Forgotten Homes and Untold Stories

Decrepit Abandoned House on US Route 1 Near Houlton Maine - "Night Falls and I'm Alone" photo by Thomas Slatin

My Fascination with the Abandoned Houses Along State Highways

In our time together, Thomas and I have embarked upon several journeys along U.S. state highways. What we end up seeing along these often neglected byways leaves us feeling sorrowful and longing for the comfort and familiarity of home. These trips often unveil the remnants of an era gone by, countless abandoned houses standing as eerie witnesses to lives once lived. 

As we whizz past them at highway speeds, my overactive and curious mind can’t help but ponder about the people who once inhabited these forsaken homes. My imagination struggles to guess at the stories that have now been lost to the sands of time. These dilapidated structures are reminiscent of an untold history, hidden behind the peeling paint and crumbling walls, waiting for someone to listen.

Abandoned houses are enigmatic structures, standing as solitary reminders of a bygone era, monuments to the untold stories of the past. Whether they’re overgrown with foliage or barely standing on their foundations, they draw in our wonderment with an inexplicable magnetism. The eerie silence they exude captures our imagination, sparking a curious desire to know more about the lives that once thrived within those walls. 

These abandoned homes serve as a reminder of our own mortality, old testaments to the fragility of life itself. They are bleak reminders that everything we hold dear, everything we build, and everything we love, will one day be forgotten in time. They remind us to cherish the moments we have with our loved ones, to hold tightly onto our memories, and to make the most of the time we have.

Sadly, most passersby overlook these abandoned homes, especially when they’ve been vacant for many years. This is in spite of the fact that clearly these houses were once homes to families, individuals, and communities, each with their unique experiences and memories. Who knows now what events caused these homes to be abandoned and forgotten? These are stories that may never be told, and I have to learn to live with this sad truth.

Perhaps, one day, civic or domestic historians will attempt to craft a narrative of the people who lived in these rotting shells of residences, reimagining their dreams, struggles, and aspirations. What conversations took place around the dinner table? What secrets were whispered in the bedrooms? What joys and sorrows were experienced within these walls? Of course, most of these stories, at least in their truest forms, will likely remain untold, buried beneath the weight of Nature’s reclamation and the inexorable march of decay.

As the years pass, the memories of those who once lived in these abandoned homes fade away, like the paint that chips off their walls. Once vibrant and bustling abodes are now reduced to crumbling, desolate structures. The laughter, tears, and intimate moments that once filled the air are now replaced by an eerie silence, echoing the forgotten history of the people who once lived there.

The reasons that drive people to abandon their homes are as varied as the lives they leave behind. Some may have left in search of greener pastures or better opportunities. Sadly, many others could have been forced to flee due to natural disasters or economic hardships. Most tragically, it could’ve been the death of a loved one that made the house too difficult to stay in because of the memories constantly being relived. 

Within every story that remains hidden, there’s a rich reservoir of human experience that could teach us invaluable lessons about resilience, hope, and the fleeting nature of our existence. Whatever the reason may be for their abandonment, it’s clear that these houses once held a significant place in someone’s life, and it took something substantial to leave them in this state.

As the stories of these forgotten homes remain untold, they become part of an ever-growing repository of obscure history. The longer these stories remain buried, the more difficult it becomes to uncover the truth behind the lives that once filled those empty rooms. While many of these stories may be forever lost to time, it’s essential to appreciate their existence. This is why Thomas and I photograph them, so we can honor the past and the memories of those who came before us, ensuring that their stories aren’t entirely forgotten.

~ Amelia Phoenix Desertsong, April 2023

Photo: Decrepit Abandoned House on US Route 1 Near Houlton, Maine – “Night Falls and I’m Alone” photo by Thomas Slatin

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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