Posts Tagged ‘Abandoned House’

Walk With Me

The Abandoned Arcadia Campground

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Walk with me. Let me tell you a story. It’s funny, I always prefer to walk and talk with someone as opposed to having a seat. Whether it be good news or bad news, a little bit of movement goes a long way. This is a story that I have never told on this site before. I have always wanted to, but never really found the right place for it. It’s about the biggest blunder in Abandoned Wonder’s history. Two years ago this summer, we went looking for a place called the Foam Dome. It was a peculiar structure abandoned in the woods of North Western Connecticut. I’m sure that at least a few of you here have heard of it, if not have seen it. We followed our usual game plan to a T. We did our research. We knew our route. We had good weather. We spent a good few hours trekking to the abandoned site. But when we finally found it, we discovered that it was in fact no longer there. We asked around, and found out it had been demolished five days before we got there. It was a really nice hike. But I was truly devastated. But, there was nothing we could’ve done differently. Sometimes in life you can do everything right, and still come up short.

June is my birthday month. And for my 29th birthday, I wanted to go see a place that I have always wanted to cover. This is the abandoned Arcadia Campground in Rhode Island. I have done a lot of research on this place, but have yet to find what it’s true name really was. So for now, we’re just going to call it the Arcadia Campground. Some sources have said that it was once affiliated with the local camps built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back during the Great Depression. If anyone has anyone concrete information, please feel free to share. The camp was set up like most summer camps: a dining hall. Cabins. A trading post. And a water tower. Over the years, this place served a lot of different purposes. But for reasons mostly unknown, it was left abandoned in the late 1970’s. Things went rather quiet after that. Until eventually the area was incorporated into the massive and beautiful Arcadia Wildlife Management Area. Now, the ghostly remains of this old workhorse serve only to haunt these magnificent woods.

Like I said earlier, this was my birthday. I have never liked my birthday. Everything just seems to usually go wrong on this day. It’s either that or I just put so much thought into it that it never quite lives up to the hype. Or maybe I’ve just seen too many movies. I don’t know. Something to ponder, I guess. Anyhow, we made the long trek into the Ocean State early in the day. I love Rhode Island. There were times early in my acting career that I spent more time out of the year there than here in Connecticut. This was my first trip back since January. Just like the Foam Dome trip, we had everything planned out. We did our research. We knew our route. We were in good spirits. We started off down the long winding trail and into the woods. But as time wore on and the trail continued to get rockier, we began to wonder if we were heading in the right direction. Long story short, we ended up going four miles in the wrong direction before finally finding our target. It was a long, frustrating, and brutal journey. But eventually the old camp loomed out of the forest. And to be honest, the abandoned Arcadia Campground really didn’t disappoint.

The trail legit run right through the abandoned campground. You really cannot miss it. It is quiet. It is creepy. It is haunting. The place feels quite lonely. Clusters of rotting old cabins stand silently together. A massive stone fireplace stands in the middle of the clearing where the mess hall once stood. The old water tower looms over the campsite, nearly lost amongst the fading treetops. Aside from the large and littered fire pit, this place seems totally untouched by vandals. But that’s probably because it’s in the middle of the woods. You really have to want to see this place to make the long journey out to see it. What makes the abandoned camp interesting is that most of it’s old structures are made of wood. While many of the cabins have collapsed under the weight of time, the majority of them are still standing. Given their age and history, it’s a true testament to the folks who once built them. The storage bins that were once used by campers can still be seen inside, though the floors are quite unstable. The wood may be rotting. And the metal may be rusted. But even after all these years, the abandoned camp is somehow still standing.

I have included the story on the Foam Dome in this piece just to give it some closure. There were times on this walk that I honestly thought we weren’t going to find the abandoned campsite. I thought that maybe the old structures had finally had enough and collapsed. Miles away from our destination, I feared that this place could eclipse the Foam Dome as the greatest disappointment we’d ever had on our quest into the unknown. But that was not to be. And I honestly give all the credit to my partner Lassie for pushing us on into the woods, and to not give up until we found our location. Whether it was still there or not. And yes, after all of it, we did finally find what we were looking for. But like I said way back in the long long ago, thus is life. You can sometimes do everything right and still come up short. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. There will be trials. There will be tribulations. There will be set-backs. Life will lead you astray. And sometimes, you just have to do a little bit of wandering until you find your way.

Frozen Hearts

The Abandoned Eyrie House

Written by: Wilk

Photographs: Lassie

Damn, these times are hard. We can’t go to places we want to go. We can’t get the things that we need. We can’t do the things that we want to do. I am stuck inside day in and day out doing voice-overs. Lassie does what she can around the house. But our dog sure does love the company. Some birds just aren’t meant to be caged. See, we have a system when we go exploring. Since it’s usually a long drive, we always go out for a drink and a hot meal afterwards. If there’s a used bookstore or a vintage toy store in the vicinity, we’ll check that out as well. But we can’t do any of that right now. And that sucks. I made a list at the beginning of the year of places I wanted to explore all over New England. We’ve sadly had to postpone most of that. Stress the word most. It’s hard to stay positive in this situation, but we’re going to do our best. There’s always a couple of local places I keep on the back burner just in case. And while today’s subject may not be much to look at, but she is a legend in these parts.

This is the abandoned Eyrie House. We have covered a lot of places in the Mount Tom area of Western Massachusetts in the past, but this one has always evaded us. First opening in 1861, this place has seen a lot of history. She started life as a hotel overlooking the absolutely picturesque valleys of the Holyoke area. But the hotel faced a lot of competition, and business began to decline over the years. Much like the nearby ruins of the Apsinwall Hotel in Lenox, the Eyrie House met an unfortunate end due to vicious fires. Legend has it that the owner of the Eyrie House was alone at the hotel, and attempted to cremate one of his fallen horses in 1901. The fire got out of control, and with help so very far away, the Eyrie House never had a chance. The hotel burned to the ground in a fiery inferno, leaving behind only her sturdy stone frame. The grounds were eventually sold off to the local government and added onto the Mount Tom State Park area.

I first went looking for the Eyrie House way back in the summer of 2017. I had a rehearsal/table read up in Amherst early one Saturday morning, and decided to stop for a hike on my way back. But when confronted with the in-season $10 parking fee, I decided to save it for another time. Flash forward to 2020. Given its proximity, long/lonely hike in, and the current situation of social distancing, we decided that the Eyrie House would be a perfect trip for our March article. An unexpected snow had fallen the day before, and we were both getting a serious case of Cabin Fever. So we hopped in the car and went for a drive. The Mount Tom park can be tricky. Like I said earlier, we had covered other abandoned attractions in the area before. And each one had it’s own way in. Today was no exception. Our directions took us down a quiet country road to a road-side dirt parking lot. From there, it was a two mile hike in to the abandoned Eyrie House.

It was a long and icy climb to the ruins. But we were mostly alone. We slipped and slid all the way up. But we made it. There may not be too much to see here, but the ruins of this place certainly are special. The great stone frame looms over the Connecticut River valley. The old archways still project a strong sense of grandeur. And the area has clearly been protected and cherished for a long time. But the one thing I took away and will always remember about the abandoned Eyrie House was the frozen heart. While walking along the outer frame of the house, I found a patch of ice. It was frozen into the almost perfect shape of a heart. Though the sun was setting, and the breeze was chilling, I couldn’t help but take it as a sign of hope. Most may not believe such things, but I do. Hopefully, someday soon, this time of great sorrow shall lift. But until that day comes, let’s all stay strong. Be thankful for what you have. And watch out for each other.

EY5

“Don’t allow our doubts of today limit our tomorrow.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

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.

Hymn for the Missing

The Abandoned Floydville Church

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I am not a religious man. I think I have made that clear many times during the four years I’ve been writing for this site. I was raised to be Catholic growing up. Hell, I even had to go to Catechism every other week when I was in elementary school. But the more I saw of the world, the less I believed in organized religion. I eventually fell out of it all together and became a practicing Atheist. But with all that said, I very much respect the solace and the comfort that religion brings to people. The sense of community and shared belief is something that warms my heart. People from all walks of life are able to put aside their differences and come together for a common belief. The songs that they sing and the bonds that they share in places of worship all across the globe are truly unique. This is why I have always found abandoned churches so fascinating. We have covered just one in the past. But now, we have our second. And while the previous church didn’t have much of a story behind it, this fascinating place is full of character.

This is the abandoned Floydville Church. I cannot say that this is its real name. But from the research I have done, this appears to be what people are calling it these days. Located in a rich farming community, this former house of God has been left to rot for the last thirty years. From what little information I could find online, it has stood for more than half a decade. It was first built during the 1950’s for the workers of the nearby farming communities. Back in the day, this rural side of the state was well known for its tobacco farming industry. On Sunday mornings, all manners of folks would gather here to pray and practice their faith. Patrons ranged from the local townsfolk to the migrant workers that were just passing through. All would gather here to share in their beliefs. But as the years went on, more and more of these attendees began to move off to bigger and better things. Attendance began to dwindle. The tides of industry and society itself started to turn. And with it, the Floydville Church was eventually forced to close its doors for good.

Pause for story time: we actually went looking for this place over three years ago. We received a tip from one of our readers about it, but we weren’t given a real exact location. All we were told is that there was an abandoned church lost in the woods off an old biking trail in the North Western side of Connecticut. We ended up walking over six miles in the blistering summer heat looking for it. But we never found it. Having run out of water and energy, we were forced to turn back. It was a nice hike and all. But not being able to find this place haunted me for years. Because I always find what I am looking for, even if the place we are after turns out to be demolished. Since we were in the area, dropping some family off at the airport, we decided to go looking for the abandoned church once again. And this time, we found the abandoned Floydville Church pretty easily. It turns out we were only a quarter of a mile or so away on our last journey out here. And it truly did not disappoint.

I am sad to say that the church is in very rough shape. Crude plywood has been nailed over the doors and windows. All sorts of stuff has been strewn about the exteriors, most hauntingly a rubber lamb lies cast aside on the forest floor. A white cross still greets you from above the main doorway. The floors and walls feel like they could collapse at any moment. And yet, the church appears as if it was just up and left one day. Two pianos and a drum set are still inside. A massive black cross still stands tall at the front of the alter. Rows of pews are all still in their formation, waiting for their patrons to return to them. The blue stickers marking “Clergy Only” are still visible on the front-most sections. The basement is full of junk, particularly a massive rusting fridge that guards the entry way. The roof overhead is coming apart, with long streaks of paint and insulation hanging down like a ghostly canopy. There is an eerie stillness about the whole place, especially when imagining what it must’ve looked like long ago.

Finding the Floydville Church after all these years was quite bittersweet. It felt great to finally close the chapter on the one abandoned place that has ever alluded me. Especially when our original quest to find it was so arduous. And yet, it brought up a lot of different emotions for me. More and more churches close their doors every year around here. It is a sad, but inevitable phenomenon. What makes these place more depressing than most abandoned landmarks is thinking about what they once meant to the community as a whole. We’ve covered abandoned schools, hospitals, military bases, homes. You name it. But I think the churches are always the saddest, and most interesting. The Floydville Church in particular is quite haunting, as so much of what made it home to her former patrons still stands inside. Even after all these years, it looks like mass just ended. But sadly, this former house of worship has been left behind. It waits here, in sorrow and decay, for someone to return to it. But they never will.

“Where are you now? Are you lost? Will I find you again? Are you alone? Are you afraid? Are you searching for me? Why did you go? I had to stay. Now I’m reaching for you. Will you wait? Will you wait? Will I see you again?” – Red

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

Hail to the King

The Abandoned Hearthstone Castle

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Happy Fall, everyone. It’s finally here. The leaves are changing colors. The nights are getting colder. The mornings are growing darker. And the scary movies are starting to pop up on television. Though it always feels like such a passing season, each moment of Fall comes with its own personal flair. In some ways, it just might be my personal favorite season. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right. This one, however, in particular is special for us. Not only was it our eight year anniversary together, but we finally made it to a place that has haunted us for years. We have made many plans to go see it at many points during our six years of urban exploring. Yet somehow, especially with its looming potential demolition, we never quite made it to this hot-spot. Plus practically every urban explorer in the area has covered this place at least once. This is Hearthstone Castle, a true legend in these parts. If you are reading this, you have most likely heard of or visited this place. And now, after all these years, she finally makes an appearance here on our site.

The history of Hearthstone Castle is brief, but checkered. Located in Danbury, Connecticut, the castle was built in 1895 to a wealthy local family. For years she served as a residence and a summer home for her keepers, much like other places we have covered including Case Cabin and Bannerman Castle. Materials to create and furnish the castle were flown in from around the globe, helping to make this place a palace of luxury. She changed ownership and name many times over the years, before finally being sold to the town of Danbury in 1987. It was here that things began to take a dark turn for the castle. Though it was declared a National Historic Place, the property rapidly began to fall into disrepair. Nobody seemed quite sure what to do with the castle. Many proposals have come and gone with what would be next for the old castle even as nature slowly began to strike back. Today she sits completely abandoned, and has become a favorite place amongst the local urban explorer community.

We really weren’t planning on stopping at Hearthstone. Coming home from New York, we saw that we would be going straight through Danbury. It was a nice day out, and we really didn’t have anything else planned for our journey. And thus, we decided to stop and see the fabled castle. As a hiker and a hunter, finding Hearthstone was disappointing. You park your car. You walk into the woods. And there it is. There is no long hike. There is no hunt through the woods. Its just sitting right there, waiting for you. It was all just too damn easy. I can see why it is a favorite for so many explorers, since you don’t have to do much exploring to find it. And yet, the castle is simply breathtaking. The old stone architecture is unmatched. It is very reminiscent of the nearby Gillette Castle. Birds chirp from the ramparts. A fox scurries amongst the underbrush. And remarkably, not a single NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT sign was in sight. A couple random fences still stand, but other than that, the castle is just there for the taking.

I can honestly say that the years have not been kind to Hearthstone Castle. Though her tough stone facade remains unflinching, her interiors have been truly disemboweled. Everything has just been totally gutted. The floors are all gone. And those that still stand are shaky as all Hell. Broken glass and splinters of wood are all over the ground. A few beams from the higher levels still bisect the structure. Graffiti and vandalism runs rampant across the grounds, except for in the higher to reach places. Wild vines and vegetation grow in canopies across the walls and porches. The once great walls that were once occupied by the highest of society are now home to the wrath of nature and vandalism. If your tall, like myself, this place can be a little tricky to navigate. There are a lot of tight spots between the walls, the vegetation, and the debris. I can honestly see why this place has been scheduled for demolition. And yet, through it all, she still remains steadfastly beautiful.

 It was honestly really hard to tear myself away from Hearthstone Castle. I spent a long time just staring at it well after we had finished exploring, trying to take in every tiny detail. It just has a certain magic to it. I just couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting more. When we finally did leave, I had to tell myself not to look back. This was genuinely hard to do. It was sad to think that this was the first, and will probably be the last time that I see the castle. With every year that passes, somebody of importance almost always says that it will be Hearthstone’s final year. Fences are put up. Plans are made. Yet nothing ever comes of it. But I guess that is just the brevity of existence. We’ve got to enjoy life one day at a time. When the time to say goodbye finally comes, it’s important not to look back. And one day Hearthstone Castle will fall, whether it be by the teeth of a bulldozer or the slow decay of time. But no matter what the future may hold for this magical place, it will always be a legend.

Dancing in the Moonlight

The Abandoned Lincoln Lake Lodge

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Imagine your life without music. Just try to picture it for a second or two. Imagine not having anything to tap your feet to while on a long car ride. Imagine your favorite movies or television shows without their iconic scores. Imagine not having your favorite tunes to pick you up when you’re feeling down. Music is what makes the world we live in feel larger than life. It can bring out any emotions that it dares to conjure. When you take it away, all that is left is the sound of silence. It is the raw emptiness that haunts the air, and can sometimes make life feel a little too real. We have felt it many times before in our travels. But sadly, there are few places we have ever been that have exemplified this haunting feeling more than this one. Most abandoned places we have visited have their own surreal sense of silence. But when a place was once home to the lively chorus of music, the silence seemed to be even grimmer.

May I introduce you to the Lincoln Lake Lodge, the cousin of Sunrise Resort. Unfortunately, we are going to have to bring up the latter’s name quite a bit in this piece. They both experienced very similar beginnings and ends. Unfortunately, information on Lincoln Lake Lodge was far scarcer than for her much more famous contemporary. First founded in 1958 by the Davis Family, the same founders of the nearby Sunrise, the lodge was established as a musical venue and recreational area. Many iconic acts of the past had performed at this local venue, allegedly even Frank Sinatra. Picnicking at this outdoor venue while listening to some live music was this place’s calling card. Much like her contemporary, the lodge was a roaring success for many years. People from all over the country came to see the live music and stay at the lodge. Tragically, around the same time as Sunrise, the lodge went out of business and up for sale. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to have not been any takers. And the property is still owned by the Davis Family.

Though they share a very similar aesthetic, Sunrise Resort and Lincoln Lake Lodge are very different. To compare sizes, Sunrise Resort is the Sun as Lincoln Lake Lodge is the Moon. Sunrise had its own on-site pool and riverfront property. Dozens of families and couples could stay at the resort for their holidays at a time. There were over eighty buildings that were demolished when the former resort was converted into a state park. Lincoln Lake Lodge has a pond swimming area, and had a much more intimate setting for its guests. You can count the number of buildings here on one hand. Yet both have a near identical architectural structure,  and the same white/green color scheme. In a sense, the lodge was simply a more rustic version of Sunrise. But conversely from her now demolished cousin, the lodge seems to have flown under the radar. It took many weeks for me to find out anything about it. The place has been under my vary nose for all these years, and I had never even heard of it. It also took us several tries to go see it.

The first time we went to visit this place in the late summer of 2018, we arrived to find a young couple having sex in the parking lot. I’m not kidding. It was a first for us. We pulled into the old parking lot, next to the only car there and bam…there they were in going at it in the backseat. I think we startled them as much as they startled us. We decided to just come back another day after that. And not park at the lodge’s old lot. So a week later, after some exploring of the local area, we found an old pathway into the abandoned grounds. To me, it truly felt like Sunrise Resort incarnate. The old buoys were still in the pond, marking the swimming area. The white walls of the buildings were now stained with graffiti. Trash and liter is just bloody everywhere. The grass now grows wild and free, overtaking the old gazebo and basketball courts. An old satellite dish has fallen from her perch. And to top it all off, there has clearly been some fire damage. The silence around the grounds was deafening.

We also found all kinds of old artifacts scattered across the old dance floor inside the great hall. Clearly, somebody has been either squatting here or using it as some sort of hangout. The darkest, and most haunting, thing to me that we found was the old piano. This grand instrument, which was once used to inspire all kinds of emotions through her beautiful songs, is now a broken and abused relic of the past. Turned over on her side, with many keys missing, it was truly moving to see such a once treasured item in such a state of decay. Her tunes once filled these now empty halls with the sounds of music. Now, there is only the sound of silence left here at the Lincoln Lake Lodge. And the only dancers for this dark tune are the shadows and spirits old. I don’t know what the future holds for this place. It was truly a haunting spectacle to behold. But hopefully, someday, music will once again fill these darkened halls.

“Music is the moonlight in the gloomy night of life.” – Jean Paul

 

The Top Ten Fictional Abandoned Places

Written by: Wilk

So two years ago, I wrote a piece for this site covering the Top 10 Movies to be set in abandoned places. It got a shit ton of views. So last year, I wrote a sequel: the Top 10 Movies filmed in abandoned places. Now, comes part three. I love movies. I love watching them, talking about them, and being in them. But ones that involve abandoned places always interest me. Its always fun to compare fictitious abandoned places to real ones. What sets this list apart from the last one is that those were movies where the main action took place in an abandoned setting. These films only explore them. So without further ado, I bring to you – The Top Ten Fictional Abandoned Places.

#10 – Razorback Point – Alien vs. Predator (2004)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0370263/

We start this list with a nostalgic bang. Yes, the PG-13 rating kind of killed the mood. And yes, the characters aren’t as fun as we’re used to from these franchises. But Alien vs. Predator really isn’t as bad as people remember it being. When a billionaire’s satellite picks up an image of a mysterious pyramid under the ice of Antarctica, a secret team is dispatched to investigate. Their point of access to this phantom structure is the now abandoned Razorback Point whaling station. Abandoned for decades, this former crossroads is now literally frozen in time. Our characters eventually find their way down through the ice to the pyramid, only to find themselves caught in the eternal war between xenomorphs and predators. Given that there are plenty of actual places like Razorback Point left behind in the tundras of the Arctic make it a very smooth and suspenseful set piece. And though it may take a long time for the movie to get going, it does get better with time.

avp

#9 – Camp Crystal Lake – Friday the 13th (2009)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0758746/

Truly, I am going to try my best to keep the horror movies to a limit here. We could honestly do a whole list of just horror movies. Maybe someday we will… Anyway, I know this was the remake, which not too many people were thrilled with. But I liked the remake. Maybe it was because I actually got to see it in theaters when I was a teenager…unlike the other films in this franchise. It just has a totally different experience. We all know the story. Only this time, the summer camp where Jason Vorhees tragically drowned is now abandoned. Or is it? Having closed after all the nightmarish events of the previous films, the resurrected hockey mask killer now calls this derelict wasteland home. And he will slay anyone who sets foot into what is now his domain. This includes the usual gaggle of hapless teenagers and burned out TV actors. But personally, I think the abandoned setting makes for a wonderfully creepy backdrop to a passable horror remake.

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#8 – Doctor Octopus’ Lair – Spider-Man 2 (2004)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0316654/

Unfortunately, this list is going to be mostly horror movies, as mentioned above, and comic book movies. I don’t know what the connection is there, but both genres seem to have a lot of abandoned settings. Before the MCU, this film was often considered to be the end-all/be-all of superhero films. As the second outing in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy, the webslinger this time finds himself up against a new adversary: Doctor Octopus. Portrayed in the film masterfully by Alfred Molina, the former Otto Octavius becomes an almost dark reflection of Peter Parker after a science experiment gone wrong drives him mad. On the run from the law, this newly born and conflicted super-villain hides out in an abandoned pier on the East River. The old building is slowly sinking into the water, just as its new occupant slowly descends deeper into madness. This very cool set piece serves not only as Doc Ock’s hideout, but is also the battleground for he and Peter’s final confrontation.

NYC

#7 – Parrish Shoe Factory – Jumanji (1995)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113497/ 

This was one of my absolute favorite movies growing up. It’s just a very well-paced and enjoyable flick that anyone of any age can enjoy. We even used to play the actual board game on particularly hot summer days. One of the late/great Robin Williams’ finest roles, Jumanji tells the story of a magical board game that brings the world of the mystical jungle into our own. And when Allan Parrish (Williams’ character) emerges from said board game, after spending 26 years lost in this alternate dimension, he finds the world he once knew long gone. His parents are dead. His home belongs to someone else. His town lies in ruin. But the most memorable stop on his journey to rediscovery is his father’s now abandoned shoe factory. After his disappearance, all of his family’s money went to trying to find him. Learning just how far his world has fallen, and just how hard his father tried to find him after his disappearance, is damn near heartbreaking. Regardless of how you feel about the reboot/remake/sequel, watch this film.

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#6 – Planet Morag – Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2015381/ 

I really don’t care for the Marvel Cinematic Universe sometimes. I used to really enjoy it when it was first starting out over a decade ago. I just feel like it has grown too large, and most of the movies feel repetitive to me. That said, I absolutely love this film. I sometimes wish that Marvel would just keep the Guardians separate from the rest of the MCU. Anyways, an unlikely group of intergalactic misfits/jackasses are forced to team up to save the universe from certain destruction. Director James Gunn (as always) brings a fabulous soundtrack, memorable characters (except for his annoying brother), and a great story to life. One stop, in fact the first stop, on this grand adventure is the abandoned planet Morag. We never find out why an entire planet is abandoned, but it’s still really cool. It may be just a pit-stop in the overall film, but its still a very unique location. Plus, we get a nice call back to it later in the series during Avengers: Endgame.

Morag

#5 – Mexican Smelting Plant – Logan (2017)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3315342/

The last hurrah for everyone’s favorite X-Man, and a film that many consider to be one of the greatest comic book movies of all time. While I think they had a little too much fun with the film’s R-rating, Logan is an absolute classic and a more than fitting end to such an iconic character. Following Wolverine/Logan/Jimmy/Weapon X/Whatever on what will be his final adventure, the film opens with the titular character living in hiding with Professor X in an abandoned smelting plant down in Mexico. He drives a limo for money, and keeps a low profile after the near extinction of all mutant kind. But it isn’t long before the bad guys show up and all kinds of action ensues. But this abandoned backdrop sets the stage for what is honestly one of the most humanistic films ever made to come out of the superhero mythos. It’s a damn shame we never got a Liev Schrieber cameo, though…

Logan

#4 – Jurassic World – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4881806/

After the massive success of its predecessor and the three films that came before that, it really isn’t surprising that we got an even bigger sequel. And this one looked even better. After the bloody disastrous events of the first film, the Jurassic World theme park is now abandoned. Imagine that. Tourist shops decay after years of neglect. Trams and trolleys have been destroyed. And the dinosaurs now roam freely once again. But when a volcano threatens to destroy the island once and for all, our heroes must rally together for a rescue mission. Seeing the once captivating resort park of the first film in such a state of decay gives this film a really cool vibe. Unfortunately, this was only a precursor to a very plodding and straight up awful film. Seriously. I hated it. I thought it was worse than Jurassic Park III. But…the abandoned Jurassic World setting is really really cool.

Jurassic

#3 – Dol Guldur – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0903624/

Maybe I am being a little too negative with this piece. But when you try to turn a three-hundred page book into three three-hour long movies, things don’t usually come out so good. And that’s coming from a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan. I know it’s not Peter Jackson’s fault. But still. This trilogy was a mess. Now that that’s out of the way, the first chapter in this story tells of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins before the events of the original trilogy. Offered a spot in a mysterious company of dwarves, the young Hobbit ends up whisked off on an adventure to reclaim the lost kingdom of Erebor. Along the way, the wizard Gandalf makes a trek to the abandoned fortress of Dol Guldur. Evil spirits now haunt the empty corridors (including a rather infamous Dark Lord), and this place become a backdrop of villainy for the entire trilogy.

Dol_Guldur

#2 – Sector 13 – The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454841/

One of my personal favorite horror films. It is just so damn intense. A remake of Wes Craven’s 1977 cult classic, The Hills Have Eyes more or less proved to the world that remakes of horror films can actually be good when put in the right hands. Director Alexander Aja takes Craven’s original premise and puts a very unique twist on it all. The story follows the Carter Family, traveling across the western desert to California on vacation. After a wrong turn, they are eventually set upon by a dangerous group of people living in the radioactive hills of New Mexico. All sorts of bloody carnage and barbaric madness follows suit. Towards the end of the film, our hero winds up in an abandoned nuclear test site from the Cold War. And it is really spooky. Ghostly mannequins, derelict buildings, and old cars make this ghost town a terrifying setting.

HHE

#1 – The Shrieking Shack – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0304141/

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” One of my personal favorite films in the Harry Potter series, this story follows our titular hero’s third year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A dark figure from Harry’s past and convicted murderer Sirius Black has escaped from the wizard prison Azkaban, and is coming after him. With the help of his trusted friends and new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Harry Potter goes on quite an adventure. One of the key sites of that adventure is the notorious Shrieking Shack. It’s importance is subtly teased throughout the film. Believed to be the most haunted building in the country, this abandoned house plays a major role in the film’s climax. With an outstanding soundtrack, a darker tone from the previous films, and some wonderful new additions to the cast, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a must-see.

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And that’s our list! Did we miss any out? Let us hear about it in the comments below!