Posts Tagged ‘abandoned’

A ghost town in the heart of Silicon Valley? I first read about Drawbridge a couple years ago, but didn’t get a chance to explore it until last weekend. Founded in 1876 on the rail line between Fremont and Alviso, Drawbridge reached its peak during Prohibition. Due to its relative isolation and the fact that nearly every resident was armed, local law enforcement didn’t bother making vice raids. Nearly every resident was armed. Water pumping and nearby salt evaporation ponds caused the land to sink into the bay, and people started to leave. Local newspapers published wild accounts of treasure left behind, bringing hordes of scavengers and vandals. The few remaining residents scared them off with shotguns, but it was a futile effort. Charles Luce, the last man in Drawbridge, left in 1979. In thirty years of abandonment, most of the buildings are in an advanced state of decay and sinking into the marsh. It seemed a good time to check out the ghost town before it disappears completely.
iron road
I was up by 5:30am and on the tracks heading north from Alviso an hour later. I had hoped for a beautiful sunrise, but the overcast light made for excellent landscape photography.
blue dawn

coyote creek
The only sound I heard was the occasional pop of shotguns as game hunters prowled the sloughs for waterfowl.
After a nearly three mile hike along the tracks, I came to the first abandoned structures. Drawbridge is technically closed to outsiders, but there’s nothing to stop people save for a few signs. The tracks are active, but only a couple Amtrak trains rolled through when I was there.

The land surrounding the tracks is mostly salt marsh crisscrossed with small streams. A few of them are covered by pickleweed and nearly invisible, causing me to stumble and plunge ankle deep in mud. It’s not a particularly safe environment for high-end camera gear.
Surprisingly, the place isn’t as overrun by graffiti as I would’ve expected.


This place was the best preserved in all of Drawbridge. Pretty sure this used to be the kitchen.


front yard

More abandoned buildings are north along the tracks.


Some great opportunities for macro decay photography.


Around this time I noticed that the tide was coming in fast, causing the bay to seep out of the marsh and make further exploration difficult.
The sun came out around noon, and by then Drawbridge was inundated by water.
Rest of the Drawbridge set here.


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Finally found a good time to slip inside the abandoned naval base at Hunters Point, and it was worth the wait. Some shots from the photo excursion:
Approaching building 600, a former barracks at the southeast tip of Hunters Point. The shipyard is the most toxic place in San Francisco, so I didn’t want to spend much time in this cesium-polluted wasteland. It took some serious problem solving to get inside this building, but it was worth it.
building 600
The building itself is a gutted shell filled with broken glass, empty lockers and ratty old mattresses.

10 floors of photogenic emptiness.
living well
Living well. I didn’t come across much quality graffiti.



Whole set here.

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Final resting place for a motorboat in Islais Creek Channel, San Francisco.

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32 sothearos

This relic of French Indochina is one of Phnom Penh’s most photographed buildings. It’s also a bit of a mystery. Built in the 1920’s when the capital was dubbed the “Pearl of Asia,” the mansion is one of Phnom Penh’s few surviving colonial buildings. 32 Sothearos Boulevard doesn’t have a name or a recorded history, and most people refer to it as something along the lines of “that old colonial building.” A perfect example of urban decay.

colonial building

Decades of war, neglect, and decay have all taken their toll.


I had photographed the building a while back, and always wanted to go inside for a more in-depth exploration.


The rent-a-cop lounging at the entrance was more interested in watching the clouds than keeping me from poking around for a while. His indifference was a little disappointing as it took away the usual thrill of infiltrating an abandoned building. The German tourist I ran into inside also didn’t help.


All sorts of random stuff cluttered the first floor: tools, drying clothes, chairs, bags of cement, a microwave. The second floor was apparently the living quarters for the handful of construction workers that wandered about, oblivious to my presence.


Each room seemed to have a single chair in it.

2nd floor

2nd floor

english lesson

Most abandoned buildings tend to attract graffiti, and this was no exception. Here’s an English lesson on verbs, written on a bathroom wall.


The FCC recently purchased the building, and renovation is almost underway to transform it into a 24-room faux-colonial luxury hotel complete with pool and French bistro. Construction is supposed to start mid-2008. Preservationists must love this, but I hoped it would be turned into something more people could enjoy. At least it won’t be torn down.


Rest of the Flickr set here

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