Archive for the ‘route 85’ Category

Out of Gas – Hebron’s Abandoned Texaco Station

Written by: Sean L

Photos by: Amanda H

Back in December of 2014, we published an article on this site following our investigation of the abandoned buildings alongside Route 85 in Hebron, Connecticut. At the time, we were able to find very little information about them since there were no signs left to distinguish their former names. Now, thanks to some very helpful insight from a local historian we finally have some more information about these mysterious buildings. What we had believed at the time to be an abandoned garage, turns out was once a Texaco gas station. According to Larry Zimmerman, President of the Amston Lake Historical Society, the building “would not be taken over because of the ground pollution and 15 years of taxes.” Sadly, the old station has been left to crumble alongside the busy route. And though man has long since disappeared, nature has returned to claim this former business.

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Directly across from the Airline Trail State Park parking lot, this building was the oldest of the three abandoned structures and in the greatest state of disrepair. The roof had completely caved in over half of the building, and the entire back wall had been demolished on the other half. Most of the windows had been smashed and there was quite a bit of liter. It was only one floor. There was a section that appeared to be the office and then three garage bays. Though there was no recognizable sign left to distinguish the name of this former business, we did find a few old racing team signs on the ground. Lots of old tires, broken glass, and even an old sink were strewn about outside of the garage. Inside, we found quite a bit of evidence that some sort of large animal, more than likely a pack of stray dogs, has been living inside.

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Things We Lost in the Fire

The Ruins of the Norton Paper Mill

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

   Fire has changed the course of mankind more than most forces of nature. It has given life. During the early days of our evolution, it was fire that kept people warm. Fire cooked food, and provided a strong sense of comfort to early man. But it has also taken life. Over the years, roaring and out of control fires have caused untold amounts of damage and suffering. As quoted in Gareth Edward’s Godzilla; “The arrogance of man is thinking that nature is within our control, and not the other way around.” Forests have fallen. Lives have been destroyed. Empires have crumbled, all at the mercy of the fire. When the fire strikes, some rise from the ashes. Others lie in ruin. We discovered one such place on a shining spring day. Sitting alongside part of what is considered the most dammed watershed in all of North America, this once mighty paper mill was decimated by a raging fire decades ago. She has yet to recover from her wounds, and still lies severely scarred and burned. Welcome to the Norton Paper Mill.

   Originally owned by the locally prominent Norton family, the mill is believed to have been established in the late 1800’s. Its founder, C.H. Norton, inherited the property from his family and built the mill along the Jeremy River in what is now the Westchester section of Colchester, Connecticut. It was originally commissioned as a saw and grist mill. For many years, the mill had a very successful run producing all kinds of paper products for customers all over the region. Paper produced at the mill went into everything from books, binders, and even shoes. Throughout its existence, the Norton Paper Mill survived one large fire. However, it could not survive a second one. During the 1960’s, a purging fire caused massive amounts of damage and destruction to the mill, forcing it to close down for good. Since that fateful day, the Mill has become an absolute wasteland. While the river still roars past it, the dam built for the mill slowly crumbles along with the structure. Over the years, chain link fences have been installed and windows have been boarded up to keep trespassers out.

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   But that never stops us. We visited the ruins of the Norton Paper Mill on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in late April. It is a short drive past the on and off ramps of Route 2 on Old Hartford Road in Colchester, Connecticut. The local Airline trail is also in close proximity. The ruins sit directly alongside the rather busy Route 149 in the rural part of town. When driving by, you really cannot miss the ruins. They are massive, and frankly quite noticeable. The roof is completely caved in, and a chain link fence spans the entire perimeter of the property. Though there are a few neighboring houses, we simply drove up to and parked beside the abandoned ruins. There was nobody around, and things were very quiet. “NO TRESPASSING” and “KEEP OUT” signs are posted all over the abandoned mill. Unfortunately, there was no real way inside without climbing over and hopping the chain link fence, which is against our policy. The interiors of the mill are in absolutely deplorable conditions, but they are very clearly visible from the outside though.

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There are two crumbling buildings that comprise the mill. Both are in a very derelict state of decay. Old and rusted equipment of all kinds is still inside, simply left to rot from many years ago. Large metal radiators and gauges have turned to a sullen brown with years upon years of rust damage. Several shelves of old tools and materials still sit inside collecting dust and decay. An old and rusted water tower stands in the distance, casting a shadow over the old mill. The damage from the fire is extensive, and still very noticeable. Charred and blackened pieces of wood are scattered amongst the wreckage. All of the ground floor windows are boarded up with heavy plywood. The higher windows all have metal bars on them, or have chain link fences positioned strategically behind them. The town of Colchester clearly does not want any visitors at the old mill, and they have good reason. The place is a wasteland, and clearly still very dangerous. The waters of the roaring river pore out of the slowly crumbling basement of the mill. It is only a matter of time before it all collapses.

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    There is currently a strong movement amongst the townspeople of Colchester and certain environmental groups to have the mill demolished and re-commissioned as a state park. Apparently, the local Salmon population is unable to migrate using the James River due to the dam installed by the mill many years ago. Since the mill has long been out of business, there is not much purpose any more. The future will tell whether or not this movement will ever be successful. Though it is pretty much impossible to get inside the ruins of the mill without breaking in, it is still very much worth a visit. Since the great fire that caused its untimely demise, the old mill sits pretty much untouched by the hands of man. It is grim reminder of the true fury of the flame, and just how uncontrollable the forces of nature can be. The very thing that gave us life ages ago, was the thing that put an end to this once prominent business. The Norton Paper Mill still sits in smoldering defeat, just one of many things we lost in the fire.

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Out of Business

The Abandoned Buildings of Route 85

 By: Sean and Amanda

Growing up in the Hebron area, I had driven down and along Route 85 for as long as I can remember. It is a stretch of road that we would always take to get from Hebron to Colchester or vice versa. It could be busy, at times. But other times it felt like any other road, running between a few sleepy little Connecticut towns a lot of people have never heard of. But this road is more than meets the eye. Much like most towns in the world, the communities along Route 85 have not gone unscathed from economic downturn. Over the years, we have seen several well-known and beloved businesses fall under hard times. Owners of these establishments closed up shop, and the buildings themselves were left at the mercy of the elements. On a cold November day, we decided to pay a visit to a few of these forgotten places.

Commonly used as a route for commuters and travelers between the cities of Hartford and New London, Route 85 is a state highway. Though we have often traveled it on our adventures to get to and from Hebron or Colchester, it actually runs from the northern town of Bolton all the way south to the city of New London. Originally established during the nineteenth century, Route 85 has been a commonly used highway in the state of Connecticut. It has had an assortment of different names over the last hundred or so years, but was officially christened Route 85 during 1932. Though it is kind of a small town road, Route 85 has junctions to major highways including I-95, I-384, and US-44. We were on our way to visit three abandoned buildings located along the more rural part of the route between Hebron and Colchester.

On our trip to Route 85, we parked at the local lot for the Airline Trail State Park. Arguably the biggest and most popular walking site in Connecticut, the trail runs all over the state. We have used it several times during our investigations. Ironically, it was a formerly abandoned railway track that was acquired by the state and turned into hiking trails. The three buildings that we were investigating that day were all within a short walk from each other. They included a former mechanic’s garage, an abandoned antique warehouse, and the beloved Route 85 Lumber yard. Believe it or not, the fabled and familiar site of Camp Connecticut was merely a few miles from us. See our write up on the legendary site here. Since it was a weekend, there was heavy traffic both on the trail and Route 85 itself.

The first place that we visited was the abandoned garage. Directly across from the Airline Trail State Park parking lot, this building was the oldest of the three and in the greatest state of disrepair. The roof had completely caved in over half of the building, and the entire back wall had been demolished on the other half. Most of the windows had been smashed and there was quite a bit of liter. It was only one floor. There was a section that appeared to be the office and then three garage bays. Though there was no recognizable sign left to distinguish the name of this former business, we did find a few old racing team signs on the ground. Lots of old tires, broken glass, and even an old sink were strewn about outside of the garage. Inside, we found quite a bit of evidence that some sort of large animal, more than likely a pack of stray dogs, has been living inside.

The second place that we visited was a quick walk down the road. It was formerly used as a warehouse antique business. A place that my parents used to shop at, it had only been abandoned for the last fifteen years or so. Since the building was made of brick, it was in relatively good shape aside from the forest of vines and vegetation growing around its sides. Though the one of the side doors was completely missing, most of the windows were still intact. Inside, the warehouse was in remarkably good shape. It was four floors and a basement, each floor has a solid metal staircase leading up to the next. A fire escape was also on the fourth floor. We also found what appeared to be evidence of people still living inside. Even though Hebron is not known for its homeless population, we found a few makeshift beds and a still functioning sink. This was not surprising due to the good condition of the inside, but it was only the second time we have ever found people to still be living in an abandoned place. For this reason, we did not stay very long

Our third and final stop for our investigation was Route 85 Lumber. One of the longest running and most memorable small businesses in the town of Hebron, Route 85 Lumber were known to employ a lot of students from the nearby high school and donate materials for local Eagle Scout projects. It sadly went out of business in 2009. Though it is heavily protected, it now sits empty along Route 85. The office is guarded by security cameras and the doors are all heavily locked up. The lumber yard itself is surrounded by a very tall chain link fence with barbed wire around the top, keeping out any unwanted visitors. Though there was not much to see here, we did see a “For Sale” sign out front with a “Sold” sign placed below it. This was potentially good news for this former small business, as it may become the first abandoned place we have visited to come back.

It is good to see that there is hope for one of these sites. We would like to see it make a comeback. The other two, however, may simply be too far gone. They now serve a different purpose; homes to strays and squatters. Though they were once flourishing businesses, many see them now as nothing more than big eyesores. These three sites now sit alone, silently watching the busy traffic of Route 85 pass them by.

Camp of Shadows – The Mystery of Camp Connecticut

Posted: November 4, 2014 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Connecticut, abandoned new england, Abandoned Resort, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Birds, Broken, Camp Connecticut, Children, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, dreams, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Ghosts, Haunting, Hebron, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Marlborough, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, research, route 85, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Stories, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex
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Camp of Shadows

The Mystery of Camp Connecticut

Written by: Sean L.
Photographs by: Amanda H.

Nestled deep in the woods bordering Colchester and Hebron, Connecticut, lies a place of mystery. Though allegedly not completely abandoned, it is a shadow of its former self. Countless rumors have emerged throughout the years as to why it closed, but nobody seems to know for sure. I’m talking, of course, about Camp Connecticut. Having lived in the area my whole life, I had visited the empty camp several times in my youth. It has been a staple in the community for as long as I can remember. It was seen as a “rite of passage” to sneak into the camp when I was young. Though little of the actual structures of the camp remain, the ghosts of the past still hold a strong presence over this former summer hotspot. Growing up around Camp Connecticut, every kid I knew seemed to have a different story about why this place was abandoned. One of the most popular rumors was that one of the camp counselors went crazy and killed several campers. Another popular one was that the daughter of the camp’s owner was drowned in the lake.

No such evidence to support these claims has ever been found.

The rumors of satanic activities and Devil worship were also very prevalent. Stories of hauntings and paranormal activity were strong as well. As part of my high school news team, we were planning on spending the night at the abandoned camp in an attempt to gather evidence of the hauntings. Our investigation was shut down though by the local authorities.When researching this site for our current investigation, we found little to nothing online about the camp. There was no information on this mysterious place anywhere. Even the website of the alleged owners of the site, the local Shriners, was mysteriously taken down. There were a few photos on some very old blogs, but mostly Camp Connecticut seemed to be a place forgotten by the public.There is a main entrance on Old Hebron Road, but it is now heavily watched by multiple security cameras. Through the use of Google Maps, see Rule #4, we were able to find a way into the camp via the local Airline Trail.

Camp Connecticut is deep in the heart of darkness. It is protected from the outside world by a forest of dense foliage and thick woodlands. The main entrance is now blocked by a sturdy metal gate that is locked at all times. There is, however, one old trail into this lost world. It has been nicknamed “Hell’s Trail.” It is lies off the Airline Trail just over the Hebron border along the banks of the winding Judd Brook. Parking at the Old Hartford Road entrance of the Airline, it was a little over a mile walk to the mouth of the Hell’s Trail. This is not an easy path. Being an unofficial trail, it is not maintained like the rest of the Airline. The only users of this trail are the local wildlife and people like us looking to get a glimpse into Camp Connecticut. The trail follows Judd Brook as it winds through the woods.

The deeper you go, the quieter things become, until you are left in complete silence. About a mile down the winding trail, you will find the remains of Camp Connecticut. The trail leads directly into the camp, only the path is blocked once you cross into the property by a very large fallen tree. The fallen tree has clearly been placed here for a reason. A crude sign is stapled to the fallen log with a clear warning from the “Camp Connecticut Board of Directors.” The sign states “No Trespassing” and that “We are watching you.” They aren’t joking either. Multiple security cameras can be seen from the trail guarding the property. Beyond the fallen log lies a large clearing with small piles of junk scattered around. There are several roads visible leading off further into the camp. It is quiet as a tomb. It is the middle of summer. Yet there are no sounds of birds, or bugs, or anything. Just silence.

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We explore what we can for the next few hours. Climbing up the nearby cliffs, we were able to get a better view of the camp. A single lean-two is still standing deeper into the camp. There is also an abandoned truck and several more piles of junk. We also found a very well hidden and well maintained tree stand, meaning someone is still using this property for something. Coming off of the river there is also a small pond. This pond is allegedly where most of the devil worship is supposed to take place. We saw no such devil worship. But that is all that is left of this former summer camp. There is, however, some sort of presence here. There is an ominous feeling in the air. It is hard to explain.

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Our investigation of Camp Connecticut left more questions than answers. The alleged owners of the site remain elusive. The local Shriners are said to own the camp. But their website cannot be found. At the gates of the camp, we even found an old sign for the Shriners. Lately we have even heard rumors that camping is allowed on site with permission from the owners. But much like everywhere else surrounding this strange place, these are only rumors. On our journey we found no ghosts. No devil worship. No Shriners. Just a sad, empty, and foreboding former summer camp heavily guarded by a silent army of security cameras. But the mystery continues. Who are the mysterious Camp of Connecticut Board of Directors? Who, if anyone, is watching these security cameras? But even more importantly, what are they hiding?

— Any questions, comments, etc.? Feel free to comment on this post and we will get back to you asap! —