Posts Tagged ‘1800s’

Melting Snowmen – The Abandoned Bells Mansion

Posted: March 24, 2021 by kingleser in Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Boston, Abandoned Castle, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Forts, abandoned home, Abandoned Hotel, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned new england, Abandoned New Hampshire, Abandoned New York, Abandoned Park, Abandoned Pennsylvania, Abandoned Places, Abandoned Resort, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Tower, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Broken, Closed, commercial, darkness, Death, Destruction, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Fort Wetherill, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Information, left behind, lost, Love, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, Ocean, Ocean View, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Rhode Island, Ruins, State Parks, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing
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Melting Snowmen

The Abandoned Bells Mansion

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

The neighbors across the street built a snowman. They had their grandchildren over a few weeks ago, after one of our many snowstorms, and built a big snowman. It took them a few hours. But, oh, the fun they had. He was like any of those classic Hallmark songs about winter time. Three large balls stacked on top of each other. Little rocks were used for the eyes, nose, and mouth. He had a great big grin on his face, happy to entertain. Bottle caps were used for the buttons on his chest. The grandfather even broke out one of his old hats and scarves to make him feel a little bit more personable. When they were finished, he was perfect. But once he was finished, everyone went back inside. The sun set behind the evergreen treeline. The children eventually went home. The grandparents returned to their television shows and their cigarettes. The snowman, who once brought so much mometary joy, was left alone. Whenever I was able to take my dog for a walk, his personality shown a little less bright. The hat and scarf eventually blew away in the cold winter wind. The great balls of snow began to droop with age. And slowly but surely, the poor snowman’s very frame itself began to melt. No one came to tend to him. No one came to keep him alive. Days eventually turned into weeks. Snow eventually turned into rain. And by the time March had rolled around, all that was once left of this once happy snowman was nothing more than a pile of whiteness. The time of winter was now over. Spring had finally come.

So, hello again. Winter is over. And we are officially back in business. You may have noticed some things have changed around here. We’ve recently added a treasure map of our locations to our site. It allows our visitors to look at a list of all our locations by the state in which they reside. If you haven’t already, check it out sometime at the top of the page. While making this new feature, I realized that we are a little heavy on the Connecticut locations. Given that it’s our home, this is acceptable. But the other surrounding states looked a little bit left out. So for this year, we are going to be visiting Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the rest of New England as much as possible. Maybe a return to New York is even in order once things finally settle down. If there’s any specific locations you’d like to see us cover, please do drop us a line. On our first stop of the year, we decided to check out a place that many before us have covered. It’s one that’s alluded us over the years. Not on any moral grounds or anything. We just never quite found the time to check this place out. This is the abandoned Bells Mansion, or what’s left of it anyway. First built in the late 1800’s, this place once stood grandly amongst the other mansions of Newport, Rhode Island. A series of unfortunate events and a constant change in ownership led the property to a state of disrepair. There was even a fire and a bit of demolition. And now belonging to the state, all that remains of this former palace is the broken down carriage house. Never the less, her spirit still remains.

We made the trek up to Rhode Island on a grey March Sunday. I know Newport well. I once worked on Woody Allen’s movie for a whole summer up there back in 2014. I never ended up seeing the movie, though. But frankly, nobody should be watching his work anymore. Summer in Newport is no picnic. Late winter, however, is great. You can really appreciate the town before it is flooded with festivals and tourists. The drive up and through Rhode Island was rather pleasant. Covid-19 may be wounded and nearing defeat, but it’s still quite dangerous. So we didn’t end up getting to check out many of our old haunts around town. But that’s okay. Also, the Newport Bridge now has automated tolls on one side. But not the other side. Peculiar. I know that they are much more unsafe, but I always kind of enjoyed interacting with the tollbooth operators. It was usually early in the morning driving to set, and it was more often than not an older lady. But they always greeted you with a smile. Some days, that really helps. So let’s all try to be a little nicer to each other. The remains of the Bells Mansion are located in what is now Brenton Point State Park on the far side of town. And though it was grey and chilly, the ocean-side park was still very much alive and active with people. I thought this would be an issue for our exploration, but it wasn’t. Most people were too busy gazing at the ocean, searching for the bathroom, or playing with their dogs to notice the old ruins of the carriage house. It is mostly quiet around this side of the park.

As you arrive at the park, you can straight-up see the abandoned mansion from the visitors lot. The ruins of the mansion very much look like 2020 incarnate. The building looks tired, battered, and broken. Dueling graffiti of “Black Lives Matter” and “Make America Great Again” coat the walls. There is a strong sense of loneliness and hopelessness. Like our snowman left out in the cold as his hat blows away. Everything appears to be grey or brown. Wild vegetation and thick vines protect the ruins from the outside world. Yet there are quite a few curious tunnels and pathways through the underbrush. Some will lead you inside of the abandoned building. Some will lead you nowhere. A failing chain-link fence stands in some places. But like a toothless guard dog, it doesn’t do much good. Inside the cement floors are cracking and crumbling. There is so much water buildup from the upstairs that the ceilings literally feel like they are raining on the inside. It is like something out of a bad dream. There is an observation tower nearby that provides an excellent view of the entire estate. But it, too, has become a victim of graffiti and vandalism. Jagged pieces of metal from the old framework are the only things keeping the structure alive. One of the most interesting things I found was that a tree outside has grown so much that people are now clearly using it to climb inside the abandoned mansion. Creative. I thought of trying it myself, as I used to love climbing trees, but I was advised against it by my more grounded partner.

After getting all the pictures we could, we bid farewell to The Bells and spent some time around the ocean. We gathered some shells. Found some sea glass. And generally just enjoyed the majesty of the Atlantic Ocean. Though the abandoned Bells Mansion may not have been much to look at, one of my favorite things about it are the sounds. Inside sounds like a pouring monsoon as water pours from the ceiling. Outside, you cannot escape the sounds of the waves crashing into the rocks a mere stones through away. It wasn’t quite as exciting as I had hoped it would be, but there is quite a bit of history here. A lot of our fellow explorers have covered this one, and we had to see it for ourselves. If you go, just be wary of people. There is a lot of them snooping around the park. And though winter may have come to end, make sure you get good weather. Just being around the roaring ocean makes this one worth the trip. We’ve had a little bit of snow here and there over the last week. But it’s never more than just a dusting. Three inches maximum. It’s usually all melted by the time midday rolls around. The icy fingers of winter have been broken. Its time is now over. Just as the time of the grand bygone era of the Bells Mansion have passed. They are now nothing more than memories. For much like our neighbor’s snowman, now matter how much joy and love went into building a place like this, we all have a debt to pay. Time stands still for nothing. And all things that come from the Earth must eventually be returned to it.

None Shall Pass

The Abandoned Boardman Bridge

Written by: Cobra

Photographs by: Lassie

We take a two night vacation every October to celebrate our anniversary. Sometimes we coordinate our trips to visit abandoned places. For example, one year we stayed two nights in Newport, RI, and explored Fort Wetherill and Fort Mansfield. Other times, we just randomly stumble upon abandoned places. Like last year, we just happened to pass by the abandoned Hogback Mountain Ski Area while vacationing in Vermont. This was our seventh year anniversary trip, and we didn’t have any specific locations we planned to visit. We were just planning on spending a nice few days up in the mountains of Western Connecticut. But much like last year, fate had other plans.

This is the abandoned Boardman Bridge in New Milford, CT. We’ve explored many abandoned bridges in our time, but this one was different. First opening in the late 1800’s, the Boardman Bridge ferried all kinds of traffic across the roaring currents of the Housatonic River. But almost exactly one hundred years since she first started service, a newer, larger, and more modern bridge was built directly beside her. Ironically, this new bridge was also named the Boardman Bridge. And so this old workhorse became dubbed the “Old Boardman Bridge.” She carried on for a short while longer, serving only as a pedestrian bridge, before finally being closed for good in 1984.

Whilst driving through the countryside of New Milford, CT, we came across the abandoned Boardman Bridge. With the grey skies and the gloomy October weather, we just had to stop and take pictures. For being closed since long before either of us were even born, the old bridge is in remarkably good condition. It came as no surprise to us that the town of New Milford is in fact seeking to repair and reopen the old bridge as a pedestrian/cyclist path to connect two neighboring hiking trails. The Old Boardman Bridge may be old, but she still definitely has some fight left in her. Hopefully, someday soon, she will once again find a way to serve her community.

Welcome to the Tombs

The Abandoned Car Graveyard

Written by: Sean L.

Photos by: Amanda H.

We love to explore. It’s kind of what we do. We do our research, we go out on investigation, and then we document our adventures on this site. But every once in awhile, we simply stumble across things in our travels. I mean, that’s how we got started in the crazy world so many years ago. While hiking, we randomly found ourselves in the middle of the abandoned Sunrise Resort. We weren’t planning on it. It just sort of happened. Every once in awhile, we just find things. Like in the early Fall of 2015. We were out for a hike in a forgotten little state park along a lonely little river. The sun was slowly fading, and the leaves we gradually beginning to fall. But while strolling along the riverbank, we stumbled upon a long lost graveyard. Not for people, or even pets. This graveyard was for long lost automobiles.

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Motorized transports can be traced back all the way to the sixteen hundreds in ancient China. But automobiles as we now know them first began to take shape in the late nineteenth century. Both German and American engineers began to make headway in what is now a billion dollar industry by pioneering the field of gasoline powered engines. By the early nineteen hundreds, factories were beginning to produce engines all around the United States. But the concept truly became a phenomenon when Henry Ford began to mass produce and perfect the automobile design. By the time the Roaring Twenties came about, Ford’s design could be seen on both sides of the country and across Europe.Today, cars are everywhere.

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Sadly, this includes being lost and left to rot beside an old river deep in the woods. We discovered a half dozen rusting corpses of all cars scattered amongst the underbrush. They were all within a quarter mile of each other, some grouped closer together than others. Old parts and other scraps were strewn about all over the place. Most of these old cars were too far gone to really discern what make or model they were (if you are a car expert, please feel free to comment). To me, they just all look like the cars from The Untouchables. Though the interiors had long since rotted away, the local wildlife now occupies most of these old relics. Wild snakes dwell on the ground, sunning themselves on what is left of the once luxurious seats. And in the ceilings, families of mice cluster together in fear whenever anyone walks by. It was a true graveyard, one that has been lost for what appears to be many years.

Welcome to Garden of Lost Cars.

Welcome to the Graveyard of Empires.

Welcome to the Tombs.

Rest in Peace.

Knightfall
The Haunting Legend of the Mansfield Training School

Written by: Sean L.

Photos by: Amanda H.

UConn, home of the Huskies. Their athletic program has won 21 NCAA championships, most notably for basketball. They have the largest public research collection in the state, housed in one of the largest libraries in New England. There are over twenty five thousand students enrolled in its programs, and close to ten thousand employees alongside them. It is UConn, home of Connecticut pride. But is the University of Connecticut haunted? A place such as this cannot become one of the oldest universities in the country without having a few secrets. In a forgotten corner of the darkest side of campus, there lies a quiet pocket where the shadows run wild. In its heyday, it was known as the Mansfield Training School and Hospital. Though it is officially listed in the National Register of Historic Place, this former institution is now nothing but a tomb. Concealed deep within its walls lurks the pain and suffering of its dark past. MTS1

The facility was created following the merger of the institutions in both Lakeville and Mansfield, Connecticut during 1917. It was christened the Mansfield Training School and Hospital, a facility for the care of the intellectually disabled. They started off with a relatively small number of patients. Major events in history such as the Great Depression and World War II caused the population of patients to grow and become overcrowded. But during the sixties and seventies, regulations began to change, resulting in more staff and caregivers being provided. Some years later, patients began to be moved from the hospital to on-site cottages and group homes. Regrettably, while there were many stories of good and fair treatment of the patients, there were also several tragic ones. Under a pile of lawsuits, the facility was forced to close its doors in 1993. The property was then split amongst the University of Connecticut and the neighboring Bergin Correctional Institute.

What remains of the Mansfield Training School and Hospital can be found on UConn’s lesser known Depot Campus, at the crossroads of CT Route 32 and US Route 44 in Storrs, Connecticut. Compared to the main campus, it is strangely quiet on this side of town. The neighboring Bergin Correctional Institute has lain dormant since its closing several years ago. There are multiple buildings still standing on the old grounds. A few were demolished after the sale, but most still stand. There is an old tunnel system that runs between the buildings that were used to shuttle patients around during inclement weather. However most of these tunnels have been filled in or blocked off. Almost all of the buildings have had their doors and windows welded shut. Others even have their roofs completely caved in. And from the looks of things, this place has had a pretty serious vandal problem for some time.

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Standing as the face of Mansfield Training School is the Knight Hospital. With its classical Greek and Victorian architecture, it is undoubtedly the most picturesque building on site. But it is sadly a shadow of its former self. While it served as the main building when the grounds were in operation, it is now in deplorable shape. The engraved name above the doorway and the tall stone pillars supporting it have all but succumbed to the wild vegetation growing around them. Windows on all floors have been smashed. Trash and graffiti lie strewn about the floor. And even a family of squirrels appears to have made their home inside this abandoned facility. However, it is absolutely remarkable how much stuff seemed to have been left behind when the facility closed twenty years ago. Old patient files, hospital equipment, and other office supplies can still be found littered across the halls. We even found a ghostly old statue staring back at us in the basement of one of the buildings.

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There were allegedly several deaths at the facility while it was in operation; however we have been unable to find any evidence to support or disprove this claim. Stories such as this have given Mansfield Training School a reputation of being haunted. The show Paranormal Witness did an investigation on the grounds back in 2011, bringing about mixed results. It has since become a major hotspot for amateur ghost hunters and thrill seekers. Haunted or not, the facility is most definitely haunting. The echoes of the past still linger amongst the now abandoned halls. There is definitely a presence to be felt here. Though its patients are long gone, something still lurks within these walls. Something just doesn’t feel right when walking along the old grounds. It is near deathly silent, which is hard to believe on a campus of thousands. So, is the University of Connecticut haunted? We don’t know. I guess the better question you should be asking yourself is…do you believe in ghosts?

MTS 9

Fly Away Home

The Abandoned Montgomery Mill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

The state of Connecticut was once a place of industry. Factories and mills thrived for years in our little state. They provided income and jobs for small towns everywhere. But times change. We are now known as the “Insurance Capital of the World.” One by one, these former staples of the community slowly closed their doors as society continued to evolve. Today, these old factories now lie broken and forgotten all across the state. At one time, there were over seventy five abandoned mills in the state of Connecticut. Some, like the Montgomery Mill, stand looming over their small towns. They cast a shadow of the past across a growing community that tries to move on. We have explored several of these former factories over the years, but none have been as ominous, or as troubled, as the Montgomery Mill. From its haunting image, to its checkered history, the former factory stands in a class all its own.

 

First built in the early 1800’s, the Montgomery Mill was once the jewel in the crown of the thriving town of Windsor Locks. It gave the people of the town jobs, and became the heart of downtown. Businesses and shops opened up all around the mill. In the mid 1900’s though, things began to change. During the 1960’s, the small town of Windsor Locks began to steadily decline. The Montgomery Company struggled on for several more years, before finally closing its doors in 1989. Since that day, the factory has been a constant topic of debate amongst the townspeople and a playground for destruction. The property has changed hands several times between land developers and entrepreneurs over the years, but nothing has come of it. There have also been three notable fires in the mill complex; all were found to be caused by arson. The property has since become a seedy refuge for the local homeless, vandals, and scrap metal scavengers.

Standing right alongside the banks of the mighty Connecticut River, the Montgomery Mill is truly a sight to see. Driving down Main Street, you really can’t miss it. The factory is huge, standing ominously over the small town beneath it. It casts a shadow over the entire area. Eerily reminiscent to some of the buildings of Prypiat, Ukraine, the place is hauntingly captivating. There are multiple buildings in the complex, each one lies in a state of utter decay. The main factory stands six floors. Windows have been smashed. Fences have been put up. Doors have been boarded up. Even a few letters from the buildings sign that once read “The Montgomery Co. Est. 1871 Decorative and Electric Tinsels” have been lost. Wild vines and vegetation grow along the base of the factory, and even inside the basement. An old rusty fence protected by some jagged barbed wire and a faded stop sign block the entrance to the main complex.

 

 

What makes the Montgomery Mill so unique are its new residents. Though the workers of the factory are long gone, the local bird population has taken up residence in the now empty halls. Squads of pigeons and doves line the rooftops and window sills of the mill, spying on all those that enter their domain. But they are not the ones that rule this roost. A family of Bald Eagles has taken up residence inside of the factory. Conservationists believe that they are currently raising several young hatchlings somewhere inside the main building. For this reason, it is forbidden to enter the factory. If nesting Bald Eagles are disturbed, they will abandon their young and instinctively never return to their nest. We did not enter the factory, and we urge all our fellow explorers to do the same. The Bald Eagle is an endangered species, and their space must be respected. Unfortunately, we were unable to catch a glimpse of them.

Sitting in a state of beautiful decay, the Montgomery Mill stands as one of the more unique places we have ever visited. Even though we weren’t able to get inside of the abandoned factory, it is still worth a visit just to see this place. While the roaring river beside it continues to flow, the grounds still sit in defeat. Though many see it as an eye soar and sad reminder of downtown’s downfall, there is still a glimmer of hope for the property. The animal that captivates the American spirit and pride has chosen this former mill as its nesting grounds. When they move on, there are still plans for the town to finally foreclose on the property and begin the rebuilding process. Until that day, the Montgomery Mill stands waiting, casting its ominous shadow across the community. But much like the American Bald Eagle, the town continues to persevere, flying onward in hopes of a better tomorrow.

     

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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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