Sunday, December 21, 2014

Abandoned Family Inn

Posted by Stu On June - 28 - 2012

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Photos from June 2011

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While pulling into South of the Border, we noticed an abandoned motel literally up the road on the North Carolina side of the border.  Next to it was a vacated fast food place; in fact, the only place nearby that wasn’t abandoned was a Waffle House, which is where we stopped for a quick bite (not like we had other options).  We decided to explore the motel a bit before heading to SotB, which turned out to be a good idea, as this place was far more interesting.

The sign said Family Inns of America.  I found out the chain still exists but only in VA, TN, and LA.  I was unable to find out when this particular motel closed, but I did find out robberies took place there on at least two different occasions.

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Popularity: 21% [?]

Fort Fisher and the Hermit’s Bunker

Posted by Stu On May - 3 - 2012

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Fort Fisher photos from May 2010
Hermit Bunker & Grave photos from May 2011

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This wound up being a 2 part trip.  My wife and I have been vacationing in southern North Carolina for a few years.  While looking up things to do, both traditional and nontraditional (you can only go to Myrtle Beach so many times), I found something about Fort Fisher, which saw some combat during the Civil War.  This was somewhat intriguing, but what was even more interesting was something being mentioned about a hermit living in a World War II-era bunker near the fort.  So off we went.

The fort has a small but informative museum regarding Fort Fisher’s history and involvement with the Civil War and World War II.  We walked around the fort grounds for a bit.  There wasn’t all that much – a few cannons and some mounds.  No signs indicated anything about a WWII bunker or a hermit.  After going to the nearby state aquarium (that had an albino alligator), we resumed our search for the elusive bunker but came up empty.  Running out of daylight, we decided to do some more research and try again next year.

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The following year, we were much better prepared.  With coordinates and geocaching hints, we had a much better idea of where we were going.  We parked near the beach access and walked down the beach.  Eventually, a boardwalk led the way.

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As we progressed, the flies became more unbearable.  Finally, we reached the bunker, which was much smaller than I expected, and not necessarily what I think of when I hear the word “bunker.”  By this point, the flies had left, but immediately upon arriving at the bunker site, we were attacked by the largest, most persistent swarm of mosquitoes I have ever encountered.  Seriously.  Just in the area in front of the bunker.  How does that work?

I quickly snapped pictures of the outside of the bunker, the inside, a plaque on it, and a sign to the sign which I’m guessing highlighted the life of Robert E. Harrill, the Fort Fisher Hermit.  I’m not really sure, to be honest, because I didn’t get to read it.  I took my 4 pics and hauled out of there.  We must have killed a hundred mosquitoes each.  Our arms were literally covered in them.  Interestingly, just a few yards away from the hermit’s homestead, the mosquitoes stopped following us.

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Robert Harrill lived in this tiny building for nearly 15 years; all it took for me was about 30 seconds to decide to vacate.  Considered somewhat of a philosopher, he received many visitors during his time as a hermit.

We learned Harrill’s grave was found a few miles from Fort Fisher (he was found dead in his bunker in 1972).

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I found it interesting that Fort Fisher’s official website mentions nothing of its hermit.  Little indication is given as to where exactly the bunker is, and it seems a private group provided the signage and plaques in his honor.  Robert’s story, and his final dwelling, are fairly elusive to the casual tourist.

Perhaps that’s the way he would want it to be.

Popularity: 16% [?]

Alvira

Posted by Stu On May - 3 - 2012

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Photos from May 2011

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Man, was this an adventure. When a game commissioner has to drive you back to your car, you know you had a good day.

I had read about a ghost town called Alvira which was used during World War II to produce munitions.  The government purchased the town and surrounding land via eminent domain (i.e. everyone was kicked out and given almost nothing for their land) and promised residents they could get their land back after the war.  Obviously that did not happen.

Alvira was supposed to have remnants of both its life as a quiet village and also that of its military usage.  And off we went.

My GPS and map sent us down a dirt road which eventually dead ended at a gate covered with barbed wire and a sign stating we were approaching prison property.  Deciding that this was probably not the right way in, we wisely chose to find another way.  Eventually, we wound up parking in a game lands parking lot.  Armed at this point with only GPS coordinates leading to a few geocaches, we decided to hike in.  About a half mile or so down the trail, we came across our first bunker:

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From here we eventually came across a lake.  Down another trail we came across two more bunkers.  One was sealed shut, while the other one was wide open and filled with random stuff.

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We were happy to find so many bunkers, but by this point we were wondering where the actual ghost town was.  I had seen pictures of signs for it online but had yet to come across any.  My GPS coordinates only pointed to these few bunkers, so I was clueless.  We found what looked like a main trail and walked on it for a bit.  Eventually we came to a small building, which turned out to be the office for the game commissioner.  We went in and asked the people inside if they knew where Alvira was.  They told us the town itself was just up the road a bit, along with the ruins of two churches and some cemeteries.  We mentioned we had found a few bunkers on the way in.  One of the guys responded with, “Of course you did; there’s over 140 of them.”
We then said we weren’t completely sure where we were in relation to our car; we were a bit lost by this point (hey, it happens).  One of the workers gave me a map of the game lands that had all the known bunkers marked on it.  From this we figured out where we parked.  One of the guys was heading home and offered to drive us out to our car.  On the way to our car, we passed by the sign for Alvira (posted at the top of this article).
Once back at the car, we retraced the roads and paths the commissioner drove.  Along the roadway near the commissioner’s office, we found a few foundations of what I’m guessing were houses.  There were a few markers with numbers and letters on them as well.  A few bunkers were along this dirt road as well, though they were mostly sealed shut.  Some were vandalized pretty badly too.

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Down the road even farther, we passed a few cemeteries.  The one at the very end of the road is what drew our attention, however.  Pillars and plaques from an old church still stood, though in bad shape.  Almost nothing was left of the church itself, other than some rubble from its foundation.
Behind this area we found yet another barbed wire fence, with the prison off in the distance.

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Overall, despite the blunders we made (not having enough information, getting lost, etc.), this was an enjoyable trip.  There wasn’t as much of the actual town left as I had hoped, but the number of bunkers made up for that.

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Popularity: 26% [?]

Abandonment in Hazleton

Posted by Stu On August - 12 - 2010

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I admittedly know little about this.  I stumbled upon it one day and snooped around, not really thinking anything about it.  Turns out this is now set for demolition so I figured I’d post it.  The only information I could find was that this allegedly was supposed to have been for the Hazleton Philharmonic.  Like 90% of the other abandonments I’ve seen, the inside has been tagged up, paintballed, and shot up with shotguns.  The walls have also been largely smashed in, a very wise thing to do while standing inside an unstable building.

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Yeah, that about sums it up:

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Popularity: 14% [?]

Giant Coffee Mug of Wilkes-Barre

Posted by Stu On July - 13 - 2010

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I’m not really sure how many times I’ve driven by this without giving it too much thought.  Recently I heard this building was to be sold, so I figured I’d check it out before it was possibly razed.

Turns out this was, unsurprisingly, supposed to have been a coffee shop.  The sign for the business is still out in front of the mug.  For whatever reason it never materialized, and the property was put on public auction a few months ago.

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Popularity: 16% [?]

Glen Onoko “Turn Hole” Tunnel

Posted by Stu On April - 16 - 2010

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This was an added bonus to an already scenic hike.  This tunnel can be found along the trail in the Glen Onoko section of Lehigh Gorge State Park.  It’s not very long, maybe a few hundred feet in length.  The Central Railroad of New Jersey constructed it in the 1870’s.  The tunnel was used until the 1950’s, when this portion of the track was abandoned.

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Tunnel entrance from trail.

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Trains definitely couldn’t pass through here now.

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The railroad ties are still in place.

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What’s left of the bridge leading to the tunnel.

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Popularity: 25% [?]

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