316 West Dixie & 318 West Dixie, Elizabethtown, KY: UPDATES

It has recently come to my attention that the properties I photographed in late 2014, two old, majestic beauties on Dixie Highway, have been torn down.

I first noticed this tragedy while browsing Google maps as I often tend to do, checking up on the properties I’ve photographed and researched.  Then, a comment on both houses regarding their demise prompted me to head back to Google for photos of the most recent images of the properties that I can obtain long-distance.

For your comparison, 318 and 316 West Dixie, both built 1910, torn down around 2016–at 106 years old.

316 West Dixie:

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Image above: 316 West Dixie in August, 2013.

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Image above: 316 West Dixie, boarded up and abandoned, in fall 2014.

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Image above: 316 West Dixie lot site, January 2016.  Most trees (including what appeared to be the oldest tree on the site, right) are cut and removed.

318 West Dixie:

318 w dixie

Image above: 318 West Dixie, August 2013.

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Image above: 316 West Dixie, Fall 2014.

318 316 W Dixie 2017 (2).png

Image above: 316 West Dixie lot site, January 2016.

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Image above: looking south down the Dixie Highway at 316 and 318 lot sites. (316 lot site is closest, 318 lot site is just past 316).

In conclusion, I am completely with the lady who commented on my original 316/318 West Dixie posts–this certainly shows the true colors of the historic society and the Elizabethtown government that not one but two 106-year-old homes stood vacant for 2-3 years before being destroyed–not sold, remodeled, or restored–but torn down.

Congratulations, Elizabethtown.  Your heritage speaks for itself.

 

 

 

 

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204 N. Washington, Munfordville, KY: The Francis Asberry Smith & Louise Thomas Smith House

Kentucky is full of little towns with only a relative handful of people (who are usually all relatives!), quietly abandoned houses, and a lot of silent, ignored history.

Munfordville, Kentucky, just off I-65, fits the bill.  Most notably in its rich past, Munfordville brought up two boys who would end up generals on opposite sides of the Civil War.

As I was strolling Munfordville in early 2013, I couldn’t help but notice this incredible–and very neglected–old house.

The House

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The sagging porch, the faded grandeur of an age long gone–oh, I had to see more!

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The walking tour and the sign in front identified the home as the Francis Asberry Smith & Louise Thomas Smith House.  The details of its origins were meager, which only served to make it more mysterious.

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The more I saw, the more I was amazed.  The house seemed to never end.  It was certainly one of the largest in-town homes I’ve come across.  And from the broken glass of its front windows to the sidewalk that hugged the south wall to the curiously empty lot next door, it practically oozed a story ripe for the telling–if I could only find it.

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The notice–a small sign posted on the front door–told me what the home had been most recently.  But before this old beauty was an apartment, who had she belonged to?  Who lived here?  Who dreamed her up?

My most immediate source was the walking tour pamphlet that was guiding me through town.  It offered this tidbit:

At the end of the block is the Francis Asberry Smith House.  This beautiful old home was built around 1835, the date impressed on several of the bricks used in construction.

F. A. Smith moved to Munfordville in 1830 and started a general store and later a meat processing plant. During the war, Smith, a staunch Union man, refused to sell any products to the Confederacy. It is unknown as to why they did not confiscate his goods, unless his friendship with Buckner had some influence.

The Smith house was at different times occupied by senior officers of both armies. John Hunt Morgan, the notorious Confederate cavalry leader, occupied the residence briefly in September 1861 while awaiting his original troop of cavalry in the Confederate service.
http://www.munfordvillestories.com/old-munfordville-tour/stop-7-thomas-bolin-munford-house/

Knowing that this home had once hosted Civil War generals made the fact that it looked about to fall into the dust all the more disheartening.  However, as time passed, thoughts of the FA Smith house faded, and it wasn’t until recently that I thought of it again.

Pulling up my trusty Google maps, I decided to cruise downtown Munfordville and see if this ghostly structure was still standing.  Sure enough…

Smith House Munfordville 1

June of 2013, so sayeth the Google maps copyright date, shows one of the most obvious features of the home in chaos: the front porch, fallen from its perch, now resting on the façade of the home.  Look closely, however, and you’ll notice that this is not the doing of nature, but rather of two men standing to the left of the porch.

Smith House Munfordville 2

Of course, being the fatalist that I am, I immediately worried that this was part of the demolition until I realized…they wouldn’t send two men to remove the porch if they were bent on destroying the house.

Smith House Munfordville 3

Smith House Munfordville 4

Well, would you look at that!  Signs of someone cleaning up the place?  It’d be a first in my F&F chronicles that a beaten up and abandoned old home was actually reclaimed and restored, but that’s exactly what it looked like they were up to in June of 2013.

Smith House Munfordville 5

Old Photos

In the process of researching F. A. Smith for the purpose of a more in-depth history post, I was fortunate enough to come across a historic photo of the house at the following link:

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=23035899&PIpi=56693090

Smith House Munfordville 6 Historic
Yet again, another prime example of the consequences of passing time.  This photo is undated, though the caption at the link above indicates that a photo of the home ran in a Harper’s Ferry newspaper during the time of the Civil War.  (Please note: it is not the opinion of the writer that this was the photo that was used in said article as the apparel of one of the men on the porch and the quality of the photo would suggest a later era).

Of course, finding a photo of that age led me to search for even more photos, and what I found–though much more recent–showed me what used to occupy that mysterious plot next door.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jstephenconn/3779618474

One of the first “modern” photos I found of the house was the above photo, listed on Flickr.  Taken in 2009, this photos reveals that a very run-down church, complete with boards over the windows and scattering shingles, used to sit next to the Smith House.  Even back in 09, you can still see the sag in the porch roof, but the house appears to be in overall better shape than it was when I found it 4 years later.

Smith House Munfordville 9 2010
In December of 2010, the house is starting to show signs of wear and tear.  The church next door is still standing, though it appears that debris from the dilapidated church still blows over onto the Smith house and property.
http://landmarkhunter.com/153384-f-smith-house/

http://preservationkentucky.org/home.php
A photo of the house in January 2011, with the nearby church still standing.

In addition to yielding the photo, the landmark hunter link also indicated that the house was placed on the Historic Register in 1980.

Of note in this winding tale of discovery is that several sources for this historic home indicate that the original owner is not known.  Until I discovered the following document, I believed this to be the case.
http://focus.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/NRHP/Text/80001546.pdf

The above document is an NPS “Kentucky Historic Resources” form.  It is dated Jan 23, 1980–just about 6 months before the home was placed on the historic register.  This revealing document details several facts:

  1. According to sources in the area, the original owner was a man named George A. Craddock.
  2. Even according to this revealing document, the builder remains unknown.
  3. Craddock sold the home to Mr. Smith in 1837 when Smith moved to Munfordville from Harper’s Ferry.
  4. The porch was added in the 20th century, proving my assumption (that the photo above was taken in a later era) correct.
  5. Judge McCandless bought the home in the 1920’s, which would indicate that there was a significant gap of time (from 1889, when the Smiths moved to Missouri, to 192?, when McCandless moved in) during which a different, unknown family(ies) likely occupied the house.
  6. Judge McCandless was the owner who added the porch according to this 1980 document, which would put the date of the oldest photo known of the home sometime in the 1920’s or 1930’s.
  7. At the bottom of the document, someone appears to have sketched a layout of the interior of the house, era unknown.  It indicates that the back of the house is an addition

Still wondering about Mr. Smith and Judge McCandless?  Don’t worry.  An in-depth history post with all the details of the known owners is soon to follow.

Present Day

I knew it’s happen sooner or later–one of the questionable old derelicts I’d photograph, document and research would be restored.  And that’s what happened with the F. A. Smith house.

http://hcn.stparchive.com/Archive/HCN/HCN09052013P01.php
Newspaper article detailing renovation plan for the Smith House, 2013.

http://hcn.stparchive.com/Archive/HCN/HCN09052013P05.php
Article page 2.

Incredibly, I saw the home at what was likely the peak of its neglect, just prior to renovation efforts, which turned this historic old home into a physical therapy and wellness office.  The work carried out by the physician who bought the place was so noticeable that he was recognized with an award.

http://preservationkentucky.org/home.php

Smith House Munfordville 10 Current

Check out the links below to see photos of the house during its renovation and more photos of the house today, serving as the FMC Physical Therapy & Wellness Center!

http://www.munfordvillefmc.com/physical_therapy_wellness_center.html
http://www.munfordvillefmc.com/ptwc_construction_pictures.html

Camp Lucy-Mac, Ludington State Park, Michigan: The Newspaper & Old Photos Post

There’s nothing that holds my attention like a good mystery, and for quite some time, the forgotten remains of isolated Camp Lucy Mac in Ludington State Park, Michigan, have been just that.  If you’ve not yet read this article, please follow the link below for the full tour of Camp Lucy Mac as she looks today:

https://thewaywardwanderlust.wordpress.com/2015/06/

But where there’s a will, there’s usually a way, and about a week ago, I finally got ahold of the newspaper articles that would provide me with the information–and even a few of the photos–I’ve been looking for.  Through these articles, I’ve been able to discover some information that was previously unknown and confirm a few of the rumors I’ve heard.

Here in chronological order are some of the more interesting articles, courtesy of the Ludington Daily News, pertaining to Camp Lucy Mac.

July 12, 1939:
July 12, 1939: This is one of the earliest articles I can find about Camp Lucy Mac.  This article makes reference to the location of the camp in relation to the CCC camp in LSP and also lists the camp staff for that year.
July 18, 1939:
July 18, 1939: One of the few photos associated with the articles pertaining to camp, this shows some of Lucy Mac’s earliest campers in what would be the 3rd season that the camp was open.
July 21, 1939:
July 21, 1939:  Not to be outdone, this article focuses on the women who ran Camp Lucy Mac in 1939.  Yet another rare photo of the people who once comprised Lucy Mac.
Close-up photo of July 21, 1939 photo.
Close-up photo of July 21, 1939 photo.
June 8, 1940:
June 8, 1940: This article is the first and only to mention that Camp Lucy Mac is a certified GS Camp.  It also is the first to reference the education that the camp’s instructors undergo.  Mrs. G. O. Kribs, who ran Lucy Mac for a good portion of the camp’s existence as a GS camp, is mentioned.
June 10, 1940:
June 10, 1940:  This article was my first evidence that Boy Scouts also used the camp and that Lucy Mac was not exclusively used by GS.
August 3, 1940:
August 3, 1940: Yet another article regarding Boy Scouts using Lucy Mac.
August 6, 1940:
August 6, 1940: Another article regarding Boy Scouts at Lucy-Mac, this one containing a list of items to bring.
August 17, 1940
August 17, 1940: Not only did Boy Scouts camp at Lucy Mac, they also had ceremonies that reportedly drew close to 300 visitors to this remote site.  In this day and age, nearly 300 people trekking out to a remote campsite for a ceremony without any motorized transportation option available would be outrageous!
June 21, 1941:
June 21, 1941:  This article mentions new buildings being dedicated at Lucy Mac, but does not say what buildings these are.  Given that 1941 was the first year any buildings were reportedly used at Lucy Mac (based on a 1944 article), this article is likely referring to the lodge, the laundry, the recreation building, and perhaps the unknown building northwest of the lodge.
July 8, 1941:
July 8, 1941: This article mentions some of the improvements made to the camp and again references the dedication of even more new–albeit unnamed–buildings.  Once again, based on the date, one can only presume that the buildings in question are the lodge, recreation building, the laundry, and the unknown building to the northwest.
July 24, 1941:
July 24, 1941: The Boy Scouts camp at Lucy Mac yet again. Note the cost of camping per week: $6 per scout!
March 11, 1942: This snippet of an article is by far one of the most interesting, alluding to three
March 11, 1942: This snippet of an article is by far one of the most interesting, alluding to three “moving pictures” that once existed of Camp Lucy-Mac. If you happen to know if these might still be in existence, please leave a comment below!
June 8, 1942:
June 8, 1942: An incredible find, this article goes through more improvements made to the camp, the staff, and even asks those girls and counselors in attendance to bring a specified amount of sugar for their stay–evidence of the cost of WWII.
June 8, 1942: Photo close up.
June 8, 1942: Photo close up.  This photo appears to have been taken with Hamlin Lake in the background and may have been taken near the remote fire pit location at the end of the peninsula (see previous post for the map!).
July 16, 1942: One of my jackpot moments, I believe this building,
July 16, 1942: One of my jackpot moments: I believe this is Bldg 1 from my previous post–the first building discovered upon my exploration of this site.  Note the fireplace, the shape of the building, and the windows overlooking the lagoon.  In the newspaper article, this building is called the recreational building / dining hall / kitchen.
July 16, 1942: Caption associated with above photo.
July 16, 1942: Caption associated with above photo and pieces of the associated article.
August 1, 1942:
August 1, 1942: A look back at health and wellness in the WWII era.
August 8, 1942:
August 8, 1942: This article details some of the day-to-day activities of campers as well as achievements.
October 2, 1942:
October 2, 1942:  Despite the trials of WWII, Camp Lucy Mac sees a boom in enrollment.  This article points out the benefits of camp for the girls who attend, citing relief of “wartime nerves” and teaching the valuable skills pertaining to civilian life in a time of war in addition to normal camp activities.
January 31, 1948:
January 31, 1948: A full 11 years after Lucy mac first opened, Mrs. G. O. Kribs remains the leader at Lucy Mac for Girl Scouts.
April 22, 1949:
April 22, 1949: Lucy Mac isn’t just a Scout camp anymore!  This article lists the numerous groups that are using Lucy Mac throughout the summer.
June 28, 1949:
June 28, 1949:  This article details more activities available at Lucy Mac for GS attendees, as well as local involvement in supporting this camp.
July 5, 1949: Lucy Mac experiences quite the boom in demand as numerous groups reserve the GS camp throughout the summer season.
July 5, 1949: Lucy Mac experiences quite the boom in demand as numerous groups reserve the GS camp throughout the summer season.
September 3, 1963:
September 3, 1963:  An article on the early history of scouting in Ludington, including a reference to Camp Lucy Mac’s opening date (July 11, 1937).

Camp Lucy Mac Bonus: The Lodge, The Rec Building, or Something Like It…

Since my first article on Camp Lucy Mac, I have struggled to clearly define which building at the camp was the lodge and which one was the recreation hall, opting simply to call the buildings Bldg 1 and Bldg 2 as I could not say with certainty which one was which.  Not necessarily assisting me in my quest to delineate between these two buildings are the newspaper articles that seem to confuse each building with each other for different reasons.  Before I go into detail on the reasoning behind this debate and for your reference, here’s a copy of the map from my previous article.

One of my presents to you--my artistic rendering of the general layout of Camp Lucy-Mac. Not to scale. Bldg 1: Likely the recreational building / dining hall / kitchen Bldg 2: Likely the lodge Bldg 3: Unknown. Reportedly a classroom/sleeping quarters, but this is unconfirmed by newspaper or historic source.
One of my presents to you–my artistic rendering of the general layout of Camp Lucy-Mac. Not to scale.
Bldg 1: Up for debate!
Bldg 2: Also up for debate!
Bldg 3: Unknown. Reportedly a classroom/sleeping quarters, but this is unconfirmed by newspaper or historic source.

So, here we go: why I was so darn confused about the buildings of Camp Lucy Mac!

Case 1: Bldg 1 is the Lodge, Bldg 2 is the Rec Hall / Kitchen / Dining Hall.

Evidence for Case 1: The June 22, 1944 article clearly describes the lodge as being at the end of a lagoon with a “great view of the lake”.  This readily describes Bldg 1 and not Bldg 2, which does not border any water.  Notably, this section of the article doesn’t mention a recreational building at all.

Less on the scientific and more on the intuition side of things, Bldg 1 struck me initially as the lodge, not Bldg 2, which was less scenic and seemed more like a general purpose building.  But hey, they’re foundations.  What do I know.

Case 2: Bldg 1 is the Rec Hall / Kitchen / Dining Hall, Bldg 2 is the Lodge.

Evidence for Case 2: Just when you think you have everything all figured out, a newspaper article gums up the works!  A July 16, 1942 article, which includes a photo of what (structurally speaking) almost has to be Bldg 1, specifically refers to this structure as the Rec Hall / Kitchen / Dining Hall.

Per the photograph in the article, the building is in an L-shape; the only L-shaped foundations found at Lucy Mac were those of Bldg 1.  This clearly does not describe Bldg 2.  The building was described as having a kitchen and a stone fireplace, which have both survived in varying degrees to this day as the fireplace is still visible and the tile in the end of Bldg 1 appear to be from a kitchen.  Structurally speaking, Bldg 2 has nothing to suggest that it ever contained a kitchen or a stone fireplace…or at least, it has nothing remaining!

Case 3: Bldg 1 is all of the above and Bldg 2 is something completely different.

Y’know, sometimes it just happens: buildings undergo structural and/or functional changes, and are known by various names at different times, sometimes going by two names interchangeably.  I believe this is almost certainly the case in this little saga as in one instance, the June 22, 1944 article actually refers to the recreation hall and the dining hall / kitchen / stone fireplace as being the same building: “The rustic recreation building served as a dining hall and kitchen and the stone fireplace was used for campfire when rain prevented the use of outdoor campfire”.  Interestingly, this section of the article doesn’t even mention a lodge.

As a teasing additional tidbit, a June 21, 1941 article describes a dedication ceremony that took place in the “main lodge”, suggesting that there may have actually been two buildings that served as lodges at one point in time.

Now, while the information presented in Case #3 doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibilities of either Case #1 or Case #2 being correct, it does seem to confirm that the same building is being described in two separate parts of the same article and is apparently known by two names.  This is the most likely answer and (for the moment) the best conclusion I can offer to my lingering constructional conundrum at Camp Lucy Mac.

The Stone House, Harper’s Ferry, WV: The History Post

Harper’s Ferry is a city rich in history, much of which is interpreted right on the surface of the town’s bustling tourist district.  However, there are a few interesting little pieces of history that aren’t interpreted in plain view of the casual tourist, and as you well know, those are some of my favorite mysteries.

The Lure

Hopefully, my previous post and the photos therein have whetted your curiosity as to the origins of this building, as the original encounter drove me to vigorously research the history.  Although the NPS didn’t take the time to interpret the building itself on site, I did find one tiny, tantalizing historic photo on an interpretive sign near Lock 33 of this building in what must’ve been its heyday.

This is the original interpretive sign that gave me a tiny glimpse of the mysterious structure on Lock 33 as it looked in better days. The little photo circled in red was all I had to go on, but even shrunk down and in black-and-white, I had no doubt I was looking at the same house as it appear many years ago....
This is the original interpretive sign that gave me a tiny glimpse of the mysterious structure on Lock 33 as it looked in better days. The little photo circled in red was all I had to go on, but even shrunk down and in black-and-white, I had no doubt I was looking at the same house as it appeared many years ago….

 

This undated photo of Lock 33 is featured on one of the historic markers at Harper's Ferry, and even though the house in question is clearly the house I've circled in red, it wasn't interpreted, leaving me to wonder what exactly I had found...
So you can see what I saw, this is the same tiny photo from the interpretive sign above, this time on a larger scale.  The structure in question is circled in red.

This only drove me to search harder, though all these years, I was never able to find out anything more about this building other than that tiny photo on the interpretive sign.  My first clue that this search may be a bit easier this time around was when I came across this photo right off the bat:

This 1859 view of Harper's Ferry gives us a direct look across the river and at the house that still stands on Lock 33.
This 1859 view of Harper’s Ferry gives us a direct look across the river and at the house that still stands on Lock 33.

The Lore

When I first started my search anew on Google, I came across modern photos of this building, which reported this structure as Lockhouse 33.  Being that the house sits directly across from the now-dry C&O canal and Lock 33, that seemed to make perfect sense.  It was also reported that a flood had destroyed the wooden floors and roof, leaving the house a shell.

http://ridethecanal.com/Lock%2033%20-%20Harpers%20Ferry.aspx

http://wikimapia.org/26872447/Lock-Keeper-s-House-Lock-33-C-O-Canal

http://theexplorographer.com/2014/10/dont-pay-harpers-ferry-man/

http://sterlingimages.com/2012/06/18/brunswick-to-harpers-ferry/

Harpers Ferry

To my surprise, this structure had become so well-known in the time between my original visit and now that even Google Maps has a view of the house from the inside.
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Harpers+Ferry,+WV/@39.324658,-77.7263,3a,75y,251.37h,71.72t/data=!3m8!1e1!3m6!1s35-OWeiIHgoAAAGu5vHjuA!2e0!3e11!6s%2F%2Fgeo2.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3D35-OWeiIHgoAAAGu5vHjuA%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D100%26h%3D80%26yaw%3D95.680305%26pitch%3D0!7i10000!8i5000!4m2!3m1!1s0x89b6030decf1954d:0xd65b9aa758b4cd1e!6m1!1e1

Admittedly a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t guessed that this structure was the Lock 33 lockhouse, I continued my search for more information until I finally found a reputable source for my information–and interestingly, this source’s version of what this building actually is differs quite a bit from the rumors.

The Truth

Finally, after wading through pages of photos and supposition, I found three solid sources upon which to base the history of the Stone House.  The house actually stood partially on C&O Canal land, so after making an agreement with the canal company, a man by the name of James Eglin began blasting away at the bedrock of Maryland Heights that still stands directly behind the house.  Eglin built the house starting in the winter of 1840 and completed it before spring in 1841.

Now, Eglin was a businessman in Harper’s Ferry, but unfortunately, despite his business savvy, he was never able to obtain the title for the house.  It seems that Eglin rented the house out after it was built, but come Civil War time, the Union Army tossed out Eglin’s tenant and turned over the house to the lockkeeper at Lock 33, a gent by the name of John H. Reed.

John Reed reportedly operated a store out of the stone house as well as a some sort of bar.  Reed occupied the property until 1889, when, at the time of his death, the property passed to his son, Winfield S. Reed.  Incidentally, there was also a massive flood on the river in 1889, which reportedly caused considerable damage to the canal, boats, and structures that were built near the canal.

This photo shows Lock 33 after the devastation of the 1889 flood. Notice just above the wreckage of the boats in the photo, the distinctive two-story front porch of the Eglin house is visible.
This photo shows Lock 33 after the devastation of the 1889 flood. Notice just above the wreckage of the boats in the photo, the distinctive two-story front porch and small upstairs side window of the unpainted Elgin house is visible.

Now, Winfield Reed wasn’t exactly–shall we say–a responsible young man.  Turns out, he was indebted to a man by the name of Albertus Spencer for quite a pretty penny, and in 1893, Spencer won the house and another property lot after a lawsuit against Reed.  Spencer, apparently without many bright ideas of his own, continued to operate a store and drinking-type establishment out of the stone house, which had quickly earned itself quite the reputation–so much so that a petition forced the place to shut down just before Prohibition took effect in the second decade of the 1900s.  The petition apparently stemmed from not just the reputation of the drinking house, but from a fight that occurred earlier in the year in front of the house that resulted in several people losing their lives.

With Prohibition in effect, Spencer built a two-story wooden frame house next to the stone house and moved his store to the new structure.  In the stone house itself, he opened a museum that featured information about the infamous John Brown.  During this time, Spencer conveyed the stone house to his wife, Mary Spencer, and upon her death in 1923, the house passed on to her sister, Elizabeth A. Stockman.  Stockman lived in the second story of the stone house, continuing to operate the museum on the first floor from 1924-1927.  In 1927, Elizabeth Stockman moved, taking the museum and its artifacts with her and leaving the stone house to her son, Edgar Spencer Weaver.  Weaver lived in the house from 1927-1930, when he and his family moved to a new house on a different lot.

The years 1930-1933 are a bit of a question mark in the history of the stone house, but in 1933, when Prohibition was repealed, Edgar Spencer Weaver’s widow, Hester Weaver, reportedly re-opened the two-story frame building next to the stone house as the bar that would become infamous in Harper’s Ferry and an entity that the stone house is still mistaken as today: The Salty Dog Tavern.  Though the bar was closed in the early 1940s, the area around the stone house was once again know for its bad reputation and high concentration of drunks.

Artist's rendering of what the Eglin house would've looked like along Lock 33 in its prime, the Salty Dog Tavern represented by the wooden structure in the foreground.
Artist’s rendering of what the Elgin house would’ve looked like along Lock 33 in its prime, the Salty Dog Tavern represented by the wooden structure in the foreground.

From 1947-1953, a man named Patrick O’Brien owned the house and used it as a rental property.  In 1953, he sold the house to Richard and Marie Torres for $5,000.  What the Torreses did with the place, I’m not quite sure, but it’s pretty clear they didn’t do much in the way of caring for the house.  A fire in 1960 reportedly damaged the structure considerably, and by the time the National Park Service was taking over control of Maryland Heights in 1963, my sources report that the internal structure of the stone house was on the verge of collapse.

Yet another fire several years after the first was apparently enough to do-in the interior of the house, and all that remained standing is what we see today–a stone shell of a home.

Though if you take a look at the previous post, you’ll discover what I consider to be a bit of a mystery.
Sure, if you look closely at the interior of the house, you might be able to see a bit of charring, especially on the walls of the second story.

But what about the wooden windowsills and doorframes that remain intact in the house?  Are those original?  Were they somehow spared from the fire?  Did the park service decide to replace them for scenic purposes?  That is one question I have that I may never answer.

Undated photo of the Eglin house in an already advanced state of decay (floors and roof are gone).
Undated photo of the Elgin house, erroneously marked as the Salty Dog Tavern, in an already advanced state of decay (floors and roof are gone).

Reputable Sources

http://candocanal.org/articles/CO-canal-at-Harpers-Ferry.pdf

http://www.whilbr.org/itemdetail.aspx?idEntry=1671

https://archive.org/stream/marylandheightsa00frye/marylandheightsa00frye_djvu.txt

http://www.canaltrust.org/discoveryarea/harpers-ferry/

All Sources

http://www.13thmass.org/1861/harpersferry.html

http://www.cocanalguide.com/locks/mile-50-100/lock-33-harpers-ferry-mile-60-70/
The above link contains a photo of the interpretive sign that bore the tiny black-and-white photo that gave me my first glimpse of the James Elgin house in its historic context.

http://theexplorographer.com/2014/10/dont-pay-harpers-ferry-man/

http://ridethecanal.com/Lock%2033%20-%20Harpers%20Ferry.aspxhttp://wikimapia.org/26872447/Lock-Keeper-s-House-Lock-33-C-O-Canal

http://sterlingimages.com/2012/06/18/brunswick-to-harpers-ferry/

Harpers Ferry

Fast Backward: The Stone House, Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

If you’ve never been to Harper’s Ferry, WV, I highly recommend it.  Despite being one of the most history-rich areas I’ve ever toured, it’s also stunningly beautiful–a classic old American town built into the side of mountains overlooking the convergence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.  What’s more, it’s a perfect place for someone such as myself, who finds a certain allure in the abandoned and ignored.

Though a large percentage of the town and the surrounding area are actually contained in a National Park, I’ve found that due to the NPS’s tendency to let ruins be ruins, the fact that these locations are not perhaps as remote or neglected as others I’ve explored doesn’t detract from the mystery of what they once were.

While there are several abandoned places I might take you in Harper’s Ferry, I figured I’ll start with my favorite location: the Stone House.

This is Lock 33 on the C&O Canal, which runs alongside the Potomac River on the northeastern side directly across from Harper's Ferry.
This is Lock 33 on the C&O Canal, which runs alongside the Potomac River on the northeastern side directly across from Harper’s Ferry.  It’s a shady, somewhat isolated place that used to be bustling with activity when Lock 33 was an active lock on the C&O Canal.  Now just populated by walkers and bicyclists, I certainly didn’t expect to find what I did as I descended the steps and took a left…
My first view of the structure at Lock 33, which sits perched above the lock and across Harper's Ferry Road.
My first view of the structure at Lock 33, known as The Stone House, which sits perched above the lock and across Harper’s Ferry Road.

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Undaunted by the canal and the road, I crossed both and arrived to this view.
Undaunted by the canal and the road, I crossed both and arrived to this view.
Just the shell of a house, I was immediately curious as to what this had once been and what circumstances had led to its ruin.
Just the shell of a house, I was immediately curious as to what this had once been and what circumstances had led to its ruin.
Looking toward the front of the house from the inside.
Looking toward the front of the house from the inside.
Looking to the right side of the house (when facing it), where a stone chimney and two doors remain.
Looking to the right side of the house (when facing it), where a stone chimney and two doors remain.
Looking to the left end of the house.
Looking to the left end of the house.
A look out one of the front windows, which still contains the original wood paneling, though it's been many a year since this window has held a pane.
A look out one of the front windows, which still contains the original wood paneling, though it’s been many a year since this window has held a pane.
The front door, with the original wood frame still intact.
The front door, with the original wood frame still intact.
Looking out the front door to the left along Harper's Ferry Road.
Looking out the front door to the left along Harper’s Ferry Road.
Looking out the front door to the right on Harper's Ferry Road.
Looking out the front door to the right on Harper’s Ferry Road.
View of the window sill and frame.
View of the window sill and frame.
Closer view of the front door side paneling.
Closer view of the front door side paneling.
Looking up at the chimney on the right side of the house.
Looking up at the chimney on the right side of the house.
On a subsequent trip less than a year later, I returned for more photos.
On a subsequent trip less than a year later, I returned for more photos.

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Two stacked doors to the left of the chimney and fireplace.
Two stacked doors to the left of the chimney and fireplace.

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Looking out the side door.
Looking out the side door.
Looking up through what used to be the second story.
Looking up through what used to be the second story.
Looking above the structure at Maryland Heights.
Looking above the structure at Maryland Heights.
Another view of the lock.
Another view of the lock.

As much as I’d love to tell you all I’ve learned about the history of this interesting home, I’ve found myself inundated by the sheer amount of research I’ve located.  Due to this fact, I will be writing a second post on this house, dedicated solely to the history.  Stay tuned!

Fast Backward: Camp Lucy-Mac, Ludington State Park, Michigan

Here’s a question for you: what do you do when someone tells you about a 1950’s-era Scout camp, the remnants of which lie abandoned in an isolated woods within the confines of a popular state park?  You go find it, of course!

It was a cloudy day and a long trek to reach the location that was reportedly the site of a summer camp back in the post-WWII era.  So take a visit to back when times were a little simpler and the forest was just a wee bit thinner.

IF YOU VISITED this page before 11/10/15, it might benefit you to give it another read!  Based on further information discovered, this article has been heavily edited.

PLEASE NOTE: for the sake of privacy, the folks who accompanied me on this visit have been removed from the photos.  As I am not photo shop-savvy, I have simply cut them out of the pics and filled in the area remaining with a solid color.  I apologize for the lack of aesthetics in this post, but do try to look past the glaring edits to see the beauty of nature reclaiming this old campground.

First view of the camp was from a sandy, central-feeling area that is surrounded on one side by a wooded embankment. Two sets of steps lie to the right and left. We took the steps to the right (to the right in the photo).
First view of the camp was from a sandy, central-feeling area that is surrounded on one side by a wooded embankment. Two sets of steps lie to the right and left. We took the steps to the right (to the right in the photo).
View of the second set of steps from the sandy area.
View of the second set of steps from the sandy area.  It was apparent from looking around that this area used to be completely cleared of all trees, except perhaps the big ones growing at the embankment’s edge.
Walking into what was once the lodge. The area to the left reveals a fireplace. The area to the right appears to have been a kitchen with tiling still visible in the decaying floor.
Walking into Bldg 1, which I now believe was once the recreational building / dining hall / kitchen / lodge. The area to the left reveals a fireplace. The area to the right appears to have been a kitchen with tiling still visible in the decaying floor.
Firepit in the lodge.
Fireplace in Bldg 1.
Standing in the lodge kitchen, with some of the tiling still visible.
Standing in Bldg 1’s kitchen, with some of the tiling still visible.  Piping is still visible around the walls of the foundation.
Back edge of the kitchen in the lodge.
Fireplace in Bldg 1.
Looking down the steps we had walked up into what was once a sandy clearing.
Looking down the steps we had walked up into what was once a sandy clearing.
Looking from the lodge area over to the second set of steps.
Looking from Bldg 1 area over to the second set of steps.
A possible firepit location as the trees were certainly not accidentally fallen in this configuration.
A possible firepit location as the trees were certainly not accidentally fallen in this configuration.
What appears to have been a long, rectangular building that, at best guess, may have been either a bunk house or a recreation building with our money on the latter.
Slightly west of Bldg 1, we stumbled across the ruins of Bldg 2. Bldg 2 appears to have been a long, rectangular building and does not appear to have any piping (unlike Bldg 1).
Bunk house / rec building.
Bldg 2.
What looks like a bathhouse with stalls, water hook-ups and a central drainage area still visible.
Bathhouse/laundry: north of Bldg 2, we came across what looks like a bathhouse with stalls, water hook-ups and a central drainage area still visible.
Bathhouse.
Bathhouse/laundry.
Behind the bathhouse lies another foundation in the woods, this one set back a bit from the main camp. Counselor's quarters? The camp nurse? We can only offer guesses at this point.
Bldg 3: Northeast of the the bathhouse lies another foundation in the woods, this one set back a bit from the main camp. Counselors’ quarters? The camp nurse? We can only offer guesses at this point.
Closer photo of unknown building.
Closer photo of Bldg 3.
Walking down a faint trail in the woods, we came to the end of a point. This is the view from the end.
Walking down a faintly visible trail in the woods, we came to a point of land looking out at Hamlin Lake.  It was then that one of my fellow explorers with a keen eye noticed old tin cans submerged under the water at the tip of the point and the remnants of an old dock, its boards and pilings still somewhat visible underwater.
At the end of the point, we found a lot of large rocks like the ones above. Charred areas of ground also suggest a possible remote campfire location.
At the end of the point, we found a lot of large rocks like the ones above. Charred areas of ground also suggest a possible remote campfire location.
Back at camp between the lodge and the rec building, we found this interesting piece of stonework. A campfire? No, alas--a well. Nay, two wells!
Back at camp between Bldg 1 and Bldg 2, we found this interesting piece of stonework. A campfire? No, alas–a well. Nay, two wells!
Second well.
Second well.
The northern edge of the lodge where a stone embankment separates the land from the lagoon water.
The northern edge of Bldg 1, where a stone embankment separates the land from the lagoon water.
Another view of the lodge area, presumed to be the kitchen.
Another view of Bldg 1, presumed to be the kitchen.
Heading back into the sandy clearing.
Heading back into the sandy clearing.
Walking the ledge trail back to Lake Hamlin.
Walking the ledge trail back to Hamlin Lake.
Ducking back to the sandy trail along Lake Hamlin, headed for the dam.
Ducking back to the sandy trail along Hamlin Lake, headed for the dam.
One of my presents to you--my artistic rendering of the general layout of Camp Lucy-Mac. Not to scale. Bldg 1: Likely the recreational building / dining hall / kitchen Bldg 2: Likely the lodge Bldg 3: Unknown. Reportedly a classroom/sleeping quarters, but this is unconfirmed by newspaper or historic source.
One of my presents to you–my artistic rendering of the general layout of Camp Lucy-Mac. Not to scale.
Bldg 1: Likely the recreational building / dining hall / kitchen / the Lodge.
Bldg 2: Use unknown.
Bldg 3: Use unknown. Reportedly a classroom/sleeping quarters, but this is unconfirmed by newspaper.
A Google Maps view of two possible sites where I believe Lucy-Mac was potentially located. Hamlin Lake is an inland lake that connects to Lake Michigan via the Big Sable River. Note the dam in the photo above wasn't always located where it stands today.
A Google Maps view of two possible sites where I believe Lucy-Mac was potentially located.  When Lucy Mac was in operation, a CCC camp stood in the Hamlin Beach area directly across from the Girl Scout camp peninsula.
Hamlin Lake is an inland lake that connects to Lake Michigan via the Big Sable River. Note the dam in the photo above wasn’t always located where it stands today.

And now, the history…

As you might imagine, a find like this left me itching for answers.  While my source knew the approximate location of the abandoned ruins of the above camp, my source wasn’t sure what years the camp operated, what it was called, or if it was a Boy Scout camp versus a Girl Scout camp.  Upon returning home and to internet coverage, I began my search immediately.

Surprisingly, information about this particular location was hardly forthcoming.  Several hours of searching left me thinking I’d never get to the bottom of this one until a name popped up in an old newspaper clipping from 1941: Camp Lucy-Mac.

Upon reading the article, I realized I had found what I was looking for.  I found yet another newspaper article, this one from 1944, which gave me the lowdown of this little-known campground.

Back in 1932, the Girl Scouts (GS) took over a Boy Scout camp at Canfield Lake, which is just north of Ludington near a town called Manistee.  It was renamed Camp Michawa.  This worked out well for a few years until this small inland lake dried up to the point where it no longer supported water activities, and the GS folks moved across the lake to Wisconsin to Camp Sinawa in 1936.  But the Michigan GS troops wouldn’t find themselves traveling across Lake Michigan to attend camp for long.

In the early months of 1937, a lady named Lucy McCarthy was watching her efforts to create a GS camp in Ludington State Park (LSP) take root.  Having organized the meetings between the Michigan Conservation representatives and the GS leaders, the site for a GS camp within LSP was approved on a 6-degree March day.  From that point on, construction and reorganization began.

Mrs. McCarthy organized local men from Ludington to come out and cut down trees, clear out poison ivy, and make the area generally inhabitable for excited Girl Scouts and their counselors.  She also orchestrated the transfer of items from Camps Sinawa and Michawa to the new site, bringing over everything from tents to tent floors to latrines and an outdoor stove to Lucy-Mac via Lake Michigan.

On July 11, 1937, Camp Lucy-Mac opened and was named in honor of the lady who had worked so hard to start it.  According to the Ludington Daily News, Mrs. Jennie Lind was the director, and the camp, though humble, was off to an auspicious start.  By way of activities, Lucy-Mac boasted outdoor cooking classes, swimming, boating, hiking, overnight trips, handicraft, and an opportunity to work on scout badges.

That isn’t to say the budding camp wasn’t without its problems.  In its first year, there were no permanent buildings–only tents.  The Girl Scouts who attended that year named the main dining tent “the sieve” due to the amount of water that poured in through its holey roof during rain showers.  The outdoor stove was the only location where food could be cooked in the entire camp, and so all food was cooked outdoors–rain or shine.  The wells that were sunk on the day that the camp opened were soon shown to have bad water, so all water was brought to Lucy-Mac from the CCC Ludington-Pere Marquette camp from across Hamlin Lake in large milk cans.  To boot, it seems that the men Mrs. McCarthy had recruited to pull poison ivy were not as thorough as they ought to have been as the paper reports that this first year, most of the staff got poison ivy so badly that nearly each of them had to go home at some point to recover.

In later years, permanent buildings would be added, starting in 1938 with a screened-in kitchen.  The outdoor stove became an incinerator and a convenient location to make popcorn at night.  By 1941, the State Park would add a bathhouse, laundry, a lodge, and recreation building.

According to a newspaper article from June 22, 1944 (which is the main source for this article), the lodge building, which is likely referencing Bldg 1 in this particular case, was described as being at the end of a lagoon with a great view of the lake. (For further info on why this has been a point of contention in my research, please scroll down for a link to the next article pertaining to Lucy Mac!)

Behind (south of) the lodge, there was the sandy playground–surely the clearing we came upon on the way to the camp–which was used for making tin can breakfasts, playing baseball, and hosting nightly campfires and evening dramas put on by the campers.  The girls’ tents were set up around the lodge and swimming area.  And finally, Pirate Island, which was just north of Lucy-Mac, was nearby enough to host camp-outs and tin can cookouts (remember those tin cans one of my companions had noticed in the water?).

While I was able to discover its opening date, I have not yet discovered when or why Camp Lucy-Mac was closed or what led to it being demolished to its foundations.  If any of you happen to know the history behind this curious camp, please leave a comment below!

EDIT 11/10/15: I have recently gained access to the aforementioned newspaper clippings that reveal more information and also contain some photos of this camp.  The article containing this info is now live!  For your convenience, please follow the link below:

https://thewaywardwanderlust.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/camp-lucy-mac-ludington-state-park-michigan-the-newspaper-old-photos-post/

Sources

Main newspaper article referenced in this post: Ludington Daily News, June 22, 1944
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=110&dat=19440622&id=HWlOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=rTwDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6843,6701702&hl=en

Ludington Daily News, July 14, 1944
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=110&dat=19440714&id=8ZkJAAAAIBAJ&sjid=t0IDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4247,461187&hl=en

Newspaper snippets about Camp Lucy-Mac:
http://www.vintagegirlscout.com/campMI.html

Ludington Daily News, August 6, 1940
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=110&dat=19400806&id=A6taAAAAIBAJ&sjid=T08DAAAAIBAJ&pg=4917,1397788&hl=en

Ludington Daily News, August 16, 1949
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=110&dat=19490816&id=z49OAAAAIBAJ&sjid=p0IDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6934,5187467&hl=en

Ludington Daily News, September 3, 1964
http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/9163497/

Fast Backward: The Coast Guard Station and Boathouse at Assateague Island, VA

Hello again, happy readers!  Today, I take you to the barrier islands of Virginia: specifically, the Chincoteague National Wildlife Preserve on Assateague Island.

Whilst walking down the beach on an idyllic vacation in this mosquito-ridden paradise, I glimpsed from a distance a couple of abandoned buildings one fine summer’s eve.  Repelled by mosquitoes who feared neither the threat of slapping hands nor the stench of Deep Woods Off!, I vowed to return one day, armed with a map that showed me the objects of a future photographic mission: the Assateague Coast Guard Station.  It wasn’t until a year or so later when I returned during the winter–and not coincidentally, mosquito-free months–to photograph the lost and lonely of this stunning island.

These photos were taken in the early winter months of of 2012, so keep in mind that these photos are not current.

PLEASE NOTE that these photos are of the Assateague Island CG Station and Boathouse only.  Unfortunately, the Lifesaving Station, which was located near the head of the Woodland Trail, is no longer in existence.

Maps

CWRP Map 2

Behold, the object of my inquiry!  Looking at the above map toward the southern border of the island, you’ll note the Old Coast Guard Station, denoted on the southern-most edge of Tom’s Hook.  While the fish factory ruins are also present along that shoreline, we did not identify those ruins and were only successful in finding the old CG station.

Le Photos

And now, for the meat and potatoes of why you probably read this blog.  The photos!

Building 1, from a distance.  Presumed to be the fish factory ruins, but quickly proven to be something quite different.
Building 1, from a distance. The CG station’s boathouse.
Building 2, from a distance.  This building was correctly presumed to be the old Coast Guard Station House.
Building 2, from a distance. This building was correctly presumed to be the old Coast Guard Station House.
Closer view of Building 1, which, as I get closer, is clearly on the water.
Closer view of Building 1, which, as I get closer, is clearly on the water.
Wooden remnants of the boardwalk as we get closer to building 1.
Wooden remnants of the boardwalk as we get closer to building 1.
Building 1 from the front.
Building 1 from the front.
A handy little sign that reminds would-be and actual trespassers that they're in fact trespassing.
A handy little sign that reminds would-be and actual trespassers that they’re in fact trespassing.
What appears to be a shovel sticking out of the sand.
What appears to be a shovel sticking out of the sand in front of the first building.
Far right side of building 1.
Far right side of building 1.
Far right side of building 1 from shore.
Far right side of building 1 from shore.
Building 1 from the shore.
Building 1 from the shore.
Front of building 1 from the left side.
Front of building 1 from the left side.
Left side of building 1 from the front.
Left side of building 1 from the front.
Left side of building 1 from the water.
Left side of building 1 from the water.
Left side and back boardwalk of building 1 from shore.
Left side and back boardwalk of building 1 from shore.
Back to center of building 1 from shore, front door.
Back to center of building 1 from shore, front door.
Looking back at building 2 (Coast Guard Station) from shore in front of building 1.
Looking back at building 2 (Coast Guard Station) from shore in front of building 1.

Now, before you go assuming the worst of your gracious host, it was at this point that I began to wonder if this building was in fact a fish factory as the map would’ve had me believe.  Given the fact that a boardwalk ran from the confirmed Coast Guard Station out to the mysterious building and the fact that the fish factory seemingly had no business on the water, I had already started to suspect that this building was part of the Coast Guard station and not in fact a former fish factory.

Hopping aboard the boardwalk for a closer look.
Hopping aboard the boardwalk for a closer look.
Looking toward the land at the Coast Guard Station.
Looking toward the land at the Coast Guard Station.

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The boardwalk, extending to the right of building 1, into the ocean.
The boardwalk, extending to the right of building 1, into the ocean.
Looking down at the ocean into a mission section of boardwalk.  Exciting!
Looking down at the ocean into a mission section of boardwalk. Exciting!
Building 1 from the right side, boardwalk.
Building 1 from the right side, boardwalk.
A look inside the front right window of the building.  This was additional confirmation that this building was definitely not a fish factory...at least, not recently.
A look inside the front right window of the building confirms that this was in fact a boathouse.
Looking across the front porch.
Looking across the front porch.
Looking inside the window immediately to one side of the front door.
Looking inside the window immediately to one side of the front door.
Inside the front left window.  At this point, I had figured out that this was minimally a boathouse that was part of the CG operation.  At most, it was, perhaps, a lifesaving station.
Inside the front left window.

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Making our way around the left side of the building toward the back via the boardwalk.
Making our way around the left side of the building toward the back via the boardwalk.
A look inside from the windows on the left side of the building.
A look inside from the windows on the left side of the building.
And this was perhaps the most interesting discovery of all...rails leading from the back of the building and into the bay.  Clearly not a fish factory!
And this was perhaps the most interesting discovery of all…rails leading from the back of the building and into the bay.
Looking at the back of the building: doors that lead toward the ocean on rails.
Looking at the back of the building: doors that lead toward the ocean on rails.

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Rails disappearing into the encroaching water.
Rails disappearing into the encroaching water.
A few more looks inside from the vantage point of the windows on the left side of the building.
A few more looks inside from the vantage point of the windows on the left side of the building.

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Immediately following the section of the adventure, we followed the boardwalk back to land and found ourselves staring at this remarkable piece of history that stands very nearly alone on an all but abandoned spit of land: the Assateague Island Coast Guard Station.

The Coast Guard house on the island just to the south of the boathouse.  This is the northwest side of the house.  The porch in this photo (the larger of two) faces the west.
The Coast Guard house on the island just to the south of the boathouse. This is the northwest side of the house. The porch in this photo (the larger of two) faces the west.
Looking north, back at the boathouse, boardwalk to the right.
Looking north, back at the boathouse, boardwalk to the right.
A look inside the front window from the west porch.
A look inside the front window from the west porch.

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View inside the right west porch window.
View inside the right west porch window.
Looking more and more like quarters to me.
Looking more and more like quarters to me.
West porch, sans screen.
West porch, sans screen.
Looking west.
Looking west.
Down the west porch steps.
Down the west porch steps.
West porch, looking north toward the boardwalk/boathouse.
West porch, looking north toward the boardwalk/boathouse.
The west porch.
The west porch.
The south porch.
The south porch.
South and west porches, looking roughly northeast.
South and west porches, looking roughly northeast.
Looking inside the windows at the south porch.
Looking inside the windows at the south porch.
Second view inside the south porch window.
Second view inside the south porch window.
Looking south from the south porch, one outbuilding surviving to the right.
Looking south from the south porch, one outbuilding surviving to the right.
Looking in the window on the door at the back (north) side of the house at a very 1940's-esque kitchen.
Looking in the window on the door at the back (north) side of the house at a very 1940’s-esque kitchen.

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Looking north at the boathouse/boardwalk.
Looking north at the boathouse/boardwalk.
Looking north at the south porch.
Looking north at the south porch.
Lookout tower, located just southwest of the house.
Lookout tower, located just southwest of the house.
Outbuilding, slightly south of the house.
Outbuilding, slightly south of the house.
Viewing the house from the southeast.
Viewing the house from the southeast.

Links

http://www.uprootedphotographer.com/post/30034314463/abandoned-assateague-island-coast-guard-station
More photos of the boathouse and coast guard station.

http://www.chincoteague.com/AssateagueTrailMap.pdf
Trail map for Chincoteague National Wildlife Preserve.

http://www.piping-plover.org/images/4-97-g_Settlement_on_Assateague_Island.pdf
Source for location of original lifesaving station and reference on Tom’s Hook Fish Factory location.

http://www.stripersonline.com/t/826533/chincoteague-fears-proposal-to-move-beach-would-hurt-tourism-economy
Forum with local lore regarding location/visibility of fish factory.

http://www.fototime.com/ftweb/bin/ft.dll/detailfs?userid=655C590AEC814724816140FDC236FC40&ndx=102&albumid=3935E68AAEB749549B136804B766592B&pictureid=B219475E389C4BE3BF7DC13ACBB019A6
Photos of the actual fish factory.

fish factory ruins
Flickr photo of the fish factory ruins.