Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

Imaginary Monsters

The Abandoned Downs Road

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Our imaginations can be fickle things. Sometimes our minds can play tricks on us. Sometimes we can play tricks on our minds. Is it the truth of the mind or the truth of the eyes that can be trusted most? There is a place where the two find a strange sort of middle ground: where both reality and fantasy become one strange amalgamation. The woods of Bethany, Connecticut, are certainly one of the most haunting forests I have ever trekked through. And I was an Eagle Scout. Nestled deep within their fiery core lies a place that time seems to have forgotten. It is a place that has seen more myths and stories pop up about it than any other abandoned place we’ve visited – Downs Road.

There really isn’t much to say about the history of Downs Road. It is a wooded stretch of road that once connected the towns of Bethany and Hamden, Connecticut. But some hundred years ago, a bypass occurred that left a fraction of the road abandoned. Since then, it has become a mythical breeding ground of rumors, urban legends, and haunting. Stories of ghosts, monsters, and all sorts of paranormal madness have been told over the years. Some say they have seen ghosts and other spirits haunting the forest. Others claim to have encountered a wild feral group of humans. It is unclear how or why all of these stories came to be. But clearly people are seeing and/or experiencing something on this lost lonely road.

We made the trek to Downs Road during the early days of Summer 2017. A fierce and torrential rain had just subsided, giving way to clear blue skies. We parked at the Bethany end of the road, greeted by several old stop signs and a yellow gate. The property is apparently owned by the local water company, but we did not find any NO TRESPASSING signs along the road. A walk down it is like a walk into a dreamland. A mere few steps along the path plunges you into a peacefully lively forest. The road is paved at certain points, yet mostly rubble at others. Running alongside it are many old crumbling foundations from days long since passed. The mysterious woods run wild as far as the eye can see.

Sometimes our eyes see what we want them to see. As I passed through the abandoned Downs Road, I could not shake the feeling that I was being watched. Shadows darted around the corners of the tall trees. Though only a short distance from civilization, the forest is as quiet as a tomb. And while we encountered no monsters on our trip, there is certainly a foreboding presence about this place.  I’m not sure what people are seeing out here in these mysterious woods. But it is undeniable that there is some sort of mystique about this place that separates it from all others. Maybe all the legends and stories just give it a bad rep. Or maybe it is something more…

 

Days Gone By

The Abandoned Car Graveyard

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

We’ve been covering a lot of outdoor stuff recently. But hell, with the weather having been so nice lately, and after a really shitty winter, why not? This place has always been one of my favorites to visit. And before you ask, no we will not be revealing the location of it. People have inquired to us in the past about finding it so in an attempt to scavenge metal and parts from the wrecks. So in an effort to preserve them, we will regrettably not be saying how to find this graveyard. Apologies. But what I can tell you is that it rests alongside the banks of a quiet river on the far reaches of the state. It is quiet as a tomb, and almost entirely untouched by the hands of man.

To the untrained eye, this is merely a quiet wooded area. The only sounds are the faint chirping of the birds and the ambiance of the running river. Unfortunately these woods were also full of ticks. We pulled twelve of those little suckers off us combined. But past the old broken bridge and up the wooded pass lies the most unique graveyard I have ever seen. In place of a line of tombstones, the wrecks of a half dozen classic cars and trucks lie deteriorating into the forest floor. Snakes roam about their interiors. Frightened families of mice roost in their rusted roofs. And these once priceless beauties are now nothing more than piles of junk.

 I have tried to find information about the history or story of this graveyard, but have yet to uncover anything. If anyone has any information, we’d be happy to hear it. How did these old cars get here? The road and any nearby homes are in fact a good distance away. Who did they belong to? Surely someone a long time ago must have once cared for these old wrecks. What strange chain of events led them to their current state? It’s not everyday you see a graveyard of old cars. In good condition, some of these may have been worth a fortune today. In the days gone by, they were once beloved and reliable machines. But now they rot in pieces in a forgotten section of the wild woods.

“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” -Ecclesiastes 1:4-11  

Up Horsebarn Hill

The Abandoned UCONN Ski Slope

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

We’ve taken a walk up Horsebarn Hill several times in the past. It’s beautiful out there. It is a much needed touch of farm life a mere stone’s throw away from a hustling and bustling city. Going to school close by, and having many friends up on the campus, the University of Connecticut is a place that I am all too familiar with. But what’s special about this campus is no matter how much you think you know about it, it can still surprise you. We have covered the abandoned corners of UCONN in the past, such as the Depot Campus. And we had heard rumors about the old ski slope for a long time. But now, after all this waiting, we finally went looking for it.

Opening in the 1960’s, the UCONN Ski Slope was at first a booming attraction. Open to both the public and the student body, it was one of many smaller skiing areas to pop up in the area as the sport began to reach its popularity. Sadly, though, most of these smaller ski areas did not survive for long. It was a single slope attraction, featuring a rope tow system to the top of the hill and a few smaller buildings to boot. The UCONN Ski Slope eventually faced its closure a mere ten years later due to budgetary restrictions and a changing climate. It is now a piece of history lost to the wilderness, and something that the campus seems to want to forget.

It was a beautiful Saturday in the waning days of Spring 2017 . We made the trek through the woods and onto Horsebarn Hill, but found only the skeletal remains of the UCONN Ski Slope. Any and all buildings have been lost to the heavy hands of time. The ghostly rope tow system still leads straight to the top of the hill, though her path is now only used by the local deer and coyotes (which we encountered both of on our trip). A few old rusted pieces of metal lie amongst the underbrush. And the main hub of the rope system still stands at the bottom of the hill…barely. Still, it is a very nice hike through what may be the quietest corner of the UCONN campus.

If you’re up for an adventure, take a walk up Horsebarn Hill sometime. You never know what you’ll come across.

Top 5 Abandoned Places to Go Hiking

Posted: March 20, 2017 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, abandoned home, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, abandoned military bases, abandoned mill, abandoned new england, Abandoned Railway, Abandoned train station, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Berkshires, Bolton, Broken, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, dreams, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Fortress, Forts, Graveyard, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, Massachusetts, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, nature, new england, Nike Missile Base, overgrown, photography, Portland, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Williamtic, writing
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Top 5 Abandoned Places to Go Hiking

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Hiking is the whole reason we ever got into this. We accidentally stumbled upon the abandoned Sunrise Resort while hiking at a state park in Moodus. The rest is history. When we plot an investigation, it is usually to go explore something like a big abandoned building. But every once in awhile, we come across a place that may not be as exciting as an abandoned asylum but is still a fun place to hike. There may not be too much to see, but its nice to just be outdoors and do some exploring. Here are a few of our favorite abandoned places across New England to go hiking!

#5 – Manchester Drive-In (Manchester, CT)

This is another place that we just accidentally stumbled upon. While driving home from the office, I would see a large skeletal frame looming out of the woods. I thought it was just an old billboard, but upon further exploration we uncovered that it was actually the ruins of the old Manchester Drive-In movie theater. Unfortunately, there is not much to see here. But the old sign still sits out front, and the old screen looms high and daunting in the sky. With good weather, it is a really nice hike.

#4 – Aspinwall Hotel (Lenox, MA)

And once again, this was another place we just found. We were staying up in the Berkshires as I had a big audition up there. We went for a short walk by our hotel, and found the ruins of the Aspinwall Hotel. Once one of the most popular hotels in all of New England, this former hotspot was burned to the ground at the turn of the century. Now only ghostly ruins still stand all over the woods. But the picturesque mountain view and the lovely wooded setting make this one a very cool visit.

#3 – Willimantic River Railway (Willimantic, CT)

This place can be a little spooky. It was once part of the lifeblood of the rail system all along the East Coast. Now, she is nothing more than a shadow of her former self. The local homeless population uses this area from time to time as a makeshift tent community. But they periodically seem to get kicked out. Plus stretching over the untamed Willimantic River still stands the old tressell, aka The Bridge of Death. Crossing it is certainly one thing that we crossed off our bucket list. Watch your step, and don’t look down.

#2 – Shade Swamp Shelter (Farmington, CT)

This is certainly one of the more unique and underrated places that we have ever visited. It really doesn’t get enough attention. Once a wildlife shelter and sanctuary, this historic landmark now sits empty in the middle of the woods just off a very busy road. Along a winding trail, there are dozens of old enclosures, cages, and habitats that once housed the former residents of this shelter. On a nice sunny day, this place is not only great for hiking but is also a treasure trove for all you nature photographers out there.

#1 – Nike Missile Site (Portland, CT)

Our number one pick just happens to be in the middle of a state forest. It may be a gigantic pain in the ass to get to, but its really worth it if you can make the trip. Unpaved roads, untamed wilderness, and a total lack of other people can hinder your journey. But if you can find the lost Nike Missile site deep in the woods, you’re in for a real treat. The two sites are about a mile from each other. One features a few still standing structures. The other still has its tunnel system (which we recommend you stay out of). Of all the places on this list, this one is truly all about exploration.

And that’s our list! Got any other places you think are great for hiking? Be sure to let us know! Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe.

One Day Too Late

The Abandoned Ladd School

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Let me start this off by saying that this was a spontaneous visit. We didn’t really plan on searching for this lost legend, it just happened to be on our way. Rhode Island is one of my favorite places to visit in all of New England. I make several trips a year up there to work on movies, but its rare we go up there together to explore abandoned places. We had just finished our exploration of the Enchanted Forest, and were on our way to an audition of mine. I had heard many stories about the Ladd School. Some said that it had been demolished years ago. Others said that pieces of it still stood. A quick stop at Google Maps and around the web proved to be inconclusive. Some said it had been destroyed. Others said that certain buildings could still be seen and explored. With its location a mere stone’s throw away from us, we decided to check it out. It appears now that we were too late.

Much like most mental institutions in the area, the Ladd School has seen many different names and purposes over the years. Before earning its current name, the facility was formerly known as “The Exeter School” and “The Rhode Island School for the Feeble Minded.” Opening in the early 1900’s, the institution began as an experimental program to train the intellectually disabled on basic life and farm skills. But over the years the Ladd School evolved into something else entirely. Unfortunately, much like most similar institutions, she suffered from overcrowding, public disapproval, and scandals. She limped on up until 1993, when her doors were finally closed for good. For years, she was left empty and desolate. She became a hotspot for local ghost hunters and independent film makers. The order for her demolition finally came a few years later. Certain buildings were razed, others found life by being re-purposed.

When we arrived on the grounds on that chilly early March day, it was hard to believe that this was once one of the most well known schools in the area. The grounds are unrecognizable today. We drive around for a long time without finding anything that even resembling the stories we had read. There was a large soccer field there. A few multi-purpose buildings stood around. Large groups of people were jogging and/or walking around the grounds. We almost thought we were in the wrong place. Until we came upon a quiet pocket of the area. Standing far off from any visitors was a memorial for the old grounds. Protected by a stone wall, it almost looked like a graveyard. But in the center of it all sits a plaque detailing the history of the Ladd School. It appears that this may be all that is left of the now famous school. There may be more evidence out there, but we weren’t able to find it. It seems that the old Ladd School is gone. All that remains is this quiet memorial, and memories long since passed.

Black Diamond – The Abandoned Hogback Mountain Ski Area

Posted: December 21, 2016 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, abandoned home, Abandoned House, abandoned new england, Abandoned Resort, Abandoned Ski Area, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Bird Watching, Birds, Broken, Cabin, Closed, commercial, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Hogback Mountain, House, Information, left behind, lost, Marlborough, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Vermont, writing
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Black Diamond

The Abandoned Hogback Mountain Ski Area

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

I have lived in New England my entire life. I was born here, and I will probably die here too. But I’ve never been a skier. I tried snowboarding when I was a kid. But after splitting my face open a few too many times I eventually outgrew it. Up here in New England, skiing is one of our biggest draws and most memorable past times. Most of you reading this probably know a skier, or even are one yourself. My next door neighbors were all skiers when I was growing up. They even had their own personal lodge up in the mountains. Ski Club was also the largest club at my high school. And the big place where it’s most common? Vermont. This was my first time back here in many years. It was a place I used to visit annually back in the Scouts. Believe it or not this was our first investigation up in the Green Mountain State. And it did not disappoint.

Bordering New York State and the Canadian border, Vermont is one of the most picturesque places in all of New England. It has rolling hills, quiet forests, and an old school mountain culture. Tourism is a big thing here, and the jewel in that crown is skiing. It has been a large part of Vermont’s heritage throughout the years. Many ski areas, such as Mount Snow and Smuggler’s Notch, have become local juggernauts in the business. But many have not been as successful. In southern Vermont is the heavily trafficked Hogback Mountain Conservation Area. But little do most tourists seem to know is that this was once the Hogback Mountain ski area. Opening in the years following World War II, the ski area found moderate success but was eventually forced to fold in the 1980’s due to declining attendance. The land was then sold off to the local community and rechristened.

Right along the busy Route 9 in Marlboro, Vermont, is the Hogback Mountain Tourist Area. You really can’t miss it. You round a corner, and boom. People are everywhere. Cars from all over the world are pulled over at the makeshift parking lot to get a glimpse of the gorgeous mountain view and pick up some campy souvenirs at the gift shop. Their cheese is actually pretty good though. But sitting just off to the side of this tourist attraction are the ghosts of what once was. A short walk to the right from the tourist area is what remains of the ski slope. A small wooden shed still stands, and bears the name of “Hogback Mountain Ski Area.” A large number of old tools and skis have been left behind inside. Though they are now coated with dust, it appears they were simply throw to the floor and forgotten about. Luckily, we found very little signs of vandalism.

The star attraction of the ski area though has got to be the remains of the old chair lift. A large turbine still stands glistened in the sunlight, though she is now rusted to all Hell. The two large wheels which once brought skiers to the top of the slope are now nothing more than tattered ruins. We tried to follow the old slope up the mountain, but the vegetation was too thick. There may be more up there, but we could not find a way up. Walking back to the left of the ski area are what we believe to be the remains of the lodge. A large white building, she now sits precariously close the edge of the mountain. She looks so structurally unsound, its remarkable she’s still standing at all. A few pieces of old furniture still wait inside for someone to return to them. Peeking in through the window was almost like taking a peek back in time.

For our first investigation in the great state of Vermont, this was certainly an interesting visit. I personally found it fascinating to see so many people flocking to the tourist area, and yet experiencing total solitude mere yards away at the ruins of the ski area. It has become a ghost to the rest of the community, haunting the mountain with the memories of its former glory. It is indeed curious why these old relics where not demolished when the land was sold off. While other ski areas flourish and thrive, this one was forced to close up shop. It is good that the land has found another use, and that so many people from so many places can now enjoy it. But it is still sad to see a place like this in a state such as that. For life, as we all know, is a lot like a ski slope. Some are able to navigate it all the way to the bottom and enjoy the ride. Most of us, however, just end up falling on our asses.

Lock the Gates – The Abandoned Seaside Sanatorium

Posted: November 29, 2016 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, abandoned home, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, abandoned new england, Abandoned Sanatorium, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Bird Watching, Birds, Broken, Children, Children's Hospital, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, 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, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Waterford, writing
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Lock the Gates

The Abandoned Seaside Sanatorium

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Lock the gates. Bar the doors. Bolt the latch. Close up shop. You don’t have to go home. But you can’t stay here. Much that once was is now gone. We have certain traditions here at Abandoned Wonders. We like to look up places on Google Maps before visiting them, so we can figure out precisely where to go. We like to eat at Ruby Tuesday’s after exploring a cool place, just for the salad bar and Mr. Pibb. And we visit certain places once a year because they are just so damn cool. Seaside Sanatorium is one of those places. Sitting smack dab on the beautiful shores of Long Island Sound, Seaside Sanatorium really is one of the most picturesque abandoned places in all of New England. But this year, things have taken a turn for the worse. We are sad to say that this once abandoned wonder will never be the same.

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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.

Like I said before, this was our fourth visit to the grounds in the last four years. Earlier this year, we published a video about Seaside using footage that we acquired last summer. Several of our readers were quick to point out that there are now chain link fences surrounding all of the main hospital buildings. Naturally, we had to go investigate. In the waning days of the summer 2016, we returned to visit our old friend. I can honestly say that things have changed. A lot. Indeed there are fences everywhere. The beast of the abandoned hospital has been caged, as has the old nurse’s building. Most heartbreaking of all, the old playground has been removed. Seeing this amazing and hauntingly beautiful old building now locked up was a sad sight indeed. It is not the thought of not being able to get inside anymore that makes it tragic. Its more that the fences mark what more than likely is the beginning of the end for Seaside Sanatorium.

Much like our previous visit, there were plenty of beach goers frequenting the grounds. And just like last year, none of them even seem to notice the giant abandoned hospital sitting right in front of them. Plenty of these people gave us weird looks as they watched us take pictures. One other young photographer was there though, which was a nice site to see. Even though she kept getting into our shots. One family even seemed to be camping out on the beach. Something that is interesting though is that state security guards have returned to the grounds. On our previous two visits, we couldn’t take one step without being followed by a security guard, though they were all very courteous and more than happy to talk about the abandoned hospital. Last year we were there for a whole day, and didn’t see a single one. But today, a very nice guard kept watch over the grounds and all of the beach people. And the work on the hospital is clearly far from over. Plenty of construction equipment and tools lie in the fenced off sections of the grounds.

The grounds have been officially commissioned as a State Park, and the old hospital buildings have also been named to the National Register of Historic Places. It is both rewarding and depressing to see the grounds in their current state. While the protective fences keep bad people out, it is also sad to see this former hospital trapped behind bars. State workers have been working to make the grounds safer to visitors, and allegedly considering several different options of what to do with the grounds. It is an ongoing process, but fortunately is one that seems to make progress. But until its final judgement day, the grounds of Seaside Sanatorium now sit under lock and key. Even the fabled ospreay seemed to have moved off. Over the last two years we’ve seen a flourishing family of them taking up residence in the chimney of the nurse’s building. But today, there was only one. She cawed in loneliness to the great blue ocean before her. Maybe the rest of her family is still out there. Or maybe those days are long gone.