Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Finding Hope, But Losing a Mainstay, in Clinton

From Dave Brigham:

Man, that's a bad pun in the title. Is it a pun? Either way, I'm not sure why I ended up with a vague Bill Clinton reference up there. On to the post....

My initial attraction to Clinton, Mass., was the long-abandoned train tunnel. The site is pretty famous among urbex photography people, and graffiti-loving teenagers and those who like to get spooked walking through an 1,100-foot, nearly pitch-black tunnel. The day I was there last fall, I ran into a younger version of myself, a bearded guy with glasses taking pictures of the place after having spied the words "Abandoned train tunnel" on Google Maps or some other online navigational aide.

So let's get those photos out of the way. I'm not trying to minimize how cool this place is, but there's so much more in this former mill town that was incorporated in 1850 (separating from Lancaster) thanks to the efforts of Erastus Brigham Bigelow.

(This was my first view of the tunnel, after crossing a very busy road and scrambling up a short hill.)

(Naturally there is a LOT of graffiti; this work is the most elaborate.)

(The eastern end of the tunnel is much more serene, and has been vandalized very little.)

(I lingered for a few minutes talking with my fellow photographer. Then it was time to head back through, flashlight in hand.)

(Central Massachusetts Railroad trains once came out of the tunnel and continued on a bridge across the Nashua River. This is what's left of the bridge.)

While researching Clinton before my visit, I learned that the town of 13,600 lays claim to the world's oldest continuously used baseball field: Fuller Field. Around since 1878, the field doesn't look historic, but rather just like any other place where America's Pastime is played. There are two sorta cool ticket booths there.

Alas, in 2008, just one year after the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Fuller Field with its superlative, the title was taken away and handed to Labatt Park in London, Ontario, Canada.

(Clinton is the home to one of three North American manufacturing facilities for UK-based cereal maker Weetabix. I love their colors. This part of their facility is just behind the historic Lancaster Mills, which is being developed into condos.)

(Just down the street from the Weetabix entrance is an abandoned store.)

(And a little further down the street I found this old trestle, part of an old rail system that once served the factory and mill.)

(On that same stretch I found this place. I'm fascinated by houses with storefronts tacked on. I rarely see one that's an active retailer or small office. Wonder what used to be here.)

Clinton's got a nice downtown, with lots of stores, restaurants, offices, churches and a really big mill complex.

(I love this simple mural.)

(Such a cool sign. The Old Timer - "A touch of Ireland in New England since 1929." Unfortunately, according to this column in the Boston Globe today, the place is slated to close in two weeks.)

(St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, built in 1900.)

(Smoke stack behind Saint John the Guardian of Our Lady Parish. Incinerator? Crematory?)

(This smokestack looms over the former Bigelow Carpet Mill, a massive complex featuring multiple buildings.)

(Another former Bigelow mill building, which evidently was also used as a distillery.)

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