Minor Road Trip

Last week I was searching online for local buildings that had been abandoned so I could take some photos.  I didn’t find much referenced in Seattle, as most old buildings have been torn down for condominiums that no one can afford to move in to.  While in the middle of this search and another unrelated search for information on Western State Hospital, one of two state-owned psychiatric hospitals and the largest psychiatric facility wet of the Mississippi, I came across some information on another psychiatric hospital that had been closed down in the 70’s called Northern State Hospital.  It was rumored to be haunted, which made it all the more intriguing.

Over the weekend, Janie and I took a drive up north to Sedro-Woolley, an old logging town about 65 miles from Seattle, home of the old Northern State Hospital.  The actual hospital and main grounds are now used to house Job Corps and a detox facility where some people were kept behind a razor-wire fence half-heartedly playing a game of volleyball with what looked like a basketball.  To gain access to the campus for a photo-walk you’ll have to go through the proper governmental channels or risk being shot.  You probably won’t get shot by security, but Janie said if I got out of the car I’d get shot.  To clarify, I asked if she was serious and she said she was and I asked if she’d be the one shooting me and she said “no comment.”  So be careful, because Janie is crazy.  Which is ironic, because I drove her to an abandoned mental institution over the weekend and neglected to leave her there.

At that point it appeared we had driven 65 miles for no good reason.  I had read that the hospital grounds had partially been turned into a park, but I could see no signs to direct us.  After driving around aimlessly through some creepy woods that were straight out of the the Blair Witch Project,  stopping once at a tiny park (not the one filled with giant piles of garbage, the other one) to let Gus out to pee and run around the patch of grass as a reward for sitting in his crate for nearly three straight hours, Janie suggested we drive to the backside of the hospital grounds to see if the park was, in fact, real.  Turns out she’s not only crazy, she’s smart, too.

After the hospital was closed,several hundred acres were turned into a park where people are free to roam, pay frisbee golf or let their horses shit all over the gravel walkway where a small puppy might just try to run with a clump of it in his mouth like he’s struck gold!  and gold tastes so delicious in his mouth!  The old dairy buildings are a part of this park and though they are falling apart and collapsing in on themselves, they are still available for walking around, photographing and (though the signs warn against it) entering.  It’s creepy, especially on a day like yesterday when the dark rain clouds were hovering and the sky was milky and gray.  I had enough time to take some quick photos of one set of buildings before we had to drive back to Seattle so Janie could meet up with co-workers to say goodbye to their manager who recently got totally screwed by the city library.  I cannot wait to go back again to take a more leisurely stroll around and photograph more of the buildings and the park and ghosts of the insane.  If you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking it out.

You can see my photos here.


  1. leah
    March 23, 2009

    OH MY GOD, i love that stuff. dale would never go with me b/c he spooks easily. those are awesome shots, the angles and textures maded my eyes happy.

    i wonder if janie’s mom used to tell her if she went on a stranger’s property that she’d be shot. that’s what my mom did and now everybody wonders why i’m always worried about getting shot.

    that cheese and bread on your sidebar? dale’s been eating that every night for the past two weeks. not the same cheese and bread, b/c we didn’t have a cheese block and bread that would’ve lasted him that long.

  2. E's Mom
    March 23, 2009

    You write with such vivid words, really taking your readers there. Ya know? For instance, I can totally see Gus running around with a ginormous horse turd in his mouth.

  3. March 24, 2009

    I love the one with the two leany doors – like they’re peering out to see who’s come calling. One is a little more shy than the other one. Also, I think it was wise of you not to leave crazy-like-a-fox Janie behind. She seems to have many positive and useful qualities.

  4. lizzielou
    March 24, 2009

    Photos = lovely and spooky. It reminds me a little of The Ring! :0

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