Category Archives: Abandoned buildings

Nunneries, Cemeteries and Brews

I set out on the road to find an abandoned town yesterday and kinda failed, but did stumble across some pretty cool places!
am3As I was driving north towards Wyoming, looking for Virginia Dale and all of the creepy shuttered glory I was hoping for, I saw a sign that said “ABBEY” that pointed left.
am2The Abbey of St. Walburga is a convent located just south of the border of Wyoming. The nuns there spend their days in prayer and meditation.
amThey also raise cattle. There was a box on the front bench with some of the fresh mozzarella and a donation box. Unfortunately, since I wasn’t planning on stumbling across an Abbey that sold fresh meat and cheese, my car was void of a chill box, but I definitely plan on going back up soon to try some!
am1The bells, surrounded by snow covered mountains.
am2
am4This place is truly a hidden gem. The sisters walking through the halls offered to let us join in on the daily prayers as they passed into the church.
The Abbey 2We kindly declined and perused the grounds before hopping back in the car and heading south.
Virginia DaleThe Virginia Dale exit was directly across the way from the Abbey, but I was unable to find the bullet-ridden signs and abandoned homesteads that the websites promised.
Virginia Dale PostI did, however, find the old post office that has been shuttered for years. No trespassing this time since there was a house directly behind. Sniff.
am7A little ways down the road we came across a small white church and pulled off for more pictures.
am8The doors were unlocked, so I let myself in to explore the small room.
am10The original church burned down in 2003, but they’ve rebuilt since and still have regular services on Sundays.
am9Some old relics from the original church.
Virginia Dale CrossThe church, like the town and the Abbey, are surrounded by mountains with no sight of any other housing, or people, in sight.
am17A small cemetery sits right next to the church.
am13Some of the graves are a bit more well-kept than others.
am18
am12There are a handful of headstones that simply have names that are just barely etched in and fading with time and weather.
am11It was getting later in the day and we had yet to feed ourselves, so we jumped back on the road and drove south to Fort Collins to check out Gravity 1020, Fort Collin’s Brewery’s attached restaurant.
am20I warmed up with the porter on nitro and paired it with their East Coast Rep – prime rib, caramelized onions, cheddar and horseradish aioli with a side of pastrami mac ‘n cheese. Holy. Drool.
am22We shouldn’t have. We really, really shouldn’t have, but how can you say no to at least trying one of these desserts?
am21The Cake and Shake. The pumpkin spice cake wasn’t as soft and delicate as I was hoping, but the flavor was still warm and spicy. The shake had Red Banshee in it and was a little odd with the bitterness, but rounded out well with the butter pecans.
am23It was an exhausting and unexpected day, but the perfect way to break up the week.

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Desert Center

After we’d perused the abandoned school, Commander Matt and I were prepared to continue right back to the highway. The one thing that was nagging my mind were those random decapitated palm trees that brought me here in the first place. Just down the road from the school, through the dead and silent town, we found the cabins.
am About six or seven small cabins rest in the desert dust. One has already been burned to the ground, no doubt thanks to vandals.
am1 The insides are completely destroyed with paint falling off the walls and furniture thrown everywhere.
am3 am2 am4 Old yellowing newspapers and calendars were strewn all across the back bedroom floor.
am5 1974
am8 1968
am6 This was the home of Carl Moser: born September 28, 1892 and died November 1, 1976.
abc All of his final payments still hang on the wall.
am9 An old pop top Bud can.
am10 The next house was in the same condition.
am11 AM12 That might be a little expired…
AM17 These cans expired in 2009. I never thought I’d see an expired canned food.
AM13 AM14 Different trash and toys from all different decades. Some of these houses look like they’ve become a dumpster for the few remaining locals.
AM15 am24 Almost mint condition. It hurt to leave this behind.
AM16 Slightly creepy and ominous. It fit the feel of the entire town.
am18 Jeff Ragsdale, the son of “Desert Steve” Ragsdale, had trophies and certificates all across the floors in what I assume was the Ragsdale home.
am19 am20 This seemed to be the trophy house. Old memoirs that you’d think would want to be saved have been left here to rot.
am23 am21 You can see the decapitated palm trees that originally pulled me in.
am25 After exploring and documenting every crevice, we returned to the highway and sped back to California and to population.

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Filed under Abandoned buildings, Adventures, Travel

Desert Center School

Stephen “Desert Steve” Ragsdale founded the town of Desert Center in 1921 after having beenĀ  Out in the middle of nowhere, this town was a watering hole for those traveling between Phoenix and California, giving the weary travelers some much-needed respite and shade. In the 1940s when Ragsdale’s children needed schooling, he built up Desert Center School which fell into complete disrepair after it shut down in 1983. Today, the few children who remain are bused 120 miles round trip to the closest school in Blythe, California.
AM Desert Center School. AM1 Nothing more thrilling than trespassing in a state where a high percentage of landowners are armed with shotguns. AM2 The auditorium. AM3 A view of the stage. AM4 AM5 The remains of one of the two pianos that used to stand tall – due to the elements or vandals, who knows. AM6 Formerly known as piano keys. AM7 AM8 The day the music died. AM9 AM10 The remains of ceiling paint, thoroughly consumed by mold. AM11 Walls melting in the desert heat. am12 You can hear the rats scurrying through the air ducts, even from across the parking lot. am13 Random awesome farming equipment rusted into the ground outside. am14 am15 A man, a toothpick and his tractor. am16 am17 Hauntingly, beautifully forgotten.

Coming up soon – the abandoned homes of Desert Center.

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Casa Sirena

If you’ve met me or followed by blog over the past few years, you may have noticed that I absolutely adore abandoned things. If it’s bedraggled, desolate and haunting, I’m guaranteed to be enraptured by it. Today, I came across such a place.
am It’s possible Casa Sirena was considered a nice, even beautiful hotel back in the day. Waaaaay back in the day. According to the reviews right before they closed in 2010, it looked to be in about the same condition then as it is now. Kind of reminds me EXACTLY of the hotel of death I stayed at in Indio.
am1 Welcome to Casa Sirena.
am2 The pool may need a little work, but with the weather as brisk as it is lately, why would you want to go swimming anyway? am4 And it’s not quite cold enough to need a hot tub either. am5 If your kids are into skateboarding, this makes for a great skate park! Just be sure they avoid any broken glass and used needes. am3 All of the offices are still full of furniture, paperwork and stripped of any remaining computers by vandals and looters. The walls make for fun potential arts and crafts if you can find any space among the graffiti. am9 am10 am6 am11 am7 am12 The Lobster Trap restaurant also sits abandoned with tablecloths still carefully laid across each table, full salt and pepper shakers poised in the center, waiting for that shake that will never come. It closed a month after the hotel.

Bedraggled, desolate and haunting: Just the way I like it.

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Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark

Have I mentioned that I adore abandoned buildings? Was my post about the Camarillo State Mental Hospital not clear enough? I can remedy that. Today on the drive home from the Vegas, I pulled off on a side road to get a closer look at something that has been lurking in the back of my mind for YEARS, begging to be trespassed and visited.
Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark, located in Newberry Springs, California.
This waterpark (originally named Lake Dolores Waterpark) was designed back in the late 1950s by Bob Byers.
His original plan was to have this park for private use of his extended family.
Over the next 25 years, rides were added and the park expanded as tourism to Las Vegas rose, as did interest in motocrossing in the sandy area.
The park was incredibly popular from the 1970s to the mid-1980s.
The popularity ran out in the late 1980s, and Byers sold the park in 1990.
The new owners tried to revitalize it with a new name (Rock-A-Hoola) and re-opened it in 1998.
The park was open for three more years and amassed three million dollars in debt.
In 1999, a park employee was paralyzed after he used one of the slides after hours.
He went down the slide and into the runout lane, but the water wasn’t at the height that it was supposed to be.
He realized that he wasn’t slowing down as much as he should have been and hit the concrete end of the runout lane, which you can see in the picture above.
He was paralyzed and sued the park. He was awarded $4.4 million dollars, which undoubtedly lent a hand to the upcoming bankruptcy and closure in 2000.
In 2002, new owners decided to give it another go. They spent $400,000 updating the park and renamed it “Discovery Waterpark.”
The park was open seasonally until 2004, when it closed for good.
Since then it’s been ripped apart, piece by piece, and sold to other waterparks.
Vandals have also gone wild, spray painting every standing structure, prying open doors and shattering any glassware they can find.
The lazy moat is filled with tattered mattresses, and the vandals really want you to know that “Nutsaks” are available there. (See the bridge above)
No, seriously. They really, really want you to buy some of their “Nutsaks”.
The stairs that led up to the tallest slides have been overgrown by large bushes. Sharp bushes. They hurt to walk through. I suffer for the good of my blog.
This park is beautiful and tattered, eerie and forgotten. I think it was made just for me.
I really need to find a history class that teaches only about abandoned towns/buildings/parks such as this.
This was my idea of a perfect day.

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Camarillo State Mental Hospital

This is how I prefer to spend my weekends. Nothing like a little trespassing to liven up the day!
Camarillo State Mental Hospital (Now known as California State University: Channel Islands).
All of these pictures were taken at the South Quad, where the school hasn’t quite gotten around to fixing things up, or the buildings have been deemed unstable.
This mental institution opened in 1936 and housed mentally ill and disabled people up until 1997. This is a look inside one of the many, many bedrooms that housed anywhere from 2-6 patients. In a lot of the buildings, there are still tattered curtains hanging on the windows.
Above many of the patients’ rooms, there are alarms and lights that designated when the door to the room was locked.

Now, there are tons of windows that have been shattered either due to the elements of nature, or due to the rocks and beer cans thrown through them.

This old courtyard has been completely engulfed in grasses and weeds. Sigh, I’m in love! LOVE LOVE LOVE abandoned buildings and cities. The history that lived here is fascinating!

Everywhere I walked, something else stood out, begging to be seen and photographed.

If you’re interested in some of the history, there are tons of great links HERE and HERE and HERE.

Any abandoned buildings or towns in your area? I’m thinking I need to take a road trip!

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