Archive for the ‘Trains’ Category

Parts Unknown – The Abandoned Tidal Marsh Polar Bear

Posted: November 17, 2021 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Boston, Abandoned Cape Cod, Abandoned Connecticut, abandoned home, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned new england, Abandoned New Hampshire, Abandoned New York, Abandoned Park, Abandoned Pennsylvania, Abandoned Places, Abandoned Railway, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Road, Abandoned Statues, Abandoned Tower, Abandoned train station, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Cedar Hill, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, time, Trains, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing
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Parts Unknown

The Abandoned Tidal Marsh Polar Bear

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

We have a lot of secrets here at Abandoned Wonders. I think that just comes with the territory of what we do. We used to be very open with our identities and personalities on here. But as our page grew and the places we explored became increasingly dangerous, we decided to go underground. We use codenames. We never show our faces. We never let anything slip about our personal lives. But there’s something I’ve been alluding to for years. I’ve left lots of references here and there, hoping someone might pick up on them. Things like dilapidated boats, the Devil’s playground, and Cowboy Shit. But nobody ever has gotten any of my references. So I guess I might as well come out and say it: I am a huge pro wrestling fan. Yep. Not the WWE. Never the WWE. But Impact Wrestling and All Elite Wrestling are my two can’t miss shows every week. I’ve been a wrestling fan since the second grade, when a classmate traded me a TOPPS trading card of wrestler Kane for a Micro-machines X-Wing. Kane quickly became my favorite wrestler. He was big. He was scary. And he was always billed from a place called “Parts Unknown.” I soon came to realize that all of the mysterious characters in the world of pro wrestling came from this place. Kane. The Ultimate Warrior. Abyss. Papa Shango. All came from Parts Unknown. As a kid, I always envisioned it as this mystical jungle. Where the skies were grey. The trees grew wild and dangerous. And monsters were around every corner.

For our final expedition of 2021, we chose a place very familiar to us. We first covered the abandoned Cedar Hill Railyard way back in the fall of 2014. It’s hard to believe just how long ago that was. Long story short, Cedar Hill was once part of the Northern Atlantic railroad. This system ferried goods up and down the Eastern seaboard, keeping the economy booming and hundreds in employment. But with a changing tide, it was eventually forced to close down. The Amtrack system still runs very close by, but this area was then left become the feral monster that we visited way back when. Everything was unkempt. There was a serious homeless problem. And the abandoned skeletal remains of the railyard were everywhere. But in recent times, the area has become redeveloped into a hiking trail. We always love to see places like this get brought back to life. That said, several abandoned structures from the railyard’s past are still standing. And at the furthest corner of the trail, a local artist has created something very special. Their codename is “refractualism.” And you can check out more of their work here –https://instagram.com/refractualism/ In an old warehouse, using fallen roofing and debris, this creative mind has constructed a 14 foot tall polar bear sculpture. This wasn’t for money, fame, or fortune. Just for expression. Though few are ever able to find it, this fascinating structure has become the talk of the town and the prime destination for the trail.

Naturally, we had to go check this out. I figured it would be the perfect end to our season. Especially because we have stayed out of Connecticut for the entire year. We have almost exclusively been exploring things in Massachusetts. It was time to hit something a little closer to home. After having not seen the abandoned railyard since its redevelopment, it was quite a shock to see how much has changed. Though there is now a nice trail going along the marsh, most of the area we once explored has become completely overgrown. That said, the amount of liter and other creepy stuff has been greatly reduced since our last visit. Using our old knowledge of the railyard and some geographical intel, we were able to place the polar bear’s location no problem. Getting there was the challenge. The Tidal Marsh Trail is great, until it gets deep into the woods. Then all sense of direction falls by the wayside and you basically have to guide yourself around. We had to do a lot of crouching and climbing through the underbrush for this one. But if you follow the bear tracks, you will find what you are looking for. We passed by two archaic brick lookout towers. But they were both filled with garbage and graffiti. The homeless clearly haven’t been totally removed either, as each tower had a makeshift campsite set up at the farthest perch. Eventually, we came upon the massive decaying warehouse. And inside waiting for us, we found the Tidal Marsh Polar Bear.

As I mentioned before, the bear stands 14 feet tall. It is made entirely of roofing debris that has fallen from the decaying warehouse. It is held together by an amalgamation of nails, both old and new. The whole thing was then painted a ghostly shade of grayish white. The face was then carefully crafted at the front with two corned ears and a gaping mouth full of fangs. As if the beast were caught in a perpetual roar. Black doll-like eyes have been painted on as well. They are just as welcoming as they are frightening. I spent a good while just looking the beast deep into those black eyes. Yet I saw nothing in them. There is an odd sense of wonder about this peculiar structure. The polar bear has been standing for over a year now. And the slow decay of time is clearly starting to show amongst her outer hull. Several key pieces have fallen off and there is a bit of rust growing along the left side. But other than that, the polar bear has been left remarkably untouched. The only graffiti was the artist themselves tagging their name across their unique creation. The warehouse itself, on the other hand, looks as if a strong wind might blow the whole thing over. The polar bear is pretty big, yet looks quite small inside the greater building. Plenty of old machinery and relics have been left behind. Everything is rusted to Hell. The wood is wet with rot. The frame shakes with uneasiness. And the floor is coated with broken glass, jagged metal, and dirty brown water.

Eventually, it was time to go. We had gotten all the pictures we could and finally bid farewell to the great wooden beast. The walk back was a bit of a challenge. Much like the walk in, the underbrush of the old railyard is a God Damn labyrinth. On our way back, we came across a few slack-jawed graffiti taggers marveling over what looked like a fallen tree. But as we approached, we realized that it was actually an old rail tower that had finally come down. The forces of nature can be quick and cruel. And they are clearly starting to finally overtake what was once the Cedar Hill Railyard. But I am glad to see that the polar bear is still standing. I do not know if she will survive another winter. I recommend anyone wishing to see her go as soon as you can. For this very place reminded me very much of what Parts Unknown must be like in the mythical world of pro wrestling. If it were to actually come to life. Ever after all these years of redevelopment, you never quite know what you’re going to find out here. The old railyard is no longer the scary and off-putting wasteland that it once was. But some things about it remained all the same. Now, it is a mystical place where our world and the natural one have found a unique balance. For the time being, that is. Because at the end of the day, the wild always wins. The vegetation grows untamed. Great steel towers fall from the sky. Mystery lies around every corner. The former world passes away, and another one rises to take its place. Here there be monsters.

Before the Fall – The Abandoned Willimantic Thread Mill

Posted: September 30, 2020 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned mill, abandoned new england, Abandoned New Hampshire, Abandoned New York, Abandoned Pennsylvania, Abandoned Places, Abandoned Railway, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned train station, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, fire, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, paper mill, photography, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Stories, Trains, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Williamtic, writing
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Before the Fall

The Abandoned Willimantic Thread Mill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

It has begun. The leaves are starting to turn orange and yellow. The skies grow grey. The days are turning darker. The hour is growing very late, indeed. Summer has come and passed. Fall is here. Scary movies are popping up on television. Pumpkins are appearing on everyone’s front porch. The morning dew is now a ghostly frost. It is the changing of the seasons. This article is a little later than we usually post. And for that I apologize. This has been one of the busiest months we’ve had in a very long time. But that is a story for another time. And due to a recent job change for Lassie, we won’t be leaving our home state for the rest of the season. So upstage, Connecticut. It is your time shine once again. We’ve been playing it safe for the last few months due to global pandemic. We’ve mostly covered old relics of the past that have been lost in the woods. But with the turning of the tide, we decided that now was the time to do some real urban exploring. This was no ordinary hike. This was us putting ourselves right back into the thick of it. Into some real danger. And little did we know, but we were in for a bit of an adventure.

This is another one of those places that I have yet to find an actual name for. I’ve done a lot of research, but it has been inconclusive. If anyone reading this has any information, please do share it with us. So, for now, we shall be calling this place the Willimantic Thread Mill. You see, the town of Willimantic used to be known as “Thread City.” It was one of the mill capitals of New England. There were over half a dozen prosperous mills operating in the town at the turn of the century, all working on textiles. They provided jobs and sustenance for the entire local community. But this time of great success was not meant to last. It never is. As time marched on, the American economy began to shift from a manufacturing one to a service one. One by one, the great mills of Thread City shuttered their doors. Many rose again as apartment buildings or municipal offices. One was tragically lost to a great fire long ago. But another was lost to the woods. Cut off from the rest of the community by trees and train tracks, this old industrial titan has now become a black hole. This is our story of visiting the lost thread mill of Willimantic.

If you are a follower of our blog, you should know that we have covered many places here in Willimantic before. From the railway, to the theater, to the Bridge of Death, we have come to know this town quite well. You see, this place has been on our radar for a while now. It was first described to me by an old friend as a train station for the old railway. Considering its proximity to the train tracks, this always made sense to me. But a little more digging showed this to not be the case. Since we were now confined to finishing off our year here in the Nutmeg State, we decided it was finally the time to search out this old monster. Though we were now in the first official week of Fall, it was still bloody humid out. The sweetness of summer hadn’t quite given up yet. It was a Sunday, after a long typical week here in the Hellscape of 2020. We mapped out our location. We found a place to park. We trekked alone down the train tracks, like wandering vagabonds. Not really knowing what we were going to find out here in the woods. Until we took a heavily used trail, and wound up somewhere we clearly weren’t supposed to be.

It was a tent city for the local homeless population. They are living in the ruins of an old mill that burned to the ground long ago. We should’ve known, seeing there were several old mountain bikes and bags of trash strung up in the trees. Like warning signs. We quickly took what pictures we could and got the Hell out of there. These communities usually don’t like visitors. We continued on none the less. And it was here that things really fell silent. Continuing along the train tracks, we eventually crossed through the old gates and onto the grounds of the old mill. It’s hard to tell how big this place was, given how overgrown the underbrush is. It is held together by an amalgamation of brick, wood, and metal. We slipped inside via the old loading dock. Graffiti is everywhere. Trash coats the ground. Archaic machinery rots into oblivion. There are several large gaping rooms, but they are filled only with debris. The once ornate roof has even caved in in a few spots. But the main attraction of the old mill is the elevator shaft, which really didn’t disappoint. You can look straight up through the old machinery and into the grim grey sky. We then began to hear a dog barking very close by, followed by some footsteps. It was time to leave once again.

We both got really bad vibes from this place. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it was the tent city. Maybe we were just having an off day. Maybe we were feeling a tad rusty. But the abandoned Willimantic Thread Mill is certainly creepy. Funny enough, it’s always the mills that give us the creeps. Perhaps that’s because it’s always the mills that have squatters. Union Pond. Talcotville. Montgomery. We are no strangers to this sort of thing. We’ve been doing this a long time. But like I said earlier, this was our first taste of real urban exploration in awhile. Most of the places we’ve been covering lacked the old school danger feeling. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good hike and a little history. But few things get your heart pumping as much as slipping into a place like this one. Just in time for Fall, too. It was chilling at first, then it reminded me of how much fun this urban exploring stuff can be. It was pulse-pounding, but also felt good to be back at it. Much like the fall season can feel chilling, yet exhilarating. There may be some scares here and there. Things will start to get colder. But if you keep your wits about you, it’s all in good fun.

And Then There Was Darkness

The Abandoned Clinton Tunnel

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I haven’t been sleeping well lately. Not for a long time. It’s a scary thing, sometimes. You’re a prisoner in your own mind, but you’re also the guard of it. You’re the only one who can get yourself to sleep, but just can’t seem to find the path. You just kind of walk around trying your damnedest to function in a perpetual state of fog. Things appear and disappear at will. You hear things that aren’t really there. And you sometimes wonder what is real and was is not. You can lie awake in the dark for hours. If you have an alarm clock, it feels like that alarm could come at any second. Sometimes you find comfort in thinking that it is right around the corner. But then these seconds turn into minutes. Those minutes into hours. And what was supposed to be right around the corner turns into a lifetime. Every once in awhile, you fade in and out of reality. Dreams come and go. You feel like you might actually be getting some rest. But you never really rest. It’s all just an illusion. Or, is it? The thoughts come and go. And then there was darkness.

Since I’ve got your attention, allow me to introduce our subject for today. This is the abandoned Clinton Tunnel. She is truly a marvel to behold, running just shy of a quarter of a mile underground. First constructed in the early 1900’s, the tunnel was once apart of the state’s longest running railroad pipeline. It was built going through a hill and heading toward a bridge going over the nearby Wachusett Reservoir. This area in particular had a lot of construction and organized flooding during this time to meet the growing demands of nearby Boston. From here, these railroads carried goods and passengers all across New England for many years. But that time was not to last. With the end of the industrial revolution, things began to grow quiet. The demand for railroad traffic began to dwindle, and the abundance of this once great industry began to wane. By the 1970’s, the bridge over the Wachusett Reservoir had been demolished. And with that, Clinton Tunnel became totally abandoned.

We made the trek to Clinton Tunnel on a grey Spring Sunday. Things were quiet on the way up. And the tunnel lies right off the side of the road. It’s great stone archways are like the Mines of Moria: a grand gateway into the dark. The first half of the tunnel is paved all the way around, from the sides to the ceilings. It still very much looks like an old train tunnel. The walls are coated with graffiti and the floor is all dirt. But the other half is pure stone and has a very cave-like appearance to it. It reminded me very much of The Decent, especially with the constant echo of dripping water. We had heard many stories of just how bad the water levels could get inside of the tunnel, and we had planned our visit on a day where it hadn’t rained in some time. But it turns out that there is no good time to visit Clinton Tunnel, since there was still tons of water. There’s water falling from the ceiling. There’s water flooding the path. There’s water dripping down the stone siding. It’s just everywhere. All sorts of trash and filth float amongst it.

Though only a quarter mile long, the tunnel can seem never ending. But the North end of the tunnel is where things can get a little weird. Frogs, both dead and alive, decorate the muddier patches of water. The train path continues to an old overpass, which now serves as a bridge for a lonely back country road. The great stone borders glisten with moss and mist. While we were photographing the North end, we noticed two strangers standing at the far side of the tunnel. We caught them in a photograph just standing there, staring at us. Maybe they were contemplating walking through themselves. Maybe they couldn’t quite figure out why someone would trek that far out. Or maybe they were just marveling at the tunnel’s majesty. I don’t know. But then, up on the quiet road, a lone car pulled up. It just sat there. Watching us. For a time, I thought they were just looking at the tunnel. But after awhile, it started to get weird. They took off as soon as I waved at them. It was then that we decided it was time to leave.

A great man once said, “With insomnia, you’re never really awake; but you’re never really asleep.” That’s what walking through the abandoned Clinton Tunnel was like; stuck in the void between two different dimensions. There’s never total darkness, but there’s never much light either. You’re underground, but you don’t really feel like it. No matter how deep you get, the end always feels like it’s right around the corner. We’ve seen countless other tunnels like this one get renovated and become part of walking trails. But not this one. It is truly an adventurer’s gutter. Filled with darkness. Trash. And mystery. If you wish to take the plunge into the abandoned tunnel, heed our warnings. As far as I know, visiting is completely legal. Wear your boots. Bring your flashlights. And don’t forget your hand sanitizer. You have to touch the walls a few times if you want to make it to the other side. And once you start, don’t ever lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel.