Posts Tagged ‘river’

Welcome to the Tombs

The Abandoned Car Graveyard

Written by: Sean L.

Photos by: Amanda H.

We love to explore. It’s kind of what we do. We do our research, we go out on investigation, and then we document our adventures on this site. But every once in awhile, we simply stumble across things in our travels. I mean, that’s how we got started in the crazy world so many years ago. While hiking, we randomly found ourselves in the middle of the abandoned Sunrise Resort. We weren’t planning on it. It just sort of happened. Every once in awhile, we just find things. Like in the early Fall of 2015. We were out for a hike in a forgotten little state park along a lonely little river. The sun was slowly fading, and the leaves we gradually beginning to fall. But while strolling along the riverbank, we stumbled upon a long lost graveyard. Not for people, or even pets. This graveyard was for long lost automobiles.

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Motorized transports can be traced back all the way to the sixteen hundreds in ancient China. But automobiles as we now know them first began to take shape in the late nineteenth century. Both German and American engineers began to make headway in what is now a billion dollar industry by pioneering the field of gasoline powered engines. By the early nineteen hundreds, factories were beginning to produce engines all around the United States. But the concept truly became a phenomenon when Henry Ford began to mass produce and perfect the automobile design. By the time the Roaring Twenties came about, Ford’s design could be seen on both sides of the country and across Europe.Today, cars are everywhere.

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Sadly, this includes being lost and left to rot beside an old river deep in the woods. We discovered a half dozen rusting corpses of all cars scattered amongst the underbrush. They were all within a quarter mile of each other, some grouped closer together than others. Old parts and other scraps were strewn about all over the place. Most of these old cars were too far gone to really discern what make or model they were (if you are a car expert, please feel free to comment). To me, they just all look like the cars from The Untouchables. Though the interiors had long since rotted away, the local wildlife now occupies most of these old relics. Wild snakes dwell on the ground, sunning themselves on what is left of the once luxurious seats. And in the ceilings, families of mice cluster together in fear whenever anyone walks by. It was a true graveyard, one that has been lost for what appears to be many years.

Welcome to Garden of Lost Cars.

Welcome to the Graveyard of Empires.

Welcome to the Tombs.

Rest in Peace.

Where the Tracks End

The Abandoned Willimantic River Railway

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs By: Amanda H.

     Along the banks of a lively river in a bustling town, there lies a world hidden in plain sight. Much like another former rail yard that we investigated long ago, Cedar Hill, this is a place outside the bonds of society. It is a place that has become its own little world, where the unexplained and the unexpected walk hand in hand. This is all that remains of the once prominent Willimantic River Railway. Though it may not be as dark and depressing as the abandoned Cedar Hill rail depot in New Haven, it is just as wild and dangerous. This is a world that nature has reclaimed, and the wilderness has claimed dominion over the land. The last remnants of mankind’s kingdom slowly crumble against the weight of time. Tracks have been ripped up. Train cars have been left to rot. An old bridge still runs across the river, decaying in the sun. Although the world left this place behind a long time ago, many different forms of life have come to call it home. On our investigation, we encountered signs of birds, beasts, and even humans living amongst the underbrush.

   The official entrance to the Willimantic River can be found on Columbia Avenue. Sitting right before the Columbia/Windham town line, the area is technically a part of the Hop River State Park Trail. Commonly used for biking and hiking, the trail begins here and extends all the way to the Vernon town line. It is describes as a perfect two mile ride or walk for your average outdoorsmen, but it wasn’t always this way. In the mid 1990’s, the town of Willimantic was a hotspot for railways and train yards. One of the older and more prominent lines ran across the picturesque Willimantic River. However, a fierce rainy season during the summer of 1955 caused major flooding in the area. The flooding permanently crippled some of the bridges on the Willimantic River line, causing it to be decommissioned shortly after. Following its closure, the land was converted into a recreational area. The former railway bed was removed and covered with gravel, making the paths perfect for bikers. It is now managed by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Energy and Protection, and maintained by local volunteers and organizations. However, not everything was removed from this former railway line.

   The crown jewel of the abandoned Willimantic River Railway is the bridge. This ancient trestle runs across the Willimantic River, and can be seen from the road. At first glance, it is hard to tell whether or not the bridge is still in use. Once you get up close, it become abundantly clear. The bridge is very rusted, and the wooden support beams have become old and frail. It is about two hundred feet across the bridge, which stands over fifty feet above the running waters of the Willimantic River. Wild vines and vegetation grow all around it. The bridge is quite unsafe and very unstable. We crossed it by going one step at a time, though the entire structure seemed to creek and sway with each and every step. It is not recommended to cross this bridge. It has been nicknamed “The Bridge of Death,” after Monty Python and the Holy Grail. However, it’s much more reminiscent of the railway bridge from Stand by Me. Halfway across it, I almost expected to hear Wil Wheaton yell, “Train!” Sadly though, it has been many years since any locomotive passed across this old structure.

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    On the other side of the river, the old tracks continue for a ways. Sitting on them, is what appears to be a long abandoned set of train cars. The train cars are huge, each one standing very tall and very wide. They have all become overgrown and all but forgotten. Their wheels have become rusty and decrepit, even to the point where it is doubtful whether or not they can even move anymore. We were only able to walk along the left side of the train cars, as the right was completely overgrown with vines and thorn bushes. The old set of train cars sits right beside what must be either a dumping site a Mackey’s supply store. While scoping out the train cars, we encountered what must’ve been either a large dog or coyote which quickly took off into the woods. Though the train cars had some graffiti and there was plenty of liter around, there was no way anyone could break into these. All of the doors and hatchways were padlocked shut. It remains unclear to us whether these cars have been abandoned, or if they have merely been forgotten here.

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     Though the ancient bridge and the old train cars were very cool, the thing that stood out about this place the most were the tent cities. Throughout our walk, we came across three different abandoned encampments along the banks of the river. Each one appeared to have once held a small group of people. There were tents, cooking supplies, clothing, fire pits; everything that was essential to survival. But each encampment had been totally ransacked. Tents were torn apart. Chairs were flipped over. Clothing and sleeping bags lie strewn across the forest floor. It looked like these encampments had been cleared out overnight, like something out of The Walking Dead. We have heard rumors that the local homeless population had been granted legal permission to camp out here, but they have clearly been gone a long time. But for some reason, all of their belongings had been left behind.  There were also dozens of old car tires thrown about all over the place. Some were clustered together, others were in small stacks. It was very strange. But then, we’ve seen it before many times in the past. Places like the Willimantic River railway get left behind, and a whole new world takes over.

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This is what becomes of a place when it finally hits the end of the line. This is where the tracks end.

We stumbled upon this while hiking in the woods the other day….