Posts Tagged ‘Rhode Island’

The Top Ten Movies Filmed in Abandoned Places

Written by: Sean L.

When I wrote the original “Top Ten Movies Set in Abandoned Places” article, it was meant to be a throw-away piece. Just something to fill time. We had been busy in the early spring of last year, riding off our recent visit to the abandoned Enchanted Forest in Rhode Island. We needed a fun piece just to keep the site going, so I wrote it within an hour. A year later, it has become our most popular article with hundreds of views every month. There has been much demand for a sequel, and it has taken me a long time to put together. But it has finally arrived. I did the best I could to provide a nice mix of indie gems and Hollywood blockbusters. Enjoy!

Here are the Top 10 Movies Filmed in Abandoned Places.

#10 – Almost Mercy – Woonsocket Middle School

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3480446/

As per tradition, we start this list off with one of my movies (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4649390/). Yes, it’s petty. But it’s my list. Plus, this is the best movie I have ever been in. Even though most of my scenes got cut, it is still my favorite film I have worked on. I wouldn’t call it a horror movie, but it is pretty dark. The film follows outcast best friends, Jackson and Emily, who take it upon themselves to take revenge on the wicked world that wronged them. A good proportion of the film was shot at the abandoned Woonsocket Middle School in Rhode Island. After closing in 2009, this behemoth took on the honor of becoming the largest abandoned school on the entire eastern seaboard. The haunting location just adds an extra layer of darkness to an already eerily fun movie.

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#9 – Session 9 – Danvers State Hospital

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0261983/

Number 9. Session 9. Get it? Though it may have flown under the radar for some, this spooky indie horror film has managed to withstand the test of time. Starring TV veteran actor David Caruso and a young Josh Lucas, the film follows an asbestos removal crew slowly unraveling mentally while working in a ghostly abandoned hospital.  Filming took place in the safe and usable sections of then abandoned (now demolished) Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts. Little set design was said to be needed for the film, and even actor David Caruso reported a few strange experiences while filming in the abandoned asylum.

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#8 – House of Dust – Mansfield Training School

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1309374/

We’re really sticking with the New England theme here. Featuring a few MTV stars and allegedly based on true events, the film was helmed by local film legend A.D. Calvo. The movie may not be a classic, but interestingly it was both set in and filmed at the abandoned Mansfield Training School in Storrs, Connecticut. The movie follows a group of college students exploring the defunct hospital that accidentally release some malevolent spirits from their ashy resting place. One by one, they become possessed by the souls of those long since past. Like I said, it may not be a classic. But the set design and the cinematography make it certainly worth a look.

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#7 – Skyfall – Hashima Island

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1074638/

Number 7 for 007. This one is farther down the list as it is a bit of a technicality. Technically, the film did not shoot on Hashima Island, as the Japanese government forbids anyone to set foot on it. But the production of the movie was permitted to use exterior footage of the island in the final cut. I think it’s still pretty cool. The film follows agent 007 on his latest adventure, pursuing the mysterious villain Raoul Silva, whose evil lair just happens to be the deserted industrial island of Hashima. The crew were forced to built a set and use CGI for scenes taking place on the island, but that is the real place you see in those exterior shots. Not bad for one of the best Bond films of all time.

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#6 – The Road – Pennsylvania Turnpike

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898367/

I assure you that “The Road” will be the only movie to feature on both this and the previous list. But it is just such an interesting movie with a very unique filming location. After an unexplained apocalypse decimates the world, a man and his son trek towards the coast in hope of survival. In order to capture this, the filmmakers turned to the famous abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike. Though it is now a popular tourist attraction, this long stretch of abandoned highway was bypassed by a series of new roads. It was eventually left behind. Though cars no longer travel down it, local cyclists certainly enjoy it. But just like in this movie, beware of the long empty tunnels on the road.

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#5 – Hanna – Spreepark 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0993842/

This 2011 action film really doesn’t get enough credit. With a lot of heart and another fantastic performance from a young Saoirse Ronan, it is much more than meets the eye. The movie follows a young assassin, raised her entire life to be a killer, as she treks across Europe on one final mission towards freedom. One of her stops on this mission is at an abandoned amusement park in Eastern Germany. This is in fact Spreepark, an infamous former attraction of East Berlin. Known for its animal and wildlife themes, the park has remained derelict since 2002. Though there are plans to reopen the park in 2018, it makes an excellent backdrop for one of the key action scenes in this sleeper thriller.

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#4 – Blade Trinity – The McBarge

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0359013/

This one is actually one of my favorites. Not the movie, but this place. It’s not a bad picture by all means, in fact I think it’s the best of the Blade series. But that really isn’t saying much. Human/vampire hybrid Blade must team up with a gang of vampire hunters known as the “Nightstalkers” to take on the mightiest vampire of all: Dracula. The word vampire gets used a lot in that sentence, but I really didn’t know how else to word it. What makes this new gang interesting, beside being headed by Jessica Biel and a young Ryan Reynolds, is their hideout. A seemingly dilapidated boat, this is actually the fabled McBarge. A failed idea from the 1986 Expo in Vancouver, this floating McDonald’s has been bobbing around in the water ever since. While shooting in Vancouver, producers thought it make the perfect hideout for their new vampire hunting team.

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 #3 – The Blair Witch Project – The Griggs House

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0185937/

One of my personal favorite horror films, and the movie that arguably relaunched the “found-footage” genre. Whether you love it, or hate it, you cannot deny the impact that this movie made. The film follows three college students searching for and eventually being stalked by the elusive urban legend The Blair Witch in the woods of Maryland. But what many fans may not know is that the house where the climatic finale takes place was not a set. It was real. Though now demolished, filming of the movie’s ambiguous ending took place in the historic Griggs House in Patapsco Valley National Park (where most of the filming occurred).  The house was over 200 years old, and made for the perfect creepy location to end this creepy movie.

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#2 – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Michigan Central Station

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2975590/

I think the title of this movie kind of explains the plot better than I could. Following the events of “Man of Steel”, Superman finds himself in a clash of ideals with the Gotham City vigilante Batman. An interesting piece of trivia about this movie though is that it was one of the bigger ones to take advantage of shooting in the city of Detroit during their financial crisis. With the first few weeks of shooting taking place all across the city, one of the more climatic fight scenes of the film was shot at the legendary Michigan Central Station. With many failed redesign attempts, the station has been abandoned for years. But she may have found a new niche as a filming location as other movies such as “8 Mile” and “Transformers” have used the building as a set.

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#1 – Jurassic World – Six Flags New Orleans

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0369610/

Just because I’m a big “Jurassic Park” fan. Always have been. The plot of this movie follows a very similar plot to all the other films in the franchise, except that the park is actually open in this one. But one factor that makes this film really unique from its predecessors is a certain location where filming took place: the abandoned Six Flags New Orleans. Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, the park was left flooded for some time. After a long legal battle, Six Flags was able to break their lease on the park and left it abandoned. Though many redevelopment proposals have come forward, it still sits abandoned. But much like Michigan Central Station, this old park may have found new life as a movie location. Big budget films such as “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters”, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, and of course “Jurassic World” have all filmed at the ruined park. How? Life found a way.

original-jurassic-park-jeep-front

Know of any other movies filmed in abandoned places? Let us know in the comments! Likes/shares/comments/concerns/confessions/criticisms/questions are always welcomed.

One Day Too Late

The Abandoned Ladd School

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

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

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

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

Alone, Not Lonely

The Abandoned Pawtucket/Central Falls Train Station

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Sean L.

What does it mean to be lonely? It is a feeling we have all felt at least once in our lives. To some of us, it is feeling we know all to well. But there is a big difference between being alone, and being lonely. Some find solace in it. Others find only fear and despair. Have you ever looked around in a crowd and saw that one person sitting by themselves? They usually pull their phone out of their pocket and mindlessly pretend to be texting someone or calling someone, making sure everyone around them can see. It is like being alone scares them. It is like doing this makes them feel better. For the first time ever, I did this investigation all on my own. I had an audition in Rhode Island, and Amanda was working. It was quite different flying solo, and it really wasn’t the same. I made the hour and a half journey all by myself, not knowing full well what lay ahead of me. In order to make the trip feel more worth while, I stopped by a place I had always had my eye on: The Pawtucket/Central Falls Train Station.

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The historic cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls, Rhode Island, share a border. Both sit just outside of the capital, Providence, and are in close proximity to the Massachusetts state line. Things like this, or even fate perhaps, made them a crossroads for trade. In the early days, both cities had their own personal train stations. But in 1916, this was consolidated to one station which would share the name and interests of both cities. For years she saw hundreds of trains and passengers pass through her doors. But it was not long before she, much like several railroads we’ve covered in the past, began to fall into despair. By 1960, the station had been closed for good after being in such bad shape. Today, she still barely stands. There are currently plans to revive the station and/or rebuild it. The local government is currently planning on using grant money, and hopefully federal funding to bring the old station back to life. But until that days comes, this sad former crossroads now sits abandoned.

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My trip to the former train station was a sad one. It was a bright sunny day, but things just didn’t feel right around here. She sits all alone in the middle of a busy intersection, and looks to still be barely standing anymore. The years have clearly not been too kind to her. All around, the hustle and bustle of the local community continues about its comings and goings. Most don’t pay it any attention at all. I saw a few homeless people snooping around, and a few other characters sitting on the guardrails for their smoke breaks. The place is huge, and well fortified. Or so it would seem. Fences cover the main gate, which is still in pretty good shape. But across the bridge to the other side, the fences have been completely torn down. And a few doors now stand completely wide open to the world. Inside, she seems very structurally unsound and unsafe. Graffiti coats the outside and inside walls. All sorts of junk lies littered about the grounds. And this former train station evokes nothing but a strong feeling of dread.

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Like I said before, there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. To be lonely is to be sad because you’re alone, and to long for companionship. I didn’t see that here. The Pawtucket/Central Falls train station may look grim now, but there may yet be hope for it. Things could turn around if the money is found. But we’ll see. There is a strong feeling amongst the grounds that this old workhorse doesn’t want any visitors, that she just wants to be left in her solitude. Maybe she wants to simply continue her slow descent into destruction. Maybe this is all the future holds for her. She’s seen too much; from her glorious heyday to her dark current state. And the towns around her don’t seem to want much to do with her either. They all seem to have forgotten about this former station. She was once a cornerstone of the New England railroad system. Travelers from all over the country and local community passed through her ornate gates. She now sits all alone, but not lonely.

The Shores of Despair

New England’s Abandoned Coastal Buildings

Written by: Sean L

Photos by: Amanda H

Few natural forces of this planet have been as influential on mankind’s history as the sea. It is a place where many have gone in search of life, but some found only death. It is home to many different types of life. Mammals, birds, fish, reptiles all thrive off of the nourishment that the sea provides. Mankind is no exception. Throughout our existence, we have built our homes and constructed our civilizations around the life force of the ocean. From its waters, we have found food, water, recreation, inspiration, and even love. The hearts of empires, such as New York City, London, Tokyo, Rio de Janiero, have all thrived over centuries along the shores of the ocean. It provides us with life, but also fascination. But sadly, nothing lasts forever. Over the years, many of these empires have fallen to the sands of time. We have explored many abandoned coastal buildings over the years. Some were used for war, others were used for vacationing. Though these places have long since been left behind, they remain as haunting and as enchanting as the sea itself. Here are our favorite abandoned buildings along the New England coastline.

#1: Seaside Sanatorium, Waterford, Connecticut

While the state of Connecticut is home to several notorious abandoned medical facilities, Seaside Sanatorium is one of the more picturesque locations. The building itself was designed by the famous architect Cass Gilbert, the same man responsible for the famous US Supreme Court building in Washington DC and New Haven’s Union Station. The facility was opened during the early 1930’s, seeing a long and colorful history that lasted until 1996. Over the years it has served as a children’s hospital, a treatment center for the elderly, and a facility for the mentally handicapped. Sadly, the facility was home to several incidents of violent treatment of patients in the early 1990’s which would ultimately cause its demise. The grounds now sit abandoned, though they can be legally walked as a recreation area. The grounds come to life during the summer, as dozens of beachgoers flock to the shores. During the winter, it remains cold and lonely. Though the building is rather easy to get into, it is very unsafe and unstable inside. The grounds are also patrolled by a private security company around the clock. Note that you don’t have to get inside to truly appreciate the wonders of this forgotten place.

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#2: Fort Mansfield, Westerly, Rhode Island

The ruins of Fort Mansfield are located at the very edge of Napatree Point in village of Watch Hill. The United States military first purchased the property in 1898, as part of a new program to install artillery batteries all along the coast of New England. The fort was officially commissioned in 1902. However, during the war games of the early 1900’s, a fatal flaw was discovered in the fort’s design. The guns of the fort would be unable to repel a head-on assault from the sea, and it would be an easy target for an amphibious assault. Thus, the fort was decommissioned from active status in 1909. Over the years, the garrison of the fortress slowly dwindled as the military lost all interest and faith in it. The land was finally sold back to the town of Westerly in 1928. The fortress has remained abandoned ever since. The few buildings that once housed soldiers and equipment were demolished years ago. But the concrete structure of the fort still stands, lost amongst the vegetation of Napatree Point. During the summer, this area is a bird sanctuary. It is relatively quiet throughout the other seasons. The fortress is completely legal to visit, if you can find it.

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#3: Bates Motel, Truro, Massachusetts

Between the luxurious hotels and extravagant summer homes of Cape Cod lies a place that would make even Psycho creator and horror master Alfred Hitchcock himself uneasy. To this day, we have found very little information at all on the Bates Motel. We cannot even be positive if that is its real name. It does in fact bear a striking resemblance to the fabled motel of the film Psycho and its contemporary series Bates Motel. From what we have gathered, the motel has been abandoned for at least twenty years after an alleged family legal dispute. It has been the sight of many alleged hauntings, and it is smack dab in the middle of a very rich neighborhood. What we can tell you is that Bates Motel is located in the small town of Truro, Massachusetts. It is the second to last town on the furthest corner of Cape Cod, just slightly south of the beloved and lively Provincetown. The motel is privately owned, and NO TRESPASSING signs are clearly visible. All of the rooms are padlocked. Visit at your own risk. It may not have any connection with the movie legend, but the real Bates Motel is definitely just as creepy.

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#4: Fort Wetherill, Jamestown, Rhode Island

Located in the town of Jamestown, Rhode Island, Fort Wetherill is a mere stone’s throw away from the neighboring town of Newport. The history of the site dates back to the early 18th century. To protect the Narragansett Bay area, Fort Dumpling was built by British forces. After the expulsion, Fort Wetherill was constructed in its place by the American military a mere hundred years later in 1899. As a protector for the wealthy city of the New England mainland, Fort Wetherill proved to be very active during both World Wars as an artillery placement and troop station. Another primary task of the fort was to oversee the minefields erected during World War II. When the conflict ended, Fort Wetherill was decommissioned in 1946. It was then left abandoned for many years. Fortunately, the grounds were reacquired by the State of Rhode Island in the year of 1972. Due to its large granite cliffs and excellent view of the ocean, the grounds were commissioned as a state park. It is currently enjoyed today by many for sailing, fishing, and other water sports. The fortress, however, still stands, and is completely legal to visit. Sadly, it is also heavily enjoyed by the local teenagers for partying, vandalism, and destruction.

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Fortress of Solitude – Journey to the Lost Fort of Rhode Island

Posted: March 19, 2015 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Forts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Bird Watching, Birds, Broken, Closed, darkness, Destruction, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Fort Wetherill, Fortress, Forts, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Information, left behind, lost, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, Napatree Point, nature, new england, nightmares, Ocean, Ocean View, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Rhode Island, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, seaside, Stories, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
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Fortress of Solitude

Journey to the Lost Fort of Rhode Island

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

   The waves of the ocean crash up against the sandy shore. Fierce gusts of wind shriek through the tall sea grass. Packs of white gulls soar overhead, cackling and cawing to each other. The sun shines powerful and radiant in the sky. The deep Atlantic water is an enchanting shade of bright blue. This is Napatree Point, Rhode Island. And somewhere, lost in the vegetation of this place, lays an abandoned military fortress. The ramparts crumble as they slowly succumb to the barrage of time. Dark and empty corridors are haunted by the ghosts of the past. What once served as the first defense of the American homeland now lies in total silence. This is Fort Mansfield, forgotten by some and a legend to others. Unlike one of the other famous abandoned military forts in Rhode Island, Fort Wetherill (see our write-up here), this former coastal artillery instillation has been all but lost to the white sands of Napatree Point. Located in the village of Watch Hill, Fort Mansfield was one of our most difficult treks, but also one of our most rewarding discoveries.

Fort Mansfield has called Napatree Point home since its creation in the early twentieth century. The point is a small piece of land branching out from the town of Watch Hill. The United States military first purchased the property in 1898, as part of a new program to install artillery batteries all along the coast of New England. Though it may not have as rich of a history as Fort Wetherill, Mansfield does have a much sadder story than its legendary cousin. The fort was officially commissioned in 1902. However, during the war games of the early 1900’s, a fatal flaw was discovered in the fort’s design. The guns of the fort would be unable to repel a head-on assault from the sea, and it would be an easy target for an amphibious assault. Thus, the fort was decommissioned from active status in 1909. Over the years, the garrison of the fortress slowly dwindled as the military lost all interest and faith in it. The land was finally sold back to the town of Watch Hill in 1928. The fortress has remained abandoned ever since.

Having heard whispers of Fort Mansfield in the past without ever finding much information about it, we decided to go searching for it during the fall of 2014. As a burrow of the town of Westerly, Watch Hill is quite the summer hotspot, but it goes quiet during the offseason. Napatree Point is perfectly legal to walk, except for the handful of beachside bungalows at the very beginning. There is a nice little parking lot that is free to park at right in the middle of downtown Watch Hill. After parking, we began our walk down the point. There is beach on either side of the point, with thick vegetation in the middle. This is also a bird sanctuary during the summer nesting season. It is roughly a little over a mile to the very tip of the point. It is also fiercely windy due to the proximity to the ocean. The early stages of the point are decently trafficked by beachgoers, but the end of the point is deserted. After a long time combing through the point’s thick grass, we finally came upon the abandoned fortress.

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The fortress is comprised of two sections: one part contains the first two artillery instillations and the second section is a brief walk away containing the third instillation. There were once a few buildings here, but they have long since been demolished. The first section is a pretty good size. Though it is not as covered in graffiti as Fort Wetherill, Fort Mansfield is still pretty vandalized. Lots of tagging covers the walls, and there is plenty of liter down in the lower tunnels. The local fire department had put up some fencing around the outer walls of the fort to prevent visitors from getting in, but they are quite easily bypassed via a few still functioning ladders and former staircases. Several metal slabs have also been placed over certain points. Except for the blistering gusts of wind, this place is completely silent. There are several entrance points down to the lower levels. Since the front walls have been knocked out, there is a decent amount of light down here. The floor is also completely flooded in certain rooms from years of rain and high tides.

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The second section of the fort is a brief walk down an overgrown path. It sits on the very edge of Napatree Point, giving an excellent view of the Rhode Island coastline. It is much smaller than the first section of the fort, and is much more difficult to see. Tall sea grass and vegetation keep it very well hidden. The graffiti here is actually much more light hearted than the first section. At the very top of the fort, there are a couple of small staircases leading up to what must have once been look out posts. They provide excellent cover from the merciless wind. Unlike the first section, there are no barricades or fences to deter visitors here. Down to the lower levels, there are several large empty rooms. They are in complete darkness, yet they are completely empty save for the trash of vandals. Someone, or something, is most definitely living here. While exploring the dark passages of the lower levels, we heard something moving around in the tunnels. We didn’t stick around to find out what it was.

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Though it is a bit of a trek and can be difficult to find if you don’t know where to look, Fort Mansfield is definitely worth a visit. Unlike the legendary Fort Wetherill, this abandoned base is not home for teenage destruction and vandalism. Because of its remote location, the fort is only enjoyed by those who are willing to make the journey. The fierce winds and the hot sand make it a tough trek, but the fort is more than worth it. While the coastal town around it continues to grow and flourish, Fort Mansfield continues to stray out of thought and time. It is the ruins of a fortress that never got to be. Its run as a coastal artillery unit was cut tragically short by a fatal flaw. Now the land weeps, haunted by a purpose that it never got to fulfill. It is truly a fortress of solitude; quiet and alone, but still standing guard over its former territory.

View on the walk back

The Devil’s Playground

Rhode Island’s Legendary Fort Wetherill

By Sean and Amanda

While our home state of Connecticut is known amongst the urban explorer community for its many abandoned hospitals and insane asylums, the neighboring state of Rhode Island is known for something different. Due to its coastal proximity and value, the Ocean State is home to several abandoned seaside fortresses. Most of these forts date back to the early colonial days of America, with British, French, and Colonial forces occupying them at one time or another throughout the pages of history. Sadly, over the years the uses for these coastal protectors has dwindled. Many of the former forts and artillery batteries are now abandoned. Now, with no watchmen watching over these former watchtowers, they have become plagued by vandals, graffiti artists, and delinquents. It is these lawless individuals have made these places into their very own playground for destruction.

Perhaps the most well-known of these former coastal protectors is Fort Wetherill. Located in the town of Jamestown, Rhode Island, Fort Wetherill is a mere stone’s throw away from the neighboring town of Newport. The history of the site dates back to the early 18th century. To protect the Narragansett Bay area, Fort Dumpling was built by British forces. After the expulsion, Fort Wetherill was constructed in its place by the American military a mere hundred years later in 1899. As a protector for the wealthy city of Newport and the New England mainland, Fort Wetherill proved to be very active during both World Wars as an artillery placement and troop station. Another primary task of the fort was to oversee the minefields erected during World War II. But following the “War to end all Wars,” Fort Wetherill was decommissioned in 1946. It was then left abandoned for many years.

Fortunately, the grounds were reacquired by the State of Rhode Island in the year of 1972. Due to its large granite cliffs and excellent view of the ocean, the grounds were commissioned as a state park. It is currently enjoyed today by many for sailing, fishing, and other water sports. The fortress, however, still stands. The state did just enough to make the grounds not dangerous, by removing all hazardous materials and sealing off the upper and lower tunnel networks. By not demolishing the fort, the state left it at the mercy of the elements and the more destructive visitors the park. The tunnels are now filled with trash. The walls are coated with graffiti. And instead of soldiers, the fortress is garrisoned only by drunken teenagers. We decided to visit this former fort on a gloomy fall day.

Finding Fort Wetherill is easy. Due to its status as a national park, all you have to do is google it. There is a nice little parking lot at the front of the park. They even have onsite bathrooms. Apparently the park is also very popular for dog walkers, as we saw plenty. The fort is a short walk from the parking lot. Through the thick vegetation blocks it from view at some points, its large multicolored hull eventually looms out through the trees. It is truly a site to see. There are hardly any spots left on the fort that have not been covered with some sort of graffiti. Coming down the path initially, you are launched right into the main courtyard.  There is a small staircase leading off toward the ocean, and on either side are the old watchtowers and tunnel networks.

There are old fences scattered all over the fort, not that they can do much good. They are quite easy to hop right over. Following the old fence from the courtyard, we traveled along the fort’s outer wall. Though it may look small from the initial approach, Fort Wetherill is anything but. Most it, however, is hidden from sight by the wild trees and vegetation. At the farthest point, we found a small watchtower with an excellent view of the Narragansett Bay. Each section of the fort has their own tunnels. None of them are connected. When walking down them into the darkness, each one will have a large open room and then exit out a different way. Some even have little barred windows overlooking the outside. The inside of each tunnel is coated wall to wall with graffiti, and trash is everywhere.

Past the first courtyard, there are a few more towards the western side of the fort. Each one is just as graffiti covered as the first. This colorful art ranges from jokes, hate speech, drawings, and the occasional philosophical saying. For all you “Walking Dead” fans out there, we even found a few signs pointing to “Terminus.” Just like the show, they read “Sanctuary for all.” Fortunately, we didn’t find any cannibalistic community led by a former “Greek” star. While some of the graffiti is really offensive and at times dumb, it does give the former fortress an almost look of urban beauty. All of the wild colors and mismatched drawings give the fort a very unique aura. Unfortunately, any sense of beauty that may be found on the outside is ruined by the darkness of the inside.

The tunnels of Fort Wetherill are the Wild West. As made evident, there are no rules here. We found a small room deep in one of the tunnels that was completely full of bottles and beer cans. We also encountered a lot of unsavory characters down there. A few teens were smoking pot. There were others that were having sex. And even more were smashing the walls with sledge hammers. All just for fun. While we were all kids once, it is a shame to see this incredible site systematically destroyed by these people. And unfortunately, nothing can be done about it. Fort Wetherill has been left behind, and while its walls are sturdy, who knows how long this place has left. Since it is legal to visit, we encourage you to check out Fort Wetherill. However, we do urge you to be respectful. It really is a place of urban beauty, and we hope that you get to experience it. For it will not be long before Fort Wetherill becomes more than just The Devil’s Playground, and descends deeper into darkness.