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.


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.


The Fate of Botany + New Photos From 5 Houses

Posted in Abandoned House, Chatham-Kent, Lambton County with tags , , , , , on October 24, 2010 by countybandits

I was flipping through a file folder buried deep amidst countless other forgotten files when I came across something called Jan 08 Houses. After checking out all the photos, then cross referencing the blog, I discovered that these had never been posted! Perfect… a nice new (but old) photo post for the new (but old) blog!

The house at Botany line was one of our earliest finds. We visited that house countless times and whenever we had a friend with us for a tour, that was a mandatory stop. We had quite a lot of adventure there, from finding worthless but exciting Crown jars to recording interesting EVP. Unfortunately, the Botany Line house was demolished in January of 2009. The bricks were taken for salvage, and the frame was pushed into a pile. The owners were very kind and allowed us to walk through it one last time and take a memento or two. I found an old cork-stopped medicine bottle, and removed a couple transom windows from above the bedroom doors. All that remains of Botany is a fading memory.

The brick house on Botany wasn’t alone. Nearby, another beautiful home sat quietly blending back in to the landscape. We had driven past this house before, but a quick survey had left us unsure of whether or not it was occupied. Upon a closer daytime inspection, we discovered the house was indeed empty and also in very poor repair. I am not sure what era this house would have been built in, but it has amazing architectural elements. The different types of fishscale siding used, the elegant trim around the windows, and the beautiful Eastlake carved doors. After doing some poking around, it turned out that the owner of this home was a person known to my family. My accomplice and I approached the homeowner one day when he was on the property moving some farm machinery, and he graciously allowed us to take photographs. The doors were so beautiful we had to try and save them, but our efforts were in vain as the owner would not sell them at any price.

Moving on from Kent County in to Lambton County, we found there was an astounding number of abandoned houses just waiting to be discovered. The accomplice and I devoted many nights to touring the historic Dawn-Euphemia township, and found some gems in the area of Aberfeldy, Aughrim, and Cairo. This first farmhouse is nearly pristine – at least from the outside. It was sealed up tightly and looked to be in the early stages of abandonment, not yet open to nature and the elements. We loved the clean lines and simplistic beauty of this house. Maybe someday the door will swing open and we can see what’s hiding within those pale green walls.

Not far from the pale green home, we found this stunning, stripped down Ontario farmhouse. All the windows were missing, and once we stepped inside we noticed that mostly everything else was gone too. It appears there was a fire that originated from an oil tank in the basement. A hole was burnt through the kitchen floor, and the whole place smelled of heating oil. All the wood trim was removed from the home, which in a way was nice to see. At least someone was prudent and made sure it was used in another home. The brickwork on this house is beautiful, and hearkens back to the days when such elegant details were used lavishly. I love that the gingerbread is all still intact as well. Such a shame that the fire put an end to this home’s useful life.

What appears to be another stripped out Ontario farmhouse sits far back in a field, inaccessible and out of reach. We didn’t see any type of lane way, and the field was blanketed in snow so we decided it was best to just take a couple shots and move on. From the long distance photos, it does look like the windows and any brick or siding has long been removed. Perhaps we’ll make it back there one day and find out the real story.

From what I recall, this quaint home was somewhere in the Aughrim area. There was a small closet filled with canning jars that I was delighted to poke through! The strangest thing in this home however, was two good sized pillows on the floor, each with a pair of underwear fitted on it. I don’t even want an explanation for that. On the property also was a good sized barn or shed of sorts, that seemed to match the house in time of construction.

I can’t recall the name of the road this final house was on. It was so tucked in to the trees that I barely caught a glimpse of it was we drove past. We were on our way home, thinking we were done for the day when it pleasantly surprised us. The interior of this Ontario cottage type home was in total ruin. The entire second floor had collapsed down on to the first, making it very tricky to navigate through the small areas that were still accessible. I find the design of this home to be quite captivating in it’s simplicity and subtle beauty. The gothic window is lovely. In the field next to this house were several beehives, and it was interesting to see a couple honeybees lying frozen on the pristine, glittering snow.

I promise there are more posts like this one coming soon. Remember to share the blog address with anyone you feel might appreciate and share in our strange captivation with abandoned houses, in Kent County and beyond.


40+ Photos From Lambton County

Posted in Abandoned House, Lambton County with tags , , , , on November 8, 2009 by countybandits

The fact that the accomplice and I both had the day off work – the same day – is something akin to a miracle. To add to our good fortune, our favorite fellow hunters had a free day as well and the weather felt just like the beginning of spring. There were several times throughout the day I swore the hellish days of winter had already passed, but when the sun began to sink before 5 p.m. I was jarred from my fantasy. We packed up our cameras and headed out for the long haul to Lambton County, specifically targeting the Watford/Strathroy region as we had been advised to do by a blog reader. What follows below are the amazing places we had the good fortune to find, explore and photograph unhindered by irritated property owners or vigilant passers by.

This stripped down farmhouse is actually two pieces. The larger piece to the left is what would have been built originally, with the smaller piece to the right being added later on. The amazing thing about this addition is the enormous gap between it and the original house! Perhaps this exceptionally poor construction contributed to the home’s ultimate destiny of being yet another abandoned and forgotten home.

This house boasts proudly that it has stood since 1899, and by the look of it I wouldn’t be surprised if it saw 2099. It looks incredibly sturdy, and it makes me wonder why it was left to sit uninhabited in what is now a grazing area for cattle. There seem to be two houses making up one here, as there are two different types of blocks used exclusively on each “piece”. Was it originally just the front piece, and the back was added on later? Does anyone really know, or care? I doubt it, seeing as this home has been turned out to pasture in the most literal sense.

I feel that any and all words I may use in attempting to describe this home are simply a lost cause. The photos do all the talking in this case, and they speak volumes. This stately home is simply breathtaking and one of the most intriguing places we’ve ever come across. I cannot imagine letting a home of this magnitude slowly revert back to nature; it seems borderline criminal. Seeing inside this beauty is a must do before it’s too late. Note that photos 1 through 4 show the back/sides, while photos 5 through 7 show the front of the house which faces the road.

These completely adorable barn kittens were kind enough to allow us to photograph them briefly. They were so sweet we could have just scooped them up and snuggled them for an eternity. Enjoy the overload of cuteness.

As our daylight was gradually starting to wane, we headed down a series of gravel back roads to see if anything else might turn up on the way home. The small yellow brick house didn’t strike us as anything special at first glance, or even as we walked around it snapping photos. The real magic happened when we gingerly pushed on the door and found it swung open with little effort, inviting us in to a time warp like none other I’ve ever experienced. I was transformed wholly in to a bygone era, neatly kept and somehow spared from the usual destruction of vandals. The delicate painted iron beds were made up like they were waiting for a body to fall into them for a restful night. An enamel top kitchen table was set with dishes you’d only see now at a thrift shop, and delicate orange curtains hung over the most eye catching vintage wallpaper. I truly hope that this little place remains free from vandalism and lives on as a 1960’s museum that only a handful of people will ever tour.

Humming grain dryers, wagons heaped with corn and an idle combine made us feel as though we shouldn’t stick around terribly long to photograph this dilapidated Ontario farmhouse. “Ontario farmhouse” refers to this extremely common style of home with a “T” or “L” shape (in this case “T”), characterized by one, two, or in rare cases three peaked gables. These gables almost always contained a pointed Gothic window or rounded top window originally, but today many are changed to simple rectangular windows or even doors, as this house has. Note the lean-to added to the back of the house. This style of home could easily be stretched out or squeezed down depending on how much square footage one desired, and this versatility helped make them the signature home of the Ontario countryside.

Our final home of the day was this shack, left alone to wonder what purpose it serves by continuing to stand vigilantly against the elements.

Hope you enjoyed reading about the fruits of our day as much as we enjoyed ensuring that a piece of them lives on in time forever.


Return to 7th Line…

Posted in Chatham-Kent, Commentary with tags , , , on January 20, 2008 by countybandits

The farmhouse on 7th line had sat undisturbed by us for almost a year until last night. It had weathered the rainy spring, the searing hot summer, half of a frostbite inducing winter, and remained sitting steadfast at the end of the long, bumpy driveway leading up to it. Everything looked the same, the smashed windows, the overgrown weeds, the rotted porch, the bed frame just visible inside an upstairs room, which amazingly still had an intact window. The intact window that had briefly held the face of a man last April.

During our blogging hiatus, we had the good fortune to meet some local fellow house hunters. As a group, we explored an old insulbrick farmhouse along Highway 3, a Monestary by the lake, and even made a return visit to the “house full of memories”, which is a story in itself. Last night, three of us decided to brave a return trip to 7th Line. My accomplice, myself, and a fellow hunter. Soon, word spread of the planned trip, and three more were in for the adventure. We took two vehicles, plenty of Maglites, some protective measures, and as much courage as we could muster up.

When we pulled in the driveway, the full moon was illuminating just the outline of the large brick house. There were no lights, no cars, no bicycles, no signs of life whatsoever. The accomplice and I figured there would be no happenings this time, as there were last time we attempted to enter the house. Surely whoever, whatever, was there had moved on. The cold was enough to make your fingers hurt within a minute or two, and freeze the inside of your nose with each breath. How could anyone bear to stay in a drafty old brick house with no apparent hydro or running water?

We walked cautiously up to the house, making our way up the formed concrete back steps. The back door wasn’t wired or locked shut, although a rusted padlock was hanging nearby, doing nothing. I stayed outside, on the edge of the porch, with my 6-D cell Maglite held on my shoulder. The rest of the group made their way inside, and I kept watch just outside the door. I watched and listened as everyone stepped forward, carefully, through the front entryway and ventured slowly in to the kitchen. It wasn’t long before there were strained whispers and footsteps shuffling backwards towards the door. I asked, what the hell was going on? I couldn’t hear much since I was outside…

Only a moment later, everyone was making a hasty exit and moving towards the vehicles. Apparently, once people had made their way to the decimated kitchen, a racket started right above them on the second floor. Creaking of metal bedsprings, thumping, and eventually, clearly defined footsteps. Someone said they could hear breathing, heavy breaths… another said they swore they could hear a low whispering. As we left the place, and headed up the driveway, we moved our flashlights over all the windows. The Accomplice caught a movement in an upstairs window, but that was all. We saw nothing more.

Who, or what, is living in the 7th Line farmhouse? A house littered with raccoon feces, mould, broken glass and fallen plaster? Where there is never a light on, no sign of electricity, no evidence of a mode of transportation, all the way at the end of a lonely country road. Unfortunatley, we have never made it past that kitchen area to see the rest of the house, and unless the current tenant decides to move away, we may never get any farther.


Pain Court Water Wheel

Posted in Chatham-Kent, Pump House with tags , , on March 6, 2007 by countybandits

If you’ve taken a drive around the north-west area of Kent county, you may have noticed the soil in the fields is extremely dark, almost black. This whole area used to be part of Lake St. Clair, but thanks to a system of pumps and dykes it is kept dry enough to farm.

We made a fascinating discovery in this area. My partner had been to this site before, but didn’t remember the exact location. After placing a phone call, we headed out to search a few back roads. A few moments in to the search, I pointed out a rickety looking metal shed that sat between two dykes. When we squeezed through the half-open door, a huge water wheel rose up to the roof on the left.

Made of wood and iron, the huge wheel was now sitting idle, replaced by more modern pumps. The bottom slats were stuck in the mud (which I have photos of – somewhere). I have no idea how old it is, or how long it’s sat idle. I would like to make some inquiries with the farmers. Enjoy the photos.


Pain Court Water Wheel, Chatham-Kent, OntarioPain Court Water Wheel, Chatham-Kent, OntarioPain Court Water Wheel, Chatham-Kent, Ontario

Fisher Mansion Photos

Posted in Abandoned House, Chatham-Kent, Demolished with tags , , , , on March 6, 2007 by countybandits

Here are some photos of the Fisher Mansion, once located just outside of Chatham along Highway 2 (now Longwoods road) across from Can Am Tractor. Sadly, it was recently demolished. I never got to go inside, although I did look through the windows. There wasn’t much to see. A year or two ago, I did go through the old cow barns with my friends. They are gone now as well. It was for sale for a long time, but no one ever bought it — I imagine it was just too much of a money pit. In the spring / summer, the lawn is covered in a carpet of small blue flowers. It was a beautiful and majestic home in it’s time.


Fisher Mansion Chatham-Kent, OntarioFisher Mansion Chatham-Kent, OntarioFisher Mansion Chatham-Kent, Ontario