Posts Tagged ‘Spirits’

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 anyone 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 run 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 small  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.

Frozen Hearts

The Abandoned Eyrie House

Written by: Wilk

Photographs: Lassie

Damn, these times are hard. We can’t go to places we want to go. We can’t get the things that we need. We can’t do the things that we want to do. I am stuck inside day in and day out doing voice-overs. Lassie does what she can around the house. But our dog sure does love the company. Some birds just aren’t meant to be caged. See, we have a system when we go exploring. Since it’s usually a long drive, we always go out for a drink and a hot meal afterwards. If there’s a used bookstore or a vintage toy store in the vicinity, we’ll check that out as well. But we can’t do any of that right now. And that sucks. I made a list at the beginning of the year of places I wanted to explore all over New England. We’ve sadly had to postpone most of that. Stress the word most. It’s hard to stay positive in this situation, but we’re going to do our best. There’s always a couple of local places I keep on the back burner just in case. And while today’s subject may not be much to look at, but she is a legend in these parts.

This is the abandoned Eyrie House. We have covered a lot of places in the Mount Tom area of Western Massachusetts in the past, but this one has always evaded us. First opening in 1861, this place has seen a lot of history. She started life as a hotel overlooking the absolutely picturesque valleys of the Holyoke area. But the hotel faced a lot of competition, and business began to decline over the years. Much like the nearby ruins of the Apsinwall Hotel in Lenox, the Eyrie House met an unfortunate end due to vicious fires. Legend has it that the owner of the Eyrie House was alone at the hotel, and attempted to cremate one of his fallen horses in 1901. The fire got out of control, and with help so very far away, the Eyrie House never had a chance. The hotel burned to the ground in a fiery inferno, leaving behind only her sturdy stone frame. The grounds were eventually sold off to the local government and added onto the Mount Tom State Park area.

I first went looking for the Eyrie House way back in the summer of 2017. I had a rehearsal/table read up in Amherst early one Saturday morning, and decided to stop for a hike on my way back. But when confronted with the in-season $10 parking fee, I decided to save it for another time. Flash forward to 2020. Given its proximity, long/lonely hike in, and the current situation of social distancing, we decided that the Eyrie House would be a perfect trip for our March article. An unexpected snow had fallen the day before, and we were both getting a serious case of Cabin Fever. So we hopped in the car and went for a drive. The Mount Tom park can be tricky. Like I said earlier, we had covered other abandoned attractions in the area before. And each one had it’s own way in. Today was no exception. Our directions took us down a quiet country road to a road-side dirt parking lot. From there, it was a two mile hike in to the abandoned Eyrie House.

It was a long and icy climb to the ruins. But we were mostly alone. We slipped and slid all the way up. But we made it. There may not be too much to see here, but the ruins of this place certainly are special. The great stone frame looms over the Connecticut River valley. The old archways still project a strong sense of grandeur. And the area has clearly been protected and cherished for a long time. But the one thing I took away and will always remember about the abandoned Eyrie House was the frozen heart. While walking along the outer frame of the house, I found a patch of ice. It was frozen into the almost perfect shape of a heart. Though the sun was setting, and the breeze was chilling, I couldn’t help but take it as a sign of hope. Most may not believe such things, but I do. Hopefully, someday soon, this time of great sorrow shall lift. But until that day comes, let’s all stay strong. Be thankful for what you have. And watch out for each other.

EY5

“Don’t allow our doubts of today limit our tomorrow.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

Salmon River Specter

The Abandoned Brown’s Mill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

There have always been ghosts in the forest. Things appear and disappear. Specters dart from tree to tree. Sometimes you can’t shake the feeling of being watched. And nothing is ever what it seems out here. I spent many hours of my youth roaming the woods of New England, looking for adventure. A good chunk of those hours were spent in the nearby Salmon River Forest. It is a fascinating place indeed. Marlborough, Colchester, and East Hampton all share it at certain points. And while these three towns are the epitome of middle class life, the Salmon River Forest is something else entirely. Just a few short miles away from the hustle and bustle of their respective town centers, you can find true natural beauty. It almost feels more like Vermont out there. The aroma of roaring fires and the sounds of running water float through the air. Fly fishermen stubbornly cast off from the river banks at all times of the year. And the woods beckon with a soft green serenity. But there is one place here that disrupts this tranquility…

That place is the abandoned Brown’s Mill. It has truly been a ghost for us. As I previously mentioned, I have been trekking through these woods for years. And I had never even heard of this place until a few months ago. While searching for information on another abandoned mill we had recently covered in Manchester, I came across an article on this place. I wrote the name down, so I could come back to it at some point. But then, the article mysteriously disappeared. So I went looking on Google Maps, only knowing that this place resided along the Salmon River. I eventually found it on the street view. But then this also mysteriously disappeared. I thought that was it. Whatever was left behind must have been demolished. As this is usually how it goes. We find a place right after it’s been destroyed, like the Foam Dome. Case closed. Until a few weeks ago. I just happened to be searching for new places to explore this year, and bam. There it was again. It was almost as if this place was taunting me with it’s presence. We had to go check it out.

I usually talk about the history of a place early in my articles. But I still haven’t found anything on this place. The abandoned Brown’s Mill is a blank space on the map. It was also not an easy trek to explore. On our journey, I expected it to be a long hike in to find something very much lost in the woods. But that is not the case. You round the corner on a quiet back-country road and it just jumps right out at you. The skeletal grey remains blend in quite well with the surrounding woods. A cozy house sits right next to the grounds. The ruins sit along the banks of the river, so there is no real way to hike in. So we had to park farther down the road at one of the fishing spots by the Salmon River and walk in. It was cold and grey, but the mill was worth it. There are plenty of NO TRESPASSING and KEEP OUT signs along the buildings. But none of them seem very official. Some are even just spray painted onto the crumbling foundation. None the less, we had to use some creative techniques to obtain our photos.

The abandoned Brown’s Mill has clearly seen much better days. It looked and felt like it could collapse in on itself at any minute. There’s clearly been some fire damage around the central hub. Rickety chain-link fences attempt to shield off the more dangerous sections. Plenty of mill machinery has been left behind, but they are now nothing more than ghastly hunks of rusting metal. The ornately carved roof is still there in a few parts of the old mill, but just barely. The skylight pours into the old mill like a ship taking on water. Chunks of wood, plaster, and brick coat the ground in droves. But believe it or not, though, vandalism does not seem to be much of an issue. There was a bit of tagging here and there. But the abandoned Brown’s Mill seems to be relatively untouched by any unkind visitors. Which is nice to see. The whole place honestly feels like the skeletal remains of what once was. It’s like this place died a long time ago, and time has slowly been picking it apart piece by piece ever since.

We didn’t stay too long. I can honestly say that there really isn’t too much to see here. I wish I could’ve seen it five, or even ten years ago. The old machinery is really cool, and makes me wonder how/why it was all left to rot. But the remains of the mill sit very exposed to the outside world. A cozy house sits within a stone’s throw. A country road runs straight passed it. And the Salmon River forest is always so very teeming with life. Plus there’s plenty of NO TRESPASSING markers painted all over this old beauty. Whether they’re legitimate or not is irrelevant. Visitors are clearly not very welcome here. And that’s honestly okay. The abandoned Brown’s Mill will continue its slow and steady decline into total destruction. Her heyday’s of usefulness have been outlived. This is not the first abandoned mill that we have covered in the area to meet a similar fate. In the days of future past, this structure will be long gone. But her spirit, much like her former vessel, will continue to haunt these majestic woodlands.

As Within, So Without

The Abandoned Clausland Mountain Tunnels

PART II

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

“As Above, so below. As within, so without.” These are the words that haunted my mind as I walked alone through the darkness. My head was crouched down. Not because I was too tall for the tunnels, but to avoid another confrontation with the spider crickets. Lassie had stayed back for this one, but I was on the hunt. For what? I have no idea. It’s just you never know what you are going to find in the deepest/darkest places of the world. I had come into this investigation fully prepared. A large flashlight was in one hand. My bandana was pulled over my face. And a cold steel knife was strapped to my belt. Obviously, I am a big fan of the movie As Above, So Below. The titles of this issue have been an homage to it. If you haven’t seen the film, I would highly recommend it. But these words have a much deeper meaning. They come from an ancient proverb. “As Above, so below. As within, so without.” It has been theorized this was the philosophy for when God created the Earth. As things are in Heaven, so they shall be on Earth. As things are above ground, so they shall be beneath it. Well, friends, I can tell you now that these may be beautiful words. But that is not always the case. Welcome to Part Two of our investigation on the abandoned Clausland Mountain Tunnels.

Our final investigation for 2019 took us once again to the great state of New York. We’ve covered a few things here, mostly in the Hudson River Valley, and they never disappoint. And today’s subject is no exception. What we have here today are known as the abandoned Clausland Mountain Tunnels in Nyack, New York. First built in 1910, this area was once known as Camp Bluefield. Here, National Guard troops trained and were stationed year round. The tunnels were apart of their training rifle range, used for traveling up and down the range without danger. They caused untold stress and disruptions with the locals, and were forced to close down only a few years later. Since then, the area served many different purposes. But none of them ever really stuck. Eventually, the former military base was completely abandoned. And, as we all know, this is when the vandals and vagrants began to encroach. Fortunately, the grounds of the old camp were eventually added onto one of the more secluded state parks in the community. It is here that the old tunnels have remained dormant ever since. And so, on our ninth anniversary trip, we decided to go hunting for this long lost military fortress.

One of the star attractions of the old base is what we’ve come to call “Tree Tunnel.” It’s one of the few things that really attracted me to this place. We’ve seen nature take places back in a big way before, but this was my favorite example. Towards the northern side of the old base, a tree has grown into the tunnel system. You literally have to climb into the tunnels through the tree, and it’s really cool. If you’re really tall, like myself, it is a bit of a chore to get inside. But it’s well worth it. I honestly refused to leave the area without finding “Tree Tunnel.” Another interesting feature of the abandoned base is the car wreck. At the southern most point, an old car has rusted into oblivion a few yards from the tunnel system. Jokingly, the words “FOR SALE” have been spray painted onto it. It is unclear whether or not this old machine had a part to play here at some point, or if some local had just dumped it here many years ago. There are also several small buildings situated in a orderly fashion alongside the tunnels. Structurally, each one is exactly the same as the last. They are all completely empty, save for the usual trash and graffiti. But they were once also apart of the base’s rifle range.

On our way back towards the car, we happened to cross paths with two older graffiti artists painting the outer walls of the tunnels. They weren’t taggers, these two were legit artists. And they weren’t kids either, both of these gentlemen appeared to be in their late forties. They were very friendly, and their work was actually quite good. We usually avoid strangers when exploring abandoned places, and it was actually a little startling to come across these two. But they honestly seemed as shocked to run into us as we were to run into them. Another peculiar instance on our walk back were the vultures. Scores of them had been circling the area since we had begun our investigation. And on our way back, we discovered why. As we got closer to the wealthy neighborhood, the air began to smell quite foul. And as we approached our path back, we were blocked by a small army of these scavengers. A large carcass, of what I have no idea, was now laying in the trail. It wasn’t there on our walk in, and the vultures had begun feasting on it. It was a little horrifying, to say the least. So, we decided to take the road back to the car. It was a bit longer, but I had no intention of breaking up the feeding frenzy.

I usually don’t do pieces that are composed of multiple issues. In fact, the last ones I wrote for this site was my three-part issue on the abandoned Sunrise Resort and the trilogy of Top 10 Abandoned Places in Movies lists. But there is just so damn much to see and do here. It has honestly become one of my absolute favorite abandoned places that we have ever explored. And it’s all completely legal to visit. There is an entire world out there in the woods, just waiting to be seen. The abandoned tunnels were some of the coolest places we’ve ever explored. Just between us, we ended spending our entire afternoon out there in the woods. I wanted to be absolutely sure that we covered every last inch of the old base. It was bloody exhausting, but I strongly recommend it to any of our loyal readers. Even if you have to make a bit of a drive, this place is totally worth it. Especially to all of those that have inquired to us in the past about abandoned tunnels. And so, friends, I ask one final time: why do we seek the dark? I still don’t have an answer, because I think everyone’s answer is different. There is so much light up here in the world, sometimes it’s good to get a look at the flip side. It is only after we have seen total darkness that we can truly appreciate the light.

The Top 5 Abandoned Places of 2019

Close out the year by checking out our new video on the Top 5 Abandoned Places of 2019! We’ve been all over the East Coast this year, and thank you to all that have been along for the ride.

Who Goes There?

The Abandoned Union Pond Mill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

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

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

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

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

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

Hymn for the Missing

The Abandoned Floydville Church

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rise and Shine

The Abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

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

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

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

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

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

ESP2

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