Posts Tagged ‘Photographs’

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

A Quarter-Mile At A Time

The Abandoned Blue Hot Rod

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

“I live my life a quarter-mile at a time. Nothing else matters; not the mortgage, not the store, not my team and all their bullshit. For those ten seconds or less…I’m free.” – Dominic Toretto

Personally, I prefer Need for Speed. But that first Fast and Furious movie was a classic. I remember seeing it for the first time with my brother one Friday night when we were kids. We loved it. We got all the Matchbox cars. We built all the characters out of Lego. We even got our hands on the soundtrack. We had no idea what Ja Rule was saying in his songs, but damn did we find them catchy. My brother loved this movie so much that he has gone on to be a very successful auto mechanic. He truly loves cars, and attributes that love to seeing this movie for the first time. It just goes to show you that any of us can find our inspiration in some of the most unexpected ways. Cars have always been something that have captivated the imaginations of people everywhere. As Jesse in The Fast and the Furious says, “just something about engines that calms me down.” It’s a beautiful thing. So full disclosure here, the snow really got to us this month. We were hoping to make our return to exploring, but we’ve had several inches of snow and ice coating the ground all through February. That said, our hearts go out to all of our friends in Texas right now. So once again, this piece will be from our archives. You know, those adventures that are really fun, but never quite make it onto our blog. Until times like these. This was an abandoned relic we just happened to stumble across last summer, and it’s one that has stuck with me ever since. This is the abandoned Blue Hot Rod.

For those of you who don’t remember, or have chosen to forget, the summer of 2020 sucked. It was hot. It was divisive. It was boring. It made people like me realize that summer really isn’t that fun when you’re not a kid. You’re stuck inside with nowhere to go and nothing to do. And if you were like us and didn’t have air conditioning at the time, then you were really in trouble. So it was our policy during this time to get outside and go for a walk whenever we got a chance. Whenever there was a break in the heat, we were out there. One weekend in late July, we got one of those days. So we went out. The plan was to go for a quick walk, grab some essential supplies, pick up some take-away, then head home. A nice/simple summer day. We picked a small park nearby to us. It was close to the city, yet far enough away to be quiet. We had walked this park before once, but it was mostly flooded at the time. The dog unfortunately had to sit this one out. Our walk was nice. The birds were chirping. The sun was shining. And the heat was manageable. Plus there wasn’t too many people around. The trail we took was a mile long loop. But around the half-way point, we came across something hiding in the bushes. Off the beaten path, it looked like just another abandoned car. Not too exciting. So we decided to snap a few photographs for our Instagram. But the closer we got to it, the more we began to realize that this car was a little bit different from all of the others.

I have tried to do as much research as possible on this car, but have yet to come up with a solid make and model. At first, we honestly thought it was an ambulance. The frame is quite big and there is a fading blue paint job on the exterior. But the closer you look, the more this starts to look like an old school luxury car from a bygone era. Judging from the fins on the back, I believe it is from the late 1950’s or early 1960’s. With it’s unique push-button transmission and wired steering wheel, this might be a Chrysler. Possibly a Dodge. But like I said earlier, I’m not much of a car guy. If anyone has any thoughts, please feel free to share. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Most of the abandoned cars we’ve covered in the past have just been rusting hulks of metal that have been cast aside. They’ve all been at abandoned houses, old work sites, or forgotten junkyards. This one, however, seemed like it was a real treasure at one point. The striking blue upholstery and sturdy leather seats really make me question why this old hot rod was left out here to rot. It definitely looks like this car was rather expensive in it’s heyday. But why was it left behind? What led this amazing machine to this grim fate? I could see this old beauty cruising along the back roads way back when. Now it lies sinking into the dirt, surrounded by ferns and mosquitoes. We were the only ones out in the park that day, but the old classic car is very much hidden off the main trail. Let’s hope it stays that way.

As a matter of professionalism, we never share the locations of our abandoned cars. It’s nothing personal against our readers. It’s just we’ve had a lot of people contact us in the past looking for abandoned cars to scrap for money. That just doesn’t sit well with me. Relics like this old blue hot rod deserve to be preserved and remembered, not scrapped. I know it seems rather silly to spend an entire article on a single car. But I think our pictures speak for themselves. All that remains of this old marvel are very striking. Some of the tech has somehow survived all of these years. The blue upholstery gives it a very magical yet tragic feel. You can still feel the era that this workhorse came from. Someone, somewhere, must’ve really loved and enjoyed this car at some point. I felt like this one needed to be shared and talked about, as it honestly stands apart from all other abandoned cars we’ve seen before. I know winter sucks right now and things can feel hopeless sometimes. But we have to carry on and hope that tomorrow will be a better day. I miss exploring. I miss being out there hunting down the places that the world has forgotten about. But that is just going to have to wait. Waiting sucks. But it’s almost always worth it. You cannot just skip over times like these. You have to learn to appreciate the little things. That’s how you grow as a person. Spring is coming. Dawn approaches. Better days will be here soon. We’ll get there someday. Even if it is just a quarter mile at a time.

What Was Forgotten

The Abandoned Broad Brook Company

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Hello, there. Happy New Year. It doesn’t feel much different from the last. Frankly, it never does to me. Time keeps on rolling. The wind keeps on blowing. Change is made in leaps and bounds. It doesn’t just happen over night. No matter what the movies tell us. We are still very much on our winter hiatus. But I just came by to talk for awhile. See who is still out there. See who will listen. Winter sucks for exploring. It’s cold. It’s bleak. The sun goes away too fast. And snow can be a real burden when you’re trying to slip in and out of places that you are not supposed to be. The one upside of winter is that I get to tell stories of adventures long since passed. Not every abandoned place we cover is worthy of a spot on our site. We go. We take pictures. Sometimes, a place just really isn’t that visually interesting or exciting enough. And so we just back the photos up on a hard-drive and move on. They sit there just collecting virtual dust for years at a time. But during these dark months, I get to go through our archives and shed a little bit of light on the forgotten subjects. Today is one of those days. Be forewarned, this is a story piece. It will be told through words. Not by photographs. If this doesn’t interest you, that’s okay. I get it. But this is a place that I think deserves to be talked about. So let’s talk.

Our story begins the summer of 2020. It is hot. It is depressing. Our air conditioner was really loud. Much like winter, summer is also a tricky time for exploring. Especially during a pandemic. There are more people out and about. You have to bring excessive amounts of water. And the sun can really do some damage to your skin. I was cruising Reddit one morning, as I always do, and someone spoke of a place. It was a place that I had never heard of. This place had a very interesting story. Many years ago, a mill was built in a sleepy little village in northern Connecticut. It brought jobs. It brought success. It brought luster. The town was literally built on the back of this mill. But much like many nearby towns, this mill would eventually fall. It served many purposes over the years, seeing actions as a center for both manufacturing and services. But in the 1990’s, a newer much more different purpose was bestowed upon it: real estate. The old mill was converted into condominiums. But something happened then that nobody could’ve seen coming. The old mill’s past came back to haunt her. Poisonous solvents and chemicals were discovered in the soil surrounding this place. The hazardous materials forced it to close and evict all of its tenants for their safety. It was then shuttered. Left to rot. And there it waits.

And so we took a drive. That afternoon. This was close by. So we just hopped in the car and went to check it out. Spontaneity came be fun sometimes. Especially during the summer. It’s weird. I had driven by this place a thousand times. We had enough eaten at the pub one evening that sits right out front. And I never knew this place was hear. It is even a registered historical landmark. Coming upon it was haunting. It has a very grand appearance. It’s architecture is captivating. It is a red brick fortress accented with stark white trim. The old mill is crammed in behind a bunch of stores and apartment complexes. It is also eerily quiet. Despite all of the hustle and bustle around it, the old mill is as quiet as a tomb. Like a void into another dimension. But it is also completely sealed off from the outside world. A sturdy chain-link fence surrounds the entire perimeter. We know. We know because we checked. We went around the entire property looking for a hole in the fence. But there is none. This place is totally and completely locked down. Even the old street that served as the entrance to the complex has been completely sealed off. There was no way in. We have never broken our way into an abandoned place. And we never will. It’s not our style. I could’ve easily climbed this fence, but I didn’t.

DANGER. KEEP OUT. NO TRESPASSING. The warnings are there. And apparently for good reason. Though the lawn appears to be well maintained, the soil is said to be incredibly toxic. But the archaic building is truly captivating. It stood there ominously before us, casting it’s shadow across the summer sky. Windows have been smashed on the upper levels. But this was clearly done by outsiders throwing projectiles at them. Like a besieged medieval castle. But no return volley is fired. Doors are boarded up. Trees grow wild and dangerous. And the complex has clearly lain dormant for a long time, trapped inside of its own little exclusion zone. After finding the perimeter completely impenetrable, we just kind of sat outside the fence and stared at the looming abandoned monster. I guess we just kind of hoped that something would happen. Nobody bothered us. Nobody even cared that we were there. Though there is not much to see, it is still a wonder to behold. And that’s why I’ve written this piece. This story could’ve just sat rotting in our archives, much as she rots in real life. But I feel as though this place’s story deserves to be told. After all that’s it’s been through, it does not deserve to be forgotten.

So let’s always remember: the abandoned Broad Brook Company. Also known as the Broad Brook Mill. There is only one picture here because that is the only good picture we could get of the place. But I think it does it’s job well. In our experiences, places like this one are usually in much bigger towns. If anyone reading this has any experiences with this place, please do share. Whether you be employees, former residents, or just passed through one day. There’s extremely little information on the Broad Brook Company out there. And I’d love to spread a little more knowledge of her story out there to the world. I find it to be a tragic tale. That the Broad Brook Company was once a jewel of this community. Then forced to close down shop due to a changing economy. A beacon of hope brought it back to life. But then it’s past finally killed it off for good. I have heard there is a grant out there to redesign and rehabilitate the old complex. So let’s see what happens. But until then, the memories and experiences remain behind bars. A quiet and untouched world now grows within the confines of those steels fences. The village carries on with all of its comings and goings. But whether they see it or not, the abandoned Broad Brook Company is still there.

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.

Before the Fall – The Abandoned Willimantic Thread Mill

Posted: September 30, 2020 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned mill, abandoned new england, Abandoned New Hampshire, Abandoned New York, Abandoned Pennsylvania, Abandoned Places, Abandoned Railway, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned train station, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, fire, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, paper mill, photography, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Stories, Trains, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Williamtic, writing
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Before the Fall

The Abandoned Willimantic Thread Mill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

It has begun. The leaves are starting to turn orange and yellow. The skies grow grey. The days are turning darker. The hour is growing very late, indeed. Summer has come and passed. Fall is here. Scary movies are popping up on television. Pumpkins are appearing on everyone’s front porch. The morning dew is now a ghostly frost. It is the changing of the seasons. This article is a little later than we usually post. And for that I apologize. This has been one of the busiest months we’ve had in a very long time. But that is a story for another time. And due to a recent job change for Lassie, we won’t be leaving our home state for the rest of the season. So upstage, Connecticut. It is your time shine once again. We’ve been playing it safe for the last few months due to global pandemic. We’ve mostly covered old relics of the past that have been lost in the woods. But with the turning of the tide, we decided that now was the time to do some real urban exploring. This was no ordinary hike. This was us putting ourselves right back into the thick of it. Into some real danger. And little did we know, but we were in for a bit of an adventure.

This is another one of those places that I have yet to find an actual name for. I’ve done a lot of research, but it has been inconclusive. If anyone reading this has any information, please do share it with us. So, for now, we shall be calling this place the Willimantic Thread Mill. You see, the town of Willimantic used to be known as “Thread City.” It was one of the mill capitals of New England. There were over half a dozen prosperous mills operating in the town at the turn of the century, all working on textiles. They provided jobs and sustenance for the entire local community. But this time of great success was not meant to last. It never is. As time marched on, the American economy began to shift from a manufacturing one to a service one. One by one, the great mills of Thread City shuttered their doors. Many rose again as apartment buildings or municipal offices. One was tragically lost to a great fire long ago. But another was lost to the woods. Cut off from the rest of the community by trees and train tracks, this old industrial titan has now become a black hole. This is our story of visiting the lost thread mill of Willimantic.

If you are a follower of our blog, you should know that we have covered many places here in Willimantic before. From the railway, to the theater, to the Bridge of Death, we have come to know this town quite well. You see, this place has been on our radar for a while now. It was first described to me by an old friend as a train station for the old railway. Considering its proximity to the train tracks, this always made sense to me. But a little more digging showed this to not be the case. Since we were now confined to finishing off our year here in the Nutmeg State, we decided it was finally the time to search out this old monster. Though we were now in the first official week of Fall, it was still bloody humid out. The sweetness of summer hadn’t quite given up yet. It was a Sunday, after a long typical week here in the Hellscape of 2020. We mapped out our location. We found a place to park. We trekked alone down the train tracks, like wandering vagabonds. Not really knowing what we were going to find out here in the woods. Until we took a heavily used trail, and wound up somewhere we clearly weren’t supposed to be.

It was a tent city for the local homeless population. They are living in the ruins of an old mill that burned to the ground long ago. We should’ve known, seeing there were several old mountain bikes and bags of trash strung up in the trees. Like warning signs. We quickly took what pictures we could and got the Hell out of there. These communities usually don’t like visitors. We continued on none the less. And it was here that things really fell silent. Continuing along the train tracks, we eventually crossed through the old gates and onto the grounds of the old mill. It’s hard to tell how big this place was, given how overgrown the underbrush is. It is held together by an amalgamation of brick, wood, and metal. We slipped inside via the old loading dock. Graffiti is everywhere. Trash coats the ground. Archaic machinery rots into oblivion. There are several large gaping rooms, but they are filled only with debris. The once ornate roof has even caved in in a few spots. But the main attraction of the old mill is the elevator shaft, which really didn’t disappoint. You can look straight up through the old machinery and into the grim grey sky. We then began to hear a dog barking very close by, followed by some footsteps. It was time to leave once again.

We both got really bad vibes from this place. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it was the tent city. Maybe we were just having an off day. Maybe we were feeling a tad rusty. But the abandoned Willimantic Thread Mill is certainly creepy. Funny enough, it’s always the mills that give us the creeps. Perhaps that’s because it’s always the mills that have squatters. Union Pond. Talcotville. Montgomery. We are no strangers to this sort of thing. We’ve been doing this a long time. But like I said earlier, this was our first taste of real urban exploration in awhile. Most of the places we’ve been covering lacked the old school danger feeling. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good hike and a little history. But few things get your heart pumping as much as slipping into a place like this one. Just in time for Fall, too. It was chilling at first, then it reminded me of how much fun this urban exploring stuff can be. It was pulse-pounding, but also felt good to be back at it. Much like the fall season can feel chilling, yet exhilarating. There may be some scares here and there. Things will start to get colder. But if you keep your wits about you, it’s all in good fun.

Once Upon a Time

The Abandoned Madame Sherri’s Castle

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Once Upon a Time, there were two explorers named Wilk and Lassie. They lived in a small house with their dog, guinea pig, and hedgehog. Oh, how Wilk and Lassie loved to explore. They had been North. They had been South. They had been East. And they had been West. They had seen just about everything there was to see. They watched with glee as their little blog grew from a few followers to over a thousand. Exploring was their favorite thing to do. And they were good at it. Until the dark times. Until the world as we all knew it came to an abrupt end. And poor Lassie and Wilk were stuck inside. Their pets enjoyed their company very much, but they longed to explore the great outdoors. So they found time here and there, when they couldn’t bear it anymore, to get outside and have some fun. But it was never quite the same. Still, they carried on. And explored whatever places they could during these times of great sorrow. Following the rules of this new world they found themselves in, they stayed close to home. Most of the time. Until one fateful day, they found a place they just couldn’t resist.

Our story begins a long time ago in a mythical place called New York City. An eccentric woman and her husband become famous in the City of Lights through show business. Oh yes. Antoinette Bramare and Andre Riela became quite the talk of the town wherever they went after striking it rich. One was an affluent costume designer. The other was a glamorous actress. And to embrace their new found fame, they change their last name to Sherri. But when Mister Sherri passed away, Madame Sherri took her fortune and fame to the wooded realm of New Hampshire. Here, she built a lavish castle to host parties and enjoy the Roaring Twenties in the middle of the woods. Everyone in the local community had heard of her and her socialite lifestyle. But eventually, her money ran out. The parties all drew to a close. The limelight faded. The curtain was called. And poor Madame Sherri died poor and alone shortly afterward. Her castle fell into disrepair, and eventually a fire caused by local miscreants in 1962 consumed the lavish palace. Now, all that remains are the ghosts of so very long ago and the legend of Madame Sherri.

And so, on a quiet summer day, Lassie and Wilk made their long trek up to the magical land of New Hampshire. They were sure to be prepared for this long journey. They passed many unique things along the way. The dark times had really changed the world around them. They listened to no music on the way up. They just talked and enjoyed each other’s company. Eventually, they came upon a long, narrow, dirt road. This was the way the directions told them to go, but it looked rather treacherous. They followed this road all by themselves for several miles, wondering if they were still going in the right direction. The houses along the road began to disappear, they soon found themselves deep in the forest. But it was here that the road came to an end at the head of the Wantastiquet Trail. This was the final stop that would lead them to their next path: the hike to the enchanted castle. Fortunately, this trek was not far at all. As the ruins of the castle were a mere short walk from the trail lot. A few minutes later, Lassie and Wilk found themselves gazing on a very unique site: the abandoned ruins of Madame Sherri’s Castle.

Though most of the castle now lies in ruin, what struck Lassie and Wilk the most was the so called “Stairway to Heaven.” This winding stone staircase is the only truly defining feature left of this former relic. When people think of Madame Sherri’s Castle, they think of this old abandoned wonder. It truly looks otherworldly, almost from a bygone era. Wilk loves to climb, and he wanted to climb the staircase really badly. But, Lassie advised him against it. Though the staircase is hauntingly beautiful, it is also very structurally unsafe. A crude sign even sits nearby reading, “Please do not climb the staircase.” Wilk found this unfortunate, but acceptable. He was in luck, though. Beneath the ruins of the castle is the old stone basement. It can be accessed through the air duct or from the outside. There is not much to see down here besides rubble, but it did provide our heroes with a welcome break from the heat. Up above, the old fireplace slowly crumbles into despair, while the stone pillars all stand firm and proud against the march of time. It was truly a mix of ruins and wonder. Some parts of the castle remain strong. Others are eroding away.

Wilk and Lassie don’t really like people. They prefer solitude on their adventures. And while Madame Sherri’s Castle is a true wonder to see, you will rarely be alone in these mighty woods. But, our explorers were able to get all the great photographs they needed and got a nice walk in. Satisfied with their prospects, they bid farewell to the fabled abandoned castle. Though parts of it are weathering away, the great soul and wonder of this place stands strong. Wilk and Lassie headed back to the car with smiles on their faces and excitement in their hearts. It was another long car ride home, though this one was filled with songs and tales of adventures long since passed. When they arrived home, their animals were quite happy to see them. And the feeling was mutual. As nightfall commenced, they each cracked open a beer and sat on their couch. Lassie began to look through her wonderful pictures. Wilk began writing his crazy article. And they both reminisced about how much they loved going on adventures together.

The End.

The Abstruse

The Abandoned Westledge Ski Slope

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

It’s an unusual word, isn’t it? Abstruse. I had never even heard of it before. I asked Lassie if she had either, but she had the same answer. “Is that even a real word?” Yes. Yes it is. You can look it up. Originally I had titled this article “The Obscure.” With the global pandemic still ravaging our homeland, we’ve had to get a little bit creative with the places that we visit. We don’t like to go too far, since we can’t really stop anywhere to grab a bite to eat or anything. We don’t like to leave the state, as we both still have jobs to do. And we both still believe in following the physical distancing guidelines. Plus we have covered pretty much every major abandoned place here in Connecticut. So…that kind of narrows down where we can and cannot visit right now. So as you can see if you’ve been following our blog for the last few months, our investigations have been kind of unconventional. A lot of them have been in the middle of the woods. They’ve also been ones that nobody in our community really pays attention to.

Allow me to introduce our latest subject: The abandoned Westledge Ski Slope. It all began in summer of 1969. If that song is now stuck in your head, you have my sympathies. Anyhow, the ski slope was built along the edges of Westledge Mountain to service the aptly named Westledge School. You see, skiing was becoming kind of the fad up here in New England during this time period. We have covered several other ski slopes in the past that followed very similar paths and suffered the same fates as Westledge. It was a big hit at first, servicing as a simple single-towing ski system used mostly by the students of the Westledge School. Their system was unique, as it was one of the first electrically operated towing lines. This had it’s advantages and disadvantages, for being efficient/quiet but also very slow. Unfortunately, Westledge School came under new ownership in 1978. The land that the ski slope operated on was divided up between the new school and the local land trust. And thus, the Westledge Ski Slope was no more.

Like I said earlier, we were a bit vexed on what to cover for our July piece. Due to the ever growing heat, we also wanted a place that didn’t involve too much hiking. I had stumbled on Westledge Ski Slope during the early days of the outbreak, and had kept it aside on my list of potential places. Since it was kind of obscure and fit all of our criteria, we decided to pay a visit. In the middle of July, we made our trek out to the area. Not wanting a repeat of our earlier adventure in Rhode Island, we were sure to bring lots of water and map out our route exactly. It had been a long time since I had been out to North Western Connecticut. And I had honestly forgotten how beautiful it was. We arrived at our destination, only to find that the parking area had been mysteriously closed. Luckily, we had mapped out our route better this time. We found a different one a short drive away. It made our hike a bit longer, but the forest out here truly is captivating. It was about a mile in before we came upon the abandoned ski slope.

The first thing to greet you here is the main attraction: the abandoned rope tow shed. It is a small but sturdy building, and honestly is quite funny looking in it’s own way. With a triangular roof and decorated with some bizarre oddities, the building is rather interesting. Inside is plenty of old machinery, but be wary as the floor is quite unstable. There are still several old utility poles standing around the shed, but they blend in quite well with the trees surrounding them. A few of these trees have random articles of clothing tied around them, such as ties, jackets, and shirts. I found that to be kind of strange. The slope itself is steep as bloody Hell. But we had to walk all the way down it. Along the way, the old post used as part of the rope tow system still stand. Unlike all of the other slopes we’ve seen in the past, they aren’t traditional posts per se. The wheel system was actually attached to the trees themselves. Over the years, the old metal wheels are slowly being devoured by the trees growing around them.

Eventually we made it to the bottom of the slope. Here, we found the wrecks of several old cars. But they were so overgrown, we couldn’t get the best pictures of them. Then came the hard part; getting back up the slope. I see now why this hill was used as a ski slope. But using the old wheel systems as breakpoints, we eventually made it to the top and began our hike back to the car. So is the abandoned Westledge Ski Slope worth a visit? Depends on your taste. You see, the word “abstruse” means obscure or mysterious. And that’s what places like this are. And usually for good reason. Aside from the rope tow shed, which is really cool, there isn’t much to see here. But if you’re looking for a good hike and something different, check it out. Places like this one usually don’t get enough attention these days. They end up getting lost to the pages of history. They are, as you would say, obscure. But like the word “abstruse,” just because you’d never heard of it before doesn’t make it any less interesting.

Walk With Me

The Abandoned Arcadia Campground

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Walk with me. Let me tell you a story. It’s funny, I always prefer to walk and talk with someone as opposed to having a seat. Whether it be good news or bad news, a little bit of movement goes a long way. This is a story that I have never told on this site before. I have always wanted to, but never really found the right place for it. It’s about the biggest blunder in Abandoned Wonder’s history. Two years ago this summer, we went looking for a place called the Foam Dome. It was a peculiar structure abandoned in the woods of North Western Connecticut. I’m sure that at least a few of you here have heard of it, if not have seen it. We followed our usual game plan to a T. We did our research. We knew our route. We had good weather. We spent a good few hours trekking to the abandoned site. But when we finally found it, we discovered that it was in fact no longer there. We asked around, and found out it had been demolished five days before we got there. It was a really nice hike. But I was truly devastated. But, there was nothing we could’ve done differently. Sometimes in life you can do everything right, and still come up short.

June is my birthday month. And for my 29th birthday, I wanted to go see a place that I have always wanted to cover. This is the abandoned Arcadia Campground in Rhode Island. I have done a lot of research on this place, but have yet to find what it’s true name really was. So for now, we’re just going to call it the Arcadia Campground. Some sources have said that it was once affiliated with the local camps built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back during the Great Depression. If anyone has any concrete information, please feel free to share. The camp was set up like most summer camps: a dining hall. Cabins. A trading post. And a water tower. Over the years, this place served a lot of different purposes. But for reasons mostly unknown, it was left abandoned in the late 1970’s. Things went rather quiet after that. Until eventually the area was incorporated into the massive and beautiful Arcadia Wildlife Management Area. Now, the ghostly remains of this old workhorse serve only to haunt these magnificent woods.

Like I said earlier, this was my birthday. I have never liked my birthday. Everything just seems to usually go wrong on this day. It’s either that or I just put so much thought into it that it never quite lives up to the hype. Or maybe I’ve just seen too many movies. I don’t know. Something to ponder, I guess. Anyhow, we made the long trek into the Ocean State early in the day. I love Rhode Island. There were times early in my acting career that I spent more time out of the year there than here in Connecticut. This was my first trip back since January. Just like the Foam Dome trip, we had everything planned out. We did our research. We knew our route. We were in good spirits. We started off down the long winding trail and into the woods. But as time wore on and the trail continued to get rockier, we began to wonder if we were heading in the right direction. Long story short, we ended up going four miles in the wrong direction before finally finding our target. It was a long, frustrating, and brutal journey. But eventually the old camp loomed out of the forest. And to be honest, the abandoned Arcadia Campground really didn’t disappoint.

The trail legit runs right through the abandoned campground. You really cannot miss it. It is quiet. It is creepy. It is haunting. The place feels quite lonely. Clusters of rotting old cabins stand silently together. A massive stone fireplace stands in the middle of the clearing where the mess hall once stood. The old water tower looms over the campsite, nearly lost amongst the fading treetops. Aside from the large and littered fire pit, this place seems totally untouched by vandals. But that’s probably because it’s in the middle of the woods. You really have to want to see this place to make the long journey out to see it. What makes the abandoned camp interesting is that most of it’s old structures are made of wood. While many of the cabins have collapsed under the weight of time, the majority of them are still standing. Given their age and history, it’s a true testament to the folks who once built them. The storage bins that were once used by campers can still be seen inside, though the floors are quite unstable. The wood may be rotting. And the metal may be rusted. But even after all these years, the abandoned camp is somehow still standing.

I have included the story on the Foam Dome in this piece just to give it some closure. There were times on this walk that I honestly thought we weren’t going to find the abandoned campsite. I thought that maybe the old structures had finally had enough and collapsed. Miles away from our destination, I feared that this place could eclipse the Foam Dome as the greatest disappointment we’d ever had on our quest into the unknown. But that was not to be. And I honestly give all the credit to my partner Lassie for pushing us on into the woods, and to not give up until we found our location. Whether it was still there or not. And yes, after all of it, we did finally find what we were looking for. But like I said way back in the long long ago, thus is life. You can sometimes do everything right and still come up short. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. There will be trials. There will be tribulations. There will be set-backs. Life will lead you astray. And sometimes, you just have to do a little bit of wandering until you find your way.

Howling of the Hybrids

The Abandoned UConn Kennels

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

It’s rare for me to do this, but I feel like I must speak my mind. I’m a writer. I’ve been doing this since I was eleven years old. It has been my one true gift as far back as I can remember, whether I wanted it to be or not. And as a writer, you want people to read your words. You want people to listen to your stories and feel your voice. But not this time. This is one of those rare pieces where I ask that you discontinue reading. This article really isn’t for the faint of heart. As a dog lover, this story rocked me to my core. When I had first heard of this place, I didn’t think there would be much to it. But the more digging I did, the more horrors I uncovered. I’m talking animal abuse. Genetic experimentation. Dark science. Murder. Grim subjects, all around. It’s one of those tales so bizarre, you can’t believe that you’ve never heard about it before. Again, I ask that you discontinue here. This story is not going to be pretty.

If you must continue reading, then allow me to set the stage: The University of Connecticut, the late 1970’s. A graduate student conducts the successful breeding of male coyotes with female beagle dogs to produce what we have come to call “coydogs.” Three generations are successfully created. They are housed in a kennel outside of the Biological Science unit in the UConn Forest. Though the experiments are bizarre, the animals are said to have been well taken care of. That is until 1983. One of the pups is kidnapped by two unknown assailants. She was then tortured and beaten to death. The story caught national attention. It severely derailed the genetic experimentation program, but it attempted to continue none the less. And unfortunately, this was not the first and would not be the last tragic animal death during this time on campus. After this unspeakable tragedy and it’s founder’s graduation, the entire experiment is believed to have collapsed. But the kennels where her work was conducted still stand.

It was late spring of 2020 when we finally made our trek into the UConn Forest to find what was left of this phantom facility. May is the perfect time of year for a good hike. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right. But I warn you now that this place is not an easy find. If you do your research, follow the directions, and crack the code you will find this place no problem. If you don’t, you can and will spend hours combing through the forest looking for it. Full disclosure, that’s what happened to us. We parked in the wrong spot, and almost didn’t end up finding what we were looking for. The UConn Forest truly is just so vast and so full of the weirdest things imaginable. You could honestly spend days out there and never see the same thing twice. On our journey, we came across abandoned lawn equipment, countless fire pits, wild dogs, trails to nowhere, and a group of bros on a fishing trip. But eventually, we solved the riddle and found the old facility. And although there may not be too much left, this place certainly was quite creepy.

First coming upon the abandoned kennel, it very much looks like an old zoo paddock. An eight foot tall wooden fence surrounds the perimeter. There is even a swinging wooden gate to enter the kennel that’s very reminiscent of Jurassic Park. But this place is much more like that movie’s sequel, if you know what I mean. The weeds and plants have grown wild and dangerous. Some old wiring and tech has been left behind, but it’s all been rusted to Hell. At the far east corner, there is an old observation window. Most of the wood has rotted, but it still provides a chilling window into the past. The true sight to see here though are the two enclosures. Both surrounded by old chain link fences, there are two smallĀ  concrete doghouses standing side by side to each other. They have both been defaced with graffiti, and completely barren inside. One even has an old chair positioned on top of it for some reason. The place is also full of birds and chipmunks, who have clearly moved back in to reclaim this forgotten facility as their own.

We were both quiet on our long walk back to the car. I don’t know why. We were hot. We were hungry. But we also just couldn’t seem to shake the feeling of sorrow. It was tough to find this place. But it has also been tough to write about it. Very few have covered it in the past, and I can see why. There is so very little information out there. And what I did find, I wish I hadn’t. Much like Tiger King or Wild Wild Country, I just can’t quite believe that stuff like this actually happened. It’s all just so bizarre and truly beyond belief. But I guess that’s what makes stuff like the abandoned UConn Kennels stand out from the crowd. There may not be too much to see at the actual site. It’s no Undercliff Sanatorium or Mansfield Training School. But walking through the abandoned kennels, I could just tell that bad things had happened here. There was just such grimness and hopelessness nestled amongst the sprouting trees. This is a place that never should’ve existed. It is just one of those stories that I wish I could forget, but never will.

And Then There Was Darkness

The Abandoned Clinton Tunnel

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I haven’t been sleeping well lately. Not for a long time. It’s a scary thing, sometimes. You’re a prisoner in your own mind, but you’re also the guard of it. You’re the only one who can get yourself to sleep, but just can’t seem to find the path. You just kind of walk around trying your damnedest to function in a perpetual state of fog. Things appear and disappear at will. You hear things that aren’t really there. And you sometimes wonder what is real and was is not. You can lie awake in the dark for hours. If you have an alarm clock, it feels like that alarm could come at any second. Sometimes you find comfort in thinking that it is right around the corner. But then these seconds turn into minutes. Those minutes into hours. And what was supposed to be right around the corner turns into a lifetime. Every once in awhile, you fade in and out of reality. Dreams come and go. You feel like you might actually be getting some rest. But you never really rest. It’s all just an illusion. Or, is it? The thoughts come and go. And then there was darkness.

Since I’ve got your attention, allow me to introduce our subject for today. This is the abandoned Clinton Tunnel. She is truly a marvel to behold, running just shy of a quarter of a mile underground. First constructed in the early 1900’s, the tunnel was once apart of the state’s longest running railroad pipeline. It was built going through a hill and heading toward a bridge going over the nearby Wachusett Reservoir. This area in particular had a lot of construction and organized flooding during this time to meet the growing demands of nearby Boston. From here, these railroads carried goods and passengers all across New England for many years. But that time was not to last. With the end of the industrial revolution, things began to grow quiet. The demand for railroad traffic began to dwindle, and the abundance of this once great industry began to wane. By the 1970’s, the bridge over the Wachusett Reservoir had been demolished. And with that, Clinton Tunnel became totally abandoned.

We made the trek to Clinton Tunnel on a grey Spring Sunday. Things were quiet on the way up. And the tunnel lies right off the side of the road. It’s great stone archways are like the Mines of Moria: a grand gateway into the dark. The first half of the tunnel is paved all the way around, from the sides to the ceilings. It still very much looks like an old train tunnel. The walls are coated with graffiti and the floor is all dirt. But the other half is pure stone and has a very cave-like appearance to it. It reminded me very much of The Decent, especially with the constant echo of dripping water. We had heard many stories of just how bad the water levels could get inside of the tunnel, and we had planned our visit on a day where it hadn’t rained in some time. But it turns out that there is no good time to visit Clinton Tunnel, since there was still tons of water. There’s water falling from the ceiling. There’s water flooding the path. There’s water dripping down the stone siding. It’s just everywhere. All sorts of trash and filth float amongst it.

Though only a quarter mile long, the tunnel can seem never ending. But the North end of the tunnel is where things can get a little weird. Frogs, both dead and alive, decorate the muddier patches of water. The train path continues to an old overpass, which now serves as a bridge for a lonely back country road. The great stone borders glisten with moss and mist. While we were photographing the North end, we noticed two strangers standing at the far side of the tunnel. We caught them in a photograph just standing there, staring at us. Maybe they were contemplating walking through themselves. Maybe they couldn’t quite figure out why someone would trek that far out. Or maybe they were just marveling at the tunnel’s majesty. I don’t know. But then, up on the quiet road, a lone car pulled up. It just sat there. Watching us. For a time, I thought they were just looking at the tunnel. But after awhile, it started to get weird. They took off as soon as I waved at them. It was then that we decided it was time to leave.

A great man once said, “With insomnia, you’re never really awake; but you’re never really asleep.” That’s what walking through the abandoned Clinton Tunnel was like; stuck in the void between two different dimensions. There’s never total darkness, but there’s never much light either. You’re underground, but you don’t really feel like it. No matter how deep you get, the end always feels like it’s right around the corner. We’ve seen countless other tunnels like this one get renovated and become part of walking trails. But not this one. It is truly an adventurer’s gutter. Filled with darkness. Trash. And mystery. If you wish to take the plunge into the abandoned tunnel, heed our warnings. As far as I know, visiting is completely legal. Wear your boots. Bring your flashlights. And don’t forget your hand sanitizer. You have to touch the walls a few times if you want to make it to the other side. And once you start, don’t ever lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel.