Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Hi. Welcome back. I went for a hike yesterday. An illegal hike, up around the ruins of the old Mountain Park amusement park on Mt. Tom. I was actually looking for a series of letterboxes, but I couldn't find a single one - probably because after the most recent arsonist fire at the park, the city demolished the remaining structures, with the letterboxes in place, I assume. I had been to Mountain Park once when I was a kid, circa 9 years old, and all I remember is that it was night, and I rode a strange little train ride, and my dad talked my sister onto riding the roller coaster, and she came off of the ride crying because she hurt her toe on it somehow.

Anyway, I was very excited to check out yet another urban ruin. But I was not prepared for how intensely creepy the Mountain Park site is. It was about 3 p.m., with the sun shining, the temperature perfect, and yet I was nearly trembling from the icky feelings. But I was more fascinated than afraid, so I poked all around the overgrown cement platforms and old loading areas, all nearly reclaimed by the mountain's plants and trees. I saw many recent signs of human life: the usual smashed beer bottles and graffiti, but also a sodden pair of shorts, numerous paintball shells, and a condom. I saw three other people during the hour I was there; one was a man, one was a girl who was dressed like me (later I thought that I might have seen a spectral mirror image of myself), and one was a teenager holding a Big Gulp. They were all wandering alone, like me, and I avoided them. I was minding my own business, so they did the same.

Of course I took some pictures.

It's Always White here: (According to some of the graffiti I read, they sure wish it was.)

Once you hop the central gate, take a look to your left and you'll see the old parking lot slowly turning back into a meadow. In the intense sunlight, this place has a very post-nuclear-holocaust feel to it. I'm sure it'll show up in a nightmare or two:

This is the view from the middle of the midway:

Here is one of the many new-ish piles of rubble. Note the burned trees in the background, from the latest fire:

I think this is the remains of the Carousel House, which was the sturdiest structure on property. Some fans of the Park had wanted to preserve it somehow, but the building was ultimately abandoned. In 2002, someone set it on fire.

Duck underneath some vines and bushes and you'll get to the old "kiddie land" area. The tiny train ride wound up and around a mini-golf course:

There were tons of interesting things lying around. Here's a machine:

And I'll leave you with this. I hope it was for fried dough, my favorite fair food:

Thanks for stopping by. Come again soon!


Anonymous said...

Those are great pics and a good reason to break the rules - between your recent area ruins series and the Northampton photography exhibit at Smith I am newly inspired to go outside with the digicam. Thanks!


av said...

Those pix do seem pretty creepy. I love how those old signs remain. I think it can be scary to go anywhere alone, as a lady. I hate having to worry about that. But fuck it, people open doors for us and it's worth it. Just kidding. No, seriously, folks, I'd much rather be a girl. La de da!

Anonymous said...

Nice blog, though a bit sad for me. You got most of your facts correct, which is a rarity regarding Mountain Park. The machine you photographed was part of a coin sorter. The "Fresh Crispy" sign was unfortunately not for fried dough, but for popcorn.

What still amazes me about the property is how fast nature has reclaimed it. Within a short time, all remains of the once-glorious park will have vanished from view.


debl said...

Thanks. I don't know all of the details about the recent history of the park, but there are other websites you can find for that. I thought Fresh and Crispy meant french fries, for some reason, since "crispy" isn't a common adjective for popcorn. That's neato; how did you know that? Did you used to work there?

I'm also amazed at how huge the trees, bushes, vines, etc. are, coming up through cracks in the pavement. It doesn't take long for nature to take over.