The Road to Gamaliel, Kentucky

Yes, before you point out the obvious does cover more than Tennessee.

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On the road to Gamaliel, KY Part 1

The other day fellow photographer and abandoned building fanatic Jay Farrell asked me if I’d like to take a trip to Kentucky with him. We had no destination rather he were on the hunt for abandoned buildings and bits of Americana that had fallen to the wayside. Camera gear packed, coffee or water in nearby cup holders and we were ready to go. It took a bit of driving before we found Gamaliel Road which we’d take to Gamaliel itself. The best part of a hunt like this is that time is not really a factor, speed isn’t either. No, shooting the breeze and actively keeping ones eye’s peeled for houses or buildings that have achieved a certain presence or patina about them that says “ no one is home”. Hell not only is no one home it’s been years or decades since since anybody has been.

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Gamaliel Road is a long one and full of curves, and dips and it gets interesting the closer we get to Kentucky. Along the way we pass a covered bridge, it was an eye catcher as was the length of road that it opened up to. I found myself drawn to the Laundry and while it was not abandoned it had the character I liked, as did the stuffed bears laying a few yards off. Jay and I crossed the street and noticed the little stretch of businesses on one side were all affiliated with Call Out Ministries, which were ironically empty. You could say they Called out. A little further down from that we noticed an “A framed” building that definitely had the “abandoned” look and did a little shooting before continuing down Gamaliel Road.

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Stuffed animals were to become a reoccurring theme that day. I’m sure these ones were only resting. 

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They had that patina of abandonment.

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We came around a bend and spy a few trailers and a house that have the look we like. We go on for about a few hundred yards before swing a u turn and go back. Wow! There is a creek separating the trailers and house for the road and very rickety bridges that lead to two of the houses in question. We luck out at the first trailer we’d spied there is an actual drive for us to pull unto. Parked we walk on over to the first trailer it’s a long beaten up white trailer with brown trim and yeah, it’s got that look but it’s not as interesting as we’d hoped so we make it on over to the next trailer. We have to be careful because there is a lot of junk cast about in the weed choked yard and in areas it’s bog like. Yes, bog like.

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There is a spring that has begun to meander across the grounds that a trailer and a house share. The trailer is too broken (literally) to risk exploring so we opt for the house. To one side there is a strange looking structure that is either some sort of wading pool. At it’s head is a sculpted waterfall and at the foot a very rusted metal chair. The pool itself is about 8ft x 5ft with a car port covering it all.

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We learn this anomaly is normal compared to the inside of the house which we approach with some caution. The sliding glass door that once stood lays shattered upon a small kitchen door and sitting at a table is one of many and I do mean many stuffed animals that fill the house.

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If you find yourself exploring such places you have little choice but to wonder where the former inhabitants are? After all there is furniture strewn about, clothes, toys too. Lots of toys and family photos. It can be a haunting experience. While not a large house, each room is filled with toys. One room is crammed with them, well honestly all of them are. In the living room a kids sized piano, in another a Grandfather clock is surrounded by toys and more stuffed animals. In another room a stuffed monkey sits in a high chair, and a Ronald McDonald art piece is hanging above a desk.

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In the back room what I can only assume was the master bedroom the floor has totally collapsed. It has a carpet with some questionable stains, While I’d like to check out the stains and the room some more I decide not to risk the floor. The floor. Yeah. The state of the floor is something to be desired as I was soon to find out. Jay and I never walk too closely to one another when we explore a building for a reason. I’d just shot some heirlooms sitting in a knick knack shelf in the hall. I was walking into the hall on my way to the kitchen when it finally happened. I fell through a floor. Yes, that’s right. One moment I was about to ask my buddy Jay a question when with a crack and a boom gravity said “hello”, and the floor gave way and down I went.

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In the shot above right where that ugly little stuffed Jack-O-Lantern is where the ground floor said goodbye and gravity said hello.

Luckily I did not grab onto the kitchen’s island. I can only imagine that wth all the stuff on and inside it falling onto of me I’d really been in dire straits. I sat there with my left leg dangling into the hole my hands still  holding my camera to my chest and hoping the floor did not give out some more. Jay came over to help me up and I told him to take my camera (priorities), and back up a few yards. I didn’t want our combined weights to cause the floor to collapse any more than it had. From there I slid my leg out and slowly crawled to a sturdier section. I stood up and realized I’d jacked my knee and my ankle too. As I type this 3 days later,  my ankle is fine but my knee remains the size of a honey dew. Accepting a hand up from Jay we decide to get out of that particular house, we felt perhaps we’d pressed our luck enough for that location. Out we went across the bog and off to the next location.

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I hope you enjoyed this installment of and look forward to the next. If you’d like to purchase any of the prints on please contact me at or at

I’d also like to take sometime to remind you dear reader that is having it’s 1st official showcase at the Copper Vault in Springfield, TN (116-118 west 6th
Springfield, Tennessee 37172) The show goes up February 1st thru the 28th of the month. The reception for ForgottenTennessee’s photographer Jerry Winnett (me) is on the 15th 6pm til 8pm. I hope to see as many people there as possible.

If you enjoyed reading this and looking at the photos, you might be interested in buying a copy of my book Forgotten Tennessee. Its available in most bookstores, Walmart, Target, Costco, anywhere that sells books. You may also order it by following this link