portland, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Williamtic, writing
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Top 5 Abandoned Places to Go Hiking

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Hiking is the whole reason we ever got into this. We accidentally stumbled upon the abandoned Sunrise Resort while hiking at a state park in Moodus. The rest is history. When we plot an investigation, it is usually to go explore something like a big abandoned building. But every once in awhile, we come across a place that may not be as exciting as an abandoned asylum but is still a fun place to hike. There may not be too much to see, but its nice to just be outdoors and do some exploring. Here are a few of our favorite abandoned places across New England to go hiking!

#5 – Manchester Drive-In (Manchester, CT)

This is another place that we just accidentally stumbled upon. While driving home from the office, I would see a large skeletal frame looming out of the woods. I thought it was just an old billboard, but upon further exploration we uncovered that it was actually the ruins of the old Manchester Drive-In movie theater. Unfortunately, there is not much to see here. But the old sign still sits out front, and the old screen looms high and daunting in the sky. With good weather, it is a really nice hike.

#4 – Aspinwall Hotel (Lenox, MA)

And once again, this was another place we just found. We were staying up in the Berkshires as I had a big audition up there. We went for a short walk by our hotel, and found the ruins of the Aspinwall Hotel. Once one of the most popular hotels in all of New England, this former hotspot was burned to the ground at the turn of the century. Now only ghostly ruins still stand all over the woods. But the picturesque mountain view and the lovely wooded setting make this one a very cool visit.

#3 – Willimantic River Railway (Willimantic, CT)

This place can be a little spooky. It was once part of the lifeblood of the rail system all along the East Coast. Now, she is nothing more than a shadow of her former self. The local homeless population uses this area from time to time as a makeshift tent community. But they periodically seem to get kicked out. Plus stretching over the untamed Willimantic River still stands the old tressell, aka The Bridge of Death. Crossing it is certainly one thing that we crossed off our bucket list. Watch your step, and don’t look down.

#2 – Shade Swamp Shelter (Farmington, CT)

This is certainly one of the more unique and underrated places that we have ever visited. It really doesn’t get enough attention. Once a wildlife shelter and sanctuary, this historic landmark now sits empty in the middle of the woods just off a very busy road. Along a winding trail, there are dozens of old enclosures, cages, and habitats that once housed the former residents of this shelter. On a nice sunny day, this place is not only great for hiking but is also a treasure trove for all you nature photographers out there.

#1 – Nike Missile Site (Portland, CT)

Our number one pick just happens to be in the middle of a state forest. It may be a gigantic pain in the ass to get to, but its really worth it if you can make the trip. Unpaved roads, untamed wilderness, and a total lack of other people can hinder your journey. But if you can find the lost Nike Missile site deep in the woods, you’re in for a real treat. The two sites are about a mile from each other. One features a few still standing structures. The other still has its tunnel system (which we recommend you stay out of). Of all the places on this list, this one is truly all about exploration.

And that’s our list! Got any other places you think are great for hiking? Be sure to let us know! Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe.

Top 5 Abandoned Places to Visit this Summer

Posted: February 3, 2017 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Baseball Field, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Cape Cod, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Forts, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Sanatorium, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Bates Motel, Beaches, Cape Cod, Children's Hospital, Connecticut, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, Fort Wetherill, Fortress, Forts, Hiking, History, Massachusetts, Military, Military Forts, Movies, Mystery, Napatree Point, new england, Ocean, Ocean View, photography, Public Parks, Rhode Island, Ruins, Seaside Sanatorium, State Parks, Stories, Truro, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Waterford, writing
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Winter sucks. I mean it really sucks sometimes. Especially if you live here in New England. One day it will be fifty degrees out. The next day there will be a foot of snow on the ground. Hooray. Things can be a bit unpredictable. As such, we usually slow down a bit on our adventures during the winter. When you’re exploring a place that you really aren’t supposed to be at, leaving footprints in the snow is never a good idea. Plus most of these places get really cold during the winter time. So, since we don’t really have anything new for you guys right now, it’s time to look ahead. Sitting here, with a few inches of snow on the ground outside, here are the Top 5 Abandoned Places to Visit this Summer.

#5 – Seaside Sanatorium, Waterford, Connecticut

We talk about Seaside Sanatorium a lot on here. But it really is a cool place. Sitting pretty right on the lovely Long Island Sound, this place has changed quite a bit over the years. Built in the early 1920’s, this massive hospital has seen a lot. It was regrettably closed in the 1990’s, and has declined ever since. Due to its status as a National Park, it is heavily frequented by beach-goers. Yet none of them seem to pay attention to this place. In our most recent visit, fences and major construction has taken over Seaside Sanatorium. Though round the clock security guards protect the abandoned asylum, it is still a beautiful sight to see.

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#4 – Bates Motel, Truro, Massachusetts 

Is it really called Bates Motel? We don’t know. Hell, nobody seems to know. That is just the moniker that this mysterious abandoned motel has earned due to its similarity to the legendary locale from Psycho. We love this place because it is just so mysterious. Located in a flourishing beach-side community, Bates Motel is a creepy and ramshackle relic of days gone by. The sun shines brightly overheard, and the beautiful blue ocean stands at her back. Yet she remains quiet as a tomb. In recent years, it has diminished greatly. Yet she still stands, waiting for something that will never come.

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#3 – Fort Mansfield, Watch Hill, Rhode Island

This one is a bit of a hike. It really is a pain in the ass to find, especially if the wind is blowing. Its about a mile down Nappatree Point, hidden amongst a bird sanctuary. But if you can find it, this old coastal fortress really is something special. Hidden amongst the sea grass and wild vegetation lies the remains of Fort Mansfield. Due to a fatal flaw in her design, she was deemed unfit for use by the military and eventually retired. It is quite similar to her cousin Fort Wetherill, which we’ll get to. But Fort Mansfield is far more desolate and much more isolated. What’s left makes for a very cool and unique adventure, if you can brave the long walk down the sandy beach.

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#2 – North Truro Air Force Station, Truro, Massachusetts

Yes, another great place to visit on Cape Cod. It may be one of the most picturesque parts of New England, but it has its share of secrets. And one of the best kept ones is this abandoned military base. It is the largest place on this list, and completely legal to visit. Left empty since the nineties, this old Cold War base is now nothing more than a ghost town. Dozens of old houses still stand. The old helipad is still there. The baseball field is now wild and overgrown. There is so much to see here. We literally spent an entire day exploring this place, taking hundreds of photos. It really is that awesome.

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#1 – Fort Wetherill, Jamestown, Rhode Island

Our piece that wrote on this place is still the most popular one we have ever written. And for good reason. Fort Wetherill really is a magical place. Sitting right outside the luxurious community of Newport, Rhode Island, this abandoned fortress sits right at the edge of the sea. It is certainly one of the toughest abandoned places we have ever visited, in the sense that this place has been through a lot and still stands. It is completely legal to visit, and unfortunately many vandals take advantage of that. But her graffiti covered exterior just makes this place that much more hauntingly beautiful.

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And that’s our list! Did we miss any out? Are there any cool places in New England that you plan on visiting this summer? Let us know in the comments. Likes, shares, and such are always appreciated!

The Top 5 Abandoned Places of 2016

Posted: December 30, 2016 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Amusement Park, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Cape Cod, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Farm, Abandoned Forts, abandoned home, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned Racetrack, Abandoned Resort, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Ski Area, Abandoned Stores, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Cape Cod, Closed, Connecticut, Destruction, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Hogback Mountain, Information, Massachusetts, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, Mystic, nature, new england, Ocean View, photography, Public Parks, Rhode Island, Ruins, Stories, Truro, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Vermont, writing
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Please check out our second annual Top 5 Abandoned Places video! It covers all of the best places we’ve explored this year. Happy New Year, everyone!

Cold War Ghost Town – The Abandoned Truro Air Force Station

Posted: August 18, 2016 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Baseball Field, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Cape Cod, Abandoned Forts, abandoned home, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Bates Motel, Beaches, Birds, Broken, Cape Cod, Closed, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Fortress, Forts, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, House, Information, left behind, Magic, Massachusetts, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, Ocean, Ocean View, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, seaside, State Parks, Stories, Truro, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
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Cold War Ghost Town

The Abandoned Truro Air Force Station

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

War is a lot like love. It is easy to start, difficult to end, and impossible to forget. No conflict in human history has ever been truer to these words than the Cold War. Decades of mutual hatred between the East and the West brought our entire planet to the brink of destruction. It was an era of fear, anger, and paranoia. And out of those dark emotions came a massive military build-up that spanned across the globe. Today, it is a different world. All of these fears and doubts have faded away, but the ghosts of the Cold War conflict have not. They are hidden, amongst the darkest corners of our forests and our memories. Ruins of old military bases are now nothing more than graveyards. But on the far reaches of Cape Cod, there is one that stands out from all others.

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In the dark days following World War II, the United States military began to prepare to adjust to the changing international atmosphere. Across the country, missile defense bases began to emerge. In 1951, the North Truro Air Force Station was born. Situated on the far end of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the base had many different jobs during the Cold War conflict. With ever changing and advancing technology, the station was largely used as a radar and air defense base. It housed hundreds of American military personnel over the years, and was complete with on-site housing and recreational facilities. But when the Cold War came to a sudden end in 1991, the future of the station became cloudy. In the turmoil that followed, the North Truro Air Force Station was closed in 1994 and the land was sold off.

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Over the years, we had heard many rumors and stories about the North Truro Air Force Station. Many debated whether or not the place was worth a visit, and even more argued about what was actually left to see. Finally, in the early summer of 2016, we were finally able to stop by the curious facility. The sun was shining. The beaches were busy. And the true magic of Cape Cod was just beginning to wake up. The Air Force Station lies off a quiet road on the far side of North Truro. It is actually only a short drive from the fabled Bates Motel, which is more than worth a visit. The base is technically part of a national park, and is legal to visit. Certain areas are still used for community functions though, and are off limits. It doesn’t look like much, but hidden amongst the heavy underbrush and beach foliage is a ghost town, as old and as spooky as the Cold War itself.

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Upon arrival, the first thing to greet you is what appears to be a large open field. But in actuality, this is the overgrown baseball field from the station’s heyday. The old dugouts and diamond can still be seen if you look hard enough. It is a short walk down the old road, though, where things start to get interesting. Here lies the ghost town. Lining a short stretch of road are what remains of the on-site housing for the military personnel. Each one has simply been left to rot. The doors aren’t even boarded up. Inside, kitchen supplies, mementos, and relics of the past have been simply left behind. The houses at the front of the street were for enlisted men. Down the road were the officer’s houses, which were larger and included garage bays. Many tools and pieces of scrap metal could still be found in a few garages. But beware, asbestos warnings and broken glass are everywhere. Watch your step.

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Hidden farther off in the woods is the old helipad. There is not much to see here, save for a few concrete foundations and filled in tunnels. A slight breeze from the nearby ocean blows through the tall sea-grass. Sea birds and gulls caw overheard, singing a soft eulogy for this forgotten place. We only ran into two other people, an old couple walking their dog who were more than happy to tell us what they knew about the site. If you truly wish to see urban decay at its finest, without running the risk of being arrested, then this place is a must see. It truly is a ghost town, as if everyone just got up and left someday. Never to return. Of all the former military bases we have explored, North Truro Air Force Station was the most intact and most interesting. It is in a class all its own. But to us, this place, much like the Cold War, will be impossible to forget.

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Fortress of Solitude – The Abandoned Fort Mansfield

Posted: March 19, 2015 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Forts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Bird Watching, Birds, Broken, Closed, darkness, Destruction, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Fort Wetherill, Fortress, Forts, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Information, left behind, lost, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, Napatree Point, nature, new england, nightmares, Ocean, Ocean View, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Rhode Island, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, seaside, Stories, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
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Fortress of Solitude

The Abandoned Fort Mansfield

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

   The waves of the ocean crash up against the sandy shore. Fierce gusts of wind shriek through the tall sea grass. Packs of white gulls soar overhead, cackling and cawing to each other. The sun shines powerful and radiant in the sky. The deep Atlantic water is an enchanting shade of bright blue. This is Napatree Point, Rhode Island. And somewhere, lost in the vegetation of this place, lays an abandoned military fortress. The ramparts crumble as they slowly succumb to the barrage of time. Dark and empty corridors are haunted by the ghosts of the past. What once served as the first defense of the American homeland now lies in total silence. This is Fort Mansfield, forgotten by some and a legend to others. Unlike one of the other famous abandoned military forts in Rhode Island, Fort Wetherill (see our write-up here), this former coastal artillery instillation has been all but lost to the white sands of Napatree Point. Located in the village of Watch Hill, Fort Mansfield was one of our most difficult treks, but also one of our most rewarding discoveries.

Fort Mansfield has called Napatree Point home since its creation in the early twentieth century. The point is a small piece of land branching out from the town of Watch Hill. The United States military first purchased the property in 1898, as part of a new program to install artillery batteries all along the coast of New England. Though it may not have as rich of a history as Fort Wetherill, Mansfield does have a much sadder story than its legendary cousin. The fort was officially commissioned in 1902. However, during the war games of the early 1900’s, a fatal flaw was discovered in the fort’s design. The guns of the fort would be unable to repel a head-on assault from the sea, and it would be an easy target for an amphibious assault. Thus, the fort was decommissioned from active status in 1909. Over the years, the garrison of the fortress slowly dwindled as the military lost all interest and faith in it. The land was finally sold back to the town of Watch Hill in 1928. The fortress has remained abandoned ever since.

Having heard whispers of Fort Mansfield in the past without ever finding much information about it, we decided to go searching for it during the fall of 2014. As a burrow of the town of Westerly, Watch Hill is quite the summer hotspot, but it goes quiet during the offseason. Napatree Point is perfectly legal to walk, except for the handful of beachside bungalows at the very beginning. There is a nice little parking lot that is free to park at right in the middle of downtown Watch Hill. After parking, we began our walk down the point. There is beach on either side of the point, with thick vegetation in the middle. This is also a bird sanctuary during the summer nesting season. It is roughly a little over a mile to the very tip of the point. It is also fiercely windy due to the proximity to the ocean. The early stages of the point are decently trafficked by beachgoers, but the end of the point is deserted. After a long time combing through the point’s thick grass, we finally came upon the abandoned fortress.

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The fortress is comprised of two sections: one part contains the first two artillery instillations and the second section is a brief walk away containing the third instillation. There were once a few buildings here, but they have long since been demolished. The first section is a pretty good size. Though it is not as covered in graffiti as Fort Wetherill, Fort Mansfield is still pretty vandalized. Lots of tagging covers the walls, and there is plenty of liter down in the lower tunnels. The local fire department had put up some fencing around the outer walls of the fort to prevent visitors from getting in, but they are quite easily bypassed via a few still functioning ladders and former staircases. Several metal slabs have also been placed over certain points. Except for the blistering gusts of wind, this place is completely silent. There are several entrance points down to the lower levels. Since the front walls have been knocked out, there is a decent amount of light down here. The floor is also completely flooded in certain rooms from years of rain and high tides.

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The second section of the fort is a brief walk down an overgrown path. It sits on the very edge of Napatree Point, giving an excellent view of the Rhode Island coastline. It is much smaller than the first section of the fort, and is much more difficult to see. Tall sea grass and vegetation keep it very well hidden. The graffiti here is actually much more light hearted than the first section. At the very top of the fort, there are a couple of small staircases leading up to what must have once been look out posts. They provide excellent cover from the merciless wind. Unlike the first section, there are no barricades or fences to deter visitors here. Down to the lower levels, there are several large empty rooms. They are in complete darkness, yet they are completely empty save for the trash of vandals. Someone, or something, is most definitely living here. While exploring the dark passages of the lower levels, we heard something moving around in the tunnels. We didn’t stick around to find out what it was.

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Though it is a bit of a trek and can be difficult to find if you don’t know where to look, Fort Mansfield is definitely worth a visit. Unlike the legendary Fort Wetherill, this abandoned base is not home for teenage destruction and vandalism. Because of its remote location, the fort is only enjoyed by those who are willing to make the journey. The fierce winds and the hot sand make it a tough trek, but the fort is more than worth it. While the coastal town around it continues to grow and flourish, Fort Mansfield continues to stray out of thought and time. It is the ruins of a fortress that never got to be. Its run as a coastal artillery unit was cut tragically short by a fatal flaw. Now the land weeps, haunted by a purpose that it never got to fulfill. It is truly a fortress of solitude; quiet and alone, but still standing guard over its former territory.

View on the walk back

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
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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.

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The Devil’s Playground

Rhode Island’s Legendary Fort Wetherill

By Sean and Amanda

While our home state of Connecticut is known amongst the urban explorer community for its many abandoned hospitals and insane asylums, the neighboring state of Rhode Island is known for something different. Due to its coastal proximity and value, the Ocean State is home to several abandoned seaside fortresses. Most of these forts date back to the early colonial days of America, with British, French, and Colonial forces occupying them at one time or another throughout the pages of history. Sadly, over the years the uses for these coastal protectors has dwindled. Many of the former forts and artillery batteries are now abandoned. Now, with no watchmen watching over these former watchtowers, they have become plagued by vandals, graffiti artists, and delinquents. It is these lawless individuals have made these places into their very own playground for destruction.

Perhaps the most well-known of these former coastal protectors is Fort Wetherill. Located in the town of Jamestown, Rhode Island, Fort Wetherill is a mere stone’s throw away from the neighboring town of Newport. The history of the site dates back to the early 18th century. To protect the Narragansett Bay area, Fort Dumpling was built by British forces. After the expulsion, Fort Wetherill was constructed in its place by the American military a mere hundred years later in 1899. As a protector for the wealthy city of Newport and the New England mainland, Fort Wetherill proved to be very active during both World Wars as an artillery placement and troop station. Another primary task of the fort was to oversee the minefields erected during World War II. But following the “War to end all Wars,” Fort Wetherill was decommissioned in 1946. It was then left abandoned for many years.

Fortunately, the grounds were reacquired by the State of Rhode Island in the year of 1972. Due to its large granite cliffs and excellent view of the ocean, the grounds were commissioned as a state park. It is currently enjoyed today by many for sailing, fishing, and other water sports. The fortress, however, still stands. The state did just enough to make the grounds not dangerous, by removing all hazardous materials and sealing off the upper and lower tunnel networks. By not demolishing the fort, the state left it at the mercy of the elements and the more destructive visitors the park. The tunnels are now filled with trash. The walls are coated with graffiti. And instead of soldiers, the fortress is garrisoned only by drunken teenagers. We decided to visit this former fort on a gloomy fall day.

Finding Fort Wetherill is easy. Due to its status as a national park, all you have to do is google it. There is a nice little parking lot at the front of the park. They even have onsite bathrooms. Apparently the park is also very popular for dog walkers, as we saw plenty. The fort is a short walk from the parking lot. Through the thick vegetation blocks it from view at some points, its large multicolored hull eventually looms out through the trees. It is truly a site to see. There are hardly any spots left on the fort that have not been covered with some sort of graffiti. Coming down the path initially, you are launched right into the main courtyard.  There is a small staircase leading off toward the ocean, and on either side are the old watchtowers and tunnel networks.

There are old fences scattered all over the fort, not that they can do much good. They are quite easy to hop right over. Following the old fence from the courtyard, we traveled along the fort’s outer wall. Though it may look small from the initial approach, Fort Wetherill is anything but. Most it, however, is hidden from sight by the wild trees and vegetation. At the farthest point, we found a small watchtower with an excellent view of the Narragansett Bay. Each section of the fort has their own tunnels. None of them are connected. When walking down them into the darkness, each one will have a large open room and then exit out a different way. Some even have little barred windows overlooking the outside. The inside of each tunnel is coated wall to wall with graffiti, and trash is everywhere.

Past the first courtyard, there are a few more towards the western side of the fort. Each one is just as graffiti covered as the first. This colorful art ranges from jokes, hate speech, drawings, and the occasional philosophical saying. For all you “Walking Dead” fans out there, we even found a few signs pointing to “Terminus.” Just like the show, they read “Sanctuary for all.” Fortunately, we didn’t find any cannibalistic community led by a former “Greek” star. While some of the graffiti is really offensive and at times dumb, it does give the former fortress an almost look of urban beauty. All of the wild colors and mismatched drawings give the fort a very unique aura. Unfortunately, any sense of beauty that may be found on the outside is ruined by the darkness of the inside.

The tunnels of Fort Wetherill are the Wild West. As made evident, there are no rules here. We found a small room deep in one of the tunnels that was completely full of bottles and beer cans. We also encountered a lot of unsavory characters down there. A few teens were smoking pot. There were others that were having sex. And even more were smashing the walls with sledge hammers. All just for fun. While we were all kids once, it is a shame to see this incredible site systematically destroyed by these people. And unfortunately, nothing can be done about it. Fort Wetherill has been left behind, and while its walls are sturdy, who knows how long this place has left. Since it is legal to visit, we encourage you to check out Fort Wetherill. However, we do urge you to be respectful. It really is a place of urban beauty, and we hope that you get to experience it. For it will not be long before Fort Wetherill becomes more than just The Devil’s Playground, and descends deeper into darkness.