michigan

The first thing you notice is the cats. There are some many, and all feral, but not so nervous that they scatter on approach.

No, these cats have seen things. Done things they’re not proud of.

I heard a story about this place. A friend from work misplaced his iPhone, and Find My iPhone placed in here – dead-center in the middle of this abandoned plant.

“Don’t go in there,” a police officer advised him. “Not even we go in there.”

The silly, destructive side of me wants to slip through the fence to get a look. But there’s just enough caution in me to steer clear.

So I walk around a bit, and grab some shots. The caved-in wall. The brick work.

The cats.


Snowed In

Snowed In: Mail Stop

We here in Michigan were walloped this weekend – bitter cold, freezing winds, and tons of snowfall.

So what better to do than head out and grab some photos?

Snowed In: Low

Below-zero temperatures and a hazy cloud cover made for some lovely light, especially around sunset. During the day, I had to head out and shovel my driveway, and grabbed some images while knee-deep in snow.

Snowed In: Shiver

To cool off (ha!), I took a walk down the road to see what the rest of the neighborhood looked like. Luckily most of my neighborhood roads were plowed, but some areas were still untouched.

Snowed In: Red

I didn’t get very far down the road before the conditions turned me back home. But weather like this doesn’t happen like it used to, even here in Michigan.

So why not capture the day?

Snowed In: Lights


Really Winter Now

Really Winter Now

It’s really winter now. The high temperatures have been in the 15-20 F range, and the snow and ice are starting to stick around.

Nothing will grow until March. There will be nothing on the trees until April. Any sunny day is the best Michigan will look for a few months now.

Despite the bitter cold, I do enjoy getting out when it’s sunny and taking photos. The slants of light, the position of the sun – everything is different this time of year. It looks like winter.

So it was with these faded milkweed plants. The sun was setting and lighting the cotton in a wonderful way. It was one of those pull-the-car-over moments.

Even though the wind chill is about zero, and the snow is starting to blow, there’s still beauty out there.


Albion, Michigan is one of those towns that was hit hard by the flight of rust belt industry. One big employer leaves and the whole town gasps.

There’s the college. And a few taverns to grab a bite to eat. A few manufacturers here and there.

But there’s also quite a few of abandoned spots in town – a glimpse at what this place used to look like, not so long ago.

Abandoned Albion: Wood and Brick

Some of these structures were built to last. Strong brick and wood. It probably means they’ll last for decades.

They’ll probably outlast their original owners.

Abandoned Albion: Peeling Away

But others? The paint’s peeling. The wood is splintering. The glass is shattering.

It’s all going to hell, fading in the sun and the seasons.

Abandoned Albion: Shattered

There’s that old adage about one broken window in a neighborhood can’t be tolerated, or else more will appear. Here, though, people just drive past.

Abandoned Albion: For Sale

Jesus fading in the window. Boards protecting the inside from the sun’s rays and onlookers’ curiosity.

I don’t see this stuff as ruin porn or a fetishization of the Rust Belt Economy that’s dying (or in some places, dead). For me, it’s cool history.

Some of these places have a story, and lives attached to them. Who were they? What did they do here? How long did they hold out? Where are they now?


Abandoned Irish Hills

Abandoned Irish Hills: Go Karts

Used to be that the Irish Hills, a section of US-12 between Detroit and Chicago, was quite the tourist attraction.

As a kid, my family often went to Stagecoach Stop and Prehistoric Forest, and played putt-putt and drove go karts at the little amusement parks. Even back then there was a level of hokeyness – but it didn’t matter. Those places were tons of fun.

Abandoned Irish Hills: Arcade

But now, it’s all shutting down. There are a few attractions that are still humming along. The majority, though, lie in disrepair (or worse).

In high school, my dad and step mom were married at Stagecoach Stop’s little chapel, and their reception was held in the old timey tavern.

Abandoned Irish Hills: Lonestar

Stagecoach was a bustling place back in the day. You could watch a gun fight in the town square, grab some ice cream, pet a goat in the petting zoo, and even stay overnight in the motel. There was a working lumber mill, and horse rides, and a drive-through haunted Halloween tour.

Now those places are overgrown and fading away.

Driving down US-12 now, and passing through the Irish Hills, it feels like a ghost town. It’s almost like a run-down part of town, with all the windows broken out and no one left to protect it. Eventually, I’m sure, these roadside attractions will be mowed down completely.

Abandoned Irish Hills: Bridge Over Track

Maybe the dinosaurs at Prehistoric Forest will survive. But more and more each year that place gets eaten by vegetation.

So last fall I took a drive out there, seemingly back in time, to capture some of those attractions I remembered from childhood. Before they disappeared.

Abandoned Irish Hills: Stagecoach Courtyard

At Stagecoach, I ran into a couple that was hosting a garage sale of sorts on the property. Most of the area was closed off, but I asked if I could walk around to grab some photos, and they said “yes.”

Abandoned Irish Hills: Fun Center

The Irish Hills Fun Center, a general amusement park with putt-putt and go karts, was completely abandoned. The kart track was still in decent shape, but the rest of the property was fading fast.

Prehistoric Forest, the true goal of my trip last fall, has been known as a target for vandalism. With motion sensors and cameras guarding the place, it was risky to try to grab photos of the place. When I drove past, there was a utility truck and a man taking measurements, so I played it safe and drove on.

Word is that the place has been sold. Who knows what will happen to it.

Abandoned Irish Hills: Twin Towers

It was weird to see a place that was so bustling turn into such a dead spot. I may take another drive out there this fall to see what’s changed – if anything.

(See the rest of the set on Flickr)