Posts Tagged ‘Connecticut River’

Fallen Attraction

The Abandoned Gillette Castle Railroad

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

In the absence of light, darkness prevails. When there is no heat, there is only cold. And without love, there is nothing left but despair. It’s funny because Gillette Castle, along with Hublien Tower, was one of my favorite places to visit when I was a kid. A short half-hour drive away, it was one of those magical places to visit and get ice cream at during the heydays of summertime. With its winding trails and classical feel, it truly is a sight to see. I honestly believed I had hiked every inch of this park. But I was wrong. Lost deep in the woods and along the rocky banks of the Connecticut River is the fallen attraction of this fabled place – The Gillette Castle Railroad.

Located in picturesque East Haddam, Connecticut, Gillette Castle was the luxurious and mystical castle of prolific actor William Gillette. With no children to leave his estate to, Gillette left the grounds to the state of Connecticut after his passing. Today it is enjoyed by many for its hiking and wonderful view of the Connecticut River. But unbeknownst to most, myself included for a time, is that there once stood a railroad around the estate. Though it was a small train, which can now be viewed at the Visitor’s Center, tracks once covered the entire grounds to carry visitors from place to place. When it was originally sold off, most of the tracks were ripped up and the old railroad disappeared…but not completely.

We made our trip to Gillette Castle on one of the final weekends of summertime 2017. The park was just as lively as I had remembered it. But far down one of the quieter sides of the grounds lie the remains of the railroad. An old bridge has been closed down for being unstable. Another has collapsed into the underbrush. Far down the cliffs by the roaring Connecticut River stand several old pieces of track and framework. Old rusty barrels rot into the fertile forest floor. But the star of the show is by far the old tunnel. Though it may not run as long as we had hoped, inside is pure unadulterated darkness. With its entrance nearly lost to the woods around it, its certainly a fun little walk through.

A special shout-out of this piece goes to our reader who called himself “Mike.” A few weeks ago, he contacted us with several suggestions of places to visit in his area including the Gillette Castle Railroad. And this place really didn’t disappoint. Truth be told, we really don’t get as much fan interaction as we would like. And we love it when people tell us their stories or suggest places for us to explore. It makes this hobby just a little bit more fun and meaningful. I wish that I had been able to see this railroad during its heyday, but alas, it is no more. Though this is more of a hiking piece, the old train tunnel really is pretty cool. And just as this place was highly recommended for us to visit, I encourage you to do the same.

Fly Away Home — The Abandoned Montgomery Mill

Posted: June 30, 2015 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, abandoned mill, abandoned new england, abandoned paper mill, Abandoned Stores, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, American Bald Eagle, Bird Watching, Birds, Broken, Christmas, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, fire, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, paper mill, photography, research, Ruins, Searching, Stories, Talcottville Mill, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Windsor Locks, writing
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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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“I’ll tell you a riddle. You’re waiting for a train, a train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you don’t know for sure. But it doesn’t matter. How can it not matter to you where the train will take you? Because you’ll be together.” –Inception