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Jason Toews and fifi (the band)

Hospital 06, July 2012


When God Closes a Door,
He Always Opens a Utility Tunnel

The campus was large, and apparently open to the public, so we decided to case the joint first. We drove slowly through the grounds of the abandoned hospital, camera bags concealed in the trunk, just another group of casually curious Sunday drivers. But something about our appearance, our studied nonchalance, or our out-of-state plates aroused the suspicion of the security patrol, and he tailed us conspicuously until we exited through the front gate and turned toward the freeway.

Our cover blown and our plate number (no doubt) recorded in a log book somewhere, we decided to abort the mission. What’s that expression? Cowardice is the better part of valor? That doesn’t sound right. In any case, we sat in a parking lot until we could decide what to do next.

“What about (censored) State Hospital?” someone suggested after a long, brooding silence. “You know, where they filmed that movie, (censored)? That’s only about a half-hour from here.”

And so we went. One huge advantage of UE in the Eastern U.S.: If one location doesn’t pan out, you’re never very far from another massive, long-empty industrial plant, reform school, tuberculosis ward, or psychiatric hospital.

We hiked past a graveyard, clawed our way through a swampy forest, gained entry through a utility tunnel. The day was sweltering, and the frigid air wafting up from the overgrown ventilation shaft was a shock. “Smell that?” hissed my friend, glassy-eyed. “That’s the smell of freedom…”

Lessons Learned

  • If the temperature is approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit and your backpack is not refrigerated, don’t bring slices of Swiss cheese for lunch
  • I don’t care how hot it is – if you’re going to be hiking for several miles through vast patches of poison ivy, you really ought to wear long pants
  • If you are mildly lactose-intolerant, and it’s a hot day, and you’ll be traveling with your friends in a small car, don’t start the day by drinking a half-gallon of chocolate milk

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  1. Great pic’s, I especially like the one of the idiot in shorts at the vent, but really shorts are the only way to go in the summer.

    • I was torn between gloating because I protected myself from the poison ivy and weeping because I was so damn hot.

  2. Jason these are awesome!! If I wasn’t pregnant I would say bring me on your next adventure! I really love the wheelchair ones and the bakery door with the broken glass. What a great find! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Thanks, pal! There was another door marked “Meat Room” which contained a giant band saw for cutting up sides of beef (I assume). Sadly, I couldn’t figure out how to take an interesting picture of it.

  3. My mother worked at (censored) State Hospital, where (censored) movie was made…she said it freaked her out to work there back in the day. Great work with these photos! Especially love the arched corridor in tones of gold. Yah, you really have to watch out for those “little” things on extremely hot days…I’ve learned that chocolate and tuna salad don’t fare well.

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