Posts Tagged ‘Architecture’

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
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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
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Melting Snowmen

The Abandoned Bells Mansion

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Oubliette – The Abandoned Transient Camp Nepaug

Posted: November 18, 2020 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Castle, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Forts, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned new england, Abandoned New Hampshire, Abandoned New York, Abandoned Park, Abandoned Places, Abandoned Prison, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Road, Abandoned Summer Camp, Abandoned Tunnel, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Cabin, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Forts, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
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Oubliette

The Abandoned Transient Camp Nepaug

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

It’s a place that you put people to forget about them. If you get that reference, then we can definitely be friends. It’s been said a thousand times before, and a thousand times again, but this has been a rough year for all of us. You hear it on social media. You hear it on the radio. You’ve heard it on our site. In these divisive times, it’s the one thing that we can all truly agree on. Thousands have lost loved ones. Millions have lost their jobs. We personally have lost two dear friends to cancer. Pardon my french, but fuck cancer. And frankly, fuck 2020. I don’t usually curse on this site, but I think it’s necessary this time. The world has changed forever, and sadly things will probably never go back to the way they used to be. This is a year that we’d all just like to forget. And as our urban exploring season winds down, we here at Abandoned Wonders are very much looking forward to taking some time off. But on our last stop of the year, we visited a place that appears to have been forgotten a long time ago.

This is a place that has come to go by many names. To some, it is known as “Tory’s Prison.” There is an urban legend that abounds that this place was once a prison for British sympathizers during the Colonial Era. To others, it is simply known as “Old Stone Jailhouse.” This hallowed ground’s true name is in fact Camp Nepaug. First built during the Great Depression, this area was a refugee for the weary travelers of the darkest times in American history. Transients and vagabonds could live/work here for a time before eventually continuing on with their quest to find solace. But if these men ever needed a grown-up version of a time out, there was a stone jailhouse on the grounds just for that purpose. The federal government created many camps such as this one across the country, in hopes of quelling the mass migration of drifters looking for work. Eventually, this area of refuge outlived her purpose. Though she has since been added as a Historical Landmark, that doesn’t do much to stop the hands of time.

And so, in the final days of Fall 2020, we made our journey out to the abandoned remains of Camp Nepaug. You see, I am a hunter. I love to hike and search for my abandoned places. It makes finding them that much more fun. I don’t like it when they’re literally just sitting right off the side of the road. And that’s how this place is. The road eventually turns to dirt as you get deeper into the forest, and then low and behold, there is Old Stone Jailhouse. There is even a small parking turn around right next to it. Coming up to the abandoned jailhouse is quite cool. The bars are still on the windows. The doors are gone. Glass and batteries, for some reason, liter themselves across the ground. There is a strong odor of fresh spray paint in the air, which is certainly concerning. Inside the jailhouse are some old fire logs and a few stacks of bygone newspapers. The roof is still there. Mostly. Holes in the old rotting ceiling allow you a peak at the clear blue sky. And you wonder what this place must’ve looked like way back when.

The abandoned jailhouse is really cool. But it’s also really small. So when we were finished with our investigation, we continued down the paths. Just to see what we could find. The old camp used to have several amenities for its guests. Unfortunately, few of these are still standing. Right across the road are the foundations and old fireplace of what was once the camp’s great hall. Farther down by the running waters of the river is the old well house. It is very similar to the jailhouse in its stone appearance, yet its considerably smaller. The only other thing of note here is the bunker. Take note, I don’t think this was its original purpose. A little ways passed the fireplace is a large pipe in the ground. Someone appears to have cut a doorway into this pipe and formed a sort of makeshift bunker down here. It is very dark inside, and the floor is coated in garbage. But it does actually go back a ways. Good thing we always bring our flashlights. You never know what you’re going to find. A surprise, to be sure. But a welcome one.

The last place we visit for the year is almost always a good one. And the abandoned Camp Nepaug was no exception. This was our final stop for the 2020 season. As always, we take a nice long hiatus through the winter. It’s usually because of the holiday season chaos and snow. But this year, we honestly just need a break from everything. We’re hoping, with a regime change, the global pandemic will eventually be gotten under control. And we will finally be able to venture outside of Connecticut. So hopefully, we can all someday begin to put this ugly year behind us. But you see, forgetting can be a hard thing to do. Just ask the abandoned Camp Nepaug. It’s past has been lost to many, yet the history remains. We all wish we had places like an oubliette to put our bad memories. But it doesn’t really work like that. Drinking is not the answer. Trust me on that. Therapy helps, to a certain extent. But honestly, when it comes to hardship, there is no forgetting about it. You just have to learn from it.

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
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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
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Before the Fall

The Abandoned Willimantic Thread Mill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

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

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

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

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

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

The Abstruse

The Abandoned Westledge Ski Slope

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

It’s an unusual word, isn’t it? Abstruse. I had never even heard of it before. I asked Lassie if she had either, but she had the same answer. “Is that even a real word?” Yes. Yes it is. You can look it up. Originally I had titled this article “The Obscure.” With the global pandemic still ravaging our homeland, we’ve had to get a little bit creative with the places that we visit. We don’t like to go too far, since we can’t really stop anywhere to grab a bite to eat or anything. We don’t like to leave the state, as we both still have jobs to do. And we both still believe in following the physical distancing guidelines. Plus we have covered pretty much every major abandoned place here in Connecticut. So…that kind of narrows down where we can and cannot visit right now. So as you can see if you’ve been following our blog for the last few months, our investigations have been kind of unconventional. A lot of them have been in the middle of the woods. They’ve also been ones that nobody in our community really pays attention to.

Allow me to introduce our latest subject: The abandoned Westledge Ski Slope. It all began in summer of 1969. If that song is now stuck in your head, you have my sympathies. Anyhow, the ski slope was built along the edges of Westledge Mountain to service the aptly named Westledge School. You see, skiing was becoming kind of the fad up here in New England during this time period. We have covered several other ski slopes in the past that followed very similar paths and suffered the same fates as Westledge. It was a big hit at first, servicing as a simple single-towing ski system used mostly by the students of the Westledge School. Their system was unique, as it was one of the first electrically operated towing lines. This had it’s advantages and disadvantages, for being efficient/quiet but also very slow. Unfortunately, Westledge School came under new ownership in 1978. The land that the ski slope operated on was divided up between the new school and the local land trust. And thus, the Westledge Ski Slope was no more.

Like I said earlier, we were a bit vexed on what to cover for our July piece. Due to the ever growing heat, we also wanted a place that didn’t involve too much hiking. I had stumbled on Westledge Ski Slope during the early days of the outbreak, and had kept it aside on my list of potential places. Since it was kind of obscure and fit all of our criteria, we decided to pay a visit. In the middle of July, we made our trek out to the area. Not wanting a repeat of our earlier adventure in Rhode Island, we were sure to bring lots of water and map out our route exactly. It had been a long time since I had been out to North Western Connecticut. And I had honestly forgotten how beautiful it was. We arrived at our destination, only to find that the parking area had been mysteriously closed. Luckily, we had mapped out our route better this time. We found a different one a short drive away. It made our hike a bit longer, but the forest out here truly is captivating. It was about a mile in before we came upon the abandoned ski slope.

The first thing to greet you here is the main attraction: the abandoned rope tow shed. It is a small but sturdy building, and honestly is quite funny looking in it’s own way. With a triangular roof and decorated with some bizarre oddities, the building is rather interesting. Inside is plenty of old machinery, but be wary as the floor is quite unstable. There are still several old utility poles standing around the shed, but they blend in quite well with the trees surrounding them. A few of these trees have random articles of clothing tied around them, such as ties, jackets, and shirts. I found that to be kind of strange. The slope itself is steep as bloody Hell. But we had to walk all the way down it. Along the way, the old post used as part of the rope tow system still stand. Unlike all of the other slopes we’ve seen in the past, they aren’t traditional posts per se. The wheel system was actually attached to the trees themselves. Over the years, the old metal wheels are slowly being devoured by the trees growing around them.

Eventually we made it to the bottom of the slope. Here, we found the wrecks of several old cars. But they were so overgrown, we couldn’t get the best pictures of them. Then came the hard part; getting back up the slope. I see now why this hill was used as a ski slope. But using the old wheel systems as breakpoints, we eventually made it to the top and began our hike back to the car. So is the abandoned Westledge Ski Slope worth a visit? Depends on your taste. You see, the word “abstruse” means obscure or mysterious. And that’s what places like this are. And usually for good reason. Aside from the rope tow shed, which is really cool, there isn’t much to see here. But if you’re looking for a good hike and something different, check it out. Places like this one usually don’t get enough attention these days. They end up getting lost to the pages of history. They are, as you would say, obscure. But like the word “abstruse,” just because you’d never heard of it before doesn’t make it any less interesting.

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 any 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 runs 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.

Howling of the Hybrids

The Abandoned UConn Kennels

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

It’s rare for me to do this, but I feel like I must speak my mind. I’m a writer. I’ve been doing this since I was eleven years old. It has been my one true gift as far back as I can remember, whether I wanted it to be or not. And as a writer, you want people to read your words. You want people to listen to your stories and feel your voice. But not this time. This is one of those rare pieces where I ask that you discontinue reading. This article really isn’t for the faint of heart. As a dog lover, this story rocked me to my core. When I had first heard of this place, I didn’t think there would be much to it. But the more digging I did, the more horrors I uncovered. I’m talking animal abuse. Genetic experimentation. Dark science. Murder. Grim subjects, all around. It’s one of those tales so bizarre, you can’t believe that you’ve never heard about it before. Again, I ask that you discontinue here. This story is not going to be pretty.

If you must continue reading, then allow me to set the stage: The University of Connecticut, the late 1970’s. A graduate student conducts the successful breeding of male coyotes with female beagle dogs to produce what we have come to call “coydogs.” Three generations are successfully created. They are housed in a kennel outside of the Biological Science unit in the UConn Forest. Though the experiments are bizarre, the animals are said to have been well taken care of. That is until 1983. One of the pups is kidnapped by two unknown assailants. She was then tortured and beaten to death. The story caught national attention. It severely derailed the genetic experimentation program, but it attempted to continue none the less. And unfortunately, this was not the first and would not be the last tragic animal death during this time on campus. After this unspeakable tragedy and it’s founder’s graduation, the entire experiment is believed to have collapsed. But the kennels where her work was conducted still stand.

It was late spring of 2020 when we finally made our trek into the UConn Forest to find what was left of this phantom facility. May is the perfect time of year for a good hike. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right. But I warn you now that this place is not an easy find. If you do your research, follow the directions, and crack the code you will find this place no problem. If you don’t, you can and will spend hours combing through the forest looking for it. Full disclosure, that’s what happened to us. We parked in the wrong spot, and almost didn’t end up finding what we were looking for. The UConn Forest truly is just so vast and so full of the weirdest things imaginable. You could honestly spend days out there and never see the same thing twice. On our journey, we came across abandoned lawn equipment, countless fire pits, wild dogs, trails to nowhere, and a group of bros on a fishing trip. But eventually, we solved the riddle and found the old facility. And although there may not be too much left, this place certainly was quite creepy.

First coming upon the abandoned kennel, it very much looks like an old zoo paddock. An eight foot tall wooden fence surrounds the perimeter. There is even a swinging wooden gate to enter the kennel that’s very reminiscent of Jurassic Park. But this place is much more like that movie’s sequel, if you know what I mean. The weeds and plants have grown wild and dangerous. Some old wiring and tech has been left behind, but it’s all been rusted to Hell. At the far east corner, there is an old observation window. Most of the wood has rotted, but it still provides a chilling window into the past. The true sight to see here though are the two enclosures. Both surrounded by old chain link fences, there are two smallĀ  concrete doghouses standing side by side to each other. They have both been defaced with graffiti, and completely barren inside. One even has an old chair positioned on top of it for some reason. The place is also full of birds and chipmunks, who have clearly moved back in to reclaim this forgotten facility as their own.

We were both quiet on our long walk back to the car. I don’t know why. We were hot. We were hungry. But we also just couldn’t seem to shake the feeling of sorrow. It was tough to find this place. But it has also been tough to write about it. Very few have covered it in the past, and I can see why. There is so very little information out there. And what I did find, I wish I hadn’t. Much like Tiger King or Wild Wild Country, I just can’t quite believe that stuff like this actually happened. It’s all just so bizarre and truly beyond belief. But I guess that’s what makes stuff like the abandoned UConn Kennels stand out from the crowd. There may not be too much to see at the actual site. It’s no Undercliff Sanatorium or Mansfield Training School. But walking through the abandoned kennels, I could just tell that bad things had happened here. There was just such grimness and hopelessness nestled amongst the sprouting trees. This is a place that never should’ve existed. It is just one of those stories that I wish I could forget, but never will.