The Urban Explorer’s Mecca: Chernobyl and Pripyat

This December I realized that I had no plans for Christmas and that much of where I live at would be shut down for the holidays leaving me with a boring handful of days confined to home, unless I went someplace that didn’t celebrate Christmas… someplace like an Orthodox Christian country. With that in mind it occurred to me, why not give myself the gift of a lifetime to achieve a childhood dream and visit Pripyat and Chernobyl in Ukraine!



The City of Chernobyl, Ukraine


A Brief History

The disaster that was Chernobyl dates back to the days of the late Soviet Union and is still a piece of very recent history having happened in April of 1986. The region surrounding the Chernobyl power plant, now known as the Exclusion Zone, had been repurposed in Soviet style sowing fields where there were previously forests (for community farms), and forests where there had previously been fields (for their secret Over the Horizon radar system). A number of closed nuclear cities were also been established in the region to support the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, among them Pripyat and Chernobyl. The Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor, previously known as the Lenin Nuclear Power Station, was established to provide power to the Soviet Union and as another methodology of moving people around the Soviet Union.

At the time of the accident there were 4 functioning reactors with 2 additional reactors under construction. A stress test being run on reactor 4 ultimately led to the series of events that forced the evacuation of the area. Some of the myths that propagate the internet mention people immediately leaving as things were, but it actually took several days before the Soviet Government started evacuating the populace and would take much longer for the Soviets to admit that the accident had occurred. However, much was left as was since the Soviet government informed the populace that they would only be leaving for a handful of days.


Monument to the first Liquidators on the scene, who gave their lives combating the results of the meltdown immediately after it occurred.

The Soviet Union didn’t stop at misinforming the populace and covering up the disaster internationally. Even the Soviet soldiers assisting in cleaning up reactor fallout were poorly briefed on the matter resulting in a large amount of mishandling of radioactive waste and suboptimal safety procedures for personnel.  Governments that attempted to assist the Soviets were never given the full scope of the issue when it came to providing information for developing robots to combat the nuclear fallout leading to technology being developed and not operating at the correct parameters for the cleanup.

Today with the dissolution of the Soviet Union Chernobyl and Pripyat are a part of northern Ukraine and the exclusion zone has been largely cleaned up. Reactor 4 even has a new protective cover to prevent any more radiation spilling into the environment.


Reactor 4 and the New Safe Confinement Shelter Completed

Getting There

If you are a tourist looking to visit the Exclusion Zone, Chernobyl, Pripyat, and some other interesting sites in the region the Ukrainian government requires you have a certified guide. There are several reasons for this requirement, among them safety and ensuring you are going to follow the rules as to where you are allowed to go. Experienced guides are going to make sure you don’t irradiate yourself and that you will be allowed outside of the Exclusion Zone following your trip. They also are responsible for ensuring that you don’t go wandering into any buildings where you may injure yourself. I personally booked through a group known as Chornobyl Tours which is at the bottom of my post and have no regrets on the matter. There are several options for private/group tours spanning anywhere between one day and one week; if you are truly into urban exploration I feel that you could easily spend the week there as the photos I took of Pripyat do not properly convey the scope of an entirely abandoned city.


The city of Pripyat



The Duga OTH Radar site in the secret city of Chernobyl-2


Final Thoughts:

Ultimately I found this trip to be a dream come true and was everything I had ever hoped it to be. I was even greeted with fresh snow which only added to the experience. My travel itinerary for one day there involved stopping in one of the Soviet Community Farm villages, the cities of Chernobyl and Chernobyl-2, the different reactors, and finally Pripyat itself. Paying for my guide on Christmas Day cost me 90 Euros and included lunch and transportation which was solid. By all means I will be visiting again as I feel you could spend weeks exploring Pripyat. If you find yourself in Eastern Europe definitely make the time to stop by.


Obligatory Pripyat Ferris Wheel photo


A Few Albums I put together for the trip:


Album 1


Album 2


Album 3


Chornobyl Tour; the company I used for my excursion


The Chernobyl Subreddit, decent activity from a number of enthusiasts who have been there

Exploring an Abandoned Castle in Upstate NY


Historic photo from

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!

image image

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.


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:

Exploring Charlotte Kenyon Elementary School


Historical photo of Charlotte Kenyon from

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.


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.


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.


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.


And lockers galore!

The set of pictures from today’s exploration:

The set of pictures from a previous exploration:

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:

Additional Sources:

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:

Youtube Video:

Choice photos:



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!