Posts Tagged ‘experience’

Frozen Hearts

The Abandoned Eyrie House

Written by: Wilk

Photographs: Lassie

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

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

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

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

EY5

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

Salmon River Specter

The Abandoned Brown’s Mill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

There have always been ghosts in the forest. Things appear and disappear. Specters dart from tree to tree. Sometimes you can’t shake the feeling of being watched. And nothing is ever what it seems out here. I spent many hours of my youth roaming the woods of New England, looking for adventure. A good chunk of those hours were spent in the nearby Salmon River Forest. It is a fascinating place indeed. Marlborough, Colchester, and East Hampton all share it at certain points. And while these three towns are the epitome of middle class life, the Salmon River Forest is something else entirely. Just a few short miles away from the hustle and bustle of their respective town centers, you can find true natural beauty. It almost feels more like Vermont out there. The aroma of roaring fires and the sounds of running water float through the air. Fly fishermen stubbornly cast off from the river banks at all times of the year. And the woods beckon with a soft green serenity. But there is one place here that disrupts this tranquility…

That place is the abandoned Brown’s Mill. It has truly been a ghost for us. As I previously mentioned, I have been trekking through these woods for years. And I had never even heard of this place until a few months ago. While searching for information on another abandoned mill we had recently covered in Manchester, I came across an article on this place. I wrote the name down, so I could come back to it at some point. But then, the article mysteriously disappeared. So I went looking on Google Maps, only knowing that this place resided along the Salmon River. I eventually found it on the street view. But then this also mysteriously disappeared. I thought that was it. Whatever was left behind must have been demolished. As this is usually how it goes. We find a place right after it’s been destroyed, like the Foam Dome. Case closed. Until a few weeks ago. I just happened to be searching for new places to explore this year, and bam. There it was again. It was almost as if this place was taunting me with it’s presence. We had to go check it out.

I usually talk about the history of a place early in my articles. But I still haven’t found anything on this place. The abandoned Brown’s Mill is a blank space on the map. It was also not an easy trek to explore. On our journey, I expected it to be a long hike in to find something very much lost in the woods. But that is not the case. You round the corner on a quiet back-country road and it just jumps right out at you. The skeletal grey remains blend in quite well with the surrounding woods. A cozy house sits right next to the grounds. The ruins sit along the banks of the river, so there is no real way to hike in. So we had to park farther down the road at one of the fishing spots by the Salmon River and walk in. It was cold and grey, but the mill was worth it. There are plenty of NO TRESPASSING and KEEP OUT signs along the buildings. But none of them seem very official. Some are even just spray painted onto the crumbling foundation. None the less, we had to use some creative techniques to obtain our photos.

The abandoned Brown’s Mill has clearly seen much better days. It looked and felt like it could collapse in on itself at any minute. There’s clearly been some fire damage around the central hub. Rickety chain-link fences attempt to shield off the more dangerous sections. Plenty of mill machinery has been left behind, but they are now nothing more than ghastly hunks of rusting metal. The ornately carved roof is still there in a few parts of the old mill, but just barely. The skylight pours into the old mill like a ship taking on water. Chunks of wood, plaster, and brick coat the ground in droves. But believe it or not, though, vandalism does not seem to be much of an issue. There was a bit of tagging here and there. But the abandoned Brown’s Mill seems to be relatively untouched by any unkind visitors. Which is nice to see. The whole place honestly feels like the skeletal remains of what once was. It’s like this place died a long time ago, and time has slowly been picking it apart piece by piece ever since.

We didn’t stay too long. I can honestly say that there really isn’t too much to see here. I wish I could’ve seen it five, or even ten years ago. The old machinery is really cool, and makes me wonder how/why it was all left to rot. But the remains of the mill sit very exposed to the outside world. A cozy house sits within a stone’s throw. A country road runs straight passed it. And the Salmon River forest is always so very teeming with life. Plus there’s plenty of NO TRESPASSING markers painted all over this old beauty. Whether they’re legitimate or not is irrelevant. Visitors are clearly not very welcome here. And that’s honestly okay. The abandoned Brown’s Mill will continue its slow and steady decline into total destruction. Her heyday’s of usefulness have been outlived. This is not the first abandoned mill that we have covered in the area to meet a similar fate. In the days of future past, this structure will be long gone. But her spirit, much like her former vessel, will continue to haunt these majestic woodlands.

The Top 5 Abandoned Places of 2019

Close out the year by checking out our new video on the Top 5 Abandoned Places of 2019! We’ve been all over the East Coast this year, and thank you to all that have been along for the ride.

Finders Keepers

The Abandoned Above All Radar Station

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I follow just about every legitimate urban explorer in the area. And I know that many of them follow us, as well. Personally, I think it’s great. We all kind of collectively share locations amongst ourselves indirectly. And I’m okay with this. I know that these people are respectful of the places they explore, same as we are. I know that these people do this for similar reasons that we do. But most of all, I know that these people find just as much wonder and enjoyment out of this hobby as Lassie and myself. If I see a cool place on another explorer’s page, I will look into checking it out myself at some point down the line. Whenever we post something unique up here, other explorers usually follow suit. These could all be giant coincidences, but I don’t really believe in coincidences. We don’t make much money off this site. It’s all about sharing these amazing places with those that appreciate them. But every once in awhile, I find a location that nobody else has ever covered before. This is one of those places.

Behold today’s subject: The abandoned Above All Radar Station. Located in the absolutely beautiful Litchfield County of Western Connecticut, this piece of land has been apart of the state’s military history for years. The hill was named “Above All” due to it’s height, and use as an observation tower during the early days of the American Civil War. Interestingly, the site was declared a State Park first back in 1934. Following this purchase, it began it’s transition into a military base during the early days of the Cold War. For the next few years, the land became apart of the rapidly developing air defense network of the American homeland. A small facility was constructed, and continually added onto as the years went by. But much like many former military bases across New England, Above All was eventually shuttered following the end of the Cold War. The land was once again transitioned back into a State Park. However, the small facility built at the summit was never demolished. It was simply decommissioned, and left behind.

Like I said before, I had never heard of this place. And nobody that I follow has ever covered it, either. I just happened upon it by chance. In case you didn’t notice, we love hiking. We also try to never do the same park twice. So one day, while perusing Wikipedia for nearby parks, I just happened to click on Above All. It is a quiet park. It’s not maintained. There are no marked trails. Hell, there isn’t even a sign marking the territory. But hidden amongst the trees of this mysterious spot of land lie the remains of the abandoned Above All Radar Station. We had to check it out. So in the waning days of Summer 2019, we made the trek out to Litchfield. It was about an hour drive for us, but we had a great time. We always try to find something fun to do before exploring an abandoned place. It helps lighten the mood, and it make the journey feel more worth it. I can honestly say that Litchfield is absolutely beautiful. And while Above All was difficult to get to, it certainly proved to be a great find.

There is kind of a trail to the radar station. It is clearly very old, and hardly ever used. But it’s there. You just have to look for it. I was honestly a little disappointed with how short of a walk it was to find the base. You get to the top of the hill, and bam! There it is. Waiting for you. Old chain link fences still stand guard around parts of the perimeter. Foundations of fallen installations crumble into the fertile earth. Weeds and tall grass grow abundantly all across the property. The building, however, is truly built to last. You can see how tough this little station is from a mile away. I honestly haven’t seen any abandoned buildings that looked quite as sturdy as this one does. She has truly stood the test of time. Inside, however, is another story. Though the foundation is strong, the interior of the station has been completely gutted. The front room is open and cavernous. But it is completely devoid of anything except for dead space. Crazy graffiti art is also scrawled everywhere, usually making some sort of face on the buildings facade.

At the back of the facility is a second room, but it is unusually not connected with the first. You have to stride through the thick underbrush to get to it. This one is absolutely full of broken down junk and such. And, of course, there was plenty more graffiti. My personal favorite piece just said, “Radar is Fun.” I’m not sure why. The backroom also has two ventilation shafts leading to the outside. It’s a bit more eventful than the previous room, but it is unfortunately the last stop on the trip. So, overall, the abandoned Above All Radar Station is certainly a unique place to visit. It is a bit small, but the facility itself is very unique to explore. The hike in is certainly one of a kind. And what is left of the base is one of the best looking old buildings I’ve seen in all the years I’ve been doing this. So if you’re up for an adventure, please do check out Above All. It is completely legal to visit, and well worth the trip. But if you do, be sure to give us a shout out, drop us a line, or just spread the word. We’d love to hear about it.

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