Last winter I explored this large minimum security prison with my friend Chris (@Cstone710). We didn’t realize there would be snow on the ground so we were very unprepared with wearing sneakers. We only got to check out about 6-7 buildings on the property before the sun started setting. It looked like theres a good 15-20 buildings there. I couldn't find much history about this prison closing besides that it was due to funding being cut. Hope you enjoy the video and photos!
Becca’s Celebration of Life, June 17th 2018
One would marvel at such a beautiful day in Shady Side, Maryland. With the sun shining brightly, the ospreys calling in the trees, and the green grass warm to the touch, anyone would feel at home. As a place of tranquility and solitude, this was Becca’s home.
The day began with a quiet peace over the house. Tina still lives here, and Becca lived here for most of her life. Some folks were up. Tina was about, preparing tables and chairs, checking on the roasted pig. Checking the details as usual. Family friends were tending to every preparation: Natalie was cleaning the kitchen, Kara was setting up the deck, and Fran was mounting pictures throughout the house. Eddy moved about intently, helping in any way he could. Having pressure washed the house and performed numerous tasks the day before, he settled into a solemn period of reflection.
The morning continued to show signs of hustle. Friends of Becca started to show: Carly and Autumn, Chris, Aaron, Corey, Christian… Christina, Sergio, more and more. They were all excited to make this special day was wonderful as possible. A golf cart, the same blue as Becca’s Honda, was brought in by Sergio. Becca loved to ride the golf carts around the neighborhood as a kid, so it was only fitting to have one here in Snug Harbor again. Utensils and food was moved to the deck tables. Chairs were set up and arranged. The pictures continued to populate the walls, transforming Tina’s house into an art gallery that would compete with the finest artistic displays.
Looking around the house, as the pictures came up, one couldn’t help but feel joy and sadness at the same time. The rooms were magical. Prints brought in by friends, framed pieces Fran diligently crafted, small pictures strewn on shelves and tables. The question became, “what if we did this three weeks ago? What if we had an art gallery, all this work. An expose on Europe, a chance to reveal to everyone the beauty that Becca captured in Iceland, Milan, Portugal. June second, all invited!” Joy in seeing this raw talent. Sadness in realizing no more new shots. If only we could go back in time.
Noon came and went, and these rooms filled to the door frames. Nicole painted a beautiful tree of life, and everyone put their thumbprint in the branches, colorful ink making leaves pop up from the canvas. Bracelets, stickers, buttons, memorabilia passed out to everyone. People started talking. Conversations turned to days before: “remember that one explore,” “she was amazing, look at this piece,” “We were going to hit this location…” Every picture was a reminder of what we lost in Becca’s passing.
Pictures throughout the house showed Becca’s true colors. She was in some frames, not in others. Where she could be seen, she had a camera, a jacket, those cheap boots. Playing on the wreckage, her playful persona shines. Taking a shot on a sunset beach, her talent in action. Watching an Icelandic waterfall, she stood in awe. What was she thinking? Was she impressed? Was she solemn? Was she grateful to be there? Or maybe she wanted to just jump in the water. That was Becca. But we won’t know, she isn’t physically here to point, explain, laugh, and cry over these works. She is elsewhere, watching us enjoy her gallery.
The roasted pig was ready! Burgers and hot dogs, potato and macaroni salads, chips and drinks. Everyone feasted in the sunlit backyard. Chris setup music and kept the joy alive. People talked, hugged each other. Some hadn’t seen each other in years, and as usual, Becca brought them back together. Even rough patches were set aside and hatchets buried; this is Becca’s day, a celebration! Life is short, there’s no time to be mad. “Make the most of where we are, don’t judge, love each other,” is what Becca would demand. That’s what everyone did.
Eric compiled a video of Becca’s life, and played it on the TV. Tina, Fran and Ben were called into the living room to watch, and friends gathered around. As the video began, the crowd grew. Pictures of Becca with friends, at her work. Previous boyfriends watched and hugged each other. As pictures of Becca with family appeared, tears fell. Clips of her at bandos made us laugh and think deeply. Footage of Fran getting her back, punching her in the shoulder at the Volkswagen scrapyard, reminded us of her favorite game. At least someone finally punched her back, after years of her seeing the Volkswagen bugs before we did. She was more concerned with wasp stings than scrappers and homeless people! She dangled her feet over the edge of a skyscraper. She balanced on the top of a rickety roller coaster. She took risks. She loved danger. She lived.
The photographs on the walls continued to amaze everyone. Playing on top of airplane wreckage in Iceland, she looked playful, skipping around. The image reminded people, who knew Becca all her life, what she was like as a little girl. Skipping, playing, laughing. That smile! You couldn’t help but love her, even if she made you mad. She was beautiful.
A photograph above the television, Becca at the beach, camera in hand. The same image was used for the “Bword lives on” stickers. She took time and effort for each shot. She took thousands of shots. She never let the right angle get away, or the perfect ray of sunshine escape… she captured it all. Seeing images of her, alongside images she captured, gave perspective to the entire gallery. Not only was she capturing and creating art; she was the art. She was a masterpiece.
Anyone who knew Becca well loved to see pictures of her tattoos. Even seeing a few in the photos, one would remember the rest… speed circuit, her first tattoo. “1987” with wings on her chest. The zombie on her thigh, the black widow, the Mexican skulls, “Red Rum…” Of course her trademark tattoo, 11:11. When 11:11 came and went this day, everyone made the same wish… we wish Becca was back. We wish this never happened. We wish, wherever she is watching us, she knows we all love her so much. We miss her so much. Life just won’t be the same.
The art around the house was spectacular, and words can’t truly capture the feelings of the day. To be expected, the camera was the ultimate medium to capture the gathering, and photographers who traveled miles to be here, took hundreds of pictures. Each snap of a shutter was another tribute to our Becca.
Everyone had their fill of food. Drinks were passed around. Groups gathered and laughed, sharing stories of Becca. Some started to walk down to the water, that same place Becca would play. She loved to walk down to the water. We thought we’d join her one last time this evening.
At the dock, lanterns were passed around. So many people were there, you’d think the pier would topple over! Lanterns were lit, the wind blew gently, and as we released them, we were beginning the process of moving on… of finding peace. We have to let Becca go. We know we love her. We know she loves us. She’s looking down on us, smiling, surely. So, one by one, patiently filling the burning lanterns with heat, watching some sink and some fly away, we released the lanterns. We have to accept the truth. We have to continue living. We have to let go, and instead, pleasantly remember her for who she was: fun, charismatic, and charming. Rough, tough, and strong. Friendly, laughing, and loving. She was all this and more. She was our best friend. Our lover. Our daughter, our sister. Our bartender, photographer, model. Our smile on a dark day, a hug when we needed one. She was our blessing from above. She was… our Becca.
Fran and I drove through the night just to check into a hotel for a few hours to refresh and shower. Then we headed to meet up with our friends Jeff & Geo to document and explore Brushy Mountain State Prison. Since abandoned, it was passed down to locals in the area who's family worked for the prison over its entire reign as one of the states select few maximum security prisons. We were fortunate to gain access from the family so we spent about 12 hours going through the whole complex over and over to explore and document this amazing site. The prison is on a beautiful piece of land with its rear part of the complex secured from the amazing Cumberland plateau. Its also adjacent from the Frozen State Park even when you were locked up, you did have the opportunity to view another amazing view looking out. Every building was unique in it's own way which gave it so much character in all of our photos. The explore of the place was also just as amazing because of the history that lingered through the halls. Not only was it an amazing day but we all got amazing shots along with a very cool video. Thanks for reading!
During our trip to the south, Fran and I spend one of our nights checking out a newly abandoned hospital. Getting the new hospital open was a success and we are pleased to find a bunch of left behind hospital goodies. We came back the following night with our friends Jeff and Jafet, They were just as thrilled when they got inside too. It was the first time any of us had seen surgery lights as large as the ones here. The power was still on so there was a constant noise going off from some of the patient call panels. The Xray machine also had power which was pretty cool cause it had a really cool display panel that none of us had ever seen before. We stayed for as long as we could but the bugs inside started to irritate us and eat Jeff and Frans legs up so we headed out of there. All in all, it was a pretty awesome find and a great way to end our day of exploring! Thanks for reading!
During our trip to the West Coast, we decided to end our last two days at an incredible spot on the Pacific Coast Line. A stunning white mansion sits on a super busy highway right on the Pacific Ocean. It was built in the 1950's and has really amazing architecture despite the inside being completely gutted. Fran and I met up with our new friend Jack on our first visit there and hung out and had a couple beers. On the second day there Jack, Fran, and I met up with our other new friends Ginger & Jazz and we decided to do some video work. We had an amazing sunset both days and got to hang out by the beach while we got to know our new exploring buddies while taking some incredible photos. It doesn't get any better than that!
During our most recent trip to the midwest, Fran & I start one of our mornings driving to the middle of flat lands no where to an abandoned correctional facility. This reformatory was once a female only population. During the time that it was open, it was the only maximum security prison for women. You could definitely see it in the layout of the campus while you walked around. It had an elegant look to the whole place which was nice. The whole campus took us about 8 hours to explore and I still don't feel like we saw it all. But what we did see was absolutely amazing. The photos dont do this spot justice. the colors looked amazing in every building and we got lucky with a great sky to showcase the elegance to the correctional facility's layout. It was such a fun day to explore and create content to share with you. Thank you for reading!
After a pretty decent morning of exploring, Jeff, Fran, and I use the rest of the day exploring a couple hospitals we been wanting to check out. The first one had potential but was a bust. Fran ran around the whole hospital but didn’t find any equipment. The second hospital was another story. After we found a open door, we slowly start tiptoeing around looking for stuff to shoot. We were all pretty sketched out because it was all our first times here. The power was still one and I got a little spooked after finding a room with a couple computers hooked up that were monitoring various parts of the hospital. After a couple empty hallways, we start to find really cool medical lights that were some we haven't yet seen before. For the rest of our time here, our abandoned hospital finds were increasing with each hallway we walked down. Wheelchairs, medical beds, medical lights, X-ray machines, etc. Even the basement was wall to wall full of equipment. We joked and thought some of the equipment from the first hospital was stored here. We got our shots, made a dope video and left only footprints! Thank you for watching & reading!
Upon entering the theatre the first thing that hits you is the smell of moldy stale air. All you can think is, “Where is my mask! We put them on and proceed to tip toe through the entrance. The building is incredible. Everything is left behind. Decaying seats, rotten floors, and fallen ceiling are displayed in the audience. Every step was a hazard. As we get to the stage we look behind the hopeful curtains. To our horror, bundles of insulation is piled up. We look at each other in shock. Asbestos! We take our shots quickly. Jason is done and runs out the building. He can’t take the asbestos and mold any longer. Next Alex leaves as Jess, Ginger and I get our last photos. I look around as if it were my last time. And we leave satisfied. The next day I was still full of excitement about my first major theatre. Ginger and I message Jess to talk about it and Jess says, “You know there’s a lobby right?” Being in such a state of awe, we never even thought of that. Our minds run wild and all we can say is, “Let’s go back!” Surprisingly we find the lobby immediately. It was like a moment frozen in time. The ticket booth, soda machines, movie posters, napkins in dispensers, and a cash register so old it looked like a type writer. We walk behind the concession stand and we see the original built in popcorn machine! We slide it open, and to our surprise, there is Popcorn left inside! Moldy, grey, hard popcorn so old the dust had preserved it. Indeed the ultimate find. Dumbfounded we decided to explore further. We head upstairs and find, The film projector! Old movie reels and film displayed all over the ground. Even crumbling ticket stubs for $1.50 dating back to who knows when. So much was left behind. As if the show must go on. We all agree, this is one of the best explores yet.
By: Jazz (mylife_ismymsg)
I'm not entirely sure if this was a correction facility, detention center, or small town jail. What I do know is that it was a pretty dope explore. Fran, Jeff, and I head a few hours out of the way to this small prison. Its a good thing it was raining pretty hard because its right next to an active prison so we got lucky early that morning. It seems rather small from the outside and my thoughts were right on the inside. But despite my doubt, this small prison has a TON of dope shots. It had so many cells and left behind items from inmates and employees. It's personally one of my favorite jails and it was an awesome way to start our day!
On this explore, Fran, our friend Jason, and I head out to explore and abandoned funeral home. This one has definitely been on my list for quite some time since I've seen Jason's posts. It's become pretty trashed over the years and houses a lot of homeless so the smell was pretty intense and the whole explore was sketchy because of how decaying the place is. But surprisingly there is still a lot of stuff left behind like caskets, a hearse, an embalming bed, and so much more. Surprisingly the lights still turn on in various parts of the place like the chapel. It was a quick explore but am definitely excited to be able to check this one off my list!
I honestly thought I wouldn’t get this spot. Just goes to show, never take anything off your list. As Jason, Ginger, Jess and I walked up to this abandoned mall, you immediately notice the corrosion. All around the property is crumbling flooring, fallen roofing and broken tiles. It’s very apparent from the outside, this place has been here awhile. The mall is very hard to get into. One reason is the Sherrifs department is right across the street. Another is usually there are 7 security guards on every parking level. This day, there were two. So we finally find the entrance. We’ve arrived at the iconic mall. Upon walking in my eyes wide, taking in the vastness around me. I knew exactly what I was there for. The pillars to heaven, towering like dinosaurs on display. There they are, The escalators!!! Walking up and down the escalator made your imagination run wild. Countless movie, tv shows and music videos have been filmed here for its nostalgic post apocalyptic feel. Unlike other malls, there is nothing left behind. No stores, chairs or tables. No walls. Just this skeleton of a belly. As we scan the building, we image what once was. Looking up at the roofing there’s a beautiful glow coming through the cracks, and we realize one thing. We need smoke bombs! Our buddy Alex was already meeting up, so frantically Jason calls to see if he could bring any. Success! The structure looks amazing either way, but with the hazy smoke, the sun rays were incredible. One of my favorite Days. Stay tuned for.... the abandoned theatre.
By: Jazmine West (mylife_ismymsg)
On this explore Fran and I head out on what felt like the coldest day ever to explore and document a military training ground on an active military training base. They haven't used the site for quite some time but we noticed some new structures built, and we actually ran into some military men and women who explained they will be using the site again, but were kind enough to let us continue documenting. They actually used to use the site for training procedures for soldiers getting ready for battle for Vietnam war. It’s a smaller location but it’s so unique because of the two abandoned military tanks and a U.S army helicopter. The small make-shift village is also littered with blank bullet casings which I thought were super cool. Despite the cold, it was an amazing morning and explore.
On this explore, Fran, Jeff, and I head to pretty random little find I've been meaning visit for a few months now. It was definitely one of the more sketchier explores as the floors are close to caving in. Fran even fell through the floor! After dusting himself off we head to the main attraction of the house which is a room stuffed with mannequins, mannequin body parts, handmade coffins, and many other odds and ends. Its a pretty small building and its stuffed with random stuff so it was kind of hard to shoot much else. It was more about all the odd things stuffed away all around you. There was even a weird coffin and a fake mummy in the basement. I'm definitely excited we got to finally go and show our out of towner buddy a local odd spot!
On this explore, we will be exploring an abandoned mansion. Fran and I had been wanting to visit this spot for awhile and kept putting it off. We thought it was the right time to go because our friend, Jeff, was in town and he had been curious about the house as well. Its a classic spot in the urban photography community and quite a sight to see in person. Its pretty dilapidated but its right on the lake and beautiful during the sunset we had. There is nothing crazy elegant about the inside but a lot of vintage belonging left behind that was really cool to rummage through and get a quick glimpse of the past. We had a really fun time shooting and watching an amazing sunset!
So Fran & I catch a flight for our next adventure. We got to our new location early in the morning and met up with our buddy Jason. He recently discovered a new hospital and wanted to show us around. Where to park and the trek to the new hospital was crazy. About a mile walk/hike/sprint through wide open fields to get to it. Once we got on the property, we immediately see a few security cars and an undercover police making their rounds around the complex. This place is HUGE and we only got to see a small portion of it. But it was totally worth it. It was still equipped with dentist chairs, a morgue, a decent amount of embalming/morgue tables (which you done see everyday), and of course some surgery rooms. It was definitely a really awesome explore and we are very grateful for Jason's bando hospitality this trip!
On a recent trip out West, I gambled on one of those name-your-price deals on a hotel, and it booked me about 30 minutes east of where I wanted to stay. Luckily, it booked me about 10 minutes from a pretty cool little ghost town called Two Guns off of old Route 66. I didn't know anything about it, but my friend Zee (@zee__zzz) told me I should check it out. I wasn't expecting much, so I was pleasantly surprised when we got there. As soon as you pull up, you can see an old abandoned gas station covered in graff, with a couple other buildings and a couple big tanks in the back. This kind of place usually isn't the most interesting to me, but for some reason, I really liked it. Maybe it was just the fact that it was literally in the middle of nowhere or maybe it became more interesting to me after I did a little reading about it. I read that a group of Apaches were murdered by enemy Navajos there when the Navajos set fire to a cave that the Apaches were hiding in. I read that Billy the Kid and his gang hid from law enforcement nearby in Canyon Diablo. I read that a group of train-robbers stashed a bunch of money and gold in the area that may or may not have been recovered. They've even dug up Native American artifacts there that date all the way back to the year 1050. Aside from all the history, it was a pretty cool place to shoot. The gas station was decent looking, but I thought the best part was the KOA campground with pool. There was also another small building in the back, but there wasn't much to it. There really wasn’t much to anything, but I knew immediately that I was going to be returning to shoot the sunset and (attempt) to shoot the Milky Way. The sunset ended up being pretty decent, but the dark night sky out West was really the most amazing thing. We could literally see the Milky Way with our naked eyes as soon as we got out of the car. Even more amazing was that the galaxy was almost exactly where I was hoping it would be for the pictures I wanted. I hardly ever get lucky with stuff like that. I couldn't wait to try out the new Sigma 14mm f/1.8 glass and see if I could pull off my first attempt at astrophotography, and I’m pretty happy with how the pictures turned out. I wouldn’t drive hours to see this place, but I definitely recommend stopping there to anyone that happens to be in the area.
On this explore, Fran & I get up super early to meet our friends Greg & Jayson to shoot photos and a new video of the trolley graveyard. This is a one of a kind spot with an amazing back story to it as well. Any time of the year is pretty much a good time to visit this location but our goal was to check this place out in the fall. The vibrant colors of each trolley car against the changing leaves made for a bunch of amazing photos. We were only here for about an hour until we were escorted off the property by woman who had an organized tour through the property. She was charging $150 per quest for her 3 hour tour. We offered her money for her troubles but she declined because is wasn't as much as her guest had paid. Fran & I came back a couple days later on our way home to try and get some more footage for our video which was a success. We even caught a really awesome sunset too! This is definitely a timeless location that will always be one of our favorites!
Fran, Corey, and I set out to explore a local abandoned middle school. This school is pretty rad. It has a lot to shoot including two gyms, a pool, and a huge auditorium. Fran & I had been here once before. Corey had driven by this school a bunch but never thought it was worth hitting. He was very wrong and super excited to come along on the explore. The whole school has really dope colors and its pretty over grown with nature so the green looks really dope against the decay of the school. We tried some new light painting techniques at the pool which came out super dope. Fran and I also played around with his new Sigma 24mm to catch some new perspectives of the school. Overall, it was a very fun explore and we can't wait to come back!
On this explore, Fran and I are driving far away from home to visit our very first abandoned funeral home. Our friend, Jeff, told us if we were ever in this area to stop by & we are sure glad we did. Though very much decayed, this funeral home is still full of many forgotten surprises. The garages have old caskets stacked up and also a vintage hearse. There are more caskets inside and a rotting embalming room (unfortunately no embalming medical table). It was such a creepy explore but so worth the trip!
On this rainy day, Fran, Jeff, our new friend Jafet, and I head to low key hospital down south. We set off for a couple hour drive early in the morning. We were all pretty tired but started to get excited when we reached our destination. This hospital is definitely one of my favorites and was happy that Fran was able to make it this trip after having flight mishaps on our first attempt. This hospital has alot of gutted rooms but the rooms that still had medical stuff was def well worth the drive. Alot of very old medical beds, baby incubators, wheel chairs. There was also these crazy kidney stone removal table (that Jeff and I had a comical debate about), and a medieval looking surgery table. Even after seeing it for a second time, it was so sureal. The weather and the hospital put together made it an amazing trip!