Posts Tagged ‘home sweet home’

Fallen Attraction

The Abandoned Gillette Castle Railroad

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

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

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

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

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

Welcome Home

The Abandoned Marlborough Commons

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

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.

My Sweet Summer

The Abandoned Case Cabin

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

What is it about summer time that makes it so magical? To me, it always seems like the shortest season. When I was a kid, August was my least favorite month of the year. And it was because the shadow of September and the dread of going back to school made it so hard to enjoy anything. But July, that was always the best. Vacations. Ice cream. The beach. Hiking. All the best summer memories come from July. And yet it always feels like the shortest month of the year. You had no worries about school, or homework. All that mattered was having fun. But I guess that’s just the brevity of human existence. Enjoy what you can while you can, because time stands still for no man. And few places we have ever visited have experienced such an extreme fall from grace as the once adored now abandoned Case Cabin.

In 1862, two brothers of the well-known Case family purchased two acres around the beautiful Case Reservoir in Manchester, Connecticut, and this is where they built their summer home. The Case family were successful industrialists from the area who owned and operated multiple factories and processing plants. The exquisite log cabin was first built in 1917 using sturdy chestnut wood from the neighboring forests. Throughout the early twentieth century, this place was the vacation paradise of the wealthy Case family. But much like the summer beauty, the prestige of this wondrous place eventually waned. The prestige of the family slowly came to end, and the summer home was eventually left behind.

We have visited Case Cabin many times over the years. And with each passing visit, the magic of the grounds disappears ever so slightly. And this was the visit for us where the most changes had been made to the grounds. There was a time where there were no fences, security systems, and renovations. The back and side decks were once accessible, now removed from existence. The entire back house has even been demolished at this point, leaving only a bare foundation of stone walls and broken memories. While a family of chubby bunnies now happily resides within the perimeter, the entire Case Cabin has been sealed off by a chain link fence. A few yards away, the boat house still stands. An old swimming ladder still pokes out of the nearby pond.

Much like the passing days of summer, the time for Case Cabin seems to be sadly drawing to a close. Though she was once enjoyed by the local high society, today she is nothing more than a withering spirit. She is lost to the slow decay of time, at the mercy of the unstoppable sands of the hourglass. But that’s what makes places like this, and summer itself, enjoyable. We know that our time is short, which is what drives us to make the best and most out of each moment. She once had a flourishing history and pedigree. But those days are gone. The sun is slowly setting on this once wondrous and wealthy place. Case Cabin will inevitably be gone someday. But the memories will always be with us.

“The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.” -Troy (2004)

Wolves Not Far – The Abandoned Manchester Drive-In

Posted: May 1, 2017 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cinema, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, Abandoned Fairgrounds, abandoned home, Abandoned House, abandoned new england, Abandoned Theaters, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Bolton, Broken, Cinema, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Manchester, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, State Parks, Stories, Theater, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing
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Wolves Not Far

The Abandoned Manchester Drive-In

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

We’ve had several encounters with homeless people in the past. I think every experienced urban explorer can say the same. We’ve come across empty tent cities. We’ve heard whispers in dark tunnels. And there are some places where you simply cannot shake the feeling that you are being watched. But this place was different. We hadn’t been to the abandoned Manchester Drive-In since the main lot had been cleared of brush. On our last visit, we thought all there was left to see of this place was old screen still looming high in the sky, along with a few old signs and speakers. But we were wrong. We don’t know who cleared it, but the massive amounts of vegetation have been pealed back to reveal what was once thought to be gone. And apparently, it didn’t take long for the lost and weary to claim this new place as their own.

 Opened in the early 1950’s, the Manchester Drive-In was one of many drive-in theaters to pop up in Connecticut during this time period. As opposed to the drive-in theaters of today, Manchester had only one screen. It could hold over five hundred cars per showing. But over the years, the excitement and the wonder of drive-in movie theaters began to wane. Most of the theaters across the state began to steadily close their doors, including the Manchester Drive-In. Unfortunately, the theater went out of business in the early 1980’s where it sat empty and abandoned for almost twenty years. It was finally purchased locally in 2006 to become a park along the Hop River in Bolton, Connecticut. Today, the former drive-in theater that once held over five hundred eager movie goers is now nothing more than a ruin.

When the brush had been cleared, the old snack bar was exhumed from her resting place. We had long thought that it was gone forever, collapsing under the weight of time. It is beckoning to all in search of exploration. But adventurer’s beware. Inside this old snack bar resides people that do not wish to be disturbed. In the guest sign-in for the park, we found some rather menacing messages: “I will f**king kill anyone who goes to the snack bar,” “Beware the Hobo Camp,” and “Wolves Not Far.” This could all be for nothing. But on our approach toward the old snack bar, we heard music coming from the backroom. As we made our way inside, the music suddenly stopped. Something stirred in the shadows. Whispers emerged from the darkness. We clearly were not welcome here, and didn’t stick around to say hello.

When someone does not want to be disturbed, we have always found it best to not disturb them. Especially when we find some rather threatening messages. The abandoned Manchester Drive-In is well worth a visit, and totally legal to do so as part of the state park. It is a very nice hike, and the old screen is always something to marvel at. Just be careful around the snack bar. Someone is clearly living here, and all they want is to be left alone. It is best to oblige them. All I know is that this is a far different place than the one I remembered. The last time we were here, this giant building was so engulfed by plants that it was invisible to passer-byes.  We honestly thought that it had collapsed years ago. But now that the brush has been cleared, the snack bar is once again open, but not for business.

Winter’s Chill – The Abandoned Blackledge Beach Houses

Posted: March 31, 2017 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Farm, abandoned home, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned new england, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Broken, Cabin, Closed, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Haunting, Hiking, History, House, Information, left behind, lost, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, Ocean, Ocean View, overgrown, photography, research, Rhode Island, Ruins, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex
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Winter’s Chill

The Abandoned Blackledge Beach Houses

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

“So fair. Yet so cold. Like a morning of pale Spring still clinging to Winter’s chill.” – Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

We’ve all felt it. Those of us here in New England have felt it pretty viciously this season; the icy grasp of winter as she chokes the life out of the green world around her. It seems like this year, just as you think winter is finally over and spring has sprung, it comes right back with a vengeance. This has prevented us from exploring a few of the new places we’ve been planning to explore. Every time we plan on exploring a new place, a big pile of snow gets dumped from the clouds and into our path.

Lucky for us, we were able to snap a few pictures while driving around. I wish I could tell you more about this place, but I haven’t been able to find anything about it. These abandoned beach houses sit alongside a slowly thawing lake. We would have gotten closer, but the friendly neighborhood watchdogs wouldn’t let us get any closer. Unfortunately, they will have to do for now. Soon the ice will melt. The snow will disappear.  And spring shall finally break the icy hold of winter’s chill. Stay tuned.

Top 5 Abandoned Places that Aren’t There Anymore

Posted: February 22, 2017 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Baseball Field, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Fairgrounds, abandoned home, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, abandoned mill, abandoned new england, abandoned paper mill, Abandoned Resort, Abandoned Sanatorium, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Cabin, Children's Hospital, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, East Haddam Connecticut, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Information, left behind, lost, Meriden CT, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, paper mill, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, Sunrise Resort, Talcottville Mill, Uncategorized, Undercliff Sanatorium, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex
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Top 5 Abandoned Places that Aren’t There Anymore

Guess what? It’s still winter, and there’s still a ton of snow on the ground. It’s hindered us from several planned urban exploration journeys this month. But we really like to keep getting things out there for our followers to read. We really do appreciate your support. Since the last few Top 5 Lists we’ve published lately have gotten some decent views, let’s keep this going. Parting is such sweet sorrow, and there are several abandoned places we’ve covered here on our site that regrettably have been demolished since we’ve visited them. Here are the Top 5 Abandoned Places that Aren’t There Anymore.

#5 – The Green House, Andover, Connecticut

The Green House was an absolute chill in the bone to visit. We had been covering abandoned places for several years at this point. But for some reason, this abandoned house was really disturbing to me. Literally everything had been left behind. Toys. Clothes. Furniture. Workout equipment. Hell, there was even still food in the fridge. It was like whoever lived here had just disappeared one day. But recently, the entire house has been refinished. All the trash has been cleaned out. The siding has been replaced. It looks like a brand new house. She is either currently for sale, or already been sold. While she was once a terribly haunting specter of her former self, her story actually got a happy ending.

#4 – Norton Paper Mill, Colchester, Connecticut

I grew up right down the street from this place. I used to drive by it all the time on my way to the coast. After a raging fire had left this place totally gutted, she simply stood there for many years as a ghostly skeleton. The entire place was fenced off, but you could still see the remnants of what this place used to be. In the last few months, the property has been reacquired by the town of Colchester, and been scheduled for demolition. The damn that was once the life source of the mill has already been removed, and what still stands of her bare remains is next on the chopping block. But it is all done in the name of the environment. With the damn removed, fish can now swim up the river. And with the old mill gone, she can finally rest in piece.

#3 – Talcottville Mill, Vernon, Connecticut

Back in 2015, we named this place the #1 abandoned place we had visited that year. It earned that honor for a reason, as this place was huge and captivating. There was so much to see here, with massive amounts of space simply left behind. But today, that is no more. Shortly after our visit to the historic Talcottville Mill, funding was approved by the local government to redevelop the area into apartment complexes. The work got underway shortly after that, and continues as we speak. The property has stood for almost 150 years, and after being abandoned for some time, is finally getting a makeover. After sitting silently for far too long, the historic Talcottville Mill will finally be working to serve the local community once again.

#2 – Undercliff Sanatorium, Meriden, Connecticut

To date, this is still my favorite abandoned place that I have ever explored. And though she is now long gone, she will always hold a special place in my heart. Even after all these years she still remains such a mystery. Once heralded as one of the most haunted places in all of Connecticut, Undercliff Sanatorium had quite the story. Serving for years as a state hospital and institution, the main hospital was closed in the 1970’s. Though the rest of the grounds remained operational. For years, she was a major target for urban explorers and ghost hunters. Many legends and stories abounded about this place. And I can tell you from experience, it more than lived up to its reputation. Sadly, the main hospital was razed beginning in 2013. Though we have yet to make a return trip, I am sure that the ghosts of Undercliff still haunt these wooded grounds.

#1 – Sunrise Resort, East Haddam, Connecticut

Of course it was going to be this. It’s no secret that this was our first exploration. We even did a three part piece on it a few years ago. And anyone who was around to explore this place before it was demolished should know why this place has earned the top stop. Sunrise Resort was functional and flourishing for years. I even went there once a kid for a class picnic. Returning to it years later after its closure was breathtaking. Windows were smashed. Copper wiring was ripped from the walls. The massive in-ground pool had been drained. The baseball field had grown wild and dangerous. It was an apocalyptic ghost town. The scariest part of all? It was all legal to visit, due to its status as a state park. But sadly, that was her undoing as certain state officials pushed hard for her demolition. And it was all for the best. Today, Sunrise State Park can now be enjoyed by all. And if you look close enough, you can still see the shadows of the former resort.

And that’s our list! Know of any other great abandoned places that aren’t there anymore? Please leave us a comment! We look forward to hopefully getting some new material out here soon!

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.