I'm thrilled that so many people came to this site to join me as I recounted my journey. Thank you all so much!
Every post since then has focused on one or more of the incredible abandoned places I explored on that first road trip. The only exceptions are a few articles about sites closer to home:
-Fatalities and Films of a Ghostly Movie Ranch in Acton, CA
-The Mystery of Canned Heat House
-Abandoned Water Park in the Mojave Desert - Lake Dolores aka Rock-A-Hoola
Those of you who follow my social media feeds probably know that I took a month-long road trip last fall, my Epic Rust Belt Road Trip of 2015 (#RustBeltRoadTrip2015). I drove from Los Angeles to the Rust Belt (formerly known as the Manufacturing Belt), to explore the abandoned ruins of the former industrial powerhouses that once epitomized American ingenuity and prosperity.
It was mind-blowing to see how cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, Gary, Youngstown, and Akron, which flourished in the early and mid-1900s, have plunged into severe economic ruin. Urban centers that once embodied the American Dream now resemble war-torn cities of the Third World.
It must have been heartbreaking to watch helplessly as automakers and other industrial giants turned their back on American workers and moved their manufacturing overseas to take advantage of cheap wage standards and nonexistent labor protection laws.
I had recently been laid off from the job I loved, so exploring the Rust Belt was a deeply symbolic experience for me. Years of hard work, professional accomplishments, and personal sacrifice become suddenly irrelevant when a company makes cost-cutting its highest priority.
I have a great deal of empathy for the Rust Belt's Places That Were. In a society that often defines people by what they do for a living, I felt like a Person That Was.
Compelled to pay respect to the Rust Belt's historical places, I was on a mission to document what has become of them, and hopefully gain some insight into what we can do to make things better.
Being away from my better half for an entire month was not easy, but I had no choice. This was my last great opportunity to do what I love most. I knew that when I returned home, I would need to resume my career, which means I'll never again have time for a cross-country road trip until I retire.
After weeks of intense research and planning, I hit the road and began what would be the greatest adventure of my life so far.
Below is a rough map of my route:
I would drive from Los Angeles to Cleveland, spending a day or two in each state along the way to check out ghost towns, factories, hospitals, military installations and other deserted sites. After several days exploring the incredible abandoned places in Cleveland, I'd head to Detroit for a week. There are so many awesome urban ruins in Detroit, it would take months to explore them all. I'd have to be satisfied with the several dozen explorations I could squeeze into my week-long visit.
From Detroit, I'd head westward along a northern route, gradually making my way back to California. My final destination was an art gallery opening in Oakland, where one of my photos from the earlier road trip would be on display. It was the first and only time any of my work has been featured in a gallery, and it made for the perfect end to an incredible journey.
I spent most of the month driving, exploring, or resting and was not able to post many updates online, but here is a video I posted from the road: http://www.placesthatwere.com/2015/09/rust-belt-road-trip-2015.html and another I made after I returned home: http://www.placesthatwere.com/2015/10/rust-belt-road-trip-update.html
I hope you all will come back and visit Places That Were over the coming months as I share stories from my Epic Rust Belt Road Trip.
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