Fuck It, We’ll Do It Live

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Finger Lakes, Institutional

Sunday was a day I honestly thought would never come, especially after the fuckery in Poughkeepsie — my first time in a real abandoned mental asylum. Not just Rochester psych, half of which wasn’t even built until the 60s, and the other building which I only saw by permission, but a real explore, a respectable location, and as an added bonus, even a working camera! Willard was actually the third asylum we tried that day, after abject failures at Rochester and Newark, and it seemed I would do anything possible to make it three in a row. I barely had a clue what to do, and it wasn’t obvious once we got there. There were some ominous Department of Corrections signs around most of the complex, and what looked like the Kirkbride surrounded by a prison fence. (It turned out to not actually be a prison anymore, but a mandatory rehab facility to lock away detoxing drug addicts, but that wouldn’t make the wardens any friendlier.) I started desperately asking any explorers I knew online who might have been before, to little avail. I got a bit of advice from a few, but contradictory, and not particularly clear at that, and I couldn’t be sure they were trying to help and not lead me straight into a trap. But even though I had fully given up, my friend wasn’t ready to stop. So, against my fear and objection, while I frantically kept asking and googling for a solution, he led us along the lake toward the building.

Sure enough, the front door opened.

These were some lucky inmates. Look at this view!

Granted, some parts of the building aren’t in the best of condition, but what more can I expect for a first asylum?

The more of the place I saw, the more amazed I was. I could almost understand now why so many explorers obsess over these places.

Peeling paint asylums aren’t cliché.

I wonder where the bowling pin came from? There’s no bowling alley here…

Obligatory UE selfie, probably the first I’ve ever taken?

This is just the iconic shot of Willard everyone takes. But I’ve been here, so I’m taking it too.

Look! I found the tunnels!

Even the bathrooms are worth a picture here…

So many people must have seen this at the beginning of a very, very bad day. I’m not quite sure what these chairs are, they seem more restrictive than dentists’ chairs?

On the way out, we noticed that the wing we’d spent most of our time in was officially off limits. Oops!

These magical beasts live right across the highway from the asylum. We were lucky enough to have one prance right in front of us on the way home!

An Evening Of Culture

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Finger Lakes, Institutional

Bernar’r Macfadden, eccentric fitness guru of the last century, was arguably the inventor of the culture of diet, exercise and weight loss for health that is so prevalent today. Before the actual health benefits were known, or even suspected by the mainstream medical community, Bernar’r promoted alternately vegetarianism and a predecessor of the Paleo diet (raw food, including red meats) as the natural diet of the human animal. This, combined with strenuous outdoor exercise, became the foundation of Physical Culture, and the beginning of a lucrative career for Macfadden as America’s first fad-diet shiller. Promoting his Physical Culture, Macfadden created a publishing house and a variety of magazines, some of which still survive today. An extremely prolific writer, he also released over 100 books, including “Virile Powers of Superb Manhood”, “Physical Culture for Babies”, “Strenuous Lovers”, “Calisthenics: Strengthening the Eyes”, and “Constipation: Its Effect and Treatment”. Presumably, people bought and read these, as by 1902 Bernar’r was a millionaire, and opened a chain of Physical Culture Hotels, resorts where paying guests were subjected to his every whim, in the name of health. The first, and longest lasting, of these hotels was in Dansville, in a building previously used as an institution for Civil War veterans, and a sanatorium, prior to being a health resort. Its guests included multiple presidents, Lucille Ball and Katherine Hepburn, among other celebrities of the day, as well as touring jazz artists and big bands who would play rooftop dances for the guests, but much like the Catskills resorts, the next generation lost interest and by about 1974 Physical Culture fell into disuse. While the property is still privately owned, there are no legitimate plans as of 2012 for the collapsing castle.

Mosquito Coast

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Amusement, Finger Lakes, Outdoors

After watching the tower come down, Anna and I continued on to our real adventure planned for the weekend — bike camping along the lake shore. On our way out of town we stopped at the public market to pick up Katie, Jake and Tom, and went on from there to route 101, and about a 40 mile ride to Sodus Point. Our destination: Beachwood State Park, a newly acquired property that was once the boy scouts’ Camp Pioneer (which would be replaced in 1951 with the current Adirondack site), then the girl scouts’ Arrowhead Camp, before closing around 2000.

Just off of 101, the first ruin we’d noticed was this “cobblebrick” construction, probably from well before the Civil War. I’ve never seen anything like this before, probably one of a kind architecture? (normally cobblestones are not the exact same size, and are piled on just as they fit)

And then, the mosquitoes started. Hundreds of them. Thousands of them. Walking through the camp. their buzz was constant, a teeming, pulsing life to the fields and the undergrowth. We finally escaped the horde in the abandoned mess hall, probably the largest of the surviving buildings

They left the antiquated kitchen appliances right in place. These probably were relics from the boy scouts’ days here, I would not be at all surprised if they’re 60+ years old.

This was the only graffiti we saw in the whole camp. And just before we noticed a rather rowdy group starting to show up.

We had started to claim Yellow Camp for ourselves when these teenage thugs began laying claim to it themselves, saying it was reserved for someone’s high school graduation party. Whether or not this was true, we let them be and went looking for the beach. Continuing past Yellow Camp there are apple orchards, going the other way the trail follows the shore rather closely.

Close to the lake, we found another camp, with a few abandoned cabins in it, and took this one instead.
Not Yellow

After watching the sunset and having a fire on the beach, at around midnight we tried to sleep in the largest of the cabins. Katie, Tom and Jake fell right asleep, somehow, but I was being eaten alive by the worst infestation of fleas I’d ever found. After a while Anna was awake and just as aggravated, so the two of us went down to the beach, and took advantage of our new environment. Just as we nearly fell asleep again, the thugs were back, chucking firecrackers and mortars over the cliff at us. I’m still not sure if they were that oblivious, or if they thought two naked hipsters on a beach made fun target practice, but after about 10 shots or so, one connected, and exploded right in front of our faces! After that though it was an amazing night and morning, at least until we got back to the cabin. All of our belongings were thrown around all over the place, and Tom and Katie left at 5am, leaving behind only a note, “couldn’t take the bugs, got a head start”.

Upon further review, it was clear we had been ransacked. The thieves were classically inept, at best, but still managed to rob us blind! They did their best to relieve us of our clothes, and took my phone, but left two wallets full of cash, and our expensive cameras, completely untouched. We picked up what little remained of our stuff, downed the last beers we’d brought, and went searching for the thugs of Yellow Camp, whom we found almost immediately. As soon as they saw who they were, they broke into a run, and we gave chase as well as we could, only losing then once they’d piled haphazardly into a pickup truck and hauled ass toward the 101.

With our remaining direct actions at a loss, we did the one thing we could think of, and biked to the police station (remember, we can’t call — fuckers took our phones!), and filed a report. The officers weren’t the most helpful, but I’m not sure how much they could have done anyway, when we didn’t know whose party it was, or even who might have been there. The ride home was long, but relaxing and quite interesting, 61 miles along the roads and canal in Wayne county.

This morning, I finally heard from my phone, after a few dozen calls to it, believe it or not — calling the number actually worked, and it wasn’t a thug who picked up, but a fireman. Unfortunately, the battery picked the worst time imaginable to give out: halfway through his address, thirteen thousand, eight hundred and ni….”. I tried to find 1389x of every road in the area and call them, but none seemed to have an extra Droid lying around. At least I tried…

And when all is said and done, a phone was a small loss to pay for an amazing weekend with Anna, and the chance to go bike touring and see a place I never would have otherwise.

Less Studying, More Exploring

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Finger Lakes, Institutional

How better to enjoy finals week?

Bernar’r Macfadden was a very eccentric man. His Castle on the Hill, the Dansville Physical Culture Hotel, served as a shining example of his health advice. The inventor of Grape-nuts and push-ups, Bernar’r (originally named Bernard; considering this name unmasculine he respelled it with the roar’r of a lion) considered fresh air, the outdoors and a raw diet essential to the promotion of health. Besides vigorous exercise, the hotel also offered the latest in music and theater, and lectures religious and secular, to contribute to its patients’ mental health.

This brochure from about 1938 shows the hotel open and in use, and describes the various healthful activities taking place within.

The hallways let in plenty of fresh air and warming sunlight

Stairwells made entirely of wrought iron.

Lonely chairs are everywhere

The scary part is, I didn’t notice the painted “LIZ” there until after I took the picture. It doesn’t show up off camera!

Evil feeds on hearts that bleed

The Great Hall. This was the dining hall, and probably the theater as well.

Exit through the lobby… don’t forget to check out!

I had to leave some good photos behind, see it all here


Written by Concrete on . Posted in Finger Lakes, Industrial

I don’t know much about this place, we just happened to find it while looking for anything at all to explore. It seems like it might have been a brewery, it looked an awful lot like the Buffalo malt. And I still had so much trouble with the concept of auto focus.






Written by Concrete on . Posted in Finger Lakes, Industrial

The Manchester Roundhouse was one of the largest warehouses of its time, built somewhere around 1900. Warehouses of that era tended to be arch-shaped, so that trains could come in, unload, and exit facing back out onto the track. This one stayed in business much longer than most roundhouses, but has been closed at least 30 years. This was my first time exploring with the new camera. Unfortunately I didn’t discover auto focus for a few more days… so about 90% of what you don’t see here was blurry trash that deserved to be deleted.


One rusty truck

Then this happened…

Timetables from one of the last trains to pass through here?

An orange octopus. Because why not?