Friday, January 30, 2015

Icy Morning

I woke up Saturday morning to ice and snow, and also my Baltimore trip was postponed to a later date. so with a lazy day in front of me I decided to load up the crock pot with pork chops, vegetables and dumplings, then I dressed to go outside. I had to take all these photos with a tripod, my hands got so cold I couldn't hold the camera still enough but I managed to capture the ice OK using some stabilization. Didn't enjoy getting low to the ground though, the grass was wet and cold.
By late afternoon most of the ice had gone but I still didn't venture out, not with a delicious casserole calling my name!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Exploring the Husk of a Distillery

Sunday was a gloomy, dank day, and absolutely perfect for urbexing photos. We were in PA to visit an old distillery which has a lot of coverage on the internet so I feel it's OK to mention its name here. A distillery, built in the 1850's, which had managed to survive prohibition by distilling medical spirits but was well known for distilling Overholt whiskey. It stood tall and desolate as we approached and it was apparent that it was really nothing more than a shell.
 It sported some recent fire damage scars from 2004 but still managed to create a dramatic first impression. There was a fire here in July 1884 when one warehouse with 600 barrels of whiskey was saved.  The Somerset Herald wrote in their story of July 30, "The heat of the fire was intense, and the flames lit up the country for miles.  Burning whisky flowed down the river.  Twenty-five barrels were rolled away and the whisky dipped up by a mob.  There were hundreds of drunken men."  The detail about hundreds of drunken men may have been the reason why, in 1905, Fire Marshall W. H. Marietta "issued orders that no liquor be given the firemen, saying that it was impossible to drink whiskey and fight fire at the same time."  It was an order that prompted some of the firemen to strike, "but they were not from Connellsville."
Maybe this was remembered years later when another fire broke out in 1905 prompting the headlines, " WILL MAKE OLD TOPERS SIGH. Four Million Dollars' Worth of Overholt Whisky Fed a Fire at Broadford, Pa."
There was still snow on the ground from the previous week and as we walked towards the abandonment, rain and sleet started falling again and the hulk of bricks towered above us.
We took shelter inside and looked around. There's some great photos online of what used to be here, even after it had been left to fend for itself, but there were no relics to be seen now, Plenty of broken glass, graffiti, old boxes and paint pots and bricks but very little furniture or equipment left.
A beautiful old iron spiral staircase could be seen reaching up towards a hole in the roof but we weren't tempted to climb up, even though someone had thoughtfully left a pallet and part of a ladder as a way to start ascending the broken  metal stairs.
I really liked the windows in these ruins but was suffering from a lack of creativity in my shots. I wasn't sure if it was the weather, or the fact that I'm not really happy with the photos from my G15 camera and am counting down the days until I have a new top of the range mirrorless camera. Maybe it was a combination of both. The weather outside was horrid and we had to stay under shelter. I saw a couple of mad men racing up the river in a speedboat, and although they were well wrapped up, I had to question their sanity. i was so surprised to see them I wasn't quick enough to grab a shot.
I couldn't take many exterior shots, the sleet was pretty hard at times. So I walked about and occasionally pulled out my camera for a quick snap and then hurriedly tucked it into my jacket again. It was a little frustrating as the brickwork here really warranted some closer shots. But it couldn't be done.
 We trampled through a couple of outbuildings and then decided to find somewhere warm for lunch and beer. The sleet was coming down harder and we wanted to get warm.
Rumor has it the distillery is haunted by a son whose family murdered him for monetary gain and his apparition has been seen on various occasions, as well as objects mysteriously moving or the feeling of being watched. I wasn't aware of these tales before I went but felt nothing untoward while I was there. The full story is here.
Some more shots and information is here, many photos of buildings now no longer standing.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Blind Whino and a Cold School

On Saturday I drove down to DC for my first urbexing trip after returning to the U.S. I was feeling a bit down and not really looking forward to the venue, I was more interested in catching up with friends. I'd been to this church before and taken photos of the outside but today we had paid to be allowed inside.
The building is now an art space which will put on shows, workshops and performances. It isn't an old building, built in the early 1900's so I wasn't horrified at the way it's been defaced. I really don't like the paint job on the exterior, it looks like it was done in haste, but it certainly is eye catching and easily visible from I395. A link to the website is here.
It was incredibly cold when I stepped out of Stuart and ambled over to the entrance. I had bundled up and was about to crack open my hand warmers when I realized that I could feel warmth when I walked through the door. There was heating inside! How great not to be puffing on frozen fingers while setting up a photo. There was already quite a few folks inside and I cheered up immensely when I received plenty of huge hugs and "Glad you're back!" comments. After a few chats it was down to business and shooting the colorful graffiti artwork that covered walls, floors and ceilings.
It was quite luxurious being able to walk around an empty building and take photos with heating on, something I kept marveling over, and we were all very grateful. But after about 90 minutes we were all done and so it was time for the group photo, taken here by Richard, and then we turned our attention to making a very important decision, where we would go for lunch and beer.
We ended up at a nearby bar where we could all sit together and food was brought out. Liz took the photo above. I wasn't overly impressed with the beer. I think I was having a hard time converting back to american beers, flavored with many fruits and flowers and spices, compared to English beer that's mostly flavored simply by hops and water. But I kept working at it and the task was made easier by the accompaniment of the most awesome fries I've had for a long time, (excluding English chips of course). These were straw fries loaded with parsley, salt and fresh garlic. What a heavenly combination and we were all quaffing them down rather rapidly, I tried not to think about how bad our breaths might be the following day...
After we left the bar, Emily, Richard and I decided to try out looking in an abandoned building nearby. It used to be a school and as we got inside it felt as cold as a morgue. We got a fright when a guy suddenly appeared and started rambling on about how he'd been in here before and had knives pulled on him by prospective scrappers. He warned us to be careful, telling us he was a 'friend' of the building and kept a frequent eye on the place. He wished us luck then walked off. We three all looked at each other then continued setting up tripods. But the afternoon was closing in and the light was fading so after a short while we called it a day and decided to go home, saying we'd return another day. The photos below are the only ones that were worth posting.