Saturday, December 26, 2009
The Jabs Farm is one of the coolest -and most abandoned- places we came across in 2009. This place definitely fit the bill as we stumbled upon it purely by chance while on an April hike around Louisville Swamp. The Louisville Swamp area itself is just a small part of a much larger area known as the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and is located between the cities of Carver and Jordan, Minnesota. Not only was the farm not even mentioned on the DNR info center in the parking lot, it was also remote as heck, being about a 5 to 6 mile hike just to get there. After traversing some backwaters of the Minnesota River known as Sand Creek by way of a piled rock crossing, you come up a hillside to the original farmhouse. Surprisingly, there were historical markers to read about the homestead and you could even walk inside the house. Inside was a barrel stove surrounded by a few rustic benches. From the outside, it looked like it had been repaired to some extent, probably even having it's original wooden shingles replaced in the last 10 years or so. Even more intriguing than the house, were two quite large structures, the larger of which was missing it's entire main roof as well as large sections of wall from additions that appeared to have been added later. The third and furthest building was in the best condition, probably having been refurbished the most. It was locked down and even had iron grates over the windows. The historical markers themselves were somewhat vague and rustic. The one thing I do remember reading is that the farm remained in the Jabs family up until the 1950's before being donated to the state -or something to that effect. I'd really like to visit this place next year to learn more about it.
Monday, November 16, 2009
We discovered this place on a winter trip to Hastings in March of 2008. Really purely by accident as we had no idea it even existed when we decided to hike along the Vermillion River. There were one or two signs with some good historical info as well as older photos of this huge old flour mill. After learning just how old it was -built in 1856 and destroyed in 1894- we were instantly fascinated and trucked down the snowy hillside. It's most unique aspect was immediately evident upon our first glance of the structure. It's remnants are purely massive, towering pillars completely free-standing from one another save for maybe 3 or 4 places where the quarried limestone still clung to horizontal timbers. These short spans gave the only indication of the original structure's appearance with evenly spaced windows at each level. It was as if all the window openings on all four sides collapsed straight downwards from the top, leaving gaping slices in each wall. The effect resembles ancient ruins of Rome or Egypt and is pretty awe inspiring. We were both scared to even touch the remaining walls for fear they might topple down. On one outer wall I noticed the remainder of a steel rod that was likely used as a stabilizer between opposite walls. Funny that even without this, the remaining pillars, except for what must have been the front of the building, are all still standing. They realy must have built things good in those days.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Though my fascination with abandoned things began long before, I wanted to post some photos of a place that most recently renewed my interest in a big way. In spring of 2007, based on a tip from a coworker, we decided to go take a peek at this old bridge over the Mississippi in Inver Grove Heights. Though not particularly "mysterious" like abandoned buildings can be, this bridge and it's connected railroad line were there very definition of "abandoned." You could literally feel both history and time here spelled out plain as day in the rusted steel, wheathered wood and overgrown tracks. In addition, there were so many other interesting things about this bridge than just it's age. In it's rich history the bridge carried the Rock Island Railroad on top, cars underneath, had a swing-span that opened to let barges through, was crossed by John Dillinger after a gun battle, was a toll bridge, then a free bridge, then a toll bridge again owned by a private citizen. If you're lucky enough not stumble upon a place like this on your own, and/or be the only persons there at the time, it definitely helps lend to the overall feeling of wonderment about the place. Such was the case on this day in April and it is truly one of the best abandoned places I'll remember. Having made such a memorable impression on me, it's very fitting that this place has since been in the news ever since with stories of its impending fate. Just this spring, most of the structure was demolished, including the entire swing span as well as the eastern and western side entrances thus making it impossible to access what remains of the bridge out in the middle of the river. This certainly adds fuel to whatever motivation I already have for stopping and exploring abandoned places. It sounds like a dorky reason to pull over on the highway or drive out of your way but you never know if that place will still be there the next time you drive by. Read more about this unique -and now gone- bridge at http://www.johnweeks.org/bridges/pages/ms02.html.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Seems pretty fitting that I launch my new Blog "Abandoned MN" on Halloween night. I'll explain the purpose of this blog more later but for now here is a taste of what is to come. This is about the coolest abandoned church I've ever seen. It sits in a clearly overgrown field just north of Duluth MN along Hwy 61 and has an eerie sense about it with it's odd red colored siding and cross-less steeple built to the right side of the structure. In the back is a still intact outhouse complete with toilet seat and lid. If not for the imposing front doors with crosses for windows, one could easily mistake the place for a modest north-shore home.