Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Suburbex Adventure

From Dave Brigham:

As regular readers of the blog know, I don't do urbex. I'll scramble through tunnels, walk along abandoned train tracks and wander around the edges of derelict buildings, but I don't go inside. This is largely to do with the bad optics of a 50-year-old father of two kids under age 14 getting busted for trespassing. When I was a kid I loved exploring houses under construction in my neighborhood, and, on one occasion, a house that had been abandoned with everything still inside (see September 20, 2011, "In Search of President Little").

I won't lie and say I've never trespassed in service of taking photos for this blog. But until recently, I'd never been called on it.

The 1,667-acre Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge is spread across the towns of Ayer, Shirley, Lancaster and Harvard, Massachusetts, and was once part of Fort Devens. In an earlier drive through the beautiful part of Harvard known as Still River, I'd heard gunfire off in the distance, which I assumed was coming from the section of Fort Devens that wasn't deactivated.

And yes, as I approached this bridge I could hear live rounds being fired, but there were no signs on the bridge indicating "No Trespassers Allowed!"

So after snapping a few photos, I strolled across, walked between the two sections of chain link fence where a lock had been broken off at some point, and began ambling down a paved road between the trees. I could hear gunfire off to my left, but again, saw no signs. Up the road, through the trees, I spied some buildings, and got excited at the prospect of taking pictures of an abandoned military installation. The closer I got, however, the more I heard the rounds rattling off, and the easier it was for me to see that these were newer buildings, not old ones.

About five seconds after I turned around to head back the way I'd come in, I was met by the dude in the pickup truck who I speak of above. He wasn't mad, and understood that the base wasn't doing a very good job of warning people away. "Yeah, somebody broke the lock off a while ago," he said. "Not sure why they haven't fixed it."

I don't know if he was military, or just a contractor, but he was nice enough to let me wander back to the refuge. Once safely back in the right place, I was frankly a bit bored. While the Tank Road and Turnpike Path are very pleasant to walk along, there are no opportunities for backside pictures.

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