The road we were on twisted and turned passing a few small houses, lakes, and wetlands. It would soon come to a dead end, but our destination was before that. We had never been on this road even though it wasn’t too far from home. Off of this road was a lake; the location of a now deserted camp. We wanted to see what still remained.
The entrance to the camp is overgrown, yet you can still see the tall pines lining what once was the main road into the camp. The lake, too, is filling in. Lilly pads are everywhere. What once was home to screaming and laughing children swimming and paddling canoes on hot summer days, is now still except for frogs and water snakes that hurried away as we approached. The dock near the beach sags and dips into the water. We continue to walk around the lake and soon come upon an amphitheater. The benches are slowly decaying and crumbling, yet you can tell that this had been a beautiful site. We sit and gaze out at the water, our view now slightly obstructed by growing trees, and imagine early morning services and evening bonfires taking place here.
The other side of the lake brings us to sleeping quarters. Not much is left. We find the foundations of old cabins, a couple rusty beds, campfire rings, and lots of sleeping platforms where tents were placed. The forest is quickly reclaiming everything. Night begins to fall and it starts to rain. We hurry out through the murky woods, amazed at the now silence of a place that had once seen so much activity.
The next day, while on a hike to do some swimming and cliff diving at a waterfall, we come across an old mill and house deep in the forest. The mill is beautiful and so is the location. The river its on twists and turns through rocky cliffs and boulders creating beautiful waterfalls and pools. A lot of time and effort was spent to make this mill. Artifacts leftover from when it was in operation are strewn across the surrounding hillside. Now it too is slowly being reclaimed by forest and river. Logs and whole trees lay next to the huge water wheel where they have come to rest during spring flooding. No roads remain, only trails that follow deep ravines across rocky soil to reach this location. Yet the mill and house remain as a reminder that a community once thrived in this inhospitable forest.
What is it about abandoned places that is so attractive? We love to explore old buildings. It really is one of our family’s favorite things to do! I guess it’s the mystery that surrounds the building. People went about their business, working or living in that building, and then suddenly it all came to a halt. What happened and why was this building left, never to be used again? These are questions to which we rarely get an answer. The building stands there, a moment frozen forever in time even as it slowly falls into disrepair. Plants and animals making themselves at home in the structure while human memories of it fade.
We explore these buildings and try to piece together the history. Worlds collide as I pull out my smart phone to find any information I can about whatever location we are at. New technology searching for old answers. Yet, we are rarely the first into these buildings and locations. Teens have found them and determined them to be places to party. Vandals have often destroyed everything. Windows are smashed, graffiti is everywhere, and possessions are strewn across the floors. This makes me the most sad. Come and explore the place, but leave everything alone. Let history remain.
I will always be in search of old forgotten and abandoned buildings. Nothing gets me more excited than to explore one. They serve as a reminder of our history, where we came from and where we are going.
Are you like me, do old decaying structures excite you and call out to be explored?