Posts Tagged ‘Winter’

New Day’s Dawn

The Abandoned Scott Tower

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

It’s a new day. It’s a new year. It’s a new time. The dawn of 2019 is upon us. Funny enough, it never really feels any different than the previous year to me. At least, not right away that is. The only thing that really tells you its a new year is having to change the date whenever you sign a check. We make our fancy resolutions. We get drunk at our New Year’s Eve parties. We like to think things will be different this time around. But some things never really change. No matter how much we want them to. That’s why I’ve never been such a big fan of the whole “New Year” concept. Life changes faster than the weather around here. But I never needed a calendar to tell me that. But enough of the negativity. Happy New Year everyone! We usually go inactive during this season, but plans change. With the impending viciousness of the New England winter upon us, we took what might be our one last chance until Spring to have our first investigation of 2019. And this time, things were definitely a little bit different.

It gets me every time when I find a place like this having never heard of it before. I actually found out about it on reddit of all places. This is Scott Memorial Tower in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Standing atop Craft Hill, the tower was first built in 1942. The name Scott Tower was bestowed upon this place in honor of local hero Colonel Walter Scott. As part of a venture to build a new park for the area, picnic tables and other amenities sprouted up alongside the tower over the years. With two lookout points, the tower provided a beautiful view of Western Massachusetts. Thus it became one of the jewels of the local community. But this time of prosperity was not to last. A bypass of local highways ended up costing the park in a big way. Attendance steadily began to wain as her former patrons moved on to newer parks. And by the 1980’s, she had fallen into complete despair. There have been several attempts at a revival, but none have come to fruition. Ever since, the once grand tower now stands lost and lonely before her fallen kingdom.

It was only a few days after the New Year that we decided to visit Scott Tower. Being close by, and what was supposed to be good weather (we’ll get to that in a bit), we thought it would be a good time to check out this mysterious place. It was a bit of a spur of a moment type visit. We have explored a lot of places in the Western Massachusetts area over the last year. But this one was a bit different. Located in the now defunct Anniversary Hills park, the tower lies down a forgotten road in a quiet wood. The only other people we encountered on our journey were two elderly women and their three yappy dogs. Interestingly, the best way to the tower is through the now flourishing Community Field. Follow the old path under the highway, and you’ll find the tower. There is even some graffiti on the pavement to give you exact directions. Which was nice. Skeletons of picnic tables still haunt the forest. A once elegant staircase leads up the hill. The old stone spire looms like a ghostly shadow out of the forest. The grey skies provided an elegant backdrop for this ghostly monolith. But the large cellular tower nearby is a bit of a distraction.

I can honestly tell you that Scott Tower is in rough shape. The structure itself is still quite solid. Everything else, however, has fallen into shadow. It was deathly silent here. There was broken glass, garbage, and all sorts of horribly gross shit all over the ground. I’m talking used condoms, hypodermic needles, and bags full of God knows what. Almost every inch of reachable stone has been coated in graffiti. The staircase to the top of the tower is still open though. 21 year old me would’ve jumped at the chance to climb this thing. 27 year old me, however, had motion sickness by the time he reached the top. Seriously. The path to the pinnacle is narrow as Hell, and just seems to go on forever. Watch your step, too. Some steps are broken, and some are just plain gone. I had to lean on the railing the entire way up. There is one stop on the way up which serves as a nice reprieve. Plus its super dark inside, so bring a flashlight. When we finally did reach the top, it started snowing. Like crazy. So we were stuck up there for awhile just watching it fall. But on the brighter side, the view of the Mount Tom valley is just bloody breathtaking.

As far as we know, Scott Tower is completely legal to visit. There is even a sign on the front wall of the tower reading “Enter at Own Risk.” Heed this warning. Perhaps that is one of the contributing factors to its current state of decay. I highly recommend it to anyone in search of adventure. Just please be safe. The area is allegedly home to some rather unsavory characters. Especially at night. And climbing the tower itself is a bit of a beast, especially if you’re 6’3″ like myself. Always watch your step. One thing I will never forget about this place are the robins. It’s rare to see them during this time of year. And yet a flock of six robins followed us through our entire journey to and from the tower. They never made any noise. They just all sat in the trees and watched us. Curious, isn’t it? Given that robins are the harbingers of Spring around here, maybe this was a good omen. Obviously, winter has just begun. But maybe the presence of Connecticut’s state bird is the sign of some sort of New Day. We’ll see what happens.

Off the Beaten Path

The Abandoned Rutland Prison Camp

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Greetings, everyone. We’re back at it. Did you miss us? Of course you did. Why wouldn’t you? After a very long and very shitty winter (it’s even snowing right now as I write this piece…in April), we finally got to do some exploring last weekend for the first time since mid November of last year. It was a bit of a hike, but it was quite an adventure. Western Massachusetts has kind of become the great untapped resource for us. I keep finding more and more places up here for us to explore, yet we never really found the time to check them out. When a clear weekend finally opened up, we couldn’t resist the chance to do some exploring. The choice was between this place or Hearthstone Castle for us. Though Hearthstone seems really cool, I feel like everyone covers it. This place does not quite get the attention it deserves. Plus, it is allegedly haunted. So we decided to pay it a visit. Buried deep in the woods, at the edge (hopefully) of winter, this is the abandoned Rutland Prison Camp.

I’m going to be honest. Finding any history on this place was difficult. All people could really give me on the history of this place was that it was a prison camp in the early twentieth century and that’s it’s been abandoned for a long time. Not even the official website helped. I tried all of my usual sources on this one: YouTube, Google, Reddit, etc. Nobody seemed to have much history on this strange place. Luckily, I was able to find one site with some info. So thank you, atlasobscura.com. They really helped out. Apparently the prison camp was built to house minor offenders during the late 1800’s/early 1900’s. The guests of the prison were usually there for non-violent crimes such as public intoxication or taxation troubles. Inmates would do farm-work by day, and return to their minimum security lodgings by night. As the years went on, the camp slowly grew larger and larger. But it was abruptly abandoned in 1934 due to complications with the local water supply.

The abandoned prison camp is located in the heart of what is now Rutland State Park in Rutland, Massachusetts. It’s a nice little park, with some very picturesque views. During the off-season, the road to the prison camp is closed to traffic. But that didn’t matter to us, because we would’ve walked in anyway. If you follow anything we post here, you should know by now how much we love to hike. Also during the off-season, you don’t have to pay to park. Which was nice. I really hate having to pay to park. It was a nice day out, and there were only a couple other cars at the park when we pulled up. It was roughly two miles through the wondrous New England woods until we came upon the ruins of the abandoned camp. The farther we hiked, the more anxious I got that we weren’t going to find the ruins. But fear not. Follow the trail, and you’ll find them. Red squirrels scampered through the trees. Wild ducks quacked through the air. And we strangely didn’t encounter many other hikers.

The main trail of the park leads you right up the ruins of Rutland Prison Camp. There are three main structures still standing, all in relatively close proximity to each other. There is easy access to all three of them. Two are smaller/more compact buildings. While the main hall is much larger, and very dark inside. Much like many older cement building from the past, they show little signs of wear and tear. Besides the colorful plethora of graffiti of course. Each structure has its own unique feel to it. Darkness lurks inside, and the colorful murals of spray paint give this place a strange sense of urban beauty. There are underground tunnels that are easily accessible, but we regrettably were unable to enter them. With the snow storm the week prior, the tunnels were flooded with several feet of water. None the less, this place was very cool to explore. Clearly, though, the prison camp is a hot spot for partying and general shenanigans. There was a lot of litter inside the main hall. But this is nothing out of the ordinary for a place like this.

The abandoned Rutland Prison Camp is completely legal to visit. So if hiking and urban exploring is your thing, I would highly recommend it. We had heard plenty of rumors of this place being haunted. Speaking for myself, I felt no such ominous presence here. It is a bit isolated from the rest of the world, but I wouldn’t call it creepy or anything like that. Of course there was plenty of liter and vandalism around, but that just comes with the territory. It is kind of a hidden gem, and the hike in is very much worth it. Being able to explore this place after a two mile walk is a nice treat. Especially after a very long winter of being stuck inside all the time. It just goes to show you that you never know what lies off the beaten path. The woods keep many secrets from us. And it’s good to see that old places like the abandoned Rutland Prison Camp still survive. People may have suffered there a hundred years ago, but we are all able to enjoy it today. Happy Hunting.

Winter is Coming

The Abandoned Rocky Hill Quarry

Written by: Cobra

Photographs by: Lassie

Winter is coming. The leaves have fallen from the trees. The temperature has dropped. It started snowing on my ride into the studio this morning, which I was totally not expecting. If you’re not familiar with it, New England’s winter can be unpredictable and unforgiving. One day it will be beautiful, the next it will be brutal. Plus with the chaos of the holiday season fast approaching, things usually slow down for us a bit here at Abandoned Wonders. Winter is just not a great time for exploring. So we decided to get one last big adventure in before the outdoor season comes to an end. And what better place than the abandoned Rocky Hill Quarry?

Located in the nearby Rocky Hill, Connecticut, Quarry Park was a place I had never heard of. Credit to this find actually goes to onlyinyourstate.com, which is an excellent place to find fun hikes and places to visit. They recently included this park in one of their articles,  and being so close to us, we naturally had to go check it out. For years, Rocky Hill Quarry was a large and profitable business. But times change. Following the closure of the quarry in the 1950’s, the land was eventually rechristened as Quarry Park. With an excellent view of the town and a nice two-mile hike, it is well worth a visit. But it is what’s left of the old quarry that make this place interesting.

The first item to greet you on the walk are the ruins of what is identified on the map as a 1936 Buick, which is now only a rusted hunk of metal. Much further down the line, off a side trail, is what we believe is called The Cave. A short, but rather steep, climb up the rock face will bring you to the first real signs of the abandoned quarry. A few pieces of old machinery rot into the earth, but an old tunnel runs into the side of the cliff. Inside is just one large empty room. Though it is clearly frequented by someone given the contents we found inside. And, much like most stops on this trip, everything was coated in colorful graffiti.

A bit farther down the trail are what remains of the old compressor house and machinery. At quick glance, this place looked very much like some old ancient ruins. With its large stone pillars and intricate design, it makes for a very interesting sight. The layers of vibrant graffiti almost breathe new life into these old structures. The compressor house itself is large and open inside, with a big window in the middle of the ceiling. Many of its old items (including a door, mattress, tools, and a lawnmower) lie strewn about outside it. All kinds of old metal and rocks coat the ground, so always watch your step.

If this is the last place we get to visit this season, I will not be disappointed. The abandoned Rocky Hill Quarry is more than worth a look. Despite the cold, it was a really nice hike and we were able to get some excellent photographs. It is a very unique place, reminding me very much of Fort Wetherill in Rhode Island. Here massive stone structures are a relic from another era, that show no signs of breaking down. And the colorful coat of graffiti makes what should be a dreary place into a far more fascinating one. So if you have time, definitely consider visiting this one sometime soon. After all, winter is coming.

Up Horsebarn Hill

The Abandoned UCONN Ski Slope

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

We’ve taken a walk up Horsebarn Hill several times in the past. It’s beautiful out there. It is a much needed touch of farm life a mere stone’s throw away from a hustling and bustling city. Going to school close by, and having many friends up on the campus, the University of Connecticut is a place that I am all too familiar with. But what’s special about this campus is no matter how much you think you know about it, it can still surprise you. We have covered the abandoned corners of UCONN in the past, such as the Depot Campus. And we had heard rumors about the old ski slope for a long time. But now, after all this waiting, we finally went looking for it.

Opening in the 1960’s, the UCONN Ski Slope was at first a booming attraction. Open to both the public and the student body, it was one of many smaller skiing areas to pop up in the area as the sport began to reach its popularity. Sadly, though, most of these smaller ski areas did not survive for long. It was a single slope attraction, featuring a rope tow system to the top of the hill and a few smaller buildings to boot. The UCONN Ski Slope eventually faced its closure a mere ten years later due to budgetary restrictions and a changing climate. It is now a piece of history lost to the wilderness, and something that the campus seems to want to forget.

It was a beautiful Saturday in the waning days of Spring 2017 . We made the trek through the woods and onto Horsebarn Hill, but found only the skeletal remains of the UCONN Ski Slope. Any and all buildings have been lost to the heavy hands of time. The ghostly rope tow system still leads straight to the top of the hill, though her path is now only used by the local deer and coyotes (which we encountered both of on our trip). A few old rusted pieces of metal lie amongst the underbrush. And the main hub of the rope system still stands at the bottom of the hill…barely. Still, it is a very nice hike through what may be the quietest corner of the UCONN campus.

If you’re up for an adventure, take a walk up Horsebarn Hill sometime. You never know what you’ll come across.

Remember the Magic

Journey into the Enchanted Forest

Written by: Wilk
Photographs by: Lassie

Do you feel that? The wind through the trees? The current through the mountain streams? The rays of sunshine peeping through the dark clouds? It’s something that we don’t appreciate enough anymore. They are, dare I say, magic. Our ancestors lived and died with these elemental beings. But magic is something that disappears a little more each day. We’ve forgotten about it. It can be argued that we don’t need it anymore, that it has outlived its purpose. People walk around lost in the screens of their cell phones as opposed to appreciating the natural beauty of our own world. Even as it slowly shrinks from the corners of our universe. But what happens when there’s no more magic? What happens when all that makes the world wondrous and green is gone? What would the world be like without magic? We found out: in the Enchanted Forest.

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It is one of the darker and more ominous places we have ever visited. The Enchanted Forest was a fantasy styled amusement park that opened in 1971. Based out of Hopkinton, Rhode Island, The Enchanted Forest was always more oriented towards children and families with its fairy tale style theme. The main attractions of the park included a live petting zoo, go-cart tracks, a mini-golf course, and a few rides geared more towards its younger audience. For years the park was a mainstay attraction of the local area, with people coming far and wide to visit this fairy tale place. But as time wore on, the magic began to fade. In her final years, attendance and interest in the park began to wane. Finally, in the year 2005, The Enchanted Forest closed forever under financial strain. Though technically still for sale, the park has been left abandoned ever since.

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We made the long journey to The Enchanted Forest on a sunny day during the tail end of winter 2016. She’s not too difficult to find, the only problem is that what’s left of the park sits along a heavily trafficked road. There old parking lot has also been blocked off by large bricks of cement. And to top it all off, the neighbors of this old park do not take kindly to strangers and have no hesitation when it comes to reporting trespassers to the local police. We had heard many stories in our travels of explorers being caught and arrested for trying to sneak into this place. Getting inside is not the difficult part. Slipping inside the park without being noticed and where to park your car are the difficult parts. But, through some strange form of luck, we managed to get inside this former wonderland.

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Regrettably, there isn’t too much to see here. The old rides that once were the star attractions of The Enchanted Forest were sold off to neighboring theme parks long ago. But the large sign still sits out front, bearing a few scars from the elements and the local vandals. Buried in the brush behind the parking lot are the remains of the old petting zoo and mini golf course. Even deeper into the woods is all that is left of the old go-cart track. A couple of old buildings are still standing, though they are clearly very heavily used by the local teenagers. Mountains of trash and liter coat the ground, and the walls have all been defaced by cruel and unusual graffiti. There may have been more left behind here, but it has long since been lost to the think brush and unflinching grasp of the woods.

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If you ever plan on visiting The Enchanted Forest, do not take this journey lightly. It is a dangerous and risky mission, unless of course you know someone in the area. It is a remarkable sight, indeed. Besides the fact it is a local legend, there is just something about this place. Dare I say, enchanting? Or perhaps the better word is magical. You see, whether we acknowledge it or not, there is still magic in this world. And it can be felt strongly here in The Enchanted Forest. You can almost still hear the laughter of the children and families who once frolicked down these old paths. You can almost still see the colorful rides and attractions swirling through the trees. You can almost still feel all of the love and joy that this place must have felt all of those years ago. Though all of that is gone, the magic is still here. You just have to look for it.

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