Exploring an Abandoned Castle in Upstate NY

craig-e

Historic photo from dupointcastle.com

Once before I had made the trip to check out this castle, but poor logistics and wary groundskeepers had made the visit a brief one that resulted in my not getting to explore it in the manner that I wanted to. However today all of that changed and we managed to visit the castle, walk its grounds, and wander around inside of it. On top of that I scored some sweet bourbon from a prohibition era distillery in nearby Roscoe NY and met a couple of fellow urbexers!

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A Brief History on the Upstate NY Castle

While we were snapping photos of the surrounding scenery  were lucky enough to meet one of the local groundskeepers who has been living in the area for 20 years and visiting it for over 40, he was kind enough to relay his knowledge of the castle to us. Originally the area was actually a small village with its own post office and everything. However as time went by it didn’t have the level of livelihood required to maintain the village and everything just went away, people included. The castle of course stayed standing and eventually the property was purchased by the masons who in turn turned it into a masonic retreat. However, that too didn’t last forever and eventually the property gave way to disuse. Now unfortunately it is frequently vandalized and not maintained at all. Still, the outside structure is still beautiful as is the interior. Compiled contributions on Dupont Castle suggest that the castle was built in 1921 and the interior marble work and style certainly suggests that is accurate.

The castle gate

The castle gate

Safety Precautions

If you happen upon the castle there really isn’t that much to look out for. The flooring is solid marble and the majority of the structure is stone and solid in nature. There is some woodwork here and there that has rotted but it didn’t seem to be too dangerous and doesn’t really contribute to the structural integrity of the castle. Certain basement areas have flooded but that is incredibly obvious before you get into them. Ultimately the largest safety issues would be local wildlife and the fact that you are trespassing.

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The Castle!

Exploring the Castle

The castle is in upstate New York near Roscoe and is easily accessible if you know where to look. Again, both the interior and exterior of the structure is gorgeous considering the upkeep neglect. There is a slew of unfurnished bedrooms and bathrooms, the kitchen, and some odd watchtower things. Certainly worth the trip and unlikely to go away anytime soon.

One of the many bedrooms inside

One of the many bedrooms inside

A video of the exploration:

A link to today’s photo album:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.910393819043948.1073741833.248729741877029&type=1&l=1ea6e5c2f0

Exploring Charlotte Kenyon Elementary School

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Historical photo of Charlotte Kenyon from http://www.pressconnects.com

Being back in my home town for a couple of weeks I have decided to go around and visit some of my old favorite haunts, particularly the ones that got me into urbexing. Having heard that an old school in the area is slated to be refurbished into community housing or something to that effect I have made a point of visiting it a couple of times over the course of my stay here, I have made a promise to show several people it on my trip home so there will be updates to this post over the next couple of weeks.

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The front entrance as it appears now

A Brief History on Charlotte Kenyon:

The previously linked article actually has all of the relevant historical data with regards to the school written by a Broome County historian. However an abbreviated version is that the school was originally established during the Great Depression as one of the first centralized high schools of the area to be recognized by the state. Originally it consisted of just a handful of classrooms and a gymnasium as the original graduating class consisted of just 12 students. However, as time wore on more and more students began to attend school at CK and thusly more and more was added to it. Eventually a new high school was established and CK was converted to being the elementary school where it continued to serve this purpose until it was closed and sold in the early 2000s.

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The auditorium

Safety Precautions:

Should you make your way here before it is inevitably converted into something else it is worth noting that there is extensive water damage to portions of the building. While the newer additions to CK are structurally sound the older portions of the school have collapsed roofing/flooring. Rooftop access is possible, but again the water damage from years of neglect make it pretty risky to wander onto. There are also doors that open to random drops, so be careful wandering through the hallways and classrooms.

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One of many collapsed portions of the building

Exploring Charlotte Kenyon:

CK is fairly easy to find should you know where to go in Chenango Forks and has a lot to offer. The additions over the years include a full gymnasium, cafeteria, auditorium, and classrooms galore. There are several floors to wander through and you can easily spend all day here. Ultimately CK represents one of my favorite places to urbex and hang out at just because of how extensive it is.

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And lockers galore!

The set of pictures from today’s exploration:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.905797209503609.1073741832.248729741877029&type=1&l=8f832e43e1

The set of pictures from a previous exploration:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.379854405431228.91062.248729741877029&type=1&l=1dc4f8add0

A video, with poor lighting, of a nighttime trip to the school:

My First Few Months Living Abroad

  

I was thankful when I moved from Kansas to Seoul. I am from New York and spending the last few years in the Midwestern United States was wearing on me. When I first got here  I was initially hesitant and reserved with putting myself out there and meeting people. Now that I have I almost want to regret it, because I don’t think I can go back to not experiencing life outside of the United States. 

  

There are a lot of aspects of Korean Culture I love, but they are not my reason for not going back. My lack of a desire to go back to the United States also isn’t a reflection of the loathing of my country or anything to that effect, I’m nothing if not a patriot. Rather, this love for living abroad is a reflection of the people that I have gotten to meet as a result of living abroad and the chance to experience the culture offered here. As I was supping out with an expat friend of mine we were both reflecting on the fact that we have made some very solid friends as a result of living abroad. To get straight to the point, it dawned on me that this ease of finding decent friends is likely a result of the fact that any foreigner you find living here in Korea is going to have something in common with you: you both wanted to live abroad for one reason or another. That’s a powerful baseline for a friendship and a lot of things come along with it; a willingness to try new things, open mind sets, all kinds of qualities that make forming a friendship with someone easier. My aforementioned expat friend and I don’t have a lot in common with regards to how I normally make friends, we really just share a single hobby. However, our shared desire to live abroad and experience different cultures leads to riveting weekly coffee shop and Korean barbecue discussions, and as a result of this friendship I don’t think I can go back to the status quo back home. 
  

Seodaemun Prison, Seoul

I clearly haven’t done this in a while but as I am living in a foreign country and looking for ways to keep my mind sharp I figured it would be a great idea to document my time here with the things I see and do! I moved to Seoul a couple of months ago and thus far have gotten to see and do a lot. While exploring the rest of Korea/Asia is certainly on my list of things to do, Seoul has by far been more than satisfactory with things to see and do. It is hard to quantify whether urban exploring is easier or harder here, there are certainly plenty of buildings with rooftop access but less in the form of abandoned factories/hospitals like I prefer. Anyways, for my initial entry I decided to document the Seodaemun Prison!

Seodaemun Prison

Seodaemun Prison with a dreamy view of the mountains in the background

A Brief History on the Seodaemun Prison:

Seodaemun, was established in the early 1900’s by Imperial Japan as they sought to keep down Korean patriots. Seodaemun was utilized to torture and contain individuals who actively protested the Japanese Regime that ruled Korea during the Colonial Era (1910-1945). Originally the prison was designed to hold 500 personnel, but ultimately it was overcrowded in excess of 1500 during the height of the Japanese crackdown on Korean nationalism. Following the departure of Imperial Japan at the conclusion of the Colonial Era the prison was briefly used by the Korean government but ultimately converted into the museum it is today. Some of the original buildings were destroyed; such as the factory that inmates worked in, the women’s block, and the activity yard; but have since been restored according to the original plans drawn up by Imperial Japan.

The Gate of Seodaemun Prison

The Gate of Seodaemun Prison

Exploring and Getting to Seodaemun Prison:

Seodaemun prison is easily accessed by taking line 3 of the Seoul subway system to Dongnimmun Station and then following the signs for Seodaemun prison to exit 5. The price to get into this museum is only 3000 won for adults and there are signs that lead you to all of the relevant attractions within the prison. Most exhibits have been translated to English but they aren’t necessarily as detailed as the Korean version of the narratives. Some areas are restricted with regards to photography but the experience is well worth it. Ultimately If you take a couple of hours to make your way through the exhibit it will really give you an appreciation for the Korean people and some of the things that have shaped their habits and ethics today and ultimately give you even more respect for their culture.

Seoul Flag

Full Album on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.871786832904647.1073741831.248729741877029

Additional Sources:
http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=268143
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/south-korea/seoul/sights/museums-galleries/seodaemun-prison
http://www.lifeinkorea.com/Travel2/322

Exploring Joyland Amusement Park in Wichita, Kansas

After spending 1004$ repairing my car’s brakes on Saturday, I decided that today I would reward myself with some actual urban exploring. Not that exploring ghost towns isn’t urban exploring in a sense, just that it always feels much more like rural exploring to me. Either way though it was nice to be in some semblance of a city today as real cities are few and far between here. Even Kansas’s state capital, Topeka, was much more like my hometown of Binghamton than anything else when I visited. I wish Wichita wasn’t 2 hours away because there looked to be plenty to explore in terms of abandoned buildings and what not. In any case, on with the show!

A Brief History on the Joyland Amusement Park:

The Joyland Amusement Park was open for 55 years from 1949 until 2004. It also briefly opened in 2006 although it was shut down once more as a result of it not being profitable enough. Originally it was run by the Ottaway family and then bought by the Nelson family in 1960 and operated by them until 2004. The group that attempted to reopen it in 2006 was the T-rex group who had managed to reopen a couple of amusement parks in Washington although the project ultimately failed. Currently local residents are attempting to get the funding together in an attempt to once again refurbish the park and open it again citing 2013 as the intended start date for the project. It should be noted that the park is on 2801 S Hillside St Wichita, KS 67216 as I had seen other addresses for it.

Safety Precautions:

There is a fence running around the perimeter of the park that blatantly states you shouldn’t trespass or loiter, so explore at your own risk. Furthermore as the park was established in the 1950’s, many of the structures are wood so watch it if you are climbing on the roller coaster track or going inside the buildings. The wooden bridge that runs through the park was rotted in some parts and you definitely don’t want to fall through.

Exploring the Joyland Amusement Park:

It’s an amusement park, and in this case I feel that a video and pictures are worth a thousand words! So here are some choice pictures as well as a link to the video I took briefly and the album on facebook!

Facebook Album: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.266664476750222.63707.248729741877029

Youtube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCdJobDMSUo

Choice photos:

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Exploring Neosho Falls, KS

Between the Kansas weather being beautiful today and a desire to not lock myself up in my room this weekend I decided to venture to the next Ghost Town on my list, Neosho Falls in Kansas. While it ended up being a two and a half hour drive, I feel that it was well worth the endevor.

A Brief History on Neosho Falls:

Neosho Falls was originally established in 1857 in Woodson county on the Neosho River and served for several years as the Woodson County seat. The river was obviously its namesake and the falls was added for the dam that was built by settlers at the time which is still present today. Over the course of it’s development it was home to 2 hotels, several mills, 2 banks, a jail and numerous businesses. Today it only has one business, a bar named the Oasis. While the town prospered for a while being on the railway ultimately several unfortunate events would doom the town to it’s current status as a ghost town. The depression which doomed many towns, as well as a flood in 1951 sealed Neosho Fall’s fate. At it’s peak the town was home to 1200 people, but today it is home to less than 140, it’s population having dipped by more than 20% since the 2000 census. Getting to Neosho falls took me a bit more than 2 hours from Fort Riley. Up until CR-666 everything was paved, you will only have to deal with about 4 mile’s worth of unpaved roadways. Furthermore there were plenty of gas stations along the way which was a plus!

Safety Precautions:

Neosho Falls is pretty safe when it comes to exploring. At the time I visited the local residents had dogs out running about but they were all pretty friendly, residents and dogs included. The school which is really the only structure to truly explore was structurally sound as it is made out of solid concrete, just be sure you don’t fall out a window or anything.

Exploring Neosho Falls:

Almost everything you are going to want to see will be right there on Main Street of Neosho Falls. The only remaining business, The Oasis Tavern, the post office, the school, the old gas station, as well as a few other structures are all right there. Just off of Main Street is the bridge which you can see the Neosho River from, the dam, as well as the Power Station based off of the river. When it came to actually exploring structures, just as in Bushong, the school was the place to see. But where Bushong’s school was ripped apart and had nothing but garbage left in it, Neosho Falls’ school was relatively tidy (with the exception of the basement) and still had old woodwork, chairs, and speaker systems in it. Everything that is left of the school is concrete, and the entire place was structurally sound with the exception of the brick portions of the building which had collapsed. Still, it allowed me to venture up to the 3rd floor. But just as in Bushong, the school was really the only place to explore as everything else was relatively small/boarded up.

An old building on Main Street


The Neosho Falls Gas Station
The Neosho River and Power Station

The Neosho Falls School building

A classroom on the second floor of the Neosho Falls school

A view from the 3rd floor of the Neosho Falls School

Once I was done in Neosho Falls I made sure to stop in a house I had seen about 10 minutes away near a greenhouse that was abandoned, and boy was I not disappointed! While the building is collapsing and the 2nd story is cut off, as well as the basement being flooded, the first floor was still accessible although a bit risky as a result of the floors having rotted. But inside the house much of the original furniture was left, a well as a television! I had heard that people had up and left their property following the flood in 1951 and this house appears to be an intact example of just what it looked like. If visiting Neosho Falls, you should be sure to check this place out!

An old house along the way to Neosho Falls

A television in the old house

Rotting floors and furniture

An old room with the heating system

The old kitchen

Seasonal Considerations:

Neosho Falls is another place that I am going to have to take the time to come back and visit in the spring and summer. Where the growth is obvious on the red brick building, meandering through the school I saw that the ceilings and walls of the rooms had dead vines on them which probably makes this place an absolutely phenomenal sight in the Springtime.

A full set of the pictures from today is available on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.261760390573964.62563.248729741877029&type=3

Exploring Bushong, Kansas and the Atlas E 548-5 Missile Silo

The Army does this wonderful thing for it’s soldiers and hands us about one 4-day weekend a month with which to do as we please so long as it is within a 250 mile radius of our base. This month’s 4-day weekend actually coincided with some decent Kansas weather, which finally allowed me to pursue one of Kansas’s ghost towns as well as an old missile silo nearby.

A Few Facts on Bushong:
 

Bushong, Kansas is located in Lyon county about 20 minutes away from Council Grove (which was also a neat place to see).  Bushong was originally established as a railroad town named after a baseball player, Albert John “Doc” Bushong,  which was hit by the great depression and never managed to recover afterwards. Getting to Bushong from the Fort Riley area was actually incredibly simple and only required a few changes in direction, on top of that the roadways themselves were entirely paved until you reached Bushong itself. While it may be difficult to identify Bushong’s main roads which are nothing but dirt this time of year and grass come the spring/summer time you can’t miss the giant blue watertower proclaiming itself Bushong. Once you see it you know you’re in the right place. It should also be noted that about 30 people still live in the Bushong vicinity, so please be respectful.

Safety Precautions:
While the structures I ended up exploring are relatively wide open, I still recommend bringing a face mask to protect yourself from potential exposure to asbestos.

 Exploring Bushong:

Bushong is the best preserved ghost town I have happened upon in my travels and actually offers plenty for an individual looking to explore abandoned structures. There are a large number of abandoned shells of buildings as well as several intact residences which seem to have been abandoned. the real prize is the Bushong school, which is what I spent the majority of my time wandering.

The Bushong Post Office, in fabulous condition, although it is boarded and blocked off

I ended up parking next to the old Bushong Post Office, which is just up the street from the Bushong Garage and near the shell of the old Bushong Bank. The Post Office and garage are boarded off unfortunately and I wasn’t willing to do any breaking and entering.  The Bank however was impressive as, despite it being just a shell, the vault was still intact along with an empty safe. In the trees/shrubbery next to the bank you can also see the remaining wall of either the Bushong Hotel or the building that was next to it.  Another impressive aspect of Bushong is the fact that despite the roadways all being dirt roadways there is a sidewalk system which is still usable today.

The shell of the Bushong Bank, although the vault is still intact

The wall of either the Bushong Hotel or store next to it.

The Bushong State Bank of old as well as the hotel and a building next to it.

On the corner of 4th and Main lies the well preserved church which I imagine must still be maintained by someone considering the integrity of other structures in Bushong. In the middle of 4th street lies the Bushong school which overlooks the rusted Bushong park and is also still maintained to an extent. The Bushong school was a fantastic find for urban exploration and is entirely open for anyone to explore with no trespassing restrictions placed on it whatsoever. There are several areas you can enter, I decided to start with the auditorium. The old flooring is entirely removed from the auditorium as well as the old staircase that lead to the second floor, however there is still the doorway that leads down the halls to the rest of the basement. The stage flooring is wrecked and on it rests the shell of an old piano. The only reason I imagine it was still there is because it was built into the wall. Once you leave the auditorium the majority of the school flooring is concrete and I felt comfortable enough going up to the second floor, although I left the third floor unexplored. All of the walls in the place are ripped out and strewn all around but it is still an incredibly interesting place to see. After spending a while exploring the basement and 1st + 2nd floors I decided to head for my second destination of the day, an old missile silo.

Seasonal Considerations:

I think that this is one of those places you are going to want to visit in several seasons, I know I plan a second trip come spring. I say this because in the current weather with all of the dead vegetation it was easy to spot many of the buildings and structures that would typically be hidden by foliage. On the other hand though, I have seen some fantastic spring/summer time photos, this place is a real beauty in those seasons.

The Atlas E 548-5 Missile Silo:

"Troop 248 Forbes A. F. B. June 14 - 18, 196~" This is confusing because this missile silo was operated by the 548th SMS and wasn't opened until July of 1960.

A Few Facts on the Atlas E 548-5 Missile Silo:

The Atlas missile silo that I visited over this weekend is one of a series of Atlas class missile silos that were developed during the cold war in the 1960’s across the midwest. There are a few within a couple hundred miles of Fort Riley but this one was optimal as a result of the fact that it is literally right down the road from Bushong. Simply hop back onto road 350 (route 56) and head the mile up to Road D, you really can’t miss it. The GPS Coordinates I used were Latitude: 38.686403, Longitude: -96.302414. It should be noted though that the property was owned by someone at some point after the disarming process and as to whether or not that individual still owns it I’m not sure. Last I knew he was doing jail time for shooting a trespasser on the silo property. This page actually gives you a pretty good look at what the Atlas E missile silos used to look like.

Saftey Precautions:

Once again, there is still a chance of this being private property which I can neither confirm or deny, so proceed at your own risk. Another thing to note is the fact that there is a large underground portion to the silo which I didn’t venture into as a result of flooding. So watch your step, tripping and falling into a hole around here could result in drowning as I doubt the water will be pumped out anytime soon.

Exploring the Atlas-E 548-5 Missile Silo:

There really isn’t much to the silo now-a-days unfortunately, not with flooding considerations in mind. I didn’t venture too far into the silo as I didn’t want to go tripping in any holes, but had the silo not been flooded there is generally an underground complex to the Atlas-E series of silos where the control mechanisms for the launch would have been as well as tunnels leading in the directions of older structures that used to be on the silo grounds. Overall the silo was underwhelming compared to Bushong and I was antsy about getting out quickly considering the silo’s history. But I did make a quick 5 minute recording of the outside perimeter.

Seasonal Considerations:

I imagine just about any season would be fine to see what is left of the silo. While I doubt the interior will ever be easily explored without pumping all of the water out, a drier season would be optimal for attempting to see the underground.

All in all despite the missile silo not being as fantastic as I had hope it was a very exciting and fulfilling weekend. Full sets of my photos are available on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Traversingtravy

Sources Used:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bushodo01.shtml
http://www.danielcfitzgerald.com/top10kansasghosttowns.html
http://www.flyoverpeople.net/galleries/smallTowns2005/Bushong/bushong_OldPhotos.htm
http://cjonline.com/indepth/missilesilos/stories/040100_cordray.shtml
http://www.techbastard.com/missile/atlas/silo/548-5.php
http://www.atlasmissilesilo.com/
http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2009/04/gallery_missile_base_1?currentPage=all