Heading To A New Frontier…….Town

July 29, 2016 in Out & About, Urbex by Brian Rome

Frontier Town a place where you could take your family and from 1952 to 1999 many did just that.

When Frontier Town was thriving it drew thousands of happy vacationers every year. Outlaws on horseback robbed the train carrying visitors into the park and engaged in shoot-outs. Some were dunked in a pond as punishment.

At its peak in the 1960s and 70s, Frontier Town was continually improving. In an effort to bring the Wild West to New York, Benson and his partners built a town square area, populated with storefronts, a rodeo arena, a grain mill, and pens for steers and buffalo. A replica Native American Village, train station, and fort completed Frontier Town.

These days, the only action on the 267-acre property in the Adirondack Mountains is moss growing over boarded-up log cabins, mills and the rodeo ring, nestled amid pine trees.

For me the journey to Frontier Town started last October when a friend and fellow photographer Laura Wichman organized a trip for mid-November. Unable to go planned for a follow-up trip to Frontier Town in 2016. Chris Hagle and I planned and set the trip for June 2016.

For those that have not been to that area it’s a 6 hour drive from Whitby so travel time getting there from where ever you live makes for a long travel day. Traveling through New York State we saw several urbex, landscape and nature photo-ops so a trip through this area again is a must.

After a breakfast pit stop we arrived at Frontier Town around 12:30. We wondered where it was. We saw a few buildings that had been taped off as dangerous and started the search. Ultimately, we were not far from the park entrance and in we went.

The park itself is in a valley so you had to watch your step heading down. Once down in the valley you could see the log buildings were still in good shape, the roofs were another story. Most were in stages of collapse. It was good to see that mother nature was taking the buildings back and not in disrepair due to vandals.

It has been 16 years since the doors were shut. Buildings still stand but most areas are over grown. But if you are still you can visualize the town in action, children playing and outlaws getting dunked as a convicted Frontier Town outlaws.

We’re coming back. See you next year!

Stop The Wobble!

August 11, 2015 in Detroit, Out & About, Urbex by Brian Rome

I never thought of my tripod. It was always there. Never an issue. Always was there to do it’s job.

I have two tripods. A larger Manfrotto 055 and a smaller Fotopro traveler. The Manfrotto because of it’s size does not make many trips. The Fotopro does. I got it because of the portability, the ease of use, the versatility. You go out on many trips never thinking that something could go wrong. Well nothing did until Friday of our Detroit trip. Well on this particular Friday we were in a building with poor light. So the tripod came out and away we went. We stopped in one of many rooms. The setting was just right. Old cast iron claw foot bath tubs. A little light from a small window to set the mood. I set my tripod down. Attached my camera and quickly saw my camera had a decided lean to it. My tripod head had come loose in the middle. With no tools at hand the best thing was to not let go. Now you had to protect your camera but worry about soft pictures, whether you were the
cause for the blur.

I guess the lesson here is to always check your equipment before leaving on a trip. You clean your lenses, charge your batteries and clear your memory cards. In the case of your tripod make sure all is good. Can’t fix anything miles from home.

Discovering Northville

July 31, 2015 in Detroit, Out & About, Urbex by Brian Rome

The beauty of photography is you can shoot any time, weather does not hold you back. Summer brings the opportunity to move further a field. Well on this latest trip we the great opportunity to explore Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital.

A little Northville history lesson. Construction on Northville State Hospital, was started in the mid 1940’s due to over crowding in Michigan mental hospitals. The new Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital opened in 1952.

Patients were treated in different wards and buildings around the campus, an eight-story tower was the centre focal point of 20 buildings on the site. The hospital had its own laundry, kitchen, gymnasium, movie theater, swimming pool, powered by a steam plant which supplied electricity and heat through a network of underground tunnels.

Through the 1970’s, the state began to cutting health budgets, closing hospitals, reducing programs and money to many other programs. with all that happening crowding became an issue at Northville, as patient numbers regularly climbed were over 1,000, but Northville had only been designed for 650. The gymnasium was used for patents to sleep in until more rooms could be arranged for them.

Budget and staffing cuts took their toll on the Northville in the 1980’s and conditions at the hospital began the slow decline. The 1990’s continued the hospital downsizing. The hospital changed its name in 1995 to Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital. In the late 1990’s, Northville was one of the last remaining state mental hospitals in Michigan and was deteriorating and run-down.

In 2002 the state announced that it was going to close Northville within a year. The hospital was simply too expensive to keep running, it was in need of major repairs. The last patient left Northville in May of 2003.

The hospital as of today has been vacant now for over 12 years. Numerous broken windows, damaged doors, ceilings with broken tiles, crud falling from the ceiling, wiring panels open with wiring missing and leaking roofs have opened the hospital buildings to the elements.

So our day of discovery began by heading towards one of the outer buildings and the discover of old cast iron bath tubs, old wheel chairs, gurneys and weigh scales. With over 20 buildings available to us you can imagine the daunting discovery that lay ahead of us. The temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius. We started our trek to Northville late in the afternoon. We made our way though on trails chatted along the walk. As we rounded the final curve and the building exposed itself to us, our excitement intensified. This was going to be a great explore.

We entered the first building together, and explored for hours. These buildings are large and we did not want to lose anybody. Though that did almost happen.

Thanks for making the visit with me to Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital.

In Your Own Backyard

July 16, 2015 in Out & About, Urbex by Brian Rome

Anyone that knows me knows is that I love photography.

Always seem to have my camera with me. Always a picture to be taken. I love it all, but most of all I love the Urbex shoots. A friend from Windsor introduced me to it and haven’t looked back.

Trips to Detroit, Buffalo, Hamilton and Sudbury (Camp Bison).

But what really excites me is what you find in your own area. I happen to live in a small town surrounded by rural countryside. Lots of farms. And it seems that the farms are slowing going away.

Whether it’s from no carrying on the family business, progress (subdivision expansion) mass purchase by one farmer for the land and large wood timbers from the barns or simply competition with the big corporate farmer has made it impossible to continue. All of these farms are within an hour of my home.

All images in this post were shot using a Nikon D700, Nikkor 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 and a Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 using a Fotopro FPH-52Q Orange Tripod.

VW Love

May 7, 2015 in Out & About, Urbex by Brian Rome

My first car was a Volkswagen Super Beetle. 1972 and a brite orange. A real beauty. My favorite to this day.

Ever since that day I have had a fondness for the Beetle. Stopped most places when we saw one that caught our eye.

A little VW history lesson. The Volkswagen Beetle, officially the Volkswagen Type 1, or informally the Volkswagen Bug, is a two-door, four passenger, rear-engined economy car manufactured and marketed by German automaker Volkswagen from 1938 until 2003. The need for this kind of car, and its functionality objectives, were formulated wishing for a cheap, simple car to be mass-produced German car.

Beetle production which continued in smaller numbers at other German factories until January 1978, when mainstream production shifted to Brazil and Mexico: markets where low operating cost was important. The last Beetle was produced in Puebla, Mexico, in July 2003.

So this past weekend we had gone up to do an explore of Camp Bison, Burwash and on our way up I noticed an old VW Beetle “Bug” in Still River and said we should stop on our way back and have a look. With cameras in hand of course. Well on Sunday morning on our way back we did just that. One side of the road an abandoned roadside motel and the other the VW Beetle.

Considering this beauty had to be over 40 years old the body was not in bad shape, not great but not to bad. The floor however had a gigantic hole in the floor. Make you think of the Flintstones. Red in color, engine still there and with four tires with a bit of air and you could push this baby to a new home.

Enjoy the pics! If you liked this blog or are interested in any of the pics let me know the size and I can drop you a line with pricing and shipping.

Until the next time.

Camp 30 – A Visit to Our WW2 Past

November 21, 2014 in Urbex by Brian Rome

Canada has a unique spot in the history of World War 2. In WW2 Canada housed 24 prisoner of war camps. 5 in Quebec, 1 in New Brunswick, 5 in Alberta and 13 in Ontario. One of the 24 is located in Bowmanville, Ontario and was known as Camp 30.

In 1941 the camp was converted from being a boys school for delinquent boys to that of a prisoner of war camp with guard towers and two fences topped with barbed wire. It was thought Canada was far enough away from the fighting that getting back into action was unlikely.

Canadian officials had barely seven months to transform the school for boys to prisoner of war camp. Luckily the school was designed to hold lots of people but there were many tasks to covert this school to a P.O.W. camp: build wire fences (15ft apart), guard towers (9), gates and barracks for the Canadian guards. This was completed in October of 1941 as the first P.O.W.s began to arrive.

The camp had many amenities that the other P.O.W. camps were without such as the indoor pool and athletic complex as well as soccer and football fields.

Breakfasts consisted of coffee, jam and butter. Lunch could include roast beef, gravy potatoes and carrots. Dinner was made up of macaroni, ham, soup, cheese bacon, and/or tea.

After the war concluded the prisoners were shipped back to Europe and the students from the boys school returned to their classes as usual.

Burwash – the first big explore of 2013

June 24, 2013 in Urbex by Brian Rome

There was a group of photogs I shoot with and last summer the notion of going somewhere different came up. Our annual Detroit trip fast approaching and it was going to be a non-urbex event. One of our group suggest heading up to Burwash. So the planning began. First date was for September of 2012 but yours truly fell ill and the boys delayed the trip until spring of 2013, April to be exact.

What you may ask is Burwash? Burwash Industrial farm was set up in 1914 as a correctional centre for low risk prisoners. Prisoners were there with terms up to y ears less a day. There is a plaque fro”m the Ontario Heritage trust that reads:

“Burwash Industrial Farm was established in 1914 based on the revolutionary premise that low-risk inmates would benefit from the exercise and skills learned while working outdoors at self-supporting institutions. Burwash Industrial Farm accommodated between 180 and 820 minimum and medium security offenders with sentences of three months to two years less a day. Over time, it grew it to occupy 35,000 acres owned and 101,000 acres leased, housing three permanent camp sites, several temporary ones, and a town of prison staff families with a population of 600 to 1,000 people. Prison inmates provided labour to build the entire community and ran an extensive mixed farm, a tailor shop, and a prosperous logging operation. Burwash Industrial Farm was one of the largest reform institutions in 20th century Ontario. It closed in 1975 because of changes in correctional practices.”

Well today all that is left of the small town of Burwash is a a number (#279) on a corner piece of property. Everything else has been bulldozed down in 1994. Paths the only reminder of the streets of town. From Burwash we kept on to a fork in the road. Cars were parked, our bright florescent gear was put on and yes rubber boots. But as my good friend Stephen calls them “Our Sudbury Boots”. Our 4.5km walk began.

We talked along the way into Camp Bison. A chance to shed the week that was. We had a new member to our group “Wes” so it was a chance to talk see what he was all a bout and wonder where the heck his rubber boots were!

Our path was a fairly decent one with little surprise until we came to the CN/CP train tracks where there were several large cement barriers that were put there to deter people from crossing the tracks. I don’t think it was working. Once we crossed the path was a fairly twisty path that led past several ponds and a very sturdy beaver dam. It wasn’t as difficult to manoeuvre on this day as it was sunny and warm with no rain in sight. There are no bugs either, we had successfully avoided the black flies. After we left the beaver dam we rounded the final corner and there before us was Camp Bison. This one had been a long time coming, the wait and the long walk in had only intensified the excitement for me.

The shot was taken and the explore began. Today there is only one building left and two small out buildings left on the property. As time moves on age and mother nature take their toll on the building. Layers of brick are peeling away like layers of an onion. Taggers have left their mark.

Come enjoy the moment. Welcome to Burwash Industrial Farm’s Camp Bison.

It is great with the group we have that we can spend time together and them spend time apart in smaller groups or alone coming back together and talk about what we had seen. I want to thank Stephen, Chris, Larry, Richard and Wes for waiting to make this trip. It was well worth the wait. To my urbex friends thanks for putting up with what seemed the never ending, will this guy just go already emails and posts. It was your knowledge that made this a less daunting adventure.

Till the next time. Peace.

Hamilton – Urbex Exploration, Well Sort of

December 19, 2011 in Urbex by Brian Rome

This post seems to be a long time in the making. This was one shoot that we had talked about doing but just seemed to get pushed back in favor of others. Not that it did not have an allure, of buildings, ships, factories and people but it seemed like we did everything in front of  going too Hamilton. It seemed like writing about it was proving to be a chore.

But we decided Oct 23 was the date to head on down the QEW to Hamilton. Our goal was to get to the old Firestone plant, the Lister Building and Royal Connaught Hotel. I wish I could tell you good news but no, all three were a bust. The Firestone was taken over by the city of Hamilton for their Public Works department, The Lister Block was totally renovated,ready to reopen and The Royal Cannaught was boarded up, bolted and locked up. Just a little disappointing when you go looking for some great Urbex opportunities and and each of these places has been in a renovation and reclamation project state.

Now let’s not say the day was a total bust. We did get down to the water front and get some great shots of the HMS Haida, the steel plants and the harbor.

As a photographer you always need to keep aware of all that is around. The waterfront and even the downtown sections of Hamilton help save the day. Not as banner a day as we hoped but always ready with the camera.

Exploring Toronto – Canadian Linseed Oils Mills

December 5, 2011 in Toronto, Urbex by Brian Rome

Our group of now seven has been to some different places this year from from Detroit to Hamilton. We had hoped that we could find something more local to get out and explore. My friend Chris and I had been talking, for some time really, about some buildings we had seen on our trip home on the GO train in an area called “the junction”. The building we were really interested in was The Canadian Linseed Oil Mills building located on 35 Wabash Ave. in Toronto.

A little History.

The Linseed building as we’ve come to refer to it is an old one. Built in spring of 1910 adding to the thriving manufacturing community which already included Chapman Double Ball Bearing, leather goods manufacturer Winnett & Wellinger, candy manufacturer Robert Watson, and the Dominion Bridge Company. Linseed oil was a thriving industry. Derived from flax seed, linseed oil was then a valuable commodity due to its many applications. Linseed oil was used as a binder in oil paints, a valuable water-proofing agent in canvas, and it was used as a wood finish and as an ingredient in varnishes. In 1969 Canadian Linseed closed the doors. With a declining market brought on by a gradual decline in the popularity of linseed oil in early 1970 it is reported that the Canadian Linseed (Canlin Limited) was about to be sold with the deal to be closed  in April of that year.to finally close its doors. Since 1970 the building has remained empty, and become a popular destination for vandals, taggers and photographers alike.

For us the journey the The Linseed building started when my friend Chris and another of our merry band Trevor went on a recon over to the Linseed to see if it was up to a visit, with cameras and tripods no paint cans. Well from all reports the building was well worth the effort. So off we went, our merry band for a Sunday photo shoot. The day was over cast, white sky, rain and a day meant for inside shooting. Well I tell you the inside was dark, very dark and for most of the inside very little light. But I tell you the sense of history you felt while in the building was really something. To know this building was an active part of Canadian history was really something and for our group to photograph it was even better. The light, the shadows and even the pigeons all added to the morning. Each of us at times went off in our own directions to capture the moments that the Linseed was giving us and at times we were all together sharing stories of trying to get a certain shot  and what it must have been like in this building when it was working.

For me this was the first place Chris and I had mentioned we wanted to get into. Finally, we got there, but you know I’m sure we’ll be headed back.


Next Blog: Kodak Bldg. #9