Abandoned Pennsylvania: Creepy and Beautiful Photography
August 7, 2020

This is a guest post from Obsidian Urbex photographer, Janine Pendleton. Thanks Janine! 

I am no stranger to long road trips, but this one was different.

My ideal summer consists of scouring the towns and villages of Europe in search of forgotten places. I am an explorer of abandoned places. I capture, through photography, what is left behind when humans move on.

In the spring of 2018, I was to embark on an exploration journey on the other side of the Atlantic. The east coast of America was my destination. My route would take me through 10 states, zig-zagging my way along a 2500 mile adventure.

I visited dilapidated auditoriums and overgrown theme parks. I walked long corridors of schools and hospitals which had been silent for years. There were junkyards, prisons, churches, libraries, trains and power stations (and many others!). I covered all this in just 17 days.

The state I spent the most time in was Pennsylvania. A treasure trove of relics of boom times, now relegated to redundancy. I visited 21 locations, capturing them in 135 photographs. These have recently been published in a paperback, Abandoned Pennsylvania.

I recently compiled a Top 10 Abandoned Locations in Pennsylvania listicle. This list is packed full of fond memories for me. From close brushes with guards, to tricky/stealthy entry. Here I present my Top 3, with a reflection on my time at the locations.

1. Blue Boxing Ring

This boxing ring opened in the 1960s, and was once a famous sports venue. International, regional and state matches were held here. The ring was also a premier location and promoter for female African-American boxing. Sadly, the venue closed around 2010 due to tax problems.

This location was my main reason for travelling to America. I had long marvelled at how this treasure could sit forgotten, and undamaged. I got my answer when I visited. “Interesting” would certainly be a fitting way to describe the access to this boxing ring. It is on the upper floor of a three-storey building and requires a little knowledge to get inside safely.

2. Trolley Car Graveyard

These trolley cars lay hidden in the woods. The rusty collection awaits restoration. Some cars lay on their sides, which have been scavenged for parts. Most of the cars are from the 1930s and 1950s, but there are more modern 80s and 90s models.

Like the boxing ring, I had long ogled photos of this location online. I love rusty trains, so a visit to these retro American trolleys had been on my bucket list for a while. As I walked through the woods, the heavens opened up. Driving rain soaked me. Then the lightning began. The storm was close and getting closer. I kept thinking, perhaps a soaked forest filled with metal objects is not the best place to weather a storm!

3. Dark Dogma Church

This beautiful church is over 120 years old, built in the Gothic Revival architectural style. The church closed in the 1990s, in response to dwindling congregation sizes.

Sadly, the church has a lot of graffiti. Interestingly, this is barely noticeable in the photos (unless it is pointed out like I just did!). Usually, I avoid locations that are defaced in such a dramatic way. I find the vandalism of historical buildings deeply upsetting. I like the way that even these bright hap-dash scrawlings failed to destroy the beauty of this location.

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Hi, I'm Jillianne.

I'm a historical fiction writer, a lover of history, and a hoarder of books. I'm the author of The Spirited Mrs. Pringle, The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII.

The Lazy Historian is a history blog featuring stories from the past with sass. With a focus on Western European and women's history, I delve into anything fascinating. Learn more.