Posts Tagged ‘Abandoned Place’

Roadkill – The Abandoned Sutton Drive-In

Posted: April 21, 2021 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cinema, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned new england, Abandoned New Hampshire, Abandoned New York, Abandoned Places, Abandoned Restaurant, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Road, Abandoned Stores, Abandoned Theaters, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Automobiles, Broken, Cinema, Closed, commercial, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Massachusetts, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, New Hampshire, New York, photography, research, Rhode Island, Ruins, Searching, Showcase Cinema, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Vermont, writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Roadkill

The Abandoned Sutton Drive-In

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

This is an ugly place. So this will be an ugly piece. You have been warned. I’ve run over three squirrels in my life. A lot of people don’t believe me. But it’s true. It’s something I’ll never forget. I remember each one. I ran over a turtle once, but he was fine. I was seventeen years old. It was in my first car, an old Dodge Neon I bought for four thousand dollars in cash I made washing dishes and refereeing paintball. I got out my shitty old car thinking I had hurt the poor little bugger, but he was just hunkered down in his shell. Staring back at me. Probably quite cross with the whole situation. So I just picked him up and moved him out of the road. I’m kind of foolish in that way, I will do whatever I can to avoid hitting an animal. I’d like to think that most of us do. But sometimes, it’s simply unavoidable. Things happen. Innocence is lost. Life is extinguished. A once wild and fleeting flame is snuffed out by the unyielding juggernaut of man’s world. I hate driving by them. Cold. Lifeless. Hurt. Their faces usually frozen in a sharp sense of shock and sorrow. Whenever I pass something like this, I can’t help but look away. Life is a cruel road. Some get lucky like that brave little turtle. Others, not so much.

And so, allow me to introduce this month’s subject: the abandoned Sutton Drive-In. Originally named the Sutton Motor Inn, most in our community have just come to call it the latter. This is in fact not our first abandoned drive-in movie theater. And I’m sure that it won’t be our last. You see, these places were a big fad in a passed life. And Sutton Drive-In was no exception. It was first opened in 1947, earlier than most drive-in movie theaters in the area. But still, this was right at the peak of their rise to dominance. Plus, this place was located in the ideal location of the Providence-Worcester Turnpike. This busy highway was and still is the main route between Worcester, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island. Many businesses have come and gone from this hot-spot over the years. The drive-in theater remained on top for quite awhile. But with only one screen, this old heavy hitter simply could not keep up with the times. After playing many blockbusters on her screen, the Sutton Drive-In was eventually forced to close its doors for good in 1996. Though ownership has been up for grabs ever since, the old theater has been left rotting and abandoned ever since.

As I said in our last piece, we are going to try exploring as many places outside of Connecticut as possible this year. Now that the vaccine is finally making a difference, we plan on taking full advantage of venturing to as many other states as possible. Slowly, and safely, of course. So we decided that now was the perfect time to pay a visit to the abandoned Sutton Drive-In. After some rather bizarre weather this past week, including some snow, we finally found some decent weather on a late April Sunday. It was quiet. The sun was shining brightly. And there was a slight breeze in the air. The one thing holding me back from exploring this place before was it’s location. There is no other way to get into it without going through the main gate. Being on such a busy road, there are no side trails or anything to help with exploration. The abandoned theater is just sitting there alongside the busy interstate turnpike. Many other rural and big businesses are neighbors, making this place really stick out. It felt rather weird, but we just pulled up to the main gate. Beneath the old marquee. You really feel like you’re doing something wrong, but nobody else seems to care. There weren’t any NO TRESPASSING signs or anything of the sort at the front.

The main gate is made of ornate stone and rotting wood. Even in its current state of decay, it it quite grand. The marquee itself still beckons all visitors to it, even with it’s fading light. Wires and other junk hang from its ceiling. The sole movie screen looms out of the distance like a colossal monolith. An old sign still stands by the gate, but the only word left standing is “APPROXIMATELY.” I wonder what it once said. Walking down the main road takes you to the ticket booth. It is an A-frame type structure covered in colorful paint. But beware. It is full of bees. They are easily startled. They weren’t as bad as the spider crickets of the Clausland Mountain Tunnels. But still, not fun. A few steps away stands the great grey screen. Panels are missing. Graffiti is rampant. On the side of the screen is the old access door. The frame of the screen appears to be slowly collapsing. There is an even an old ladder leading to the top, though I dare not climb it. Outside, the old road is cracked into a jagged jigsaw puzzle of earth and pavement. Ghostly critters scurry amongst the underbrush. A short walk down the vacant lot is the projection house/snack bar. It is absolutely gutted on the inside. Each room is coated in graffiti and rampant with liter. Everything just felt old, broken, and lost. And though there wasn’t too much to see, this place certainly leaves an impression.

I honestly wouldn’t recommend a visit to the abandoned Sutton Drive-In. It’s just not worth it. It’s one we’ve had on our list for awhile, and it certainly is unique. But in a very dark sort of way. Though there was not a single NO TRESPASSING/KEEP OUT sign at the main gate, this place just felt rather off. I really didn’t like how to close to the main road it was. I prefer doing my exploring deep in the woods or the darkness of the underworld. Anywhere away from prying eyes. The air here is putrid with the stench of car exhaust, old cigarettes, and rotting wood. The ground is coarse with cracked pavement and glittering gravel. And while most abandoned places are eerily quiet, this one is filled with a frenzied chorus of noise. The neighboring highway runs wild and busy. Cars from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and wherever else cruise back and forth. Day in and day out. Chasing that American Dream. While the abandoned Drive-In sits rotting along the side of the road. Like an animal that’s been hit by a car. Forever frozen in a state of terror and sadness. It’s future just as grim as it’s fading screen. Dozens pass by it everyday. Perhaps some notice. Perhaps some still wish there had been something they could’ve done to help. Most just look away.

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
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

What Was Forgotten

The Abandoned Broad Brook Company

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Hello, there. Happy New Year. It doesn’t feel much different from the last. Frankly, it never does to me. Time keeps on rolling. The wind keeps on blowing. Change is made in leaps and bounds. It doesn’t just happen over night. No matter what the movies tell us. We are still very much on our winter hiatus. But I just came by to talk for awhile. See who is still out there. See who will listen. Winter sucks for exploring. It’s cold. It’s bleak. The sun goes away too fast. And snow can be a real burden when you’re trying to slip in and out of places that you are not supposed to be. The one upside of winter is that I get to tell stories of adventures long since passed. Not every abandoned place we cover is worthy of a spot on our site. We go. We take pictures. Sometimes, a place just really isn’t that visually interesting or exciting enough. And so we just back the photos up on a hard-drive and move on. They sit there just collecting virtual dust for years at a time. But during these dark months, I get to go through our archives and shed a little bit of light on the forgotten subjects. Today is one of those days. Be forewarned, this is a story piece. It will be told through words. Not by photographs. If this doesn’t interest you, that’s okay. I get it. But this is a place that I think deserves to be talked about. So let’s talk.

Our story begins the summer of 2020. It is hot. It is depressing. Our air conditioner was really loud. Much like winter, summer is also a tricky time for exploring. Especially during a pandemic. There are more people out and about. You have to bring excessive amounts of water. And the sun can really do some damage to your skin. I was cruising Reddit one morning, as I always do, and someone spoke of a place. It was a place that I had never heard of. This place had a very interesting story. Many years ago, a mill was built in a sleepy little village in northern Connecticut. It brought jobs. It brought success. It brought luster. The town was literally built on the back of this mill. But much like many nearby towns, this mill would eventually fall. It served many purposes over the years, seeing actions as a center for both manufacturing and services. But in the 1990’s, a newer much more different purpose was bestowed upon it: real estate. The old mill was converted into condominiums. But something happened then that nobody could’ve seen coming. The old mill’s past came back to haunt her. Poisonous solvents and chemicals were discovered in the soil surrounding this place. The hazardous materials forced it to close and evict all of its tenants for their safety. It was then shuttered. Left to rot. And there it waits.

And so we took a drive. That afternoon. This was close by. So we just hopped in the car and went to check it out. Spontaneity came be fun sometimes. Especially during the summer. It’s weird. I had driven by this place a thousand times. We had enough eaten at the pub one evening that sits right out front. And I never knew this place was hear. It is even a registered historical landmark. Coming upon it was haunting. It has a very grand appearance. It’s architecture is captivating. It is a red brick fortress accented with stark white trim. The old mill is crammed in behind a bunch of stores and apartment complexes. It is also eerily quiet. Despite all of the hustle and bustle around it, the old mill is as quiet as a tomb. Like a void into another dimension. But it is also completely sealed off from the outside world. A sturdy chain-link fence surrounds the entire perimeter. We know. We know because we checked. We went around the entire property looking for a hole in the fence. But there is none. This place is totally and completely locked down. Even the old street that served as the entrance to the complex has been completely sealed off. There was no way in. We have never broken our way into an abandoned place. And we never will. It’s not our style. I could’ve easily climbed this fence, but I didn’t.

DANGER. KEEP OUT. NO TRESPASSING. The warnings are there. And apparently for good reason. Though the lawn appears to be well maintained, the soil is said to be incredibly toxic. But the archaic building is truly captivating. It stood there ominously before us, casting it’s shadow across the summer sky. Windows have been smashed on the upper levels. But this was clearly done by outsiders throwing projectiles at them. Like a besieged medieval castle. But no return volley is fired. Doors are boarded up. Trees grow wild and dangerous. And the complex has clearly lain dormant for a long time, trapped inside of its own little exclusion zone. After finding the perimeter completely impenetrable, we just kind of sat outside the fence and stared at the looming abandoned monster. I guess we just kind of hoped that something would happen. Nobody bothered us. Nobody even cared that we were there. Though there is not much to see, it is still a wonder to behold. And that’s why I’ve written this piece. This story could’ve just sat rotting in our archives, much as she rots in real life. But I feel as though this place’s story deserves to be told. After all that’s it’s been through, it does not deserve to be forgotten.

So let’s always remember: the abandoned Broad Brook Company. Also known as the Broad Brook Mill. There is only one picture here because that is the only good picture we could get of the place. But I think it does it’s job well. In our experiences, places like this one are usually in much bigger towns. If anyone reading this has any experiences with this place, please do share. Whether you be employees, former residents, or just passed through one day. There’s extremely little information on the Broad Brook Company out there. And I’d love to spread a little more knowledge of her story out there to the world. I find it to be a tragic tale. That the Broad Brook Company was once a jewel of this community. Then forced to close down shop due to a changing economy. A beacon of hope brought it back to life. But then it’s past finally killed it off for good. I have heard there is a grant out there to redesign and rehabilitate the old complex. So let’s see what happens. But until then, the memories and experiences remain behind bars. A quiet and untouched world now grows within the confines of those steels fences. The village carries on with all of its comings and goings. But whether they see it or not, the abandoned Broad Brook Company is still there.

As the year draws to a close, here are our Top 5 Abandoned Places of 2020. It’s been a rough year for everyone, but we still got to explore some really cool places.

Spider Weeds – The Abandoned Helen Lohman House

Posted: October 21, 2020 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Farm, abandoned home, 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 Road, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Automobiles, Birds, Broken, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, dreams, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, fantasy, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, House, Information, left behind, lost, Love, Magic, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, New York, photography, Preserved Ruin, Public Parks, research, Ruins, State Parks, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spider Weeds

The Abandoned Helen Lohman House

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Show of hands here, please. Anyone reading this a gardener? I usually don’t like to reveal too much about our personal lives, given the nature of what we do here. But we at Abandoned Wonders absolutely love to garden. It’s a really special thing. Every year from Spring through Fall, we grow all of our own vegetables. Tomatoes. Lettuce. Peppers. Green beans. Some things we can’t get to grow, but we try anyway. Just for the fun of it. Every year here in New England is a little bit different from the last. And each one teaches you a different lesson on how to be a good gardener. Being able to grow something yourself and then enjoy your harvest is quite rewarding. But every year, eventually the season ends. The frost and the cold slowly kill off the plants. And one by one, you have to say goodbye to the little lifeforms that you yourself created. You water them. You feed them. You make sure they get enough sun. They depend on you for just about everything. But when the season changes, there is no stopping the suns from setting. There is always a time when we have to say goodbye to what we created.

Might I introduce October 2020’s subject: The Abandoned Helen Lohman House. The owner and proprietor of this house, Ms. Lohman, was a New Yorker who spent her summers here in the seclusion of the Connecticut woodlands. She was a successful artist, simply seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of the great city from time to time. Though the house was first built in the 1700’s, she was the last official owner. Her property served as both her summer vacation home and farmstead. It was a simple property, with a small country house, running water, and a cozy fireplace to curl up next to on those cold nights. But in the late 1960’s, she decided to move on from the property. The house was forgotten about, and Ms. Lohman donated the land to the town of Middletown with the idea of making it a wildlife preserve. She named the preserve after the way she found her garden after every winter. The spider weeds would take over the garden, and leave it in a ghastly state of decay. Over the years, the house fell into complete disrepair. She now sits all alone and abandoned.

All of the credit for this one goes to my partner Lassie. A few weeks ago, we were looking into doing our first virtual 5K. For charity, of course. While looking into good three-mile walks in our area, we just happened to come upon a little place that we had never heard of: Spiderweed Preserve. While reading about this place, we soon discovered the rich history of the Helen Lohman House. Nobody around here had ever covered it before. So naturally, we had to go take a look. We didn’t end up doing our 5K here, simply because that would’ve been timed. And so, on a clear Fall day, we made the trek into Middletown. Looking for Spiderweed Preserve. The weather had called for grey skies and clouds. Which is what I thought would’ve been the perfect backdrop for this hallowed ground. But, naturally, we got blue skies and sunshine. No matter. It was a beautiful ride through the Haddam area. But eventually the road turned East, and deep into the woods. There is no parking lot. Just a long, dead end, dirt road that was once a driveway. It was here that we hiked to the abandoned property.

It is a short uphill hike to the old house. It looms up on the hill as you approach, making it unmistakable. But sadly, it is mostly gutted. The roof is no more, and one side of wall has totally collapsed. But in its heyday, the house was clearly one story. It has a surprisingly rustic design, as if it was just crudely put together by any large stones they could find in the area. That is one of the most unique parts about this place: the rocks. Shining mica and rose quartz can be found all over the walls and floor. You can still walk up the front steps. The fireplace still stands. And seated on its hearth is the star of the show around here: the old tea kettle. Though it is slowly being rusted to death, this old dispenser still stubbornly sits here. Waiting for her master to return. It is quite a haunting site. Watch your step, as there is broken glass bloody everywhere. One window still holds onto its frame. Another still has its distinct green shudders to protect it. But sadly, this place is more of a skeleton of what it was once was. Like an autumn leaf, haven fallen from her tree and slowly eroding into nothingness.

Fall was, in fact, the perfect time to visit the abandoned Helen Lohman House. I don’t know if I’d recommend visiting it during any other season. The chilly air, colorful leaves, and fading sunlight just make this old structure feel a bit more special. There is just a certain amount of mystique to it that makes you wonder what these old ruins once looked like way back when. And even though the house is slowly collapsing, this place can still hold a feel secrets. It absolutely boggles my mind that the old tea kettle is still there and nobody has taken it. Let’s keep it that way. And if you by chance come upon the secret Orange rock, congratulations. Now please put it back so someone else can have the joy of finding it. If you are interested, please do go check this place out before it’s too late. Just as the time of 2020 is drawing to a close, as does the time of this rustic homestead. But then again, let’s always remember why Helen Lohman named this place after those pesky spider weeds that took over her garden every year. Because no matter how tough winter can get, some plants always grow back.

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
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Who Goes There?

The Abandoned Union Pond Mill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Abandoned places can be very fickle things. Some are cast aside, left to rot on their own. The world quickly forgets about them and wants nothing to do with them. Others lie dormant for years, but eventually find their resurgence. Old mills are converted to apartment buildings. Failed businesses are resurrected with new ideas. Colossal historical landmarks become preserved ruins and tourist attractions. But there is sometimes a darker side to all of this. Some abandoned places become black holes when they are cast out into the cold. Having failed at their calling purpose, they eventually turn into something ugly. And that is what we have here today. It was once a thriving staple of the local community, wearing many different hats over the years. Now, it is nothing more than a dark and twisted reflection of its former self. This, among other things, are what make this place so unique. And while so many people know about it, very few seem to know how it got this way.

I have yet to really find a concrete name for this mysterious place. I’m just calling it Union Pond Mill because of it’s proximity to Union Pond. But everyone in Manchester knows about it. The mill was first built in the early 1900’s, working with both wool and paper. Located alongside the Hockanum River, the mill was at an ideal crossroads in the town of Manchester. It was unfortunately forced to close down around the turn of the century after polluting the nearby Union Pond. After this, the facility was purchased by the Boticelo Corporation, and started a new life as a recycling center. This, sadly, also wasn’t meant to be. After a few short years, the Union Mill was forced to close its doors once again. This time for good. The ground are allegedly now owned by CL&P, and supposed to be still up for sale. I talked to some people who said they once used the abandoned mill as a makeshift skate park. Many others steer clear of this place due to the number of unsavory characters said to stalk the halls at night.

Finding the abandoned Union Pond Mill isn’t too difficult. As I said, it is right smack along the side of a very busy intersection in Manchester. If you know where to look, you will find it very easily. We had talked about investigating this place for a long while now. We had just never found the time to go take a look around. Having lived in Manchester, we had driven past it many times. Sometimes it looked like it was being demolished. Sometimes it didn’t. But one summer afternoon, we decided to go looking for it. After taking a short walk through the woods, we came upon the abandoned mill. There was not a single NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT sign on our way in. And once you arrive at the abandoned property, everything seems to just fall silent. There were no birds singing. The summer bugs all seemed to disappear. And even though a busy road was right through the trees, the mill was quiet as a tomb when we arrived. That said, it didn’t take long for us to get the feeling that we were being watched.

There is plenty of old equipment, broken bottles, and discarded trash littering the wasteland. Colorful and kooky graffiti coats the rafters. Many old fire pits have stained sections of the cement floor pitch black. Vines and vegetation grow from any facet of building they can reach. But other than the liter, the warehouses are shockingly devoid. It was a breezy summer day. And each little burst of wind caused the very foundation of this place to tremble. There were times walking around the abandoned mill that I thought it was going to collapse at any second. You can still get upstairs in a few places. Just watch your step, as everything in here feels incredibly precarious. Plus we found evidence of somebody living up there. Some demolition has obviously been done. The main chimney has endured a lot of vandalism, but still stands silently tall at the front. Clearly someone is checking up on this place, as there are many paths through the undergrowth that guide you from section to section of the mill.

As we began to head out from the mill, I saw the shadow of a person from the other side of the main wall. It followed us as we began to move out. They were not chasing us. Just slowly trailing a few steps behind us. No noise was made. The shadow just moved through the outside underbrush after us. This was honestly one of the very few times I’ve felt genuinely nervous while out exploring. I am not ashamed to admit that. Whoever it was stopped pursuing us once we cleared the main gate. From the moment we arrived, I knew someone…or something was watching us. It is a feeling you just can’t shake. This place has quite the reputation for being a haven of the outcasts. And as we learned that day, this reputation is justly deserved. It was probably just a homeless individual keeping watch over their spot. But still. You can never be too careful, especially in a place like this. The sounds of work and jobs are gone from here, now. Only mystery remains.

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.”

Rise and Shine

The Abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I’m going to start this piece off with a bang. Full disclosure right out of the gate: this place is NOT technically abandoned. This is a tourist attraction. It’s more or less a museum. You have to pay admission to get in. There are guided tours. There’s a bloody gift shop. BUT…I still think this place is pretty cool. Bear with me, even just for a second. It fits right in with the rising trend of “Arrested Decay,” or a “Preserved Ruin.” Abandoned places such as Eastern State Penitentiary find new life and provide sustenance to their communities through this new endeavor. Former abandoned places are provided with just enough support to keep from falling into complete disrepair. Think about what it would cost to demolish a place like this. But instead, with minimal investment, it becomes a place that entertains and educates anyone wishing to come see it. If this doesn’t interest you, I can completely respect any readers wishing to discontinue here. This obviously isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But for those of you still with me, let’s get on with the tour.

As aforementioned, this is Philadelphia’s colossal Eastern State Penitentiary. Once one of the largest and most ambitious correctional facilities in American history, this place has truly become a legend. First built in 1829, the prison housed some of America’s most feared criminals: including legendary Chicago Kingpin Al Capone. The prison caught attention for it’s massive size and unique architectural design, which featured seven cell blocks intersecting at a central hub. Men, women, and even a few children were held here. With large cells designed for “self reflection” during incarceration, the facility was eventually plagued by overcrowding during the early 20th century. Being forced to house more than expected, along with it’s archaic design, eventually forced the prison to close it’s doors for good in 1971. And there it sat for many years, even after being registered as a National Historic Landmark. Empty. Abandoned. Rotting. But during the 1980’s, a movement began to restore the prison to it’s former glory. Not as prison. But much like Alcatraz before it: as a tourist attraction.

During the waning days of Spring 2019, we found ourselves down in Philadelphia for the weekend. This year alone, we’ve covered places in New York, Boston, and now the City of Brotherly Love. Cool for us, I guess. Anyway, I had heard of Eastern State Penitentiary many times before on the Discovery Channel series Mysteries of the Abandoned (which I highly recommend to anyone on here.) Given the fact that the facility is right smack in the middle of the city, we decided to plan a visit. Luckily, we had absolutely beautiful weather for our trip. After a short Uber ride, we arrived at the gates of the prison. It really does stand out A LOT from the rest of the city. It’s like you’re rolling down a typical city street, and then bam. There it is. A giant stone fortress nestled amongst the casual restaurants and bodegas. The windows of the guard towers have been smashed. The old grey ramparts give this place an almost medieval feel. And the prison itself casts a giant shadow over her host city. Passing through the great stone gates is like walking into another world.

The prison is open to both guided and self-guided tours, with little headsets. We, of course, chose the self-guided tour. I, of course, did not grab a headset. It just feels too touristy to me. There were only a few people here during our visit. Straight off the bat, you can tell which areas of the prison are “staged” and which areas aren’t. For example, many of the cells contain a few props and set pieces to give off the creepy vibe to visitors. It’s all in good fun, but some are really blatant about it. Some, however, are actually very creepy. But these are the areas that are more cut off from the rest of the prison. If you follow the right paths, you can see the much darker and quieter corners of the monstrous facility. You honestly have to work a little harder to get away from the crowds in order to really enjoy this place. If you’re like us, that is. Places like Death Row, the Hospital Wing, and the basement had no visitors to them. And these were the areas that clearly haven’t gotten any support or upkeep. But that’s what makes them the best parts. They feel like an actual abandoned place, as opposed to part of a “preserved ruin.”

All in all, I almost kind of feel like a cheat writing about this place for our site. But at the same time, I kind of don’t. It’s our first real exploration outside of the New England/New York area. Plus, if the Discovery Channel can cover it for their show, I don’t see why we can’t as well. It may come off at times as a real tourist attraction, but is that such a bad thing? As opposed to being left to rot, this place now educates and entertains all who pass through her doors. Plus parts of Eastern State Penitentiary are absolutely chilling. Old cell blocks. Broken down barber chairs. That classic abandoned place smell (you know what I’m talking about). This place had it all. You just had to look a little harder for it. When you peel back some of the artsy and touristy stuff plastered all over this old facility, you realize just how terrifying it once was to the men and women who were housed here years ago. The lights may be back on in this place. But the shadows and the ghosts of days long since passed still haunt this hollowed ground.

ESP2

If you are at all interested in visiting Eastern State Peniteniary, please check out their official website herehttp://www.easternstate.org

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