Posts Tagged ‘Birds’

Feeding the Birds

The Abandoned Batterson Park

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Last September, we finally moved out of the city. It was something I had been looking forward to for a long time. Not just because of Covid, or the ever increasing crime rate. I just really missed the woods. I missed looking out my front door and seeing trees. I missed waking up to the sounds of birds singing. I missed looking up at the stars on dark nights. You get none of that in the city. One thing we started doing again was feeding the birds. In the city, you basically get the same batch of shrewd little birds day in and day out. But we thought, now that we’re out in the country, we might finally get some interesting avian visitors. But we were wrong. For the first few weeks, that is. We bought our bird seed. We set up our feeder. And we waited. But nobody came. The feeder stayed quiet for days on end. No birds would even come near it. Until one day a large redheaded woodpecker, whom I have come to call The Harbinger, showed up. He came from the woods in our backyard, as if driven by some otherworldly force. He ate from the feeder until he nearly burst. When he was finished, he perched himself up on the railing of our deck, and began to sing. His calls pierced through the trees and echoed through the forest. And before long, birds of all shapes and sizes began flocking to the feeder. All at once. They had heard the call, and they had come to feed.

Allow me to introduce the subject of our June article: the abandoned Batterson Park. This is another one that I have had my eye on for a long time and one that no other major explorers have covered. I have always been a sucker for abandoned parks. There’s just something really special about them and the stories of how they got this way. It’s just fascinating how a place like this eventually fades away from thought and time. Even after being enjoyed by so many for so long. First established in the early twentieth century, Batterson Park was created from land once designated as a reservoir. It is unique in that it covers three different towns. Though the park is officially under the Hartford system, it actually exists outside of the city limits. The landmass of the park stretches across parts of Farmington and New Britain. It is all centered around the large and aptly named Batterson Park Pond. But this uniqueness would eventually lead to the park’s downfall. For many years, the towns that Batterson Park belonged to were never able to reach a deal on who would be paying to maintain the park and its amenities. In the fall of 2015, the park was forced to close its doors for good due to budget cuts. It has remained shuttered and forgotten ever since. Many deals and sales have been proposed over the years, but nothing has yet to come to fruition.

As I mentioned to you earlier, this place had been on my radar for awhile. We just never quite had the time to check it out. But, since it’s just about summertime, we were in the market for some new shoes. And let me tell you, there is no better place for explorer shoes than REI in West Hartford. No, we aren’t getting paid to say that. They’re just that good. Check them out if your outdoorsy. Since it was a nice day, after shoe shopping, we decided to take a stop at the nearby abandoned Batterson Park. It is a quiet section of town. And arriving at the deserted park is a little perplexing. The gate is down. But there are several heavily trafficked paths around it. There are signs up saying that the park has been closed. But then there are other signs welcoming you to the park and listing its hours. Mixed messages. No matter. Sitting right alongside the beautiful Batterson Pond, the park is easily accessible. We weren’t too sure about being there at first, but after running into a few other young adults with their dogs, our worries were laid to rest. The abandoned park may be on the small side, but there is also quite a lot to see. Walking through the old gates, you are immediately greeted by a rotting sign. It lists the admission prices to the park from days long since past. My how times have changed. And as we continued down the road, things just got more interesting.

Things are quiet. Very quiet. There has clearly been some fire damage here, as one building near the entrance has been completely burned out. Most of the other buildings have been boarded up, but a few can still be accessed. Inside you will find nothing but old equipment and lots of chairs. The beach’s dock is still floating in the waters of the pond. Several old lifeguard chairs rot off to the side. A maintenance shed sits wide open, and it is full of old disused equipment. A basketball court and pavilion are slowly being overgrown. Forgotten grills and fire pits still stand amongst the brush. The main boathouse curiously still has a few boats under its roof, but they appear to be in good condition. Let’s keep it that way. Perhaps they are just being stored there. But the main star attraction, and the whole reason I am writing this article, is the sea of picnic tables. A little way’s down the main path, there are dozens of derelict picnic tables standing in formation. Their green paint is slowly peeling. Bushes and vegetation is engulfing them. And combined with the dead silence of the old park, they provide a very eerie spectacle to behold. They truly encapsulated the sad story of the abandoned park. A place that was once designed for recreation and fun, now lies empty and cold. The memories stacked up and locked away like these ghostly old picnic tables.

The abandoned Batterson Park was certainly a unique visit. Though there was not too much to see here, the silent army of forgotten picnic tables really provided a haunting window into this place’s long lost past. Plus the park appears to be relatively untouched by the outside world. For now, that is. Who knows what the future holds. It reminded me very much of our bird feeder when we first moved in. You see, we urban explorers are like the wild birds. When one of us finds something good, they usually let out a song of their own to beckon others to come get a taste. And though I do not consider myself The Harbinger, I know that by posting this article, many other explorers will soon be coming to take a look at Batterson Park. And one of the most interesting things I have noticed from feeding the birds is that there are two types of visitors. First, there is the Chickadee. They are beautiful yet simple birds. They come to the feeder, eat their share of food, and then sing a small song before flying off. But then, there is the Grackle. They are obnoxious and disruptive. They scare away the other birds, eat more than their share, and usually knock over our whole feeder. Ruining things for everyone. Most of you reading this, I know, will be quiet and respectful. Like the Chickadees. Some, however, will be loud and destructive. Like the Grackles. Which will you be?

The Crumbling Kingdom — The Abandoned Seaside Sanatorium

Posted: September 3, 2015 by Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Hospital, abandoned new england, Abandoned Sanatorium, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Bird Watching, Birds, Broken, Children, Children's Hospital, Closed, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, Ocean, Ocean View, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, seaside, Seaside Sanatorium, State Parks, Stories, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Waterford, writing
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The Crumbling Kingdom

The Abandoned Seaside Sanatorium

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

A relic from the old world sits alone on the picturesque shores of New England’s Long Island Sound. The steady waves of the ocean lap up against the sandy shores, but she doesn’t move a muscle. Armies of birds of all shapes and sizes roost amongst her crumbling rafters, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Small crowds of beachgoers flock by to enjoy their holidays, but they pay this beautiful disaster no attention. This is Seaside Sanatorium, and though she doesn’t look it, she was once considered one of the finest hospitals in the state. But that time has passed. We visit this abandoned facility every year, and each year this once shining star seems a little less bright. It is sad to say that the State of Connecticut has apparently ceased its protection of this old facility, leaving it ripe for rampant and senseless destruction from local vandals.

The main buildings on the grounds were designed by the world renowned architect Cass Gilbert in the early twentieth century. He was the same man responsible for masterminding the famous US Supreme Court building in Washington DC and New Haven’s Union Station. The facility was opened during the early 1930’s, seeing a long and colorful history that lasted until 1996. Over the years it has served as a children’s hospital, a treatment center for the elderly, and a facility for the intellectually disabled. Its beautiful setting along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean were said to provide a very peaceful atmosphere for its residents. Sadly though, the facility was allegedly home to several incidents of violent treatment of patients in the early 1990’s which would ultimately cause the demise of Seaside. It now sits abandoned, though it can be legally walked as a recreation area.

While the Main Hospital is the main attraction, its supporting act is the Nurse’s Building. Though it is not as ornate or extravagant as the Main Hospital, the Nurse’s Building is just as hauntingly beautiful. Windows have been boarded up. Wild vines coat the outer walls. The stairs from the old fire escape have been removed. A doorway that had been busted open by vandals has been crudely barricaded with mounds of dirt and tree branches. A small squirrel keeps watch from the upper rafters. But most noticeable of all, a family of Osprey has taken up residence on the buildings chimney. Perennial occupants, these massive birds of prey hold a strong presence over the entire grounds. Small birds hide when they fly by. The fearsome screeches of their feasting young echoes from their nest. And the massive adults keep close watch on anyone who passes by what has become their empire.

 

Of all the abandoned hospitals we have visited in our time, the main hospital of Seaside is the most breathtaking. Two broken lighthouses stand at its corners. A towering spire forms the center of the facility. Five brink floors stand tall before the Atlantic Ocean. The old ruins of the building’s parking lot lie in the back. The pavement still cracked with age. What is left of a playground stands at the front, defiantly facing the sea. An old slide slowly rusts into oblivion. A child’s merry go-round has become overrun with wild vines. Windows have been shattered. Walls have been defiled with graffiti. Inside, the shocking white paint hangs from the walls like sleeping albino bats. A few old pieces of furniture stands guard over any trespassers. And an earie silence fills the halls that were once full of patients and doctors alike. It is both comforting and terrifying.

The grounds still have an echo of their old past. A few dead power lines hang from rotting poles. A ghostly chessboard slowly disappears into the wild grass. A rusted fire hydrant still keeps watch over the facility. On our last visit, a round the clock security force was in place around the abandoned buildings. Today, there was no security to be found. And according to the locals, they’ve been gone for some time. The grounds have noticeably suffered since our last visit. When the cat’s away, the mice will play. And what terrible games they have been up to inside this poor facility. We encountered several destructive vandals on our trip, and had to frighten them out of the building on our own. These are the people that give what we do a bad name, and these are the people that cause the steady destruction of abandoned wonders like Seaside Sanatorium. She was once a proud and dignified medical facility. Now, she is nothing more than a crumbling kingdom.

Fly Away Home

The Abandoned Montgomery Mill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

     

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