I awoke one Saturday at 630 am. I was bored and didn’t want to watch anything on Hulu or Netflix. So I grabbed my trusty camera, and camera bag, gassed up the Jerry-mobile and headed up into Kentucky. I was on a quest to find an abandoned school in Kentucky near Franklin, KY. Coffee in hand, Stephen King’s Later playing and the miles were being steadily being consumed under the car. How hard would it be to find the aforementioned school? No idea! If nothing else my trip would be enjoyable. About 2 hours later I found myself cruising thru Franklin. Franklin is a small town, pleasant enough. I could see an abandoned high-school, it was tempting but it wasn’t not what I was after I took a left out of town and continued on my way for another 24 mins , maybe more. As I rounded a bend in the road I spied my destination right off the road! I was elated. No fence barred my way. No signs stating “No Trespassing”, (awesome-sauce). The only drawback, there wasn’t really anywhere to hide my car. Ah well.I opened my camera bag, made sure my lil Fuji was ready to go, donned my headphones, made sure my phone was in my pocket and a lamp was strapped to the side of my bag as well. I started by getting a long shot of the school, it’s asphalt black top was cracked, pitted and had most definitely seen better days. On I walked shooting away and noting the broken windows, crumbling bricks, and what looked like a singed roof.
I passed on entering right away through the front doors, instead I decided to scope out the side of the building. Down a twisty little rockcrete path I went and came across the remains of an out building that over looked the main road. The building had pancaked. The roof was in pieces, only debris was left, and a chair. On I went and on I shot. Windows empty of their glass panes were grim, and did not bode well for the conditions inside the school. From where I was I could tell the roof on this part of the school was gone, and had indeed been burnt. A wooden stoop and stairs was in a continuous state of collapse announced the end of the wall’s length. A little further on a door way beckoned, its window broken and it shook a little in the breeze. Of course I went in.
I stood in a darkened stairwell and stepped down into another small chamber. In front of me a stairway would have led up into the building, but the top was blocked off with a large section of the roof. To the right a small room, it’s floor was just hanging on by a thread, here to the roof had fallen and I could easily look up into the grey sky above. I won’t lie, it’s sights like this that can make me rethink the wisdom of my not staying home in bed. to my left another room stood, its floor bare dirt, the light was limited, but hey, the ceiling wasn’t falling down so in I went. I’d like to say that it was an interesting investigation but I’d be lying. I think at one point the room may have housed a furnace, but now it was just empty. Still the lighting made up for the lack of sights, if that makes sense.
From there I eagerly went to the next building, a newer looking addition than the one I’d just left. Up the stairs and in I went. This was more than creepy. Lighting as before was sparse, and cast the lower half of the landing I stood on in shadows. I decided to go up and see what there was to see. Up a short flight of steps I went and stood for a second looking at a recliner. Yes, a recliner in a hall next to a bathroom and a sink. Further down all I could see was a darkened hallway and a window where light came in through broken glass on the upper from doors. The floor before me was a nasty mix of “squish and crunch”, its a texture you’d have to experience first hand to fully appreciate it’s grossness. And while it can be disturbing to tread upon, I’m a pro. I only slightly grimaced.
As long as the bathrooms were directly to my right that is where I started my exploration of this wing of the school. Gloom was the order of the day and it dominated the atmosphere. Right off the bat upon entering the boys bathroom was an old tv. Of course, why wouldn’t there be a TV? There was a recliner just outside the door after all. the walls were of course bare, and void of anything but grime, graffiti and damage. A row of toilets dominated one wall. I found the least questionable toilet and relieved the pressure in my bladder. What can I say that Venti Ice Coffee had to come out at some point. I made a mental note of where I stood so that when I explored the lower level I wouldn’t end up dripping my own piss upon my head (I’m sure this has happened at some point). Sadly the toilets were the most interesting things in the room. But I did take some cool close ups of the lone sink. Think on that. Several toilets, one sink. I’m betting not all them hands got washed during recess. On wards, always on wards!
Leaving the boy’s bathroom, I entered the girl’s bathroom and discovered the only difference was a lack of a tv, stall dividers, and a corncob keeping the window closed. Why? Just why? I mean, did someone actually eat in here? Shaking off the gross mental issue of eating in this dark, dank, and yes smelly place, I made myself down the near black hallway. It wasnt a very long hallway at that and I had to ask myself “Just how many kids went to this school”? There just wasnt that much to the place.
“AAAAAAAAAAH SHIT” I exclaimed in a loud hiss! Hands windmilling in an effort to keep upright. As I just mentioned the hallway was dark. It was also cluttered and someone decided to put a moveable toilet seat in the middle of the hall. This kind of mishap is common in exploring the abandoned. I took a quick shot of the toilet and whispered thanks to the universe I’d not stepped in shit, or fallen on my ass. To The rest of the hall was littered with assorted pots, pans, and molds. I was standing in a wedge of light that led into what I took to be the Home Economics room. I passed on this room, it was pretty much empty, and went to the opposite room instead. This one was also empty but it had that “lived in look”. This wasn’t too surprising. I was getting the feeling that at some point someone had actually lived in this wing of the school. Honestly the large, wood encased, TV console along with the recliner I’d found were dead giveaways. Also, I’d come across another room that had several recliners and a sofa. I’d not be surprised to at some point find a bed.
After a bit I’d decided that I’d seen all there was to see upstairs and carefully made my way back to where I cam in. Down the stairs into an area bathed in shadows, oh, no. Wait the doors were actually painted black. That didn’t help. Pushing the doors open slowly I peered around a large open space, that at some point served as a lunch room. Once again I found myself wondering about the size of the classes held here. There were piles of stuff here and there and another discarded TV. There are traits I’ve come to expect from all abandoned places, they are as follows. Badly rendered penises, and boobs, toys (sometimes adult), and discarded TV’s. Honestly, why is it so hard to get rid of TV’s? In one room I found what was left of the cafeteria’s kitchen. Dirt and mud covered nearly everything making me think this place had to have been flooded at some point. That’s a bit creepy really. Yet another room held doors. Just doors. Institutional doors meant for a building like this, but residential doors too. The light here was nearly as bad as it was in the other basement wing. I was just happy that the ceiling above was in better shape. FInally I went into a room on the far left and found a series of darkened rooms filled with a bizarre assortment of junk, in one room a mattress sat in the middle of the floor, with several plastic chairs around it. I wont hazard a guess at how much use the mattress got, but come on, an audience too? Ah well, gotta get your entertainment where you can I guess. The darkness wasn’t the worse part of this large ongoing basement. No, the floor was damp, and the smell? Yeah, the place reeked of rotting floors and carpet. Finally I came out in a hallway that led to a way out. I could not have been happier to make my way outside and breathed in the fresh air.
Between the two buildings was a corridor that was overgrown with weeds and small saplings. Broken windows, and giant splinters of the roof beckoned me to come closer. “Shit”! Ouch! Crap” I forgot that another common trait found in abandoned places are sticker bushes, and thorn bushes. They suck. Earlier this year in Johnson City an exploration came to a dead stop due to an acre or more of such bushes that covered the field. But whatever, I made my way to a window that looked in on the first story of the original school structure. I held my camera up and looked through its LCD to get see if it might be safe for me to enter. That was a resounding no. Two major red flags were immediately visible. What remained of the school’s ceiling and roof was only a strong wind from completely falling in and pancaking the upon the floor. The floor itself? Yeah, I could see large sections that had already collapsed into the basement. I shivered because I was in that basement not too long ago. I abandoned any thought of climbing in through the window and made my way back to the front of the school and then went left and into the building. Yes, I know I said I’d not go in, but upon further examination I found that the front section of the building’s floor was concrete. The rooms beyond that had wooden floors that were collapsing. Turning in a circle shooting away I decided that I’d found myself in a place that was spookier than the basement. The very real possibility of danger was palpable, the light was scarce, coupled with the burnt out ceiling gave a truly oppressive atmosphere. Its at times like this that I remember why its a good idea to explore such places with a buddy.
“Grossly slick” is the best way to describe the rotted debris I walked upon while I shot, trying my best to capture the moment for your eyes. Charred timbers lay here and there, streak and bubbled paint covered surfaces. Burnt hair, that was the only thing I could compare the odor of this place. I was nearly done. Perhaps I’d shot some more. Maybe I’d worked up the nerve to try my luck with the rotted floor of the large room to my right. But a reflection caught my eye. Walking back to the doors I ‘d entered I could see a Sheriff’s car parked behind my own car, and a deputy peering into the back windows. This was my cue that it was time to go.