Archive for the Lambton County Category

A Letter From Our Friends, “S & D” + 7 Photos

Posted in Abandoned House, Lambton County with tags , , , , , , , on May 13, 2013 by countybandits

We received a great email from a blog reader the other day. I enjoyed it so much, I wrote back and asked for permission to share it on our blog. The author was gracious enough to allow us to do so. We would love if more of our fans would email us and share stories and photos that we can post here! Please email us at county.bandits@gmail.com or leave us a comment with your email address.

Cheers,

~Bandit

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Good morning County Bandits!

I have been admiring your website/Facebook page for a couple months and even visiting some of the places you’ve posted. My girlfriend and I definitely share the same interest when it comes to old forgotten places. My name is “S” and I am from St. Thomas, if you’re unfamiliar with the city it’s about 20 minutes south of London. My girlfriend “D” was living in Sarnia, so we were constantly back and forth!

In our travels (we alternate from back roads/the highway) we’re constantly keeping an eye out for places we can explore. Although, we don’t take such beautiful pictures as yourself we always have a Kodak disposable camera on hand!

Recently, we discovered a house half way between London & Sarnia! I was thrilled because as soon as I saw it drew me in, however “D” didn’t think it was abandoned but still turned around so I could go fulfill my desires. Upon pulling up there were logs in front of the drive way blocking any vehicles from pulling in. I got out to check it out and doing so provided me with the confirmation that it was abandoned. Grass was over grown, there were things in the yard, the big two story brick house was no longer being cared for. Somebody had put a brick and a coffee can in front of the screen door almost to sign to keep people out. There were hand painted ‘keep out’/’no trespassing’/’private property’ signs that made me think of who the person was that painted those signs and why they left.

We were traveling to Sarnia to do a few things and return to St. Thomas so we decided that we would come back at night to avoid any trouble. When we returned it was so dark due to no street lights and lack of the moon, it scared me! It’s unusual for both of us to be a little freaked out. After pulling up to the house and turning the car lights completely off, I had such weird feelings about going in. I must say, the entire time I continued to want to contact you guys! So, I hopped on my phone and went through your entire website and Facebook page and from what I’ve seen, you didn’t have the house posted. I also checked a few other websites and I was absolutely thrilled when I couldn’t find it anywhere.

So, I was just curious if you guys ever meet up with anybody else to explore or even chat about the places you’ve been. If so, maybe we could check this location out together.

I have included some pictures of places we’ve visited.

Looking forward to hearing from you, “S”

[Here are the photos that “S & D” sent along of different locations they have explored. We love them! Thank you SO much!]

Abandoned Place 031_31 033_33 034_34 035_35 040_40 573_10152240642080007_443886801_n

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32 Previously Unposted Photos from Lambton County

Posted in Abandoned House, Commentary, Lambton County with tags , , , , , on October 27, 2012 by countybandits

Our county.bandits@gmail.com email has been exploding lately. People have been liking our Facebook page, messaging us, and leaving comments on the blog. We even had our first donation to the gas fund! Thank you SO MUCH “mccfrank”! We apologize for being absent and leaving the blog idle for months; it’s never our intent, but life always finds a way to becoming increasingly busy. Seeing all the likes, comments, messages and traffic volume that has been coming to the blog has rekindled our passion for abandoned house hunting, and I promise you that we will be back on the trail as soon as the snow flies. Thank you to all our fans who continue to support us, even when we are off being consumed by our jobs and far-less-fun obligations.

I decided to take a peek in the County Bandits folder on my desktop and see if there were any more photos I’d not yet posted. Jackpot. I found a folder containing 32 wonderful photos from Lambton County, spanning from just around Dresden, to Petrolia and Sarnia region. Without further ado, I will post them here for your enjoyment. These were all taken in January of 2011.

This first brick home sat not far from Dresden, if I recall correctly. It’s a beautiful Ontario Farmhouse complete with lightning rods and a detailed porch. The strange thing about this place, and little bit creepy, was the coffin shaped wooden box sitting on that porch!

Incredible doesn’t even begin to describe this ‘abandoned’ mansion in Petrolia. This is the Sunnyside Mansion, built in 1891 by the Fairbank family. Situated on a main road in Petrolia, the home is a familiar site to many people from Southwestern Ontario. At the time these photos were taken, the home was empty but possibly being restored or worked on. There had been a fire and rumor had it that there was a fight going on with the insurance company, so progress was at a standstill. As of today, I honestly couldn’t tell you what the progress is or how the house is looking. There are several websites dedicated to the history of this home; google “Sunnyside Mansion Petrolia” or “Fairbank Mansion Petrolia” to learn more about it.

The Accomplice and I have a fondness for yellow brick Victorian homes, as you may have noticed by now. This Lambton County home, in the Sarnia region, has been a longtime favorite of ours. It’s absolutely stunning and the fact that it has been left to rot makes us feel ill. Inside, the floors are completely rotted away; the last time we stopped in to check on the place the porch had nearly fallen off the back. Such a shame. I hope the place is still standing because it is truly magnificent.

These final two homes are also in the rural surrounds of Sarnia, just down the same road from each other. The little wood sided home is very quaint and sealed up tight, marked no trespassing. All we did was photograph it from the road to be respectful of the posted warnings. The brick Victorian farmhouse just up the road was visited by us on several occasions, and there are more photographs of it somewhere. The basement was full of canning jars, most of them still filled with ancient preserves. The main level was trashed completely, with all the cupboard doors in the kitchen thrown open, drawers hanging out, newspapers, food, garbage strewn around the floor… all the furniture upside down and so on. The upper level was no better. I imagine trespassers had done this to the home, but there were bottles of anti-psychotic medications mixed in with the debris littering the kitchen. One will never know what the real story was here.

Thanks again to our fans and supporters for never losing interest in our abandoned house hunting adventures. We promise there’s more to come.

Cheers,

~Bandit

Six Houses from Chatham-Kent, Lambton & Middlesex Counties

Posted in Abandoned House, Chatham-Kent, Lambton County on December 28, 2011 by countybandits

The Accomplice and I went out for a daytime tour back in early November and were able to photograph six beautiful abandoned houses. Some were already known to us, and a few were brand new discoveries that made our hearts beat a little bit faster when we spotted them. Our absolute favorite house from this tour was near London, somewhere in the country just outside of the town of Lobo (a town I had no idea existed until the moment we drove through it). But, first things first! I will post the photos in the order which we photographed them.

This small brick farmhouse sits along Highway 2, now known as Longwoods Road. The Accomplice and I first discovered it back in 2007, and at that time we stopped and explored the property. It appeared that the house was being used by the owner but wasn’t inhabited. We did not venture any further at that time and never managed to take any photos of the place until now, even though we have passed it countless times in our normal travels. There are several barns on the property, and I used to admire the lightning rod balls on the smaller barn. When taking these pictures, I noticed someone had removed the lightning rods entirely from that barn. I’d like to believe it was the property owner, but the more likely situation is that it was copper thieves. Unfortunately I’ve noticed lightning rods disappearing from lots of abandoned places lately.

Taking decent photos of this impressive yellow brick Ontario farmhouse was a nearly impossible task. Located just off Courtright Line, the property was covered in giant mature trees that obscured most of the house. The only way I would have been able to get better photos would be to walk onto the property itself, which I wasn’t too keen on since it was the middle of the day and neighbors are close by. I had seen this house on a few trips to Grand Bend and Goderich, and admired it more and more each time I saw it. These yellow brick houses are my favorite and I’m jealous that those of us in Kent County don’t get to enjoy them like those in Lambton.

The third house we came across is the one I spoke of at the beginning of this post. When I saw it, I couldn’t believe someone had left it abandoned to rot away. It it simply one of the most beautiful houses I have ever laid eyes upon. The Accomplice and I dream about buying this one and saving it, but I’m afraid that’s just a dream. There is a hole in the roof and things are going downhill quickly for this beauty. I’m just glad we were able to take photographs of it and enjoy it before it’s gone. The amount of detailed gingerbread trim on this house and the incredible front door make me all the more sad that no one cares enough to fix it.

A simple, white sided farmhouse sits just off Highway 4 near Lambeth. The cluster of satellite dishes hanging from the porch had us questioning if it really was abandoned, but the overgrown laneway confirmed our suspicions. It’s not terribly exciting, but I felt it was worth noting all the same.

This white frame Ontario farmhouse is a common sight to anyone who takes the 401 from Chatham to London, as it basically sits on the Iona Road westbound on ramp. We have admired this sturdy old home for years, and have wrestled with how to go about getting photographs of it. The house sits so far back from Iona road it is impossible to take pictures that way, and standing on the side of the on ramp seems horribly dangerous. We settled for stopping on the overpass and I hopped out with a zoom lens and gave it my best shot. A couple of pictures focused on the tree, which I didn’t notice at the time since I was trying to be quick. The property is fenced and gated off, so these will have to do. Whoever owns it keeps the place in beautiful shape, even though it’s been empty for as long as my memory can recall.

The sixth and final house from our November tour is this farmhouse we found on a back road while heading home. The sun was setting, which made the colours in the photos really golden and vibrant. The house was fairly simple but beautiful, and the bricks had an odd pattern to them which you can see in the pictures. I enjoyed wandering around in the overgrown lawn until the Accomplice warned me of an approaching vehicle. The name of the road this home was on escapes me now, but it was somewhere not too far from Iona road and I *think* it started with a K. Not overly helpful, but maybe someone knows this house and knows the road name.

I hope you enjoyed these six abandoned house as much as we enjoyed finding and photographing them.

~Bandit

A Drive Down Courtright Line, Lambton & Some Interesting Search Engine Hits

Posted in Abandoned House, Commentary, Lambton County with tags , , , , , on August 17, 2011 by countybandits

In my effort to unearth any and all my old photos, I found many that I had completely forgotten about and never got around to posting. The following images fall into that category. I shot these on May 28th, 2008 and I wish I had made a post about them at the time, because at the present moment I have no idea why I was even on Courtright Line that day. I do remember shooting these pictures however, and being fairly impressed that I had found 3 abandoned houses on one short stretch of road. Such a sweet score doesn’t happen very often, but if it’s going to happen anywhere – Lambton County is the place.

I really enjoy being able to share the stories that accompany the abandoned places we explore and photograph, but unfortunately I know nothing of these 3 houses. Since I don’t have any exciting information on them, I’ll share my thoughts on some popular searches that lead people to our site. I love viewing the site stats and seeing what brought people here, I find it fascinating.

“what kind of things can you catch from going in old abandoned houses” — This one made me laugh, because the Accomplice and I often discuss how many years we must have taken off our lives by now from entering these abandoned houses. We’ve seen plenty of asbestos insulation around old boilers and pipes, and walked through more raccoon feces than I’d care to admit. The smell of cat urine has been so strong in some places that in one instance, it actually made the Accomplice sick to his stomach (was it wrong for me to find this hilarious? I’m not bothered by the smell myself). So while I’m not sure if there are specific things you could ‘catch’ from these places, they can definitely be pretty nasty.

“what is valuable from a abandoned houses” — We get asked about finding valuables or antiques in abandoned houses quite often, but our answer isn’t as exciting as most people hope. The truth is that these houses have been abandoned long before we ever came across them, and we are certainly not the first people to walk through them. If they are open to nature (doors freely open, windows broken, holes in the walls / roof), then chances are slim to none that ANYTHING of interest is left. We have seen a few neat things, like vintage dresses and appliances, old iron beds, some portraits – but nothing of any real value or rarity. If you are hoping to come into some riches by exploring abandoned houses, you will likely end up with criminal charges before you end up with something of value!

“gingerbread trim, gothic trim, metal gingerbread molding” — I suppose this isn’t quite as interesting as the first two, but a lot of searches come in from people looking for information on gingerbread trim for old farmhouses. For our own 150+ year old Ontario farmhouse restoration, we purchased reproduction vinyl gingerbread pieces. We figured this would save us the huge headache of trying to repaint wood gingerbread every so many years, and would resist splitting or breaking with age. We ordered our pieces (custom made!) from Wholesale Millwork and the price was really reasonable for what you’re getting. Inside our house, we ordered a reproduction tin ceiling from Imperial Production along with some other trim pieces. Hopefully this information is helpful to someone out there.

Now, on to the photos, and as always please feel free to comment.

~Bandit

Another Historic Farmhouse Lost Forever

Posted in Abandoned House, Demolished, Lambton County with tags , , , , on July 26, 2011 by countybandits

Lambton County is rich with abandoned houses. In fact, the county is home to some of my absolute favorite abandoned homes of all time. There we have found beautiful old farmhouses with lavish gingerbread details, yellow brick Victorian homes with examples of incredible masonry, and large wood-sided century homes. We have yet to fully explore Lambton as it’s quite a drive for us to get all the way out there and start cruising the grid of back roads. On Sunday, I was reminded of why it’s so important to get out there and document these homes now – before it’s too late. They are disappearing from the landscape at an alarming pace.

We were driving home from a Stateside shopping trip and decided to take the back way home, coming down Kimball road. To get to Kimball road, I took the Modeland road exit from the 402 and headed towards Plank road. I remembered that after the second overpass on Modeland, there was an impressive brick Ontario farmhouse that I had photographed a couple years prior. Those photos never made it to the blog, as they were film. As I crested the overpass, I saw the mature trees but no familiar barn. A very new gleaming galvanized fence sprawled across the front of the property and on down the road. As we drew nearer, my fears were confirmed; the house was gone.

Two years ago, when I photographed this house, it looked to be in amazing condition. We peeked in the windows and saw gorgeous pocket doors surrounded with heavy wood trim, all original to the home. The trim had even managed to escape being painted all these years. The gingerbread around the porch was in excellent shape as well and was quite intricate. I hope they salvaged some of the millwork before it was destroyed. We never got a chance to actually go inside, as it was locked up as I recall. I’m happy that I at least have some record of this beautiful Ontario farmhouse, and it can live on here on our blog. Enjoy it as we once did.

~Bandit

Four (And a Half) Houses From Lambton County

Posted in Abandoned House, Lambton County with tags , , , , on November 5, 2010 by countybandits

After having exceptional luck with houses on Tramway Road in Lambton County, we continued on around the area and eventually back to North River Line just outside of Dresden. We found at least 6 or 7 houses during this extended portion of our tour. Since we had ventured out in the daylight, there were people about so we only photographed what we could. For instance, on North River Line, there were actually two abandoned places but we were only able to shoot photos of one. I promise to make it back there eventually and photograph the other house (which has an odd story to go along with it, but I’ll save that for later).

If my memory serves me correctly, this impressive brick home stands somewhere on Aberfeldy Line. I absolutely love the dated cement piece above the front window. It looks as if someone drew the floral design with the tip of their finger. The house appears to be in steep decline and has lost a fair number of bricks from it’s exterior. These photos were taken February 8th, 2009 and since then we have not returned to this area so I cannot even say whether it’s still standing. I do hope it makes it to it’s centennial in 2011, but one never knows if or when the death sentence by bulldozer will come. The style of the bricks themselves on this house are a little bit different than what’s usually seen in this area. In the yard, we stumbled across a good sized Crown jar filled with (what appeared to be) salsa. Who knows what it really was?

The exact road on which we discovered this white Ontario farmhouse escapes me at the moment. Looking at Google Maps, I’d hazard a guess and say possibly Marthaville Road or Robinson Road. Don’t hold me to that information though, as these pictures are creeping up on two years old. One night, we managed to explore the interior of this place. There was a good deal of furniture remaining, as well as a kitchen table and chairs. A calender on the wall seemed to indicate the house had been empty less than ten years or so. The interior of this house was quite expansive and we spent a good deal of time sifting through each room. Upstairs, the rooms were much emptier and the only thing I found of interest were boxes and boxes of preserves. I’d never seen a jar of black pickles until that night! The preserved food seems to be a fairly common find in older abandoned houses. Today, canning is almost a lost art.

I only have one photo to show of this tiny baby blue home. We spotted it just down the road from the farmhouse above.

Half a house may have been overstating things just a little. Unfortunately, we never photographed the house here before it was burned to the ground, leaving only the skeleton of a couple walls. I can say with certainty that this house was on Robinson Road just outside of Dresden. We ventured on to the property one evening with hopes of checking out the inside, before the arson. Walking around to the back of the home, a humming noise made us stop dead in our tracks. Was someone running a central air unit or something here?! The entire front of the house had seemingly collapsed in on itself, so I felt it improbable that anyone was living there, let alone using climate control of some sort. After standing still for what seemed like an eternity, I shone my maglite around looking for the AC unit. Instead of finding the central air, I found a large crack between the siding and the exterior wall of the house. The entire crack, top to bottom was filled solid with honeybees. We were standing less than 7 or 8 feet from a giant wall of bees. Needless to say, we made a calm but hasty retreat.

The final home I have to share with you today was on North River Line. I suppose that the house seems more “empty” than “abandoned” at this point; In a few short years it will make the full transition if no one moves back in. Regardless, it was such a grand and impressive home that we had to photograph it. We returned to the house during the night on one other occasion and stood around the yard in the blackest shadows, straining our ears for cars and people. After spending a good deal of time on that, we finally approached the side entrance only to find it locked up tight. This is our personal boundary so naturally we just left it alone and went on our way. As I said if no one moves back in to the home, there will be a day when the door swings freely in the wind and curious footprints spiral through the rooms.

~Bandit

The Most Abandoned Road In Lambton County?

Posted in Abandoned House, Lambton County with tags , , , , on October 30, 2010 by countybandits

Many parts of Lambton County hold a good number of abandoned houses in a fairly small geographical area. As you can see from prior postings, the areas of Aughrim, Aberfeldy and Cairo (just to name a few) were rich with interesting places to explore. However, none of these little towns can compare to Tramway Road. This has got to be the most abandoned road in Lambton County, hands down. If there is a road that rivals it, I’d certainly appreciate having that information passed on to me.

This gravel road stretches a good distance, and is dotted with amazing abandoned houses down it’s entire length. Some brick, some wood sided, some in better repair than others. All together, there are 6 abandoned places on the road. What on earth is happening on Tramway that made 6 families pack up and leave? The area in general of Tramway, Esterville, Marthaville and others is very… well, dead. Don’t let the lack of traffic fool you though. On our exploration of Tramway Road, we were chased by an annoyed resident for some distance after their dog alerted them to our presence. The moon was full that night and shining off the hood of our truck, so camouflaged we were not. If you do decide to explore this road for yourself, I strongly suggest you do it during the day so people can see that you are just out taking photos, and not “up to no good”.

Coming from Croton Line, the first home you will see is a dilapidated brick farmhouse. The steel roof is peeling off like the lid of a tin can, and nearly all the windows are broken or boarded up. Chimney bricks have crumbled away, and even the lightning rods seem to have given up long ago on trying to stand straight. The night we explored the interior of this house, it was snowy but not cold enough to have frozen the ground. Our truck found a large rut as we pulled in, and became firmly planted there in the mud. When we left, not having 4X4, we had to floor the gas and pray we’d get out before a farmer woke up and dealt with us. There is a house very close by, but somehow we managed to get out without so much as a light flipping on. As far as the inside of this home, it’s in similar condition to the exterior – a mess. There’s really nothing left to see. An old TV flipped upside down, some chairs strewn about and a good amount of raccoon feces and fallen plaster. The traditional decor of the abandoned house.

Yet another brick home will greet you as you continue down Tramway. This home is an impressive size with some beautiful brickwork. The most interesting detail of the house is the skylight roof peak. I don’t quite understand it’s function, as it isn’t visible from within the second story of the home. We had to poke our heads into the [wasp filled] attic to see the skylight. Once again the contents of this place were scarce at best, consisting only of an old decorative wood stove and several pairs of shoes. There was a staircase leading down to a full basement, but since it was completely flooded we may never know what was down there. I’d like to imagine there were some nice canning jars under all that water…

This style of farmhouse is seen quite often throughout Kent and Lambton County, however I am not sure of the correct name for this design nor during what years it would have been popular. I would hazard a guess at around the 1910’s or so, but that is only my personal feeling. This home seems like it may have been recently abandoned as all the windows are intact and the siding is still in great shape. Even the weeds were yet to totally take over the front of the home. We did not attempt to explore this one any further than taking photos from the road, as it didn’t look at all open to the elements.

The final brick home on Tramway is a gorgeous Ontario farmhouse. If you view the first image, you can see two other abandoned houses not too far off down the road. Only here can you see such an occurrence. Inside of this home was quite surprising; it was filled to near capacity with knic-knacks, papers and junk of all kinds. After finding a filing cabinet in what was possibly the living room, all of this “stuff” was explained. The file folders were stuffed full of auction receipts. My imagination tells me that it was most likely an older gentleman trying to occupy his time by attending auctions and picking up anything of interest, or anything that was cheap. There were dishes, cameras, clocks, lamps, Christmas decor, buttons… and it went on, room after room. I must report that the last time we visited this home, the inside was not nearly as full as it had been when we first explored it. Someone in the family either cleared it out, or people stole whatever they could get their hands on. I hope it was a family member, but… that may just be wishful thinking. We enjoyed the ‘museum’ of auction finds while it lasted.

Nothing more than the shell of a house, this wooden skeleton is fairly close to the end of Tramway Road. This property also happens to be where the neighbor’s dog started barking, finally rousing it’s master in to coming outside and chasing us away. Nothing like a car chase in the wee hours of the morning! Now quite barren, it leaves us to imagine what it used to look like in it’s prime. In the weeds growing around it, I found a beautiful wild rose growing in vibrant pink. Perhaps it was a throwback to a day when the house was surrounded by quaint gardens… perhaps not.

The sixth and final abandoned house on Tramway is a mysterious square-shaped residence. The old window trim has managed to peek through in the more modern siding, confirming that this is indeed an old home. While we didn’t venture inside, we looked through windows and doors and saw that it was full of someone’s personal things. Long forgotten clothing hung in a closet and the kitchen cupboards were strewn with cans and bottles. The strangest part of this place wasn’t really the house itself, but the small camper trailer parked on the lawn. It was chock full of stuff as well, including a fairly full bottle of ketchup and an envelope of photos. I just wonder what situation was unfolding there; we can only hypothesize now.

While this may conclude our tour of the six houses of Tramway road, our exploration didn’t stop there for the day. Check back again soon to see what else Lambton County had to show us.

~Bandit