We hit the brakes and pulled a u-turn!

Jay and myself had decided to take a trip to Alabama in search of abandoned gold to photograph. We were giving the back roads of Montgomery, Alabama a second shot and so far had come up empty. This isn’t to say we’d not spotted some abandoned places.

We’d seen a school that looked abandoned but alas, it wasn’t. There were more than a few abandoned places on the side of 231 as well but they didn’t meet our standard of “Abandoned Gold”. They just looked broken. All that changed as we went down a hill and saw to our right a truly odd sight. A concrete Yurt? It was all I could think to call the rounded structure we’d passed. Slamming on the brakes we came to a stop and did a quick u-turn back to the drive way to this curious sight!

Small windows crowned the top of the building, small, almost like arrow slits. This was, to say the least, a bit odd and made even more so by the very ordinary deserted trailer sitting back behind the circular house.

I picked my way through the overgrowth to the narrow doorway, but since the door wasn’t closed I didn’t need to knock or push it open to gain entry to a sight that was much weirder than the building’s outside. Immediately upon entering the “Round House” were two deep hand dug pits. Easily eight to ten feet deep they were. The pit to my left was topped by an overhanging structure that I could only assume held a bedroom of some sort, maybe more than one. Trash and assorted debris filled the pit.

The pit to the right wasn’t quite as deep and had hand carved steps leading into it. The shape of the pit and the steps leading into it screamed “Pool”. On the treads of the steps were old copies of National Geographic, and other assorted publications, yellowed with age.

Crumbling between these pits I found myself walking across a narrow bridge that looked to slowly be crumbling. I cross this bridge all the while shooting and hoping this would not be the day the dirt bridge would give u the ghost. Being buried under hundreds of pounds of red Alabama dirt in a bizarre house in the wilds wasn’t my idea of an ideal death. Luckily for myself and Jay the dirt was strong and well packed.

A giant spool that once held electrical wire was now a table.
A loft for living quarters? Who knows?

I found myself looking around a wide-open space with a peaked ceiling that maybe was fifteen feet or more above us supported by a lone metal pole. There were large gaping holes in the ceiling and the light coming through made me feel a bit more comfortable and I began to move about shooting at whatever caught my attention.

An old television sat upon a pile of debris almost directly under the holes in the roof. The placement of the blank screen staring up into the large holes brought to mind an altar of some sort. Weird, I know. You had to be there. A giant wooden reel that had once held metal cable around its girth had been painted and re-purposed as a makeshift table. Upon this sat a bloated old tome, a Bible, other knick-knacks were strewn about.

An old family album lay open, some kind of fake house plant lay next to this. Nothing too creepy, if you disregarded the body-less Cupid’s head that was no bigger than a Cue ball. No, not creepy at all.

Jay and I kept shooting as we explored through the Round House’s rubble all the while voicing our opinions on what this place may have been years ago. Was it somebody’s attempt at a swank bachelor’s pad? Or was it meant to be a place for kids and teens to hang out? Could it have at one point been a Biker’s Club? We had no way to know. All we did know was the place had been empty a very long time. More than one TV from the late 80’s lay broken on the floor. The National Geographics went back to the 1970’s. There were some old computers too. They were dinosaurs whose drives used five-and-a-half-inch floppy disks (Google this kids if you don’t know what these were). At the end we walked out of the Round House with questions but no answers. But really, that’s part of the attraction to finding “Abandoned Gold”. Not every mystery has an answer, and that’s fine. It allows our minds to play.

Hazard High!

The 1st floor.

M.C. Napier High, Hazard, Kentucky

The first exploration of 2021 took place in Hazard, Kentucky. Driving to Hazard is a long but pretty drive. Jay Farrell and I finally hit Hazard, after a little under four hours, and immediately set off in search of our first destination, M.C. Napier High. M.C. Napier was built in 1953 and abandoned in the ’90s, its students absorbed by a larger and newer school. We spotted our quarry and drove down a narrow road made up of sharp twists and a steep decline. Pulling up we were more than a little surprised the abandoned school stood in the middle of a neighborhood, and mercantile strip. What’s more, nothing barred our entrance from the old brick building.This to be honest was off-putting. Most abandoned buildings like this are fenced off unless they sit forgotten in the middle of nowhere. After gathering our gear and looking about we entered the parking lot and then the building itself. Here are but a few shots of the exploration of M.C. Napier. Be on the lookout for a more detailed exploration later this weekend, you’ll love the hauntingly creepy photos!

Once in front of the high school I took a few quick shots of the exterior, walking along the wall I began to notice something truly worrisome. The brick facade of the structure was soaked. The bricks had become as water logged as a sponge! I’d only seen this once before in Memphis, Tennessee. Years of water leaking from a factory’s water tower flowed down to the building’s roof and over the decades inn-undated the buildings face. We were going to have to be a bit more careful in here than we usually were.

Classes start at eight!

Instead of entering the derelict school’s front entrance we decided to go in through a side entrance. It just seemed right, and less slippery. As it turned out, it wasn’t. The first florr was indeed the most worrisome footing wise. Jay and I found ourselves standing in an ocean of water soaked debris.

This place was grim as hell and I for one was damned glad were exploring on a nice sunny day, an overcast day would have made this exponentially more difficult. Onward we went, silent but remarking to ourselves and one another about the state of decay that had befallen this school.

I wish I could describe the overall atmosphere of abandoned places like this. There is of course a stillness. But there is a weight too. It can at times be menacing and oppressive. But it has it’s moments of wonder. A sudden oasis of sunlight that reveals a beauty even amongst such decay.

Yes, Jay and I both have shots like this, neither of us could pass it up.

As I said, there are brief oasis of light in these places, they are strange and wonderful.

You can never really become numb to the things you find when exploring abandos, from bad graffiti, and children’s toys, to miniature front loaders that for whatever reason sit within what was once a lunch room.

A meat locker, but what was the meat?
Wont you come on up?

We’d traveresed the morass of the first floor and everything was just fine. Next up was the climb up to the second floor. There were two other stairwells but they were just far too dark to make out and the risers far too clogged with who knew what to risk.

That’s it for now kids. Next installment will be Hazard High the upper floors.