The Earth Ran Dry

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Industrial, North Country

Thirty-four years ago, Star Lake, New York, once a thriving Adirondack town with a population of a few thousand, a golf club, a drive-in movie theater, and everything else you’d expect in rural New England, collapsed. It had always been a company town, ever since the 1890s when the Sykes family controlled most of the logging in the then town of Clifton, and continuing through decades of stability between the paper mill at Newton Falls, and Benson Mines closer to the village, employing hundreds of union workers and quite literally building the town. Then in 1977 the mines closed, never to return, and only a few months later, by the summer of 1978, Newton Falls closed for what would be the first of many times in its troubled history.

As one might expect for a place that has been gone for so long, Benson Mines is wide open now, left to rot and gradually fall back to nature. A minor earthquake in 2000 led to breaching of the water table, and the mine pit filled in, becoming Lake Benson. The greater majority of the buildings still remain, and are unlikely to see any future use.

Looking back at the entrance, at the corner of routes 3 and 60

Building 1 contained the mine’s front offices and laboratories

The rest of the buildings, 31 in all, were strictly industrial, although their exact functions were gutted with the rest of the equipment
Building 6

All that machinery ended up in neat little compacted cubes, headed for a scrap yard they never reached

One thing that remained surprisingly intact is the complex’s electrical wiring

I think this was a copy machine of some type, it seems to be just the right size to accept blueprints, and is sitting on top of a blueprint/map cabinet

Finally, just some more beautiful destruction, a place falling down entirely on its own, without human assistance or vandalism

They All Fall Down

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Amusement, Industrial, North Country

Another return trip, this time to the Adirondacks, once again, with UR UrbEx. As one might expect, the place looks almost exactly the same as it always did. I won’t bore you with more overview photos of Frontier Town, since it’s just what it was last year… I tried to focus more on details this year, as the place falls down there’s less and less left to see though.

Abandoned pianos are so much fun. Especially when there’s no risk of getting caught and you can actually “play” them (which usually amounts to absolute noise, but still…)

What’s left of Main Street – Nature has basically won!

The church is probably the most authentic and most solid structure in all of Frontier Town

This is the house where Teddy Roosevelt found out he had become President after McKinley’s assassination in 1901. It has seen far better days.

Once More To The Lake

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Industrial, North Country, Outdoors

I never thought I’d be able to say it about this spot, but it came painfully clear from the first night: the glory days were over. Far from living up to its name, the 3rd½ Annual UR UrbEx Semi-Cold Sesqui-Awesome ExploroCamping Extravaganza felt like hollowly going through the motions of something that once was special. Gone are the hipsters and artists, here are the new order, the engineers. Even when it comes time for the traditions from old Concrete, the sausage roast, the pomegranates, tetherboating — the rules are what they are, and rule us in our time of freedom and release. So once the new leaders were safe asleep, the fires started again beneath these boreal stars, and we sang the songs that remind us of the good times, and the songs that remind us of the better times.

Starry Night

In the morning we headed out to Benson mines again, the spirit of exploration quashed by the randomly selected groups of six we would be to stay together in, and the crackle of walkie-talkies taking frequent attendances. I took a bunch of terrible photos (no surprise given the overall mood here), and a few decent ones like this
Not so bad?

and this

At lunch we regrouped and I managed to talk some much needed adventure into the group; we would spend the afternoon in the more photogenic and contained Upper Benson Mine, then climb a mountain after dark to watch the meteors. I’ve been to Upper Benson enough times that I stopped shooting anything but HDR. Cover your eyes if you’re not a fan!

The rest of my weekend photos (50% less HDR) are here!

Benson Mines

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Industrial, North Country

Benson’s Mines wasn’t anything new to me, I’d already been a few times last year, and seen most of the upper complex. But like any good location, it’s full of secrets. This time, those secrets included an entire second complex on the other side of “Lake” Benson (the body of water created by the flooded mine). Much more isolated, this lower Benson would have survived in much better condition except for the out buildings being destroyed by fire in 1974.

These leftover mine tracks go everywhere around the property, the particularly circular ones still hosting 4-wheeler racing, and the rest being excellent ways to spend an hour or two completely lost!

I think “do not enter” is implied here

What are these for? They are baskets on chains that raise and lower from the ceiling.

This used to be connected by a massive building that was the Lower Works

A quick pass through Building 6 on the way out
Building 6

What’s That Blue Thing?

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Industrial, North Country

On the last few urbex camping trips, we kept noticing something on the side of route 3 that looked huge, abandoned, and very, very blue. After a bit of research, I figured out that it was Benson’s Mines, and no one had really bothered to explore it yet, since it’s in the absolute middle of North Country nowhere, and no one from the ‘establishment’ thought it was worth the trip at all. And they were so, so wrong. I left this place with a very profound feeling of ‘coming out’ as an explorer: this was my first find worth anything at all, and half a day here nowhere near enough to see what the giant complex had to offer.

Step 1: walk past oblivious guard, through open gate.

Step 2: Take one. Don’t forget, safety fourth!
Take one

Step 3: Register at the ticket booth!

Step 4: Pick some buildings and explore.

Don’t forget your hard hats
Hard hat

Spare parts here if you need any

Plenty of room to grow your enterprise

Something exciting must be back here

Or just another failboat.

The Beatles + 8
Group Shot
Finally, before you leave, please take the time to rate us and offer any suggestions how we can provide a better urbex experience next time 🙂


Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, North Country, Outdoors

Just some non-exploring shots from the Adirondack campout.

How not to light paint

Cascade Peak

Brian, the tetherboat and a bit of fire!

You may be wondering by now about the title. Strange things happen when you get enough explorers in a small enough space, and keep them awake all night. At some point we began communicating only in Beatles lyrics, and then only in oblique rewordings of them. I forget if this was before or after taking out a boat on a 100 foot rope, propelled only by a frying pan and a jet of expletives.

I’d suggest all of you look into The Coleopterae’s latest finely grooved thermoplastic oblate toroid, “The Interval Of Darkness Following, or Belonging To, A Tenacious Fraction of the Week”!

Hit singles off it include:
— Every Single Individual has a personal secret that they are trying to keep hidden from others, with the notable exception of my quadrupedal primate and I.

— Contentment is an isolated combustion driven projectile weapon with an appreciable concentration of thermal energy.

— Let it be known, infant, that your abundance of personal savings makes you a member of the class of gentlemanly aristocracy.

— Sylvester Stallone : Procyon lotor?

— Which exists gainfully to a personified glider;

— Her approach looked down upon the loo

Look for it in record stores (or at least UrbEx meetings) this Sunday, October 25!