Abandoned highways and other corpses of infrastructure

A couple weeks back there was a fascinating thread in IMHO about dying/ghost towns. While there were a few neat links there, I was disappointed to find that the vast majority had no pictures or involved subjects that, were so old that nothing of immediate interest remained or had been preserved and turned into museums. Most disappointing of all was the virtual absence of any modern subjects that have been left at the mercy of the elements.

Lately, though, I’ve run across the subject of abandoned highways while looking up information on bridges. SO far it’s been good source of recently abandoned stuff, like the old PA Turnpike. It was bypassed in the sixties and pretty much left to rot. In particular, it’s interesting to see how the deterioration progressed in the 40 or so years since it was last used.

This type of thing fascinates me, and I’ve been lucky enough to see some of it firsthand. In my hometown, for example, there was a relatively new multiplex that went out of business in the 80’s and ended up pretty dilapidated before they turned it into the parking lot about five years ago. Here in New Haven there was a channel running through the city that had obviously been a railroad back in the day, and that they’re now turning into a bike trail. It’s good that things like that are getting reclaimed, but it’s disappointing to see such genuine architectural detritus get erased.

Having said that, does anyone know about some interesting stuff that’s been abandoned in, say, the last 50 years that is truly abandoned and not demolished or preserved in some way?

That PA Turnpike thing was interesting. Kind of creepy, though. It feels kind of like walking through a graveyard…only of dead highways, not people.

Now that I’ve seen the pictures – if I lived in Pennsylvania, I would definitely want to hike that abandoned turnpike. That sort of thing feeds my sad, sick post-apocalypse fantasies.

I’ve often wondered – if we all died off suddenly, how long would the marks of our civilization endure? How many of our modern structures would still be standing after millennia, like the Pantheon or Hagia Sophia are?

There where abandoned houses in the rural woods around Superior. I don’t know how many remain. There’s the remains of old highways in the Park Falls area. People on ATV’s can come accross them while on the trails. There was even small bridge in a few pieces settling into the marsh.

I’ve hiked old trails in the state parks that have disapeared from maps printed in the last 20 years. I fun to try and find the abandoned features that were highlight in the old maps. I went down a hill to find the distination of a artisian spring, and i hit my hands on s few trees to control speed. The trees were about 6 inches diameter, and dead. They all fell with the slightest bump. I knew for sure nobody had been there for a while.

I’m sure you would like the Urban Explorers Sites. Do a google. They have pictures of the infultrations. The Detroit ones are great. It so said to see the railroad station and many other art deco building in such ruin. The Australian ones are good. The paris exporing sites are great. There’s the chalk mines, sewers, burial chambers, caves, and Natzi radio bunkers all connected together and they’re centuries old.

Back in the 50s to get to Kailua from Honolulu you drove along the Pali Highway whichwinded through a pass. My mother recounts how scary it was to be a passenger in the car driving over.

When she was young they built a new Pali Highway which went through tunnels rather then winding along the mountain side. If you’ve ever been to the Pali lookout you’d have seen to the right the remains of the old road. You can hike along it. Actually now that I think about it that’s pretty surprising since no work would have been done on it in 50 years since many parts are built on what looks like sideways bridges. They have to fall eventually. And the whole thing is slowly being covered as our island slowly falls apart.

Here are some good photos.

There are also lots of WWII bunkers around the island. Many people climb up to the ones on Diamond Head.

Kings Park, Long Island

Pilgrim State Hospital

These were two of the largest psychiatric hospitals in the country, from the mid-late 1920’s until the early 1990’s. Parts of the Kings Park property have been turned into a state park; wandering around the buildings is allowed (I’ve never been stopped), but entering them gets you arrested.

Lots of buildings on the Pilgrim property have been torn down, but enough remains for an interesting stroll. The entire Pilgrim acreage is due for development, but that may not come about for many years.

If you’re interested in an apocalypic future, check out “The World Without Us”, in which the author postulates what would happen if we all go together when we go:

BTW, I recommend getting the Discover Magazine article, as it comes with some fascinating artwork.

The Lost Highways Page.
(Be sure to check the links page, too!)

A number of cities with large metro stations have abandoned stations. I think London has at least a dozen, probably more. (Shoreditch station was just closed in the last week or two.) So do Paris, Madrid, and New York.

I hope this all fits…I often go searching for modern, spelled abandoned, archealogical sites. My adventures have taken me to:
-An old bridge that is supposed to be built on/in the area where witchcraft was supposed to have closed several mines and a town. It was raining (flooding underneath on the road I was on), night, and I have yet to find it again in daylight.
-In the town I live in, the tallest building (12ish stories) is abandoned. It is, however, unlocked and still has power. It used to be a hotel, with shops on the ground floor. Later, it was converted to apartments. I spent 2 hours going up the elevator, and visiting each apartment that was unlocked, floor by floor. Most still have 70’s appliances, some had damage as if someone were trying to find plumbing or wiring in the walls, some were liveable with a little work (didnt test the plumbing). I never found the service elevator and cannot see someone carrying a mattress or furniture up 12 flights…The elevator I did find was maybe big enough for 4 people. Asking price…$350,000 (current). I believe the add says 46 apartments.
-Fern Forest reminds me that in the mid 70’s you could drive the NW corner of Oahu (Marconi Rd?). I remember being in the back of the Datsun pickup, and Dad telling us that it used to be a railroad track, I think in reality it was a hicking/patrol trail for the military. It wasn’t paved but was definitely man made, only wide enough for one car in places. You had to cross some places (to go around fallen boulders?) using railroad ties. We only met 2 cars, one on the rocky beach below us on its roof, and one comming the other way. The one on the beach was abandoned, the one comming the other way had newlyweds in a rental.
-I thank Dad for instilling this odd fascination in me.

Gah. That should be, “large metro systems.”

Cleveland’s rapid transit system was once supposed to extend much farther than it does now. The graded right-of-way for the Green Line (Shaker Heights) extends past its current terminus at Green Road, all the way to the end of Shaker Drive. The right-of-way continues north several miles down the median of Gates Mills Drive. The street ends in a loop, which was supposed to be the yard and turn-around point for the line. Today, it sits in the middle of a very wealthy neighborhood, many miles beyond the end point of the transit line today.

I’m not just fascinated by abandoned infrastructure, but evidence of projects that were started but never finished. I-95 through southern New Jersey, provisions for express tracks for a rapid transit line between Buffalo and Niagara Falls that was graded in 1917, ghost subdivisions from the 1920s where the streets are still in place, an absolutely massive winding network of empty streets extending 40 miles east from El Paso, the many “Evel Knievel” ramps to nowhere on the expressways around Baltimore …

From a visit last year: the abandoned Cleveland subway. Yes, Cleveland had a subway.

Here are a few of my favorite sites:




I remember that issue. It was fascinating. I probably still have a copy back home.

And thanks for the urban exploration suggestion, Harmonious Discord. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the train station in Buffalo. I was particularly intrigued by the fact that the basement was flooded, and that there was still paperwork left behind. I’m glad that restoration seems to be proceeding, but it’s still a bit unfortunate because sites like that lose their appeal once they’re reclaimed.

And I see now that Buffalo has a lot of such things, from that Terminal to the Love Canal neighborhood (which is itself even being picked up and dusted off, as I understand). Considering the collapse of heavy industry and related issues, I’m sure there are a lot of places like this in the Rust Belt.

No doubt. I could easily picture a big “13” over one of those tunnels instead of “Ray’s Hill” or something like that. Maybe a radscorpion or deathclaw hiding in the bushes too.

Its not much to look at, but there’s a section of motorway here in Northern Ireland that was obviously intended to be a link to an overpass. It was abandoned and I’m not too sure if any main road actually runs over or near this junction, so it sits abandoned overgrowing with weeds. If I can I’ll take a picture.

More impressive though would be the shipyard cranes at Harland and Wolff. Now the shipyard has closed (or is open only for a few last jobs) I wonder what would happen to the massive Krupp cranes. They’re easily visible from across the city, but if they were abandoned they would most likely be cut up to be sold for scrap or safety reasons.

Ah, abandoned things… my secret second interest, after firearms!

Where I used to live in NZ, there was an abandoned railway siding in a nearby suburb, complete with signal switches and everything!

There were also WWII bunkers in the hills, which were interesting places to visit, and great for taking photos from!

Closer to home, Australia has a lot of abandoned buildings in rural areas- I’ve come across a couple of abandoned farmhouses and settler’s cottages whilst out hunting, and it’s both intriguing and eerie to realise you’re probably the first person to pay any real attention to them since he 1930s.

I know there’s a huge Urban Exploration thing in Australia (the Cave Clan being one of them), but someone usually owns even the most abandoned or derelict building and they don’t always like people poking around inside them.

Also, most of the “Urban Exploration” thing here is focused on tunnels and drains, which really isn’t my thing.

What Australia- and especially Queensland and Northern NSW- have, however are lots of very small towns that while not dying, have stagnated. There’s often an abandoned church or service station from the days when there was a major road in the area.

Perhaps the biggest Abandoned Area in Australia for a while was the Wonderland Sydney Theme Park, closed in 2000 or 2001 and not torn down until 2005.

Sadly, most Abandoned Areas anywhere near civilisation become Unabandoned pretty quickly, since the land is usually worth far too much money to have derelict buildings sitting on it…

There’s a rather elaborate abandoned synagogue near where I live. Based on an (extremely amateur) analysis of the architecture, I’d guess it was built in the 1920’s (reddish brick, vaguely art deco windows). It’s been closed a long time, as far as I can see. The odd thing is, there was never, to my knowledge, a large Jewish community in my neighbourhood- it was a village, then a working-class area, then a haven for immigrant communities (mostly Pakistanis, Indians and Afro-Caribbeans) in the 50’s.

So yeah. Mystery.

Many years ago, while hunting in eastern Arizona, we happened on a fairly overgrown section of highway in the middle of nowhere. It turned out to be a old section of Route 66 (according to the locals) that had no road access to it. Walking down that road in the dark*, past a few old building foundations, everyone carrying guns, felt kinda post-apocalyptic.
*We’d finished hunting for the day and were hiking back to camp.

Rochester NY apparently has an entire abandoned subway system:


Although from what I can tell it was not a large system by anyone’s definition (how could it be?).

Here in the greater Boston area there are several places where there are interchanges for highways that were never finished. I’m thinking of 128 south of Boston, where 95 comes in…there is a cloverleaf there that is only half used, there was a highway that was going to go straight north from there that was never built but the ramps and such are still there. Similarly north of the city where Rte. 3 intersects 128, there are ramps to serve a Rte. 3 extension south that was also never built.