While some historical sites in America are well preserved, The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 19 million buildings have been abandoned across the county. Every day they are fading away into oblivion and taking history with them.
Before these places, and their stories, are entirely forgotten, Urban Explorer bloggers and photographers capture our country’s history and preserve it. Artists like The Explorographer chronicle these Abandonscapes and leave nothing behind but footprints. Escape into 32 of his Hauntingly Beautiful Photographs of Abandoned Places.
1. Indoor Swim
Opened in 1919, The Grossinger Resort in Liberty, NY, grew from 100 acres to 1200 acres in the 1950s. In its heyday, it sported 2 Olympic-sized swimming pools, several cottages and hotels, 8 Tennis courts, a skating rink, a ski slope and lodge, an 18-hole golf course, its own post office, and airport.
2. Less Privacy, More Fantasy
The Grossinger Resort had it all and, in its heyday, was one of the largest resorts in the Catskills. The indoor pool featured a beauty salon with a view to a kill. A large 5-foot by 4-foot plate glass window where you could watch swimmers dive by while getting your hair and nails done. After decades of abandonment and overgrowth, most of the resort buildings were demolished in 2018.
3. Haunted Cereal
Jackson Sanatorium is located in upstate New York and looks more like a scene from The Shining than a health resort. Known now as the place that invented Granola. This simple breakfast alternative was developed by Dr. Caleb Jackson of Dansville, NY, in 1863 and, at the time, was known as Granula. Made from dense bran nuggets, they had to be soaked overnight to be chewable enough to eat.
4. A Battle Lost to Time
Several vain attempts at restoring the property and its accompanying cottages were made over the years, but vandals burned the houses. Additionally, much of the building has collapsed, forever losing this valuable piece of history.
5. Music Therapy
The Allegany County Home (called a poorhouse initially) was located near Angelica, NY, and was the crossroads of modern asylums. The staff often used music to soothe residents and teach them social skills.
6. Reading Is Fundamental
Poorhouses were established in the United States to assist the uneducated and unemployed. Unfortunately, residents were often flogged, bound, and chained, often naked in tiny rooms with nothing but a straw mat on the floor.
Once audits of these poorhouses began and the atrocities within were discovered, they were reorganized, or the residents were dispersed to other locations. These “new” poorhouses were labeled “asylums.” Many believe it was to ease the minds of these dispersed residents, whereas today, we think of them as a place to protect the world from its residents rather than the other way around.
7. The Ghost Town and the Video Game
Centralia, located in central Pennsylvania in the heart of Coal Country, was founded in 1866. Victim of an underground coal fire in the early 60s, most of its residents were paid to leave the area due to “dangerous fumes.”
Over the years, the town has gone from a ghost town to a barren wasteland as the last of the residents’ homes have strangely burnt down one by one. Early imagery of this town showed steam rising out of its cracked streets from the still-burning underground coal fire. This eery steam, coupled with this ghostly church looming over the small city, has inspired the creator of the video game “Silent Hill.”
8. Mind Fire
The most prominent vein of blue coal in the US runs right through the center of Pennsylvania. Also known as Anthracite, blue coal is highly sought after because it yields the highest energy density of all coal. Since strip mining near residential areas is forbidden by law, mining coal in and around Centralia has been controversial over the years. The dump fire that conveniently spread to being a mine fire that the government used to try and empty the small town of its residents has also been at the forefront of that controversy.
Over the years, an argument has been made on both sides that the fire could have or have not been put out and the death of Centralia and its residents avoided. Though the mining industry has collapsed chiefly and clean-up in and around the area continues, several creeks, rivers, and lakes are full of milky orange water.
9. To the Moon (And Beyond)
Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron is located in a field in the middle of nowhere, Wisconsin. Noted only by a couple of billboards on secondary roads, this fantastic look into the great mind of Sculptor and inventor Thomas Every is not to be overlooked.
Recently passed, Dr. Evermor has created a sci-fi lover’s wet dream that beckons every hitchhiker in the galaxy. Massive sculptures of wondrous machines and creatures dot this small art park, now curated by his surviving wife and daughter. Thomas called it “Amythic Obsession,” If you ever visit it, it will be yours as well.
10. Never Bent
Being an industrial demo specialist over the years took its toll on Dr. Evermor. One day he just decided he was tired of destroying things and wanted to start making things. All the salvage he had done over the years, from NASA space parts to millions of truck and car parts, would make up his fantastical Forevertron.
Like all great artists, Tom Every had a rule. His rule was never to bend, break or cut a single part. Yes, that’s correct. Every creation he made was from parts as they were manufactured. He would put them together in such a way as they would become a whole new machine or creature. Genius!
11. Where in the World Is Lonaconing?
Located in a tiny town in western Maryland is the last standing, completely intact Silk Mill. One man, Herb Crawford, had preserved this mill for years on his own. Supported by hundreds of visiting photographers worldwide, he fought off auction houses, vandals, and mother nature. Unfortunately, in 2019 Herb passed away, and now the mill’s future is unknown.
12. Same as It Ever Was
Lonaconing Silk Mill shuttered its factory on a Friday in 1957, and everything was left exactly as it was on that fateful day. A moment is frozen in time, soon to be lost forever.
13. From New York to Montana
Bannack State Park is home to the ghost town of Bannack, Montana, a well-preserved and constantly maintained authentic ghost town. In 2017 a neighbor visited a rummage sale across the road from their home in Montour Falls, NY. While there, they were told more items were in the home’s basement, and they were free to pick through whatever they wanted.
One small item was a diary and some letters written on copper paper. They were from a woman who made the trek upstate New York to eastern Montana during the 1860s gold rush. That diary and the letters have been returned to the park as part of the town’s history. Oh, the person that found the artifacts? The Mother-in-law of the author of this article.
14. A Hard Knock Life
Bannack and neighboring Virginia City were rough and virtually lawless western towns. Gunfights, robberies, and murders happened on the roads between the cities and villages. Even the elected “Sheriff” was suspected to be the leader of one of the most significant gangs in the area.
15. Eat at Roy’s
Located on Route 66 near the Mohave National Preserve, you find the tiny “mostly” abandoned town of Amboy, California. Quickly, the most famous location in Amboy is Roy’s Motel Cafe.
16. Check, Please!
While at Roy’s, you can get gas and snacks at the “cafe” if you like. But, the actual “hotel” has been turned into unique art displays. And by special, I mean beam me up, Scottie!
17. Fries With That?
Just up Route 66 from Amboy lies the remains of the Road Runner’s Retreat Restaurant. Just imagine answering the phone every day at this place.
18. Art Is Subjective
Or at least it used to be. In 2019 the owners were considering repainting and relighting the sign out front of the RRRR. But 2020 had other ideas as the 1960s restaurant fell victim to arson.
Interestingly enough, this mural survived! While the sign out front and the neighboring service station is still intact, the restaurant was gutted. They are attempting to rebuild.
19. Give Me the Keys
Keys Ranch is located deep inside Joshua Tree National Park and is only viewable by special tours during certain times of the year. The site is a testament to those rugged individuals that chose to settle in the Mojave Desert. William F. Keys and his family built this homestead and surrounding buildings from 1910 until Keys died in 1969.
20. Tin Roof Rusted
Along with the sheds, mining equipment, and wagons are several old cars. The stories behind these vehicles, just out here randomly scattered in the desert, are as attractive as they are odd.
21. Pocono Paradise?
Deep in the Pocono Mountains is the sweeping Penn Hills Resort. The site was first opened as a Tavern in 1944. It grew to an entire 500-acre resort with over 100 rooms in the 1960s. It closed in 2009, just two months after its 102-year-old owner died.
22. Shagadelic Baby Yeah!
With its round beds, heart-shaped whirlpool tubs, and mirrored ceilings, Penn Hills was billed as a “Paradise of Pocono Pleasure” and a place of “Unbridled Passion.” It was well known as the swinging ’60s place to be. A reputation that grew right up until its closing.
23. A Wrinkle in Pine
Located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York are the remnants of the Glen Springs Resort. Originally opened as a health resort in 1872 to take advantage of the local mineral springs. The only remaining intact building is this old gymnasium, with its floor wrinkled and damaged from water damage over the years.
24. Creature Feature
In addition to the entire basketball court and performance stage, the gymnasium at Glen Springs also included a movie theater. The projectors remain to this day, ready for their next double feature.
25. The Irish Giant
Located outside the central Pennsylvania coal town of Mahanoy City, The Irish Giant was the largest anthracite coal breaker in the world. It was called St. Nicholas, and it was massive.
Large chunks of mined anthracite coal were hoisted up ten floors by a conveyor belt before being dumped into a series of grinders on consecutive feet below. Then, finally, the coal would make its way to the ground floor, where coal cars would be waiting to haul the perfect fuel-sized pieces off for consumption.
26. Another Time Capsule Gone
Ten thousand cubic yards of concrete, 3,800 cubic yards of steel, 20 miles of pipes, and half a village relocated to build it. The St. Nicholas coal breaker could process 12,500 tons of coal per day.
Opened in 1931 and described as sounding like rolling thunder when in operation, the hulk went silent as the last coal dropped in 1965. Miners’ work clothes, boots, and machinery are rotting. In 2018, the last remains of the breaker were broken by a controlled explosion. Saved only by the memories of the surviving workers and photographers who visited before its demise.
27. Asylum for No One
Built in 1858 and designed by Isaac G. Perry, the New York State Inebriate Asylum in Binghamton, NY, has sat empty and unused since 1993. Many promises have been made to rehab and reuse the building, but no formal plans have been announced.
28. Beauty Unseen
The ornate staircase at the asylum’s first-floor entrance is just a hint of the beauty within. Sad to think that, for the most part, the site cannot be enjoyed in person due to its decaying condition and standing HIPAA laws regarding patient privacy.
29. Spa Town the USA
Sharon Spring’s New York was well known for its mineral springs and spa baths. Built in 1929 by owner Louis Adler for $250,000, Adler operated the 150-room hotel until 1950. The hotel was purchased in 1972 for a mere $75,000 and served as Yarkony’s Adler Hotel until 2004.
After the spa business “dried” up, the derelict hotel was purchased in a package deal with other properties in town by a Korean Firm that promised a renovation. Unfortunately, the building still stands vacant to this day.
30. Wallpaper and Shag
I think Stephen King called, and he wants his hotel back. Fancy a stay? Well, you can’t. The property is now monitored and off-limits to all. Who can blame them for styles like these?
31. Well, Well, Wells
Wells Falls is located just off the main drag in the Finger Lakes region of Ithaca, New York.
Somewhat hidden from a nearby local park, this gem features a beautiful waterfall cradled by an old abandoned hydropower plant. Old and crumbling from the seasons, this old building’s saving grace is the water itself. Thus, blocking any human entry to the site and thus saving it from the excavator.
32. Fit for a Businessman
Another “feature” of Well’s Falls granted by its secrecy is that it has become quite the spot for skinny dippers during the hot months of the summer. You’ll also find poets, musicians, artists, and even businesspeople having a bite to eat. So much so over the years, the falls have earned the name “Businessman’s Lunch Falls.” If you think all this seems strange, you have never been to Ithaca.
A multi-award-winning travel photographer specializing in visiting strange and unique places, photographing, and writing about them. A.D. Wheeler has been featured nationally on PBS Television as well as Nevada and F11 Magazines.