|10-13-2012, 09:25 PM||#1|
Joined: Feb 2006
Location: Western Massachusetts
Exploring Abandoned Massachusetts Prison Camps
Back in May I read on ADV about a possible abandoned prison camp in Monroe, Mass., not too far from my house. It took a few months to get out there but in September my friend Craig and I went out to find it.
Information on the camp is hard to find. There are references to it operating as early as 1963 (found in case law) from when a prisoner escaped and as late as 1980 (more case law). A report on the town in 1989 indicated the camp was closed.
The camp is easy to find, it's on Prison Camp Road in Monroe, right off Main Road. You'll see an old bridge and a road headed into the weeds right next to it. It must have been a hard place to do time. It's miles from anywhere, with nothing surrounding it.
Right at the entrance are two stone markers on either side.
Closer examination revealed that there may have been a sign on posted on the markers in the past.
The site is very heavily overgrown. The asphalt disappeared under the grass pretty quickly but we were able to follow it back 1/8 of a mile or so, towards where it ran up against the river.
The whole camp seemed to be situated on a very narrow slice of land, with the river on one side, heavy woods and mountain on the other and large boulders in the rear.
When we hit the river and ran up against the back of the property Craig and I began to find more remnants of the former camp.
An old concrete slab...
Everything here was bulldozed.
This was about the most interesting thing we found...some type of metal frame.
It was covered with a lot of large rocks. At first I thought it was a hatch cover but we finally determined that it must have been a large hole or well that was completely filled in with rocks.
Above you can see the frame of the cover/hatch/door. It's got a metal outer frame, reinforced with concrete.
We found hinges on both sides of the frame. Very heavy duty stuff.
Here's an old foam mattress, buried. Must have been rough sleeping on these.
Old plumbing discarded
This is the bottom of a car seat. The chrome trim on it made me think it was from the 1960's. Hard to tell if it was dumped later or not.
Craig found this old can of aerosol deodorant from Brut.
As we walked back we found a couple more places where there had been a concrete walk or driveway.
This open field had some concrete in the ground.
We did get a few questions answered but left with a lot more. There's not much information on the facility at all.
Warwick Prison Camp
After visiting the camp in Monroe I did a little research and found a 1974 position paper from an anti-prison group that mentioned another prison camp in Warwick, which is also in Franklin County. This is also not far from my house and I got out there to visit today.
I was able to find more information on this camp and there is certainly more at this site than in Monroe.
"A transient work camp, built in 1934, was also located in Warwick by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. This was set up to provide work and shelter for the ever-growing numbers of homeless men. The camp, which operated for three years, accommodated 200 and was located near Richards Reservoir. In 1962, this site became home to a prison camp operated by the Massachusetts State Department of Corrections. Prisoners worked under the direction of foresters and the Department of Natural Resources to assist with reforestation and conservation efforts."
"The former camp became a minimum security prison where country boys “did their time” doing work on the Mt. Grace State Forest and the Warwick State Forest under the supervision of the Mass Department of Natural Resources. Later it became a minimum security work release site under the supervision of the Department of Corrections. The facility was abandoned in the late l980s or early 1990s. More recently it was used as a training site for troops going to Iraq and Afghanistan. A few years ago, following a serious fire at the facility, all buildings were torn down and the site leveled."
The entrance to the old camp is very obvious. It's on Richmond Road in Warwick, less than 2 miles from the NH border. It also has two stone markers at the driveway.
The road is well paved; it doesn't look like it was out of commission that long ago.
I started at the back of the facility. The paved road wound its way into the woods.
The road turned to dirt/rocks/gravel and got rough. I didn't attempt it on the KLR today but it seemed passable by a larger dual sport.
Although the site was bulldozed, they didn't get everything.
This looked like some kind of well or pump-house, it was well in the woods.
This is the road as it goes into the woods. Pretty rough in spots and lots of leaves covering the ground.
I went back to the large open area in the center of the property.
Notice the light pole still standing.
I found an old stone wall...
and the old basketball court.
The facilities here were a lot nicer than they must have been in Monroe.
More evidence of the camp...
The property was pretty interesting because you could wander around for a while and keep finding things. I must have spent an hour there. Probably the coolest thing I found was the old baseball field and backstop. Somehow it got missed by the bulldozers.
It seems like the place must have been abandoned a lot longer than the records indicated. This is the view outward from home plate:
I walked back on the third base line and found the visitor's bench, hidden in time.
I went down the street a short distance and found another large open area. In the woods I could see the back of an old sign.
It was a distance marker for the ballfield, again untouched.
In the open area was the maintenance garage (it was too close to the main road to be an inmate's quarters).
The camp even went across the street; there was an old picnic area with a concrete dam at the reservoir.
It's always nice to find areas worth exploring so close to home.
|10-14-2012, 03:29 AM||#3|
Joined: Jul 2010
Neat you looked that place up. History is good.
Don't mean to steal your post, but this is sort of related.
Couple of us here looked up an old CCC Camp in northern Minnesota (Civilian Conservation Corps) from the depression era. In addition to our own people staying, living and working there, German POW's were there as well, and reportedly a good bunch of blokes, hardworking, used to extreme winters and such. This camp closed shortly after the war. There are CCC camp remains all over the US, there is one shown in Mass. you could go look up as well (http://www.mass.gov/dcr/ccc/CCCHistory.htm).
This one in rural, secluded Northern, Minnesota
Very interesting, sort of like you found, you had to nose around a little. We did find a crapper that would have "serviced" many at the same time...
Camp F-14 as it was called. Gives you that Hogans Hero's feel, but they were not locked up. Mostly people there to do logging, they built National Parks, etc. Many POW's helped.
Pic below from the 1930's
Never do anything you would be uncomfortable explaining to the paramedics...
Unstable Rider screwed with this post 10-14-2012 at 03:53 AM
|10-14-2012, 06:22 AM||#5|
Joined: Mar 2010
Very cool. I love going out to look for old stuff hidden in history.
|10-14-2012, 06:41 AM||#6|
Joined: Jul 2011
Love abandoned places. Good report!
--If I could be anywhere right now, I'd still be out there, on my bike, in the wilderness.
--If in doubt go with the decision that will make for a better story.
2010 Concours 14
|10-14-2012, 07:39 AM||#7|
Joined: Feb 2006
Location: Western Massachusetts
|10-14-2012, 10:10 AM||#8|
Joined: Oct 2007
Location: Western MA
nice ride keith
i wonder what you could find out there with a metal detector
|11-21-2013, 12:05 PM||#9|
Joined: Nov 2013
Warwick Prison Camp
When I first got my driver's license (2003-2004), I frequented this place a lot. The Warwick Prison camp had a lot of rumors surrounding it such as stories of hauntings and that lured a lot of us to want to go see it. In 2003, it was a great place to go see as it was still structurally intact and had very few "tourists", if you will. There were a few things that stood out about a decade ago as the prisoners still had many of their belongings still there as if it was abandoned the day before. In a building, that was made of wood to the left of the main structure that was a very large concrete building, there were a few rooms that housed some inmates that must have been of the minimum security variety. In those rooms, there was plenty of old clothes, boots, boxes, and stuff and I found a note one of the young prisoners wrote to his girlfriend that was pretty cool.
There was also a building that looked as if it was the office of the warden of some sorts and in one of the drawers I found a newspaper clipping from I believe the mid-1990's, covering how two prisoners escaped and were trying to be located. This was by far the best time out of about a half dozen time going there as the place quickly began to draw large crowds of young people within the next couple of years. I remember going there about a year later in 2004 and all the stuff was taken out of that bunk house and there was tons of graffiti covering the main brick building and the sidewalk which was unfortunate. There was tons of trash inside the main complex which was a concrete structure that did not have a whole lot of unique qualities about it and may have suggested the building was shut down for several years before I first toured it.
One of the more unique things I noticed, was along the baseball field there was this old bus crumbling alongside the backstop. I never noticed the basketball court that was discussed earlier but there was absolutely a lot of ground to cover to kind of piece this place together. Within just a few years of my first visit in 2003, the place became very rundown by excessive visitors and neglect and was burned down around 2008-2010. Many stories have came out of this place regarding hauntings and a gruesome murder. The gruesome murder was a story about this young girl being killed on the property but that is not true as I have a friend who lived within a few miles of the prison camp his whole life and never heard of such an act being committed.
Many of visitors came to the camp to see if it was haunted. Now I probably spent about 10 hours total exploring this camp in my 6 visits, I never saw a ghost or any type of activity that suggests it was haunted. However, many people have reported they have seen ghosts and most of the stories are similar in nature. A lot of people reported seeing people in green striped prison outfits that they thought were ghosts after the place was abandoned. This place frequently makes the list of haunted places in Massachusetts with these apparitions noted. It was definitely a fun place to visit when it was all intact before it was destroyed by thousands of neglectful tourists. Within just a couple years this place became a very commercialized haunted places attraction and then burned down. Its unfortunate because it has such a clouded history and was a fantastic visit as recent as 2004. thanks for the read!- Bri
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