Posts Tagged ‘Trains’

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.

The Bridge of Death

The Abandoned Willimantic River Railway

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

“He who approaches the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, heir the other side he see.” Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

I love this quote. I always have. My friends and I used to quote this and all the other great lines from the immortal British classic all the time. Hell, I still quote it every once in awhile. It may sound a little extreme for this piece, but there has never been a structure we’ve come across that is more menacing than the abandoned bridge that was once the lifeline of the Willimantic River Railway. We’ve crossed it once before, and it was quite an exhilarating experience. Until our way back across it when the old structure began to creak. That is not a sound you ever want to hear when you’re standing fifty feet in the air over the running waters of the Willimantic River. Heart-stopping as it was, we did make it back safely.  It is an experience that I shall never forget. Though it may have been a bit scary, it was a nice thrill ride to conquer the bridge. Since then, we unofficially christened the old bridge with the quotable nickname. That was over two years ago. So in the early days of spring 2017, we decided to return to the Bridge of Death.

 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.

Returning to the abandoned Willimantic River Railway was quite different than our first visit. The multiple tent cities had been completely cleared out. A few pieces of junk were still left behind, most notably some beat up bedroom furniture and a deck of playing cards. But the bridge itself still proudly stands…barely. Though she may look just as sardonically beautiful as she once was, we chose not to cross it this time. The old wooden supports for this former workhorse have taken a turn for the worse. And though the water was exceptionally high that day, it was still not worth the risk of crossing it again. Adventurer’s beware. Around the bridge, a lot of old track is still standing. Farther down the line, a couple chunks of old machinery can still be found. Even without crossing the bridge, it is still truly a sight to marvel at. It is a relic of the past, and a testament of fortitude to its original crafters. And while the world around her continues to change at a whirlwind pace, the Bridge of Death is still standing.

“I’ll tell you a riddle. You’re waiting for a train, a train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you don’t know for sure. But it doesn’t matter. How can it not matter to you where the train will take you? Because you’ll be together.” –Inception 

The Other Side of the Tracks — The Abandoned Cedar Hill Rail Yard

Posted: January 12, 2015 by Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, abandoned new england, Abandoned Railway, Abandoned Stores, Abandoned train station, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Birds, Broken, Cedar Hill, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, fire, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, House, Information, left behind, lost, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, New Haven, nightmares, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, The Walking Dead, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Walking Dead, writing, WWII
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The Other Side of the Tracks

The Abandoned Cedar Hill Rail Yard

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

A lot of strange things can happen to a place when it is abandoned. Where man once dwelled, nature begins to take back. Structures slowly crumble under the weight of time. But worst of all, the deserted manner of these places tends to attract a lot of lawlessness and delinquency. No such place we have ever visited exemplified these characteristics more so than Cedar Hill. This forgotten rail yard has become its own little world, a place where nightmares come to life. There are things here and a presence in the air that Amanda’s pictures can show a Hell of a lot better than my words ever could. You must see Cedar Hill in order to believe it. Though it is not too far from civilization, you will find anything but in this place that the world forgot about a long time ago.

Located in the busy town of North Haven, Connecticut, Cedar Hill was once one of the largest and most active rail depots in all of New England. Not too far from the coast of Long Island Sound, Cedar Hill was once a part of the flourishing network of railways that run all along the east coast. The yard was built along the Quinnipiac River and surrounding marshlands. It was originally built in the early 1920’s to help support the New Haven area’s quickly flourishing railway industry. As transportation methods began to advance and World War II came to close, the Cedar Hill rail yard began to grow quiet. Within a few years, the facility was all but abandoned. We could not find an exact year of closure or exact reason. A newer and much more modern rail yard now stands right beside the old grounds.

Our trip to Cedar Hill was on a humid summer day and took us down the infamously busy I-91. From the highway, you can still see several parts of the rail yard. Most notably visible are the old towers, though they are now wrapped in thick vines and vegetation. Cedar Hill is hard to find, and for good reason. It can only be accessed through the back parking lot of one of the neighboring department stores. Curiously, there was a large sign out front saying that the property was for sale. We eventually found the trail that took us along the banks of the Quinnipiac River, until we reached the old tracks. They are heavily rusted and overgrown, but these tracks are the lifeline of the facility. We followed them further into the yard, and used them as a focus point in case we got lost.

Our first stop off the tracks led us into a clearing. More tracks led us farther into the yard, where we found a tipped over and dirtied baby carriage along with lots of other litter. Along the fences of the neighboring active rail yard are the abandoned terminals/storage facilities. Though the windows had all been smashed, the door leading into one of the buildings was still in one piece. Inside, these buildings are completely shot out. There were still a few protective fences. The walls and floors were cement. The roof had even caved in big time in one section. Strange little bunkers had been set up all over the floor. Apparently, local kids have been using the inside of this building as a paintball course. Pink paintball splatters were scattered across the walls and floor. Several other buildings were just like this.

Farther down the tracks, we found just a large clearing covered in debris. All kinds of trash littered the ground in this one spot. We also found a few smaller buildings directly beside the tracks. They seemed to be power sheds of some kind, as they were all connected with the old power lines. We also found an old warehouse towards the back of the facility. There was yet another makeshift paintball course outside of the building. In close proximity to the warehouse is the old power station, with a lot of rusting equipment and barely legible warning signs still standing. Throughout the facility, there are multiple towers overlooking the surrounding areas. The ladders leading the top of these towers have all been cut short so nobody can safely climb them. There is also a lot of wild vegetation growing all over the towers.

The most unsettling thing about Cedar Hill was the evidence we found of people still living here. Scattered amongst different spots in the facility, we found large animal skeletons and skulls. We even found a deer’s freshly severed leg at one point. Due to its proximity to the nearby marshes, this could simply be a large predator. However, we also found several fire pits nearby with old cooking equipment, pots, and pans. The creepiest part of our investigation was what we found in the tunnels. Right beside the banks of the river in a large open tunnel, leading deep underground with no end in sight. Not only did we hear voices coming from inside the tunnel, we even captured on camera what appear to be the figures of two people deep in the tunnels. We had heard rumors of homeless people living back here, clearly they were true. We chose to stay out of the tunnels.

We went into this investigation expecting to find an abandoned rail yard. What we found was much more than that. We found a world all on its own. In the absence of civilization, nature rules. The strongest survive. The weak get taken. There are no rules in places like Cedar Hill. We left this place with a very uneasy feeling, and for the first time ever, we would not recommend anyone reading this to ever visit this place. It is very dangerous, with darkness lurking around every corner. It is a place out of a nightmare, as if an episode of The Walking Dead had come to life. Trash and broken hunks of metal are scattered about. It is almost completely silent at all times. Human beings live in deplorable conditions. Innocence has been lost. And you can never quite shake the feeling that you’re being watched when you cross over, to the other side of the tracks.