Last summer, I went to jail. Voluntarily. Did I mention the jail had been abandoned? That’s probably obvious, if you have any familiarity with this blog. Nevertheless, on a hot, steamy day during last July’s trip out to the East Coast, we headed to a well known former county lockup. I had never been to an abandoned prison before, so this was a treat.
The place did not dissapoint. Instantly recognizable even after decades of abandonment, the cell blocks seemed like something out of a zombie, post-apocalyptic “Jailhouse Rock” music video. A nice touch were the glass floors on the upper prisoner walkways, likely a security feature to allow guards to keep an eye on inmates above. No longer see-through for all the grime which had built up on them, they still diffuse bright sunlight from the holes in the roof.
Now, every large building will have some basement, boiler or utility room. In general, I don’t find these interesting because they look similar in most places. But when the buildings get old, things get more interesting. Often, before electric grids became a standard public utility, some places would have their own generators on site to provide in-house, reliable power. I believe that was the case in this jail. I think I spent a solid hour in this room, trying to wedge myself into corners so I could capture the huge machines in one frame.
I spent quite a bit of time here, even after my fellow travelers had retreated back to the car. Once I realized I was alone, I tried to finish up so as not leave them waiting too long. Having finally packed up and started to find my way out, I promptly brained myself on a dangling bit of steel. Any cut on your scalp, even if not serious, is going to bleed profusely, and so I returned to the car with blood streaming down my face. But that only proves the old adage that whatever doesn’t kill you makes for a good story.