Posts Tagged ‘Photographs’

Finders Keepers

The Abandoned Above All Radar Station

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

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

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

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

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

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

Who Goes There?

The Abandoned Union Mill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Abandoned places can be very fickle things. Some are cast aside, left to rot on their own. The world quickly forgets about them and wants nothing to do with them. Others lie dormant for years, but eventually find their resurgence. Old mills are converted to apartment buildings. Failed businesses are resurrected with new ideas. Colossal historical landmarks become preserved ruins and tourist attractions. But there is sometimes a darker side to all of this. Some abandoned places become black holes when they are cast out into the cold. Having failed at their calling purpose, they eventually turn into something ugly. And that is what we have here today. It was once a thriving staple of the local community, wearing many different hats over the years. Now, it is nothing more than a dark and twisted reflection of its former self. This, among other things, are what make this place so unique. And while so many people know about it, very few seem to know how it got this way.

I have yet to really find a concrete name for this mysterious place. I’m just calling it Union Mill because of it’s proximity to Union Pond. But everyone in Manchester knows about it. The mill was first built in the early 1900’s, working with both wool and paper. Located alongside the Hockanum River, the mill was at an ideal crossroads in the town of Manchester. It was unfortunately forced to close down around the turn of the century after polluting the nearby Union Pond. After this, the facility was purchased by the Boticelo Corporation, and started a new life as a recycling center. This, sadly, also wasn’t meant to be. After a few short years, the Union Mill was forced to close its doors once again. This time for good. The ground are allegedly now owned by CL&P, and supposed to be still up for sale. I talked to some people who said they once used the abandoned mill as a makeshift skate park. Many others steer clear of this place due to the number of unsavory characters said to stalk the halls at night.

Finding the abandoned Union Mill isn’t too difficult. As I said, it is right smack along the side of a very busy intersection in Manchester. If you know where to look, you will find it very easily. We had talked about investigating this place for a long while now. We had just never found the time to go take a look around. Having lived in Manchester, we had driven past it many times. Sometimes it looked like it was being demolished. Sometimes it didn’t. But one summer afternoon, we decided to go looking for it. After taking a short walk through the woods, we came upon the abandoned mill. There was not a single NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT sign on our way in. And once you arrive at the abandoned property, everything seems to just fall silent. There were no birds singing. The summer bugs all seemed to disappear. And even though a busy road was right through the trees, the mill was quiet as a tomb when we arrived. That said, it didn’t take long for us to get the feeling that we were being watched.

There is plenty of old equipment, broken bottles, and discarded trash littering the wasteland. Colorful and kooky graffiti coats the rafters. Many old fire pits have stained sections of the cement floor pitch black. Vines and vegetation grow from any facet of building they can reach. But other than the liter, the warehouses are shockingly devoid. It was a breezy summer day. And each little burst of wind caused the very foundation of this place to tremble. There were times walking around the abandoned mill that I thought it was going to collapse at any second. You can still get upstairs in a few places. Just watch your step, as everything in here feels incredibly precarious. Plus we found evidence of somebody living up there. Some demolition has obviously been done. The main chimney has endured a lot of vandalism, but still stands silently tall at the front. Clearly someone is checking up on this place, as there are many paths through the undergrowth that guide you from section to section of the mill.

As we began to head out from the mill, I saw the shadow of a person from the other side of the main wall. It followed us as we began to move out. They were not chasing us. Just slowly trailing a few steps behind us. No noise was made. The shadow just moved through the outside underbrush after us. This was honestly one of the very few times I’ve felt genuinely nervous while out exploring. I am not ashamed to admit that. Whoever it was stopped pursuing us once we cleared the main gate. From the moment we arrived, I knew someone…or something was watching us. It is a feeling you just can’t shake. This place has quite the reputation for being a haven of the outcasts. And as we learned that day, this reputation is justly deserved. It was probably just a homeless individual keeping watch over their spot. But still. You can never be too careful, especially in a place like this. The sounds of work and jobs are gone from here, now. Only mystery remains.

Hymn for the Missing

The Abandoned Floydville Church

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I am not a religious man. I think I have made that clear many times during the four years I’ve been writing for this site. I was raised to be Catholic growing up. Hell, I even had to go to Catechism every other week when I was in elementary school. But the more I saw of the world, the less I believed in organized religion. I eventually fell out of it all together and became a practicing Atheist. But with all that said, I very much respect the solace and the comfort that religion brings to people. The sense of community and shared belief is something that warms my heart. People from all walks of life are able to put aside their differences and come together for a common belief. The songs that they sing and the bonds that they share in places of worship all across the globe are truly unique. This is why I have always found abandoned churches so fascinating. We have covered just one in the past. But now, we have our second. And while the previous church didn’t have much of a story behind it, this fascinating place is full of character.

This is the abandoned Floydville Church. I cannot say that this is its real name. But from the research I have done, this appears to be what people are calling it these days. Located in a rich farming community, this former house of God has been left to rot for the last thirty years. From what little information I could find online, it has stood for more than half a decade. It was first built during the 1950’s for the workers of the nearby farming communities. Back in the day, this rural side of the state was well known for its tobacco farming industry. On Sunday mornings, all manners of folks would gather here to pray and practice their faith. Patrons ranged from the local townsfolk to the migrant workers that were just passing through. All would gather here to share in their beliefs. But as the years went on, more and more of these attendees began to move off to bigger and better things. Attendance began to dwindle. The tides of industry and society itself started to turn. And with it, the Floydville Church was eventually forced to close its doors for good.

Pause for story time: we actually went looking for this place over three years ago. We received a tip from one of our readers about it, but we weren’t given a real exact location. All we were told is that there was an abandoned church lost in the woods off an old biking trail in the North Western side of Connecticut. We ended up walking over six miles in the blistering summer heat looking for it. But we never found it. Having run out of water and energy, we were forced to turn back. It was a nice hike and all. But not being able to find this place haunted me for years. Because I always find what I am looking for, even if the place we are after turns out to be demolished. Since we were in the area, dropping some family off at the airport, we decided to go looking for the abandoned church once again. And this time, we found the abandoned Floydville Church pretty easily. It turns out we were only a quarter of a mile or so away on our last journey out here. And it truly did not disappoint.

I am sad to say that the church is in very rough shape. Crude plywood has been nailed over the doors and windows. All sorts of stuff has been strewn about the exteriors, most hauntingly a rubber lamb lies cast aside on the forest floor. A white cross still greets you from above the main doorway. The floors and walls feel like they could collapse at any moment. And yet, the church appears as if it was just up and left one day. Two pianos and a drum set are still inside. A massive black cross still stands tall at the front of the alter. Rows of pews are all still in their formation, waiting for their patrons to return to them. The blue stickers marking “Clergy Only” are still visible on the front-most sections. The basement is full of junk, particularly a massive rusting fridge that guards the entry way. The roof overhead is coming apart, with long streaks of paint and insulation hanging down like a ghostly canopy. There is an eerie stillness about the whole place, especially when imagining what it must’ve looked like long ago.

Finding the Floydville Church after all these years was quite bittersweet. It felt great to finally close the chapter on the one abandoned place that has ever alluded me. Especially when our original quest to find it was so arduous. And yet, it brought up a lot of different emotions for me. More and more churches close their doors every year around here. It is a sad, but inevitable phenomenon. What makes these place more depressing than most abandoned landmarks is thinking about what they once meant to the community as a whole. We’ve covered abandoned schools, hospitals, military bases, homes. You name it. But I think the churches are always the saddest, and most interesting. The Floydville Church in particular is quite haunting, as so much of what made it home to her former patrons still stands inside. Even after all these years, it looks like mass just ended. But sadly, this former house of worship has been left behind. It waits here, in sorrow and decay, for someone to return to it. But they never will.

“Where are you now? Are you lost? Will I find you again? Are you alone? Are you afraid? Are you searching for me? Why did you go? I had to stay. Now I’m reaching for you. Will you wait? Will you wait? Will I see you again?” – Red

As Our Campfire Fades Away

The Abandoned Camp Mooween

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

“Softly falls the light of day, as our campfire fades away.” These were the first lines of the last song we always sung around the campfire on our final night of summer camp. It was an annual tradition. Somehow, it almost always brought a tear to my eye. It was sung softly, after a night of s’mores and jolly tunes. When it was over, we all somberly went back to our tents for the night. We all knew full well that the next day, we’d all be going home. And a few weeks later, we’d all be returning to school. So I guess you could say, these lines always signaled the beginning of the end. Summer camp was always very important to me. I was in the Scouts from First Grade all the way through my Senior Year of high school. It truly made me the person I am today. And every year, summer camp was always the best part.  But no matter how hard you tried, it was always over way too soon. And sadly enough, many summer camps do not last forever either.

This place was once known as Camp Mooween, located in Lebanon, Connecticut. Fun fact: the peculiar name is actually the Mohegan word for “Bear.” Which is cool. First opening in the early 1920’s, Camp Mooween was a summer camp for boys from all around New England. Nestled right on the banks of the gorgeous Red Cedar Lake, the camp featured all of the classic summer camp activities any young youth could ever ask for: boating, camping, ball fields, rope swings, and bug juice. For decades, it was a staple of the local community and a place of great joy. Sadly, the camp was abruptly closed in the 1960’s. I have scoured the internet for a reason why, but have yet to find one. Though there were efforts to revive it, the camp remained abandoned for many years. It wasn’t until decades later that the area would re-open as a state park. Luckily, it was through the efforts of former campers to preserve their old stomping grounds and christen it as “Mooween State Park.”

I had honestly never heard of this place. In all of my research throughout the years across the area, nobody had ever covered Camp Mooween. One summer day, we were heading to a family dinner in Lebanon. Since it was later in the afternoon, we decided to try squeezing in a quick hike before our cookout. After a quick search of parks in the area, this one caught my eye. And it was honestly a nice surprise. What many people do not know is that the town of Lebanon is bloody huge. It is honestly one of the biggest towns in Connecticut. And getting to the abandoned Camp Mooween ended up being quite a journey. But when we finally did reach our destination, it was well worth the trip. After a short walk in along the banks of the Red Cedar Lake, you are greeted right off the bat by an old abandoned car. It is a bit hidden, but still very much alive. Do not ask me the make or model. I have no idea because this thing is bloody rusted to Hell, and damn near buried in the foliage.

To the untrained eye, this park is just another nice wooded area for a quiet hike. You honestly have to do a little digging to find the abandoned remains of Camp Mooween. There are many rogue fireplaces with chimneys left standing in random corners of the woods. There are overgrown ball fields and vacant lots scattered across the park. Junk of all sorts rots into the fertile forest floor. But the star attraction of the abandoned camp is undoubtedly the remains of the great hall. If you’ve ever been to summer camp, you know this is where bloody everything happens. Meals. Announcements. Skits. Everything important happens at the great hall. Lying off the beaten path, you are suddenly greeted by this former installation. The concrete framework still stands. The stone hearth is crumbling. An old staircase leads you into what was once the kitchen, where plenty of old equipment has been left behind. As someone who spent many hours working in a summer camp kitchen once, it was pretty cool to see the old stoves were still here.

But sadly, aside from the great hall, there really isn’t too much to see here. Old reminders of what once was still haunt this quiet forest. And it honestly feels like a treasure hunt sometimes. You never know what you’re going to find off any of Camp Mooween’s winding trails. It could be some random piece of camp equipment, or another foundation of a building. I wanted to write about this place because I can really relate to those that have tried to preserve it. Though she now lies in ruin and despair, this place clearly once meant a lot to these people. You can still feel the love as you walk through these now empty woods. And I can honestly really empathize with that. Summer camp was always a place of magic for me. It was a time and place where you could escape from your parents and home life for a brief time. Whether it be for just a week or the entire summer, the memories and friendships made here last a lifetime. But it always ended with those fateful lines of that somber campfire tune: “Softly falls the light of day, as our campfire fades away.”

Rise and Shine

The Abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I’m going to start this piece off with a bang. Full disclosure right out of the gate: this place is NOT technically abandoned. This is a tourist attraction. It’s more or less a museum. You have to pay admission to get in. There are guided tours. There’s a bloody gift shop. BUT…I still think this place is pretty cool. Bear with me, even just for a second. It fits right in with the rising trend of “Arrested Decay,” or a “Preserved Ruin.” Abandoned places such as Eastern State Penitentiary find new life and provide sustenance to their communities through this new endeavor. Former abandoned places are provided with just enough support to keep from falling into complete disrepair. Think about what it would cost to demolish a place like this. But instead, with minimal investment, it becomes a place that entertains and educates anyone wishing to come see it. If this doesn’t interest you, I can completely respect any readers wishing to discontinue here. This obviously isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But for those of you still with me, let’s get on with the tour.

As aforementioned, this is Philadelphia’s colossal Eastern State Penitentiary. Once one of the largest and most ambitious correctional facilities in American history, this place has truly become a legend. First built in 1829, the prison housed some of America’s most feared criminals: including legendary Chicago Kingpin Al Capone. The prison caught attention for it’s massive size and unique architectural design, which featured seven cell blocks intersecting at a central hub. Men, women, and even a few children were held here. With large cells designed for “self reflection” during incarceration, the facility was eventually plagued by overcrowding during the early 20th century. Being forced to house more than expected, along with it’s archaic design, eventually forced the prison to close it’s doors for good in 1971. And there it sat for many years, even after being registered as a National Historic Landmark. Empty. Abandoned. Rotting. But during the 1980’s, a movement began to restore the prison to it’s former glory. Not as prison. But much like Alcatraz before it: as a tourist attraction.

During the waning days of Spring 2019, we found ourselves down in Philadelphia for the weekend. This year alone, we’ve covered places in New York, Boston, and now the City of Brotherly Love. Cool for us, I guess. Anyway, I had heard of Eastern State Penitentiary many times before on the Discovery Channel series Mysteries of the Abandoned (which I highly recommend to anyone on here.) Given the fact that the facility is right smack in the middle of the city, we decided to plan a visit. Luckily, we had absolutely beautiful weather for our trip. After a short Uber ride, we arrived at the gates of the prison. It really does stand out A LOT from the rest of the city. It’s like you’re rolling down a typical city street, and then bam. There it is. A giant stone fortress nestled amongst the casual restaurants and bodegas. The windows of the guard towers have been smashed. The old grey ramparts give this place an almost medieval feel. And the prison itself casts a giant shadow over her host city. Passing through the great stone gates is like walking into another world.

The prison is open to both guided and self-guided tours, with little headsets. We, of course, chose the self-guided tour. I, of course, did not grab a headset. It just feels too touristy to me. There were only a few people here during our visit. Straight off the bat, you can tell which areas of the prison are “staged” and which areas aren’t. For example, many of the cells contain a few props and set pieces to give off the creepy vibe to visitors. It’s all in good fun, but some are really blatant about it. Some, however, are actually very creepy. But these are the areas that are more cut off from the rest of the prison. If you follow the right paths, you can see the much darker and quieter corners of the monstrous facility. You honestly have to work a little harder to get away from the crowds in order to really enjoy this place. If you’re like us, that is. Places like Death Row, the Hospital Wing, and the basement had no visitors to them. And these were the areas that clearly haven’t gotten any support or upkeep. But that’s what makes them the best parts. They feel like an actual abandoned place, as opposed to part of a “preserved ruin.”

All in all, I almost kind of feel like a cheat writing about this place for our site. But at the same time, I kind of don’t. It’s our first real exploration outside of the New England/New York area. Plus, if the Discovery Channel can cover it for their show, I don’t see why we can’t as well. It may come off at times as a real tourist attraction, but is that such a bad thing? As opposed to being left to rot, this place now educates and entertains all who pass through her doors. Plus parts of Eastern State Penitentiary are absolutely chilling. Old cell blocks. Broken down barber chairs. That classic abandoned place smell (you know what I’m talking about). This place had it all. You just had to look a little harder for it. When you peel back some of the artsy and touristy stuff plastered all over this old facility, you realize just how terrifying it once was to the men and women who were housed here years ago. The lights may be back on in this place. But the shadows and the ghosts of days long since passed still haunt this hollowed ground.

ESP2

If you are at all interested in visiting Eastern State Peniteniary, please check out their official website herehttp://www.easternstate.org

Secret Weapons – The Abandoned Cohasset Naval Annex

Posted: April 24, 2019 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Boston, Abandoned Castle, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Forts, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned New York, Abandoned Park, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Road, Abandoned Tower, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Closed, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, Fort Wetherill, Fortress, Forts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, Massachusetts, Military, Military Forts, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, photography, Public Parks, Ruins, Safety First, State Parks, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
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Secret Weapons

The Abandoned Cohasset Naval Annex

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

War. War never changes. That one was for all you Fallout fans. We’ve covered so many different types of abandoned military bases over the years. From old missile sites, to coastal fortresses, to housing facilities, we’ve seen pretty much everything the New England area has to offer. It honestly takes a lot to surprise us these days. Each one of these places is so very unique, yet so eerily similar at the same time. Today’s subject is a little bit different from the others, though. Once again, it’s one that we’ve had our eye on for a long time. And unfortunately, some of the cooler aspects of this place have been demolished over the years. But given how far away from us it was, we just never seemed to have the time to make the journey. That all changed this past Spring. We had business up in Boston. Rather than staying in the city, which we found to be outrageously expensive, we ended up staying in one of Beantown’s nearby suburbs. On our way up, of course, we got to stop at this little hidden gem.

Might I introduce the former Hingham Naval Ammunition Depot Annex. Say that five times fast. It’s such a beast of a name, most people just call it the Cohasset Annex after one of the town’s that it’s located in. During the early days of World War II, the area was purchased by the United States Navy to serve as a weapons depot and storage facility. It quickly became a staple of the local community, employing hundreds of workers and stationing many servicemen. The base served her purpose throughout the war as the main supplier of the US Navy’s Atlantic Fleet. She then closed down for a time following the surrender of Germany and Japan. But once the United States entered the Korean War several years later, the base was once again called into action. Unlike many other sites we’ve covered, the Cohasset Annex did not serve through the Cold War. As she was decommissioned in 1962. The land was then returned to the State of Massachusetts, and re purposed into the Wompatuck State Park.

Like so many of her fellow abandoned military bases, the Cohasset Annex is completely legal to visit and sits in the middle of a large state park. However, all of her old bunkers have either been filled in, demolished, or locked up after a series of alleged murders several years ago. We could only find one that was still standing, having been preserved by the local Boy Scout Troop. There is still plenty to see here, though. A short walk down one of the quieter trails leads you straight into the heart of the old base. Derelict fences and telephone polls still decorate the sides of the path. Large mounds of dirt where the old bunkers used to be rise up from the Earth. But most curiously are the wooden frames at the far end of the park. There are at least half a dozen of the massive wooden enclosures. Some have rotted into oblivion. Others are still standing quite strong. Given this area was the site of the missile launch pad, we are guessing that they all have something to do with that.

At the entrance to the launch pad trail stands what we have come to call “The Gatekeeper.” Her picture is above…Creepy, right? Almost all of the old military ruins are coated with the usual graffiti and such. No surprises there. Aside from the wooden structures, there are also a few buildings left behind here scattered across the vast coastal woodland. Though they are more off the beaten path, all of the buildings have clearly been built to last. They honestly reminded me a lot of Rhode Island’s Fort Wetherill in their construction and look. Far a long forgotten age, they all have a very dated and ghostly image. The elements have not been kind to them, yet none show much wear and tear. And, fortunately enough for you hikers out there, most of these buildings are marked on the map at the park’s Visitor Center. You can get inside all of them, but be sure to bring a flashlight. There is not much to see inside, but it still gets pretty dark. And watch your step.

As stated above, the Cohasset Naval Annex is not quite what it used to be. Many of the features that made this place unique have been lost to the pages of history. And for good reason. I was honestly a bit disappointed to not be able to get into the bunkers anymore. But after learning of their darker history, I completely understand why they had to be destroyed. Though this place may not be as exciting as it once was, it is still a good place to check out if you enjoy a little hiking. The Cohasset Naval Annex was once a proud warrior of World War II. Now, the old base still finds a way to serve her community. Just with a far different purpose. We ran into quite a few other hikers and adventurers on our journey. And yet most, save for the local track team, did not pay much attention to the old military buildings. To some, this place appears to be just another hustling and bustling state park. But even after all these years, the woods still can hold a few secrets.

The Bruin Ruins

The Abandoned Boston Bear Dens

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I’ve never liked going to the zoo. Ever since I was just a kid. I know that they do a lot of good. I know that many of them help rehabilitate wildlife. I know that they bring so much joy to so many people. It’s just the idea of these amazing animals in captivity where they don’t belong has never sat well with me. I’ve always had a soft spot for animals. Maybe it’s because I grew up with more dogs in my house than siblings. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always felt like I had a stronger connection to animals than other people. I don’t know, and frankly, this line of thought is getting depressing. Moving on. We’ve covered a couple abandoned zoos in the past, most notably the Shade Swamp Shelter in Central Connecticut. They’ve always been kind of creepy. But this place was a bit more unique. For starters, this is only a forgotten piece of one of the largest zoos in New England. Also, it currently stands in the middle of the biggest city in the North Eastern United States – Boston, Massachusetts.

This is Franklin Park. Say hello, everyone. It is more, or less, the equivalent of Boston’s Central Park. As in, it is the largest park within the city limits. First opening in the early nineteen hundreds, one of the key features of the park is the zoo. When it’s doors first opened in 1908, Franklin Park Zoo was free to the public, covered a great distance across the park, and housed many different exotic animals. For many years, the zoo was a big hit. However, it unfortunately was just hitting its stride as the rest of the country began to fall on hard times during the mid 1920’s. She sadly fell into disrepair, until 1958 when the grounds were acquired by the local government. The zoo was brought back to life in a big way, and flourishes even today. But during this time of renovation, certain sectors of the grounds were cut off and left to rot. One such part are the now abandoned Bear Dens of the Long Crouch Woods. The animals, of course, did find other homes in the expanded zoo. But their old enclosures were deemed to expensive to take down.

March is Lassie’s birthday month, and we go on a short mini-vacation every year to celebrate. This year, we had chosen Boston as our destination. Naturally, we looked for at least one abandoned place in the city to check out. Truth be told, I hadn’t been to Boston in four years. I had filmed plenty of movies and commercials up there when I was younger, but hadn’t been around that way in a long time. After a bit of searching, we both became captivated by this place and decided to pay it a visit. Lucky for us, we got some pretty decent weather. Also lucky for us, Franklin Park is only a few blocks walk from the nearest T-station. We made the trip in the early morning, so as to get the most out of our day. The park was mostly quiet, given that it was a school day and all. It is also full of amenities, including the aforementioned zoo, a school, and a playground. Unfortunately, we chose not to bring our camera since we had plans in the city later that afternoon. So all of these photos were taken on our phones.

The abandoned Bear Dens lie in the northern most point of the park, also known as the Long Crouch Woods. And I can honestly say, they are very striking. Against the grey backdrop of the Spring New England skyline, the old bear dens are rundown but still very grand in stature. All of the metal framework is quite rusted, and much of the stone is crumbling. Yet the sheer size and elegance of it all gives this place a very sturdy and unique look to it all. The mix of grey stone and brown metal make for a strong outward appearance. At the very top of the stone frame, the carvings of two bears and can still be seen. If you’re feeling daring, you can still peek into a few of the old sleeping quarters in the back. A very nice Park Ranger did come to check up on us. He unfortunately did not have much information to tell us, but let us take all of the pictures that we wanted. Which was nice. In my experiences, security guards can be a real hit or miss. Some can be really cool, like this gentleman. Others, however, can be real assholes.

We stayed for a decent amount of time. There isn’t too much to see here, but it is a really cool place. As far as I know, the abandoned Bear Dens are completely legal to visit. Just be cool about it, as the Park Rangers obviously keep a close eye on this place. And rightfully so. There was hardly any graffiti or vandalism here, but there were some rather unsavory characters snooping around after we left. Much like the bears that once roamed this unique place, it is has a rough exterior and a certain majesty about it. We of course visited the regular zoo once we were finished exploring, which I highly recommend. As I said earlier, I usually don’t like visiting zoos. But this place is very special. I personally found the hyenas to be my favorite exhibit. The park has so much history to it. The bear dens still stand tough after all these years. The zoo itself is so full of life. And just because you didn’t like something for years, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind.