Update: Sunday October 23, 2016
Often hidden below the surface adventures can exist which would otherwise be invisible to an untrained eye. Such is the case with the eastern most portal of the DuPont Cladding Tunnel. The DuPont name has roots which trace back all the way to 1802 when it was originally founded as a gunpowder mill. DuPont quickly grew and expanded to have gunpowder factories situated all over the country. However my interest parallels with the former DuPont Pompton Lakes Works Manufacturing facility which was in operation for over 92 years before ceasing in 1994. During the sites time in operation it produced various explosives and blasting caps for the United States Government during both World Wars. But today nothing physical remains on the former site except for some empty cement slabs and foundations where buildings once stood and overgrown fields. However curiosity began to prove me wrong upon learning about a series of tunnels blasted through a mountain which supposedly still existed on site. The tunnels were officially referred to as Cladding Tunnels and were utilized as hidden/secret areas to both coat materials with explosive powder as well as to test explosives outside of the public's eye. Supposedly the tunnels had been sealed since the 1970's. Currently the site remains as a massive brown fields, 576 acres of undeveloped land for the area is deemed by the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) to be extremely contaminated. Environmental restoration efforts have been initiated but the site will undoubtedly remain polluted for many decades to follow.
Update: Monday May 31, 2016
The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (N.A.W.C.A.D.) for the United States Navy opened in 1953 as a jet engine test facility, however the property dates back a few decades earlier to the 1940's when it was used as the Skillman Airport, a small county airport located just outside of Trenton, NJ. Between the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War in the late 1940's, the US Navy began to have the need for more modern and efficient aircraft and at which time established the The Naval Air Warfare Center: Aircraft Division and then in 1953 opened the Naval Air Warfare Center Trenton. The navy base employed over 700 people who worked secretly on some of the most advanced jet engine testing technology for the time. The base continued to operate through he 1980's and into the early 90's until 1993 when the Base Closure and Realignment Commission recommended the closure of the Trenton facility. The base was decommissioned and officially closed in 1997 and has subsequently been left abandoned ever since. The land is currently part of the Trenton-Mercer Airport but in 2013 was supposedly acquired by a charity to end homelessness, however no development plans nor demolition has ever begun. Currently NAWCAD remains vacant, the property a superfund site, polluted with industrial chemicals from decades past.
Update: Sunday March 20, 2016
New Jersey Turnpike, Exit 8, a rusty water tower topped with the initials "NL" rises out from the farmland just off the shoulder of the northbound lanes. Thousands drive by everyday, but only the curious stop to see why. A short walk through the adjacent woods buffering the sounds from the highway proves this sight to be the former location of National Lead Industries paint laboratory. Constructed during the early 1960's, this laboratory was built primarily as a facility to conduct scientific research on the application of lead paint within various products. The early 60's was a time before the dangers associated of lead paint were widely recognized, thus lead was being used in all sorts of products from standard wall paint to toys for infants and toddlers to chew on. However during the 1970's the ill-effects of lead paint became a major political issue and thus lead containing products became nearly completely outlawed and strictly regulated by the government. Ultimately this lead (heh) to the downsize and eventual closure of many lead based chemical companies across the country. Today the laboratory remains as a complete ruin. Overtaken by nature, vines and ivy hold the decaying walls together as ceiling tiles and light fixtures dangle from the collapsing beams. Yet still the epic water tower looms tall over the New Jersey Turnpike, a forbidding icon of a now known neurotoxin. And while the NL logo has since faded, it has now been topped with the new initials from a daring NJ tagging icon.
Update: Sunday January 10, 2016
Originally constructed in 1890 as a luxury hotel called Halcyon Hall, the wooden building consisted of nearly 200 rooms featuring a lavish interior design which matched the Queen Anne style architecture ever so present of the grand edifice of the building. But perhaps due to Halcyon Hall's remote location, its original intent as a hotel never caught on and the business closed in 1901 and the building remained vacant for the years to follow. It wasn't until 1907 that the building was purchased by Miss May Bennett, the founder of the prominent and expanding all women's college entitled Bennett School for Girls, which at the time existed in Irvington NY. It was in that year the Halcyon Hall became the new home for the Bennett School for Girls. The all girls college thrived right up to around 1970 at which point the idea of single-sex education became less and less popular. By 1977 the idea of coeducation had completely transformed the American education system, forcing the antiquated same-sex philosophy endorsed by the Bennett School for Girls to fail. Ultimately the all girls' school was forced to file for bankruptcy and ultimately closed its doors later that year. The school has essentially remained abandoned since the late 1970's as redevelopment attempts during 80's failed. Today the school still remains as an icon, although now just a beacon for illicit adventure, as its decaying facade and crumbling architecture attract the curious minded by the hundreds each year. At any given time people can be seen snapping pictures of the front of the school from the main road which passes by and well worn paths in the weeds hint toward how to sneak into the decaying symbol for adventure.
Blog Update: Sunday November 29, 2015
Doris Duke, an American heiress. Inheritor of money, born into privilege and next in line kin celebrity living off the profits of her deceased father's American Tobacco and Duke Energy Companies fortunes. The chance of being born directly into substantial inherited wealth should not be presented with any royal significance nor boasted about. Rather, the potential of that human to then make the world a better place for others with such fortune should be the deciding factor of their faux or fact celebrity status and ultimate legacy...
Update: Tuesday August 4, 2015
Originally established as the Chester County Poorhouse in 1898, the facility primarily focused on developing a working community of patients who were tasked and trained on various jobs such as farming, sewing, laundry, and building maintenance. As patient population expanded through out the early 1900's, the original hospital buildings were demolished, replaced instead with more modernized structures, the likes of which define the architecture representing the cottage style Embreevilre State Hospital campus which exists today. The modernized buildings consisted of large brick edifice structures, which housed patient rooms, dorms, wards, a recreation building complete with a theater, and even a small pool and gymnasium. Throughout much of the early 1970's, a juvenile detention center was even operated out of one of the hospital buildings, but was ultimately closed six years later to be moved to a more accommodating facility. Through out the late 1970's Pennsylvania state-wide patient population began to dwindle, ultimately forcing the official closure of Embreevilre State Hospital in 1980. Today the buildings remain in ruins. Smashed windows and blasted open doors allow anyone and anything to enter. The damp tunnels snaking below the campus serve as home to frogs and cave crickets, the buildings a playground for the curious and copper mine for the impoverished.
Gallery Update: Wednesday May 20, 2015
Five years had passed since my initial visit but upon glancing at the exterior of the massive brick building, the edifice looked unscathed, still clearly abandoned. I wondered if the same ruinous conditions held true for the interior of the main pump house structure; as I recall a few news articles published over years past made mention of grant money being utilized for some sort of restoration and stabilization efforts. But between me and finding out, the same barb wire topped fence still guarded the perimeter. Although I spotted a few more obvious cut holes this time, I opted for the same sneaky entrance which served me well in the past. A quick stroll through the long filtration building, followed by a swift run outside combined with a little bit of upper body ingenuity, I was able to gain access inside the pump house. As dust once again kicked up by panicked pigeons began to settle, golden rays of afternoon sunlight yet again cast down upon the titanic steam pump engine illuminating the massive space a familiar rusty-yellow glow. Sans a web of temporary yellow string lights dangling from beams above, the five-story steam pump appeared indistinguishable from its five year younger self, perhaps maybe just a tad bit rustier. Still no new coat of pain nor freshly oiled flywheels to be found. Just a few new candy wrappers and an empty box of Cheez-It crackers strewn across the dusty floor, the only obvious differences I could spot. Grant or not it seems the only thing that had changed over the five years, was me.
Blog Update: Thursday April 9, 2015
The State of New Jersey's decision to demolish the vacant kirkbride building on the grounds of the former Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital campus marks the end to an architectural marvel, but ultimately a choice the State has the right to make, regardless of one's opinion on the matter. The State owns the building thus they can decide what actions they wish to implement over their property. While such a reality is disturbing we citizens do have the right to at least express and exercise our own thoughts on the matter. And we have, but we've been largely ignored so far...