Upstate decay

Brown stick season was mercifully short this year. It’s December 1 as I write this and there’s almost a foot of snow on the ground. But as short as it was, I still got out to find abandoned stuff. One outing wasn’t too successful and lesson learned, but others scored me some good stuff. So much that I’ll have multiple posts. I know. You’re shocked.

As with fog, abandonment lends itself to processing play. I tend to go a little crazy here, trying to eke out different looks that either accentuate what I found or go for the opposite. It’s oddly fun and sometimes terribly transparent.

Look of surprise

These first two I’ve been by a few times. Both times I decided to stop because things have a way of disappearing. Recently a lot is up for sale that has a cute little house and a bunch of cars on it. It may remain like it is or it might be bulldozed. Also the little cabin I shot a couple of years ago has suffered a near total collapse. I haven’t been back to shoot it, but I could easily do so. Change is inevitable and if I want to capture a place I should just do it.

Tar paper bricks

Here’s another I’ve passed many times. It’s on a fairly major east-west route and only on this occasion did I see it has a driveway for safer parking. The field next to it is still used, but this is the only structure left standing (kinda). Outbuildings are just piles of rubble.


I don’t have a larger purpose in mind, but documenting some pieces of Wisconsin’s fading past feels important; that someone should do it. Not that I think my photos will survive me. My hard drives will end up in landfills and my sharing sites gather digital dust. But the 1s and 0s will still be out there in some way.

No introduction

I find the different styles of buildings fascinating. I haven’t seen many like the one just above. That roofline is amazing. Great for keeping the snow off. Mostly there’s an eye to economy and rudimentary creature comforts. Many of the houses are just basic rectangles with probably 4 rooms per floor. Most have a single chimney.

A harsh whisper

Personally I’m glad that window technology has improved. Winters are pretty harsh up here and losing too much heat to the view has been a risk for centuries. Gathering what little winter sun shines is important, too, especially if the night lighting is gas or oil lamps or even candles although pretty much every house you see here had electricity, too.

I think most of the money went into the business of farming though. I wonder what the barn was like at this farm. I would like to have explored more here, but I think the house right next to it was still inhabited so I kept a respectful distance.

A light flickers out

The smaller buildings seem to be faring better. And no one seems to mind this cell tower in their backyard.

Your heart sinks

Not all buildings are wood frame though. Some are stone. Actually quite a few are, but this one was out of reach. Big No Trespassing sign at the end of this driveway so this was as close as I could get without being a jerk. Damn!!

Curiosity unfulfilled

More barns used stone for above grade foundations and walls than houses though. Often when a barn goes down that’s all that’s left.

The last one to leave
Past useful life

It takes practice to spot abandonment when it isn’t stick season though. I’m getting better at it. This house is down a short road (dead ends at the house) and I spotted it from the main street. Should have gone in for a closer look, but I’m so chicken.

Hiding out

There were a couple deer down a driveway section that goes across the front of the house perpendicular to the dead end it was on. They were cute. If I happen near it again I’ll explore. Google shows the remains of a barn, silos and other buildings behind this mass of trees.

And it seems I’m not the only one who wants to preserve old buildings. Take a look at this little shack propped up in a field. 

The manner of your expectations

So that’s it for this post. More abandoned stuff coming. Another house half-buried and a chicken farm.


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