Posts Tagged ‘Graffiti’

I’m Not Okay

The Garden of Sweet Remembrance

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I want to talk about something important today. Yeah, I know. This is supposed to be a blog about abandoned places and urban exploring. That’s what you all come here to read about. But this is also a personal blog. I try to share my experiences and life lessons with anyone who cares to listen. If reading my words was enough to help just one person, that’s all I’ve ever wanted. We’ve had a lot of readers reach out over the last year telling us how much our work means to them. And there is no greater compliment to us than that. Especially considering how rough last year was. And so today’s piece is going to be a little different. I get one of these a year, so please bare with me. If this isn’t for you, I won’t be offended if you stop reading or unsubscribe. You have that right. I want to talk today about mental health. It’s something that I personally have struggled with for a long time. And I know that a lot of us here feel the same way. I advocate for mental health awareness whenever I can. We’ve all either had our issues with mental health or know someone who does. It’s never easy to talk about. Sometimes it can be down right terrifying. No matter how hard we try, there will always be this stigma around mental health. We’ve made a lot of progress in the last few years, but some still have a hard time accepting that it’s okay to not be okay.

And so allow me to introduce our July investigation: The Garden of Sweet Remembrance. Located in the town of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, this place was once the lavish home of one of the area’s most prominent businessmen. Matthew J. Whittall was the owner of the property, and christened it Juniper Hall. There was a vast estate to behold, but the garden was the true jewel in the crown. Mr. Whittall and his wife were so very proud of their garden that they invited all manners of the public to tour it whenever they pleased. But like the blooming flowers, nothing lasts forever. The proprietor and founder passed away in 1929. The garden’s pergola was dedicated to him by his widow and christened the name “The Garden of Sweet Remembrance.” Following Mr. Whittall’s passing, the mansion changed hands several times before finally being demolished after years of abandonment. All that remains of this once lavish wonderland are the old pergola and the once flourishing garden. The property remained this way for many years. The weeds and vines grew wild, overtaking this once sacred place. But it was never truly forgotten. A small movement grew and grew to eventually restore the property and garden to their former glory. Now, what remains of the property has been revived and resides in Shrewsbury’s Prospect Park.

This, once again, was my birthday investigation. I always try to explore something on my birthday. It’s just a great way to spend the day away from the world with my partner Lassie. Doing what we love. I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to find at The Garden of Sweet Remembrance. I had received a tip about it a few months ago, but found conflicting information on the web. The land had been lost for a long time. And though the movement dedicated to it’s upkeep has grown over the years, vandalism has still continued to scar the face of the iconic pergola. So we decided to go take a look. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon. We usually NEVER go exploring on Saturdays (too many people out and about) but, it was my birthday after all. So, what the Hell, right? We arrived at Prospect Park as the only visitors. There is still a grand stone archway at the entrance with a brand new sign. There are trail maps and well marked paths throughout the grounds. The garden itself is a relatively short walk down one of these paths. All throughout the woods, there are old relics marking what this park once was. Old fire hydrants rust into oblivion. Ghostly power poles blend in amongst the fading trees. And there is a certain mystique in the air here. But once you arrive at the garden, this slightly mystical place truly comes back to life.

I haven’t used the word “abandoned” in the title or tags of this article for a reason. Because it’s clearly not. The garden itself is truly alive and well. Flowers and all kinds of plant life burst through the fertile soil. It has also become a collection point for painted rocks from people all across New England. The pergola, on the other hand, stands at the far back of the garden. It’s presence looms like a great shadow of both remembrance and sorrow. The wooden roof has collapsed all together. The blue sky floods in like a ship taking on water. The foundation crumbles slightly, yet never wavers. Graffiti adorns the outer shell, but the words “GARDEN OF SWEET REMEMBRANCE” still stand strong. But what makes this place so special are the names. On certain pillars of the pergola, and some of the painted rocks, the names of people have been painted. Out of respect for the families, I will not name these names here. But what I can tell you is that each of these names are victims of suicide. Most were just teenagers. We even found a bundle of old roses left beside one of the names. This garden has clearly once again found it’s home as a place of remembrance. It brought about a mix of both sadness and spirituality seeing them. It shows that no matter what, it is the job of those of us left behind to carry on the memory of those we’ve lost.

Like I said in my introduction, this place is not going to be for everyone. It isn’t one that we usually cover and was not what we were expecting at all. But honestly, I am happy to be proven wrong. And while this post goes against most of what we post here, I would highly recommend the Garden of Sweet Remembrance to all of our readers. Not for adventure or thrill-seeking. But for reflection. It really is a beautiful place. Seeing the names on the walls of the pergola and on the painted rocks was a very moving experience. I lost one close friend to suicide five years ago this summer. His name was Troy. He was an actor like me. And I think about him everyday. It’s always hard to process losing someone like that. Much like these beautiful flowers, we are all slowly fading away. That’s why we always have to remember to keep ourselves well and to keep those we’ve lost in our memories. The Garden of Sweet Remembrance’s history reminded me a lot of the struggles we all go through everyday. There were good times. There were bad times. There were times where all hope seemed to be lost. But with a little bit of help, this place came back to life. And always remember, it’s okay to not be okay. Never be afraid to ask for a little help. If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with mental health issues, please check out the list below.

Find a Therapist, Psychologist, Counselor – http://www.psychologytoday.com/therapists

Suicide Prevention Hotline – https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

The Trevor Project – http://www.thetrevorproject.org

Mental Health America – http://www.mhanational.org

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.

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.

As Above, So Below

The Abandoned Clausland Mountain Tunnels

Part I

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Why do we seek the dark? Is it the mystery? Is it the unknown? Some find comfort in the darkness. Others find only fear. Myself, personally, the exhilaration makes me feel more alive than anything else. Not knowing what’s around the corner, or the thinking what would happen if your flashlight dies, makes exploring the underground some of our coolest work. Believe it or not, most of the inquiries and search terms we get on this site are seeking abandoned tunnels. So again, I ask, why do we seek the dark? Why is it the abandoned tunnels that people find most tempting and fascinating? It can be quite frightening, and yet also very enlightening. We have explored the underground on a number of occasions, and each time has been a little different from the last. We’ve covered the tunnels of abandoned mental hospitals, to the underground bunkers of old military bases. What would surprise people isn’t the quiet beneath the Earth, it is the noise. Every little movement, shudder, or disturbance ripples through the blackness like the shattering of a window. But then, all returns to silence. Sometimes sharply. Sometimes slowly. As if nothing had every happened. It’s an eerie feeling, almost as if you’re expecting something to happen. But nothing ever does.

Our final investigation for 2019 took us once again to the great state of New York. We’ve covered a few things here, mostly in the Hudson River Valley, and they never disappoint. And today’s subject is no exception. What we have here today are known as the abandoned Clausland Mountain Tunnels in Nyack, New York. First built in 1910, this area was once known as Camp Bluefield. Here, National Guard troops trained and were stationed year round. The tunnels were apart of their training rifle range, used for traveling up and down the range without danger. They caused untold stress and disruptions with the locals, and were forced to close down only a few years later. Since then, the area served many different purposes. But none of them ever really stuck. Eventually, the former military base was completely abandoned. And, as we all know, this is when the vandals and vagrants began to encroach. Fortunately, the grounds of the old camp were eventually added onto one of the more secluded state parks in the community. It is here that the old tunnels have remained dormant ever since. And so, on our ninth anniversary trip, we decided to go hunting for this long lost military fortress.

It was a long hike in, and the tunnels blend in quite well with their surroundings. But we found them. My advice to any potential visitors: follow The Long Path. You will have to cross between two state parks and through a very wealthy neighborhood to get there. It can get really winding and difficult, and there were several massive fallen trees blocking our path on the way in. We lost the trail a couple of times due to some missing markers, but if you stay on it you will find the tunnels. I honestly missed them on our walk in. It was Lassie who had to call me back, because I had literally walked right passed them without noticing. It sounds silly, but you will understand if you ever visit this place. The tunnels run for miles, and they blend in with the surrounding forest quite well. They all run in a straight line. There are no twists or turns, since they were used to travel up and down the shooting range. There is actually a ton of graffiti coating the outer walls. And yet, there are certain sections that remain mysteriously untouched by the local painters. This artwork ranges from the offensive, the comical, and the outright beautiful. One of my personal favorite pieces we discovered has been included below, for obvious reasons…

Obviously, the main thing we were after on our visit here was getting inside the abandoned tunnel system. And I encourage all visitors to at least peak their heads in. Be very cautious, though. The tunnels are absolutely infested. Not with bats. Not with mice. Not with vagrants. But with crickets. Yes, you read that right. Crickets. They are called spider crickets. They look like crickets, but they jump like spiders. They congregate on the ceiling and upper walls of the tunnels in large hives. Walking by won’t disturb them. But if you just happen to shine your light on them, the entire colony will spring into action to defend itself. We were about half-way through our first tunnel when it all of a sudden started raining crickets on us. It was bloody shocking. We honestly had to run back a few steps just to assess the situation. But, if you keep your lights low they will mostly leave you alone. Stress the word “mostly.” After exiting the tunnels on our first trek in, a massive raven flew right over our heads. He cawed in a very slow and methodical way, as if laughing at us for getting spooked by the bug swarm. It was one of the few sounds we heard while visiting this place that were not caused by us.

One of the most interesting characteristics of this place is just how inventive some of it’s visitors can be. We found several ladders propped up inside some of the tunnels, so that they can be accessed easier from the outside. Getting to the top of the cement structures can be challenging, since they are rather tall and all of the inner staircases have been removed. So large tree branches have been braced along the sides with screws drilled into the wood two by two. These screws are in a carefully measured pattern, so they can be used as footholds whilst scaling the fallen tree limb. It’s actually quite ingenious, if you think about it.  We also found all sorts of painting equipment stored in little caches all across the base. It goes to show that whomever is frequenting the abandoned tunnels is more organized than most that we’ve seen…I honestly had to break this piece up into two parts. That’s how much there is to see here. With the chaos of the holiday’s and the unforgiving New England weather upon us, the second half of this piece will be coming in January 2020. But until then, Happy Hunting.

Exodus: Chapter 1

The Abandoned Sacred Heart Church

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

This is one of those rare pieces where I am not going to reveal the location of this place. If you know this place (and I’m sure a lot of you do), please don’t make a comment or anything. It will be deleted. We really want to provide some respect for this fallen place of worship. Ever since we got into this, and ever since our time in Alabama (where churches are EVERYWHERE), we have wanted to find and explore an abandoned church. There’s just something mystical about them. A few years ago, a reader tipped us off about one in the New Britain woods. But we were never able to find it. This one was sitting right in front us. We just needed a closer look.

It was an early Saturday morning, in the waning days of Summer 2018. We had just had breakfast down the street at a nice little diner. I had heard stories about this place, but we finally had a chance to go check it out. It is a place I had driven by for many years during my childhood. I was always captivated by its sheer size and elegance. And even today, in her derelict state, this once mighty church is still quite captivating. Moss and water damage eat away at her outer hull. Graffiti coats the outer walls, though someone is clearly trying to combat it. The once lively parking lot and front entrance are now empty and desolately silent.

We did not go inside this church out of respect. All the photos you see here are taken from a sadly gaping hole that vandals have caused on the back doors. Someone has literally busted through the plywood to get inside. And these are the people that give us all a bad name. This was once a place of light, community, and hope. But now, it has become a playground of destruction and despair. And regrettably, abandoned churches are becoming more and more common across the region. With higher repair costs and declining attendance, many churches are closing their doors. Will there be hope for this place someday? The world will decide. The world always decides.

“Holiness is in right action and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What God desires is here, and here, and what you decide to do everyday to be a good man – or not.” – Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Bizarro World

The Abandoned Mount Tom Ski Area

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Every abandoned place is a little bit bizarre. I think that kind of just comes with the territory. Some of them are just better at hiding it than others (if you got the reference, pat yourself on the back). Each one is so very similar, yet completely unique in their own special ways. Derelict liter coats the ground. Colorful graffiti is plastered all over the walls. Distant echoes of days long since passed still linger in the air. But this one was different. Very different. The only other place that I got a similar vibe from was the infamous Sunrise Resort many years ago. And that was the first abandoned place that we had ever explored. Walking through the grounds was just very, for lack of a better word, bizarre. It was surreal. We’re talking a whole new world living just outside the spectrum of our own. And so few of us even know of its existence. It honestly gave me a profound feeling of, “Holy shit. This place is real.” It is a rare feeling, but a cool one none the less.

This is the Mount Tom Ski Area in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Her story began 1962. Following a similar trend of many of the now abandoned ski areas we’ve covered in the past, it opened during the boom period of skiing. During this period, smaller ski slopes began to pop up all over the Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut areas. Their notable amenities included ski school, night skiing (who the Hell does that?), and a state of the art chair lift system. She thrived here for many years. But, regrettably, that trend of seasonal fun slowly began to wane in the New England area. Larger snow resort empires, particularly in Vermont, gradually began to consolidate their power over the industry. Her story ended in 1998 when she finally went out of business. Or was it just the next chapter? Though there have been several attempts at a revival, the Mount Tom Ski Area has sat here abandoned ever since. And over the years, she has become plagued with an ever increasing vandal and arson problem.

Our trip to the Mount Tom Ski Area was a weird one. We did extensive research on this place before making our visit in mid-summer of 2018. Full disclosure: we had done an interview with The Boston Globe a few weeks before. They had contacted us wanting to do a piece on urban exploration, and were going to come with us on our investigation. This, however, fell through due to legal issues. No hard feelings, though. Luckily, it was only a short drive for us. It was a brief, yet heavily sunbathed, hike to the old ski area. It lies deep in the heart of the Mount Tom reservation. Right off the bat, things got weird. As we approached the old facility, we heard music. Loud music. Followed by lots of voices. As we rounded the corner, we realized it was a party. About a dozen people, a long with a baby, were partying in the park’s old wave-pool. Unusual, but okay. We continued on. Usually we’re alone for our investigations. But there was actually a lot of people here.

We seemed to be the only one’s really interested in exploring the buildings, though. Which we did. All of them. This seems to happen a lot at abandoned places during the summer. People care less about the place, and more about having a good time. One building was completely gutted by a maliciously started fire a few years ago, and now remains fenced off. The rest of the buildings, including the main lodge, are now treasure troves of graffiti and destruction. Some old equipment was clearly left behind, but has since been destroyed. Everything here is in a serious state of decay. It was honestly some of the best examples of true urban exploration that we have ever found. Yet, strangely enough, we weren’t able to get as many good pictures as we wanted because of how many people were hanging out at the old facility. We were cautious of them at first, but eventually came to the realization that nobody really gave a shit. Its a problem we never really faced before. Still, though, I think the images we did get speak for themselves.

Mount Tom Ski Area is more than worth a look. I think the summer time setting definitely helped bring it more to life, too. The urban decay here is just really striking and raw. The color graffiti shines vibrantly in the summer sunshine. There is a lot left to see. But truly, this was a bizarre place indeed. Much like the old Sunrise Resort, I walked through this place with just an odd feeling. Everything was just so different and weird. We’re used to having to sneak around places were exploring. But not here. There was a group of young adults having a party in an empty wave pool. Some old guy was giving his family of five a guided tour of the grounds. Another young couple walked around in silence looking just as confused as us. A lone minstrel perused the abandoned buildings singing songs to himself. Yet none of these groups interacted with each other, almost like everyone was invisible to everyone else. It was all quite odd. But then again, much like abandoned places, each of one of us is just a little bit…bizarre.

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise what it is, it wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be it would, you see?” –Alice in Wonderland

Off the Beaten Path

The Abandoned Rutland Prison Camp

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Greetings, everyone. We’re back at it. Did you miss us? Of course you did. Why wouldn’t you? After a very long and very shitty winter (it’s even snowing right now as I write this piece…in April), we finally got to do some exploring last weekend for the first time since mid November of last year. It was a bit of a hike, but it was quite an adventure. Western Massachusetts has kind of become the great untapped resource for us. I keep finding more and more places up here for us to explore, yet we never really found the time to check them out. When a clear weekend finally opened up, we couldn’t resist the chance to do some exploring. The choice was between this place or Hearthstone Castle for us. Though Hearthstone seems really cool, I feel like everyone covers it. This place does not quite get the attention it deserves. Plus, it is allegedly haunted. So we decided to pay it a visit. Buried deep in the woods, at the edge (hopefully) of winter, this is the abandoned Rutland Prison Camp.

I’m going to be honest. Finding any history on this place was difficult. All people could really give me on the history of this place was that it was a prison camp in the early twentieth century and that’s it’s been abandoned for a long time. Not even the official website helped. I tried all of my usual sources on this one: YouTube, Google, Reddit, etc. Nobody seemed to have much history on this strange place. Luckily, I was able to find one site with some info. So thank you, atlasobscura.com. They really helped out. Apparently the prison camp was built to house minor offenders during the late 1800’s/early 1900’s. The guests of the prison were usually there for non-violent crimes such as public intoxication or taxation troubles. Inmates would do farm-work by day, and return to their minimum security lodgings by night. As the years went on, the camp slowly grew larger and larger. But it was abruptly abandoned in 1934 due to complications with the local water supply.

The abandoned prison camp is located in the heart of what is now Rutland State Park in Rutland, Massachusetts. It’s a nice little park, with some very picturesque views. During the off-season, the road to the prison camp is closed to traffic. But that didn’t matter to us, because we would’ve walked in anyway. If you follow anything we post here, you should know by now how much we love to hike. Also during the off-season, you don’t have to pay to park. Which was nice. I really hate having to pay to park. It was a nice day out, and there were only a couple other cars at the park when we pulled up. It was roughly two miles through the wondrous New England woods until we came upon the ruins of the abandoned camp. The farther we hiked, the more anxious I got that we weren’t going to find the ruins. But fear not. Follow the trail, and you’ll find them. Red squirrels scampered through the trees. Wild ducks quacked through the air. And we strangely didn’t encounter many other hikers.

The main trail of the park leads you right up the ruins of Rutland Prison Camp. There are three main structures still standing, all in relatively close proximity to each other. There is easy access to all three of them. Two are smaller/more compact buildings. While the main hall is much larger, and very dark inside. Much like many older cement building from the past, they show little signs of wear and tear. Besides the colorful plethora of graffiti of course. Each structure has its own unique feel to it. Darkness lurks inside, and the colorful murals of spray paint give this place a strange sense of urban beauty. There are underground tunnels that are easily accessible, but we regrettably were unable to enter them. With the snow storm the week prior, the tunnels were flooded with several feet of water. None the less, this place was very cool to explore. Clearly, though, the prison camp is a hot spot for partying and general shenanigans. There was a lot of litter inside the main hall. But this is nothing out of the ordinary for a place like this.

The abandoned Rutland Prison Camp is completely legal to visit. So if hiking and urban exploring is your thing, I would highly recommend it. We had heard plenty of rumors of this place being haunted. Speaking for myself, I felt no such ominous presence here. It is a bit isolated from the rest of the world, but I wouldn’t call it creepy or anything like that. Of course there was plenty of liter and vandalism around, but that just comes with the territory. It is kind of a hidden gem, and the hike in is very much worth it. Being able to explore this place after a two mile walk is a nice treat. Especially after a very long winter of being stuck inside all the time. It just goes to show you that you never know what lies off the beaten path. The woods keep many secrets from us. And it’s good to see that old places like the abandoned Rutland Prison Camp still survive. People may have suffered there a hundred years ago, but we are all able to enjoy it today. Happy Hunting.

Out of the Fire

The Rebirth of the Montgomery Mill

Written by: Cobra

Photographs by: Lassie

There were once many successful mills across all of New England. Dozens thrived in Connecticut alone. But as the world turns, times change. Over the years, countless of these once thriving industrial titans succumbed to darkness. But out of this darkness, light rises to meet it. For new life is now being breathed into these old mills. All across the region, abandoned mills are being redeveloped into apartment complexes. From the nearby Talcottville Mill, to several others across Massachusetts, this has become recent trend for construction firms. And each has found insurmountable success. But a new member is about to join their ranks – the once infamous Montgomery Mill.

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. 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…until now.

With an expected date of completion being the summer of 2019, construction will soon commence on the formerly abandoned mill shortly. With its nesting bald eagles having moved out, the Montgomery Mill is now once again open for business. Naturally, we had to pay her one last visit before her dramatic reconstruction. Since the eagles moved on, the Connecticut River Canal trail was once again open, and it passes right alongside the old mill. One thing we found very interesting was the new program inviting passerby’s to hang hubcaps on the walls of the mill, to cover nasty graffiti on the walls. But the old mill is definitely ready to move on, and we couldn’t be happier to hear of her redevelopment.

It wasn’t so much saying goodbye. It was more like… see you later.

For more information, please see the Hartford Courant:

http://www.courant.com/real-estate/property-line/hc-biz-windsor-locks-montgomery-mills-redevelopment-20180103-story.html

Winter is Coming

The Abandoned Rocky Hill Quarry

Written by: Cobra

Photographs by: Lassie

Winter is coming. The leaves have fallen from the trees. The temperature has dropped. It started snowing on my ride into the studio this morning, which I was totally not expecting. If you’re not familiar with it, New England’s winter can be unpredictable and unforgiving. One day it will be beautiful, the next it will be brutal. Plus with the chaos of the holiday season fast approaching, things usually slow down for us a bit here at Abandoned Wonders. Winter is just not a great time for exploring. So we decided to get one last big adventure in before the outdoor season comes to an end. And what better place than the abandoned Rocky Hill Quarry?

Located in the nearby Rocky Hill, Connecticut, Quarry Park was a place I had never heard of. Credit to this find actually goes to onlyinyourstate.com, which is an excellent place to find fun hikes and places to visit. They recently included this park in one of their articles,  and being so close to us, we naturally had to go check it out. For years, Rocky Hill Quarry was a large and profitable business. But times change. Following the closure of the quarry in the 1950’s, the land was eventually rechristened as Quarry Park. With an excellent view of the town and a nice two-mile hike, it is well worth a visit. But it is what’s left of the old quarry that make this place interesting.

The first item to greet you on the walk are the ruins of what is identified on the map as a 1936 Buick, which is now only a rusted hunk of metal. Much further down the line, off a side trail, is what we believe is called The Cave. A short, but rather steep, climb up the rock face will bring you to the first real signs of the abandoned quarry. A few pieces of old machinery rot into the earth, but an old tunnel runs into the side of the cliff. Inside is just one large empty room. Though it is clearly frequented by someone given the contents we found inside. And, much like most stops on this trip, everything was coated in colorful graffiti.

A bit farther down the trail are what remains of the old compressor house and machinery. At quick glance, this place looked very much like some old ancient ruins. With its large stone pillars and intricate design, it makes for a very interesting sight. The layers of vibrant graffiti almost breathe new life into these old structures. The compressor house itself is large and open inside, with a big window in the middle of the ceiling. Many of its old items (including a door, mattress, tools, and a lawnmower) lie strewn about outside it. All kinds of old metal and rocks coat the ground, so always watch your step.

If this is the last place we get to visit this season, I will not be disappointed. The abandoned Rocky Hill Quarry is more than worth a look. Despite the cold, it was a really nice hike and we were able to get some excellent photographs. It is a very unique place, reminding me very much of Fort Wetherill in Rhode Island. Here massive stone structures are a relic from another era, that show no signs of breaking down. And the colorful coat of graffiti makes what should be a dreary place into a far more fascinating one. So if you have time, definitely consider visiting this one sometime soon. After all, winter is coming.

Welcome Home

The Abandoned Marlborough Commons

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Marlborough, Connecticut, is and always will be my home at heart. I grew up here. I spent my entire childhood and young adult life here. I know this town like no other, especially growing up in the time where kids used their bikes to get everywhere. But as much as I love this little town, so many things have changed about it. Many of the smaller local businesses are no more. Construction is underway on a large supermarket. And many of the people I once knew have moved on. It is simply the way of life. We have covered the abandoned Marlborough Commons shopping center in the past. But several years later, it has taken a grim turn for the worse.

 A mere stone’s throw from the now hustling and bustling center of town lies the now abandoned Marlborough Commons. I can’t tell you exactly what year it officially went under, but I do know that this place never quite picked up traction as a local business. Maybe it was their location, sitting pretty right off the entrance/exit ramp from Route 2. From what I remember, it was always a two-floor business complex with the restaurant a bit further down the lot. Many different establishments came and went from here, none sticking around for too long. The complex limped on as long as it could, and has now sat empty and deserted for almost ten long years.

On a beautiful summer day in 2017, we decided to pay the Marlborough Commons a visit. Though it is still listed as FOR SALE, we did not encounter a single NO TRESPASSING, KEEP OUT, or PRIVATE PROPERTY sign anywhere on the property. Since the almost three years since our last visit, the Commons has certainly entered a downward spiral. The once minimal vandalism has run rampant at this former shopping center. Windows have been smashed. Doors have been boarded up. Graffiti stains the old brick walls. Farther down the lot, the old cafe is slowly being engulfed by the wild and hungry vegetation.  Nature, much like the vandals, has struck back in a big way.

They say the older we get, the more things we have to leave behind. That’s life. And as my old hometown grows and grows, places like the Marlborough Commons seemingly get left behind. Most of the old businesses I grew up with are now gone. It is sad to see what was once a cornerstone of our local community now sitting in a state of such disrepair. But like I said, a big FOR SALE sign sits out front. The Marlborough Commons is not beyond salvageable yet. I hope to see her rise again someday, stranger things have happened. And if I’ve learned anything growing up in this lovable little community, it’s that you can never count the town of Marlborough out.