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!

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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.


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: