Archive for the ‘overgrown’ Category

As Within, So Without

The Abandoned Clausland Mountain Tunnels

PART II

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

“As Above, so below. As within, so without.” These are the words that haunted my mind as I walked alone through the darkness. My head was crouched down. Not because I was too tall for the tunnels, but to avoid another confrontation with the spider crickets. Lassie had stayed back for this one, but I was on the hunt. For what? I have no idea. It’s just you never know what you are going to find in the deepest/darkest places of the world. I had come into this investigation fully prepared. A large flashlight was in one hand. My bandana was pulled over my face. And a cold steel knife was strapped to my belt. Obviously, I am a big fan of the movie As Above, So Below. The titles of this issue have been an homage to it. If you haven’t seen the film, I would highly recommend it. But these words have a much deeper meaning. They come from an ancient proverb. “As Above, so below. As within, so without.” It has been theorized this was the philosophy for when God created the Earth. As things are in Heaven, so they shall be on Earth. As things are above ground, so they shall be beneath it. Well, friends, I can tell you now that these may be beautiful words. But that is not always the case. Welcome to Part Two of our investigation on the abandoned Clausland Mountain Tunnels.

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

One of the star attractions of the old base is what we’ve come to call “Tree Tunnel.” It’s one of the few things that really attracted me to this place. We’ve seen nature take places back in a big way before, but this was my favorite example. Towards the northern side of the old base, a tree has grown into the tunnel system. You literally have to climb into the tunnels through the tree, and it’s really cool. If you’re really tall, like myself, it is a bit of a chore to get inside. But it’s well worth it. I honestly refused to leave the area without finding “Tree Tunnel.” Another interesting feature of the abandoned base is the car wreck. At the southern most point, an old car has rusted into oblivion a few yards from the tunnel system. Jokingly, the words “FOR SALE” have been spray painted onto it. It is unclear whether or not this old machine had a part to play here at some point, or if some local had just dumped it here many years ago. There are also several small buildings situated in a orderly fashion alongside the tunnels. Structurally, each one is exactly the same as the last. They are all completely empty, save for the usual trash and graffiti. But they were once also apart of the base’s rifle range.

On our way back towards the car, we happened to cross paths with two older graffiti artists painting the outer walls of the tunnels. They weren’t taggers, these two were legit artists. And they weren’t kids either, both of these gentlemen appeared to be in their late forties. They were very friendly, and their work was actually quite good. We usually avoid strangers when exploring abandoned places, and it was actually a little startling to come across these two. But they honestly seemed as shocked to run into us as we were to run into them. Another peculiar instance on our walk back were the vultures. Scores of them had been circling the area since we had begun our investigation. And on our way back, we discovered why. As we got closer to the wealthy neighborhood, the air began to smell quite foul. And as we approached our path back, we were blocked by a small army of these scavengers. A large carcass, of what I have no idea, was now laying in the trail. It wasn’t there on our walk in, and the vultures had begun feasting on it. It was a little horrifying, to say the least. So, we decided to take the road back to the car. It was a bit longer, but I had no intention of breaking up the feeding frenzy.

I usually don’t do pieces that are composed of multiple issues. In fact, the last ones I wrote for this site was my three-part issue on the abandoned Sunrise Resort and the trilogy of Top 10 Abandoned Places in Movies lists. But there is just so damn much to see and do here. It has honestly become one of my absolute favorite abandoned places that we have ever explored. And it’s all completely legal to visit. There is an entire world out there in the woods, just waiting to be seen. The abandoned tunnels were some of the coolest places we’ve ever explored. Just between us, we ended spending our entire afternoon out there in the woods. I wanted to be absolutely sure that we covered every last inch of the old base. It was bloody exhausting, but I strongly recommend it to any of our loyal readers. Even if you have to make a bit of a drive, this place is totally worth it. Especially to all of those that have inquired to us in the past about abandoned tunnels. And so, friends, I ask one final time: why do we seek the dark? I still don’t have an answer, because I think everyone’s answer is different. There is so much light up here in the world, sometimes it’s good to get a look at the flip side. It is only after we have seen total darkness that we can truly appreciate the light.

The Top 5 Abandoned Places of 2019

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

Roll River Roll

The Abandoned Adams Mill Dam

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

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

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

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

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

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

Finders Keepers

The Abandoned Above All Radar Station

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I follow just about every legitimate urban explorer in the area. And I know that many of them follow us, as well. Personally, I think it’s great. We all kind of collectively share locations amongst ourselves indirectly. And I’m okay with this. I know that these people are respectful of the places they explore, same as we are. I know that these people do this for similar reasons that we do. But most of all, I know that these people find just as much wonder and enjoyment out of this hobby as Lassie and myself. If I see a cool place on another explorer’s page, I will look into checking it out myself at some point down the line. Whenever we post something unique up here, other explorers usually follow suit. These could all be giant coincidences, but I don’t really believe in coincidences. We don’t make much money off this site. It’s all about sharing these amazing places with those that appreciate them. But every once in awhile, I find a location that nobody else has ever covered before. This is one of those places.

Behold today’s subject: The abandoned Above All Radar Station. Located in the absolutely beautiful Litchfield County of Western Connecticut, this piece of land has been apart of the state’s military history for years. The hill was named “Above All” due to it’s height, and use as an observation tower during the early days of the American Civil War. Interestingly, the site was declared a State Park first back in 1934. Following this purchase, it began it’s transition into a military base during the early days of the Cold War. For the next few years, the land became apart of the rapidly developing air defense network of the American homeland. A small facility was constructed, and continually added onto as the years went by. But much like many former military bases across New England, Above All was eventually shuttered following the end of the Cold War. The land was once again transitioned back into a State Park. However, the small facility built at the summit was never demolished. It was simply decommissioned, and left behind.

Like I said before, I had never heard of this place. And nobody that I follow has ever covered it, either. I just happened upon it by chance. In case you didn’t notice, we love hiking. We also try to never do the same park twice. So one day, while perusing Wikipedia for nearby parks, I just happened to click on Above All. It is a quiet park. It’s not maintained. There are no marked trails. Hell, there isn’t even a sign marking the territory. But hidden amongst the trees of this mysterious spot of land lie the remains of the abandoned Above All Radar Station. We had to check it out. So in the waning days of Summer 2019, we made the trek out to Litchfield. It was about an hour drive for us, but we had a great time. We always try to find something fun to do before exploring an abandoned place. It helps lighten the mood, and it make the journey feel more worth it. I can honestly say that Litchfield is absolutely beautiful. And while Above All was difficult to get to, it certainly proved to be a great find.

There is kind of a trail to the radar station. It is clearly very old, and hardly ever used. But it’s there. You just have to look for it. I was honestly a little disappointed with how short of a walk it was to find the base. You get to the top of the hill, and bam! There it is. Waiting for you. Old chain link fences still stand guard around parts of the perimeter. Foundations of fallen installations crumble into the fertile earth. Weeds and tall grass grow abundantly all across the property. The building, however, is truly built to last. You can see how tough this little station is from a mile away. I honestly haven’t seen any abandoned buildings that looked quite as sturdy as this one does. She has truly stood the test of time. Inside, however, is another story. Though the foundation is strong, the interior of the station has been completely gutted. The front room is open and cavernous. But it is completely devoid of anything except for dead space. Crazy graffiti art is also scrawled everywhere, usually making some sort of face on the buildings facade.

At the back of the facility is a second room, but it is unusually not connected with the first. You have to stride through the thick underbrush to get to it. This one is absolutely full of broken down junk and such. And, of course, there was plenty more graffiti. My personal favorite piece just said, “Radar is Fun.” I’m not sure why. The backroom also has two ventilation shafts leading to the outside. It’s a bit more eventful than the previous room, but it is unfortunately the last stop on the trip. So, overall, the abandoned Above All Radar Station is certainly a unique place to visit. It is a bit small, but the facility itself is very unique to explore. The hike in is certainly one of a kind. And what is left of the base is one of the best looking old buildings I’ve seen in all the years I’ve been doing this. So if you’re up for an adventure, please do check out Above All. It is completely legal to visit, and well worth the trip. But if you do, be sure to give us a shout out, drop us a line, or just spread the word. We’d love to hear about it.

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.”

Tears of a Mountain

The Abandoned Mount Beacon Railway

Written by: Wilk

Photographs: Lassie

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

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

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

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

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

 

Flight of Dragons

The Ruins of Bannerman Castle

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

We have been doing this urban exploration thing for over five years now. We have explored places all over New England. We’ve seen the abandoned hospitals of Connecticut, the derelict fortresses of Rhode Island, the lost ski resorts of Vermont, and the forgotten landmarks of Massachusetts. New England has always been our base of operation. But this past autumn, we finally headed west to the Empire State. New York is a place that we have visited a few times lately on movie business, mostly in the city. But we had never done any exploring there. Technically, it’s almost closer to us than a lot of the places we’ve already visited. For some reason, it was just a place that seemed to have evaded us over the years. And so, for our eight year anniversary we finally decided that it was time to see what the great state of New York had to offer. Our first destination? Bannerman Castle.

Of all the places in New York, it was the Hudson River Valley that caught our attention the most. Bannerman Castle is kind of a local legend in these parts. Oddly enough, the local inn we stayed at on our trip had dozens of paintings of the castle all throughout their foyer. Located on Pollepel Island, smack dab in the middle of the roaring Hudson River, the castle was first built in 1901 by industrialist Francis Bannerman IV. Making his fortune in the scrap business, Bannerman is unofficially known as “The Father of Gun Collecting.” When he was prohibited from housing his large stockpile of ammunition in New York City, Bannerman moved his base of operation upriver to the nearby island.Though the main castle was built as a housing facility for his vast arms and munitions arsenal, the island was also the vacation home of the Bannerman family. Following Francis’s death in 1918, the castle went through a series of unfortunate events including fires, accidents, and architectural collapses. The island was named off-limits in 1969.

Since its closure, Bannerman Castle has slowly deteriorated. It’s once grand presence now haunts the Hudson River Valley. But in recent years, the local community has come together to bring it back to life. Through the Bannerman Castle Trust, certain buildings have been restored and the castle itself stands in a state of arrested decay. Much like Chester-Hudson Quarry in Massachusetts, the castle is maintained just enough to keep it from collapsing. This allows people from all over the world to experience its sheer beauty. The castle was even featured in the most recent Transformers movie. The trust offers tours of the island in the summer and fall via ferry or by kayak (for the summer only). We were lucky enough to catch one of the final ferry tours of the season. Taking a small boat through the roaring Hudson River, the castle looms like a mythical giant in the distance. It beckons all weary travels towards its once rich gateways.

Honestly, the castle is damn near awe-inspiring. Against the gorgeous backdrop of the Hudson River Valley around it, the faded red palace looks like something out of a fairy tale. It almost looks as if it were hewn from the very mountains by great giants of old. While the front of the castle still looks amazing, the back is in much worse shape. It looks like it could collapse at any moment. To create a barrier for his island, Francis Bannerman sunk several large barges around it topped with small stone towers. A few of these still peak out from the river’s roaring current. Unfortunately, seeing this place is much more tourism that it is exploration. We were on the island for a grand total of about an hour, and did not get to see the castle as up close as I would have liked. Guides ferry visitors to and fro across the island like sheep. Nothing against them or the Bannerman Castle Trust, I just would’ve preferred seeing the place on our own as opposed to in a group. This was definitely a very different experience than we are used to.

I almost didn’t write about this place for our site. I don’t really know why. It just didn’t really fit in with what we usually cover. Like I said before, this place is much more in line with Dark Tourism than it is urban exploration. But Bannerman Castle truly is amazing to see. I’d highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys a little adventure. Plus you get to go on a boat ride through the Hudson River. Even if you don’t take the island tour, seeing it from the banks of the river or the top of nearby Mount Beacon is bloody breathtaking. Much like Hearthstone Castle, it feels like something from a dream. Yet as awesome as Bannerman Castle is, I couldn’t help but imagine what it must’ve been like during its heyday. Walking across the island was just as cool as it was somber. The dragons that once ruled this magical place have long since flown off. And yet, somehow, the castle has captured the hearts and minds of the local community. She may never again rise to her former glory. Yet with a little help, she still stands tall.

If you are interested in visiting the castle, please check out the Bannerman Castle Trust’s website here – https://www.bannermancastle.org