Searching for Dystopia III

And so continues my adventures to collect photos for my End of All Things book trailer.

On our way out of West Virginia, True Love suddenly slammed on the brakes. "There!" he shouted, pointing.

On a hill above was a train tunnel. We'd been searching for a tunnel but hadn't found anything that quite suited what we were looking for. We wanted something that mirrored the cover of the novel, but photogenic unoccupied tunnels aren't as easy to come by as one might expect.

He turned around the car and pulled it off the road. We climbed the steep embankment to the train tracks, both of us wobbling on the uneven ground and cursing the fact we're not as young as we used to be.

"We ought to reach down and lay a hand on the rail," I said as we picked our way along the tracks to the tunnel entrance. "See if it's vibrating. It would tell us if a train is coming."

True Love laughed. "I think that's only in the movies. Besides, I don't think trains run through this area very often any more. The tracks are left over from the coal mining days and that industry is mostly gone from around here."

We entered the darkened tunnel and went about half-way inside. I started snapping photos as we walked, but I didn't quite get what I was looking for until we turned back to the entrance. The resulting shot was one of the favorite photos I've taken on the entire journey.

It was just perfect. I had considered editing out the rails, but I actually like the way they swoop toward the tunnel entrance. Everything about it... The light, the damp walls.... It's just great.

We stepped out of the tunnel and both of us dropped simultaneous f-bombs. Because there was a train. Coming straight at us. I didn't get a picture because I was occupied with not wetting my pants.

Yeah. Sort of like that.
The engineer blared his horn and we both started running, swearing, arms flailing. As you can see from the photo above, we couldn't just run down the side of the hill where we were. We actually had to run toward the train so we could get past the steep walls and down the embankment. It wasn't a close call or anything. The train was still safely dozens of yards away when re reached the safety of the embankment, but it was enough to get the old heart pounding. And, of course, I had to trip and went sprawling in the gravel by the car. But if I had to trip, I'm glad it wasn't in front of the train.

"I can just hear that engineer now," True Love said, as he slathered my abraded hands with antibiotic cream. "Damn kids... Wait a second... those aren't kids!"

Our next destination was Detroit, because I've seen a lot on the internet about the number of abandoned properties in the city. Supposedly, there are around 70,000 abandoned structures in Detroit, a number of which I was skeptical.

Until I saw it.

As we approached the city, we happened on something by the road that caught our attention. It was a little village of houses, all abandoned. They seemed to be relatively recently constructed, 1980s or 1990s, perhaps. There was a long office-type building up front, probably for the property manager, and then about a dozen little yellow houses behind.

We pulled into the parking lot and I got out to look around.

The doors were hanging open, the windows almost all broken. I walked down the row of homes, peering inside.

Some were completely vacant, others had jumbles of abandoned property.

Vandals had visited too, decorating the walls with spray paint.

One house had a pile of belongings out front, as though they had been tossed out in an eviction or clean-out and never claimed.

This trunk, I found particularly interesting. A beautiful old thing, left to disintegrate in the wind and rain beside a flat screen TV set.

After I finished my circuit around the property, I ended up back up front at the rental office building. A row of mailboxes stood there.... Which still had mail inside them.

What happened here? We speculated that the people may have worked at the factory we discovered nearby, also abandoned.

When the factory closed, they were forced to move... Apparently rapidly.

Next post... Detroit.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. (Sorry! There was a typo in the first message)

    You may have a second vocation in photography, my dear. These images are haunting, evocative, and altogether beautiful. Wonderful job! xoxo

    1. Thank you! And don't worry about typos... They add character! :)


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