Going, Going, Gone

Despite having moved to the capital region, I still visited my old home town often, several times a month. During the visits I was often busy meeting friends and working. I really didn’t have much time to wander around.

As I had spent a good ten years in the city, I knew a lot of people. Luckily they liked me and were willing to let me stay in their corners, whenever I needed a place to sleep for a few nights.

One of my friends lived very close to the former central vocational school and its dormitory, which had been abandoned almost 10 years ago. I photographed the place from basement to attic in 2015, and it was one of my most thorough explorations until then.

An early November day, when I was leaving my friend’s place, I decided to go have a look at what was happening around the dormitory.

Turns out, that a lot was happening. The 1970’s annex had already been demolished, and the old 1950’s building was well on its way vanishing, too. I thanked myself for going in and photographing it so thoroughly.

This is one of the reason I do urban exploring and why this blog exists. I want to document places, which will soon vanish. For myself and for everybody else.

Exploring New Territories

What is better than autumn leaves?

Autumn leaves in mid-October. And what’s more leaves of a maple. I was used to walking through huge piles of them in my childhood home town, but up north where I spent the past 10 years, were very few maples.

This is my colleague taking a shortcut in a forest we decided to walk through.

Since I decided to move to the capital region in June, I had shortlisted possible urban exploration locations, and my new colleague asked to join me. Here we are on my very first exploration down south.

Our destination was this luxurious villa of which I had read in the newspapers. Built in the 1960’s or the 1970’s, it reminded me of the modernist villa in Toppila. It was located in an area, where new houses were very sought after. It was abandoned and vandalized, but the owner refused to sell it.

We approached from the back, as it was located next to a street with many homes, where lights were coming on, as it was getting dark. The place was in a very bad condition and the smell of mould was clear this far out.

A view inside the kitchen. A striking fact was, that this villa was probably in its original condition from the late 60’s / early 70’s.

Most of the windows were broken. Here a tree branch has been thrown inside.

Not only was the place in original condition, the furniture was still inside.

But this was as far as we got. It was getting dark earlier than we had planned, and we were too poorly equipped to enter such a dark, moldy house.

It wasn’t just the house, which was abandoned. Two vintage Range Rover cars were stading on the driveway equally deserted. Such a shame.

So this was all we managed to find this time, but you know me. I will return.

Moving the Hard Way

After I had packed my stuff and transported them to my new home in the capital region, I still lived a week in my old, empty apartment, which would be taken over by my friend. One of my colleagues who worked with me that summer and had become my friend, told me, that she was moving to Tampere the very same day and her best friend would be driving her. I asked them for a lift.

We agreed to meet at noon. I was sipping sparkling wine in my favourite café, when they came to pick me and my stuff up. I bought another bottle to go, opened it in the back seat and began enjoying the nice, sunny autumn day. My friend opened her bottle, too.

Slowly we started getting drunk and discussing our hobbies. When my friend heard about my trip to the adventure park in June, she began screaming. She told me the place had been a big part of her childhood, and she wanted to go there too.

As it happened to be, our route didn’t take us too far from it…

…and there we were again.

Here you see a childhood about to be ruined. She took it surprisingly well.

And in the end our move didn’t end up so well. When we got to Tampere, we decided, I shouldn’t take the train to my new home quite yet. We decided to go partying instead, but after drinking for the whole day I fell asleep in my friend’s bed.

The following afternoon I finally caught the train. It broke down on the way and I was almost late for work. Sweating and panting I arrived there with three bags and was welcomed to the capital region.

My adventures in the new world of urbex had started.

A Bloody End of the Line

Once I was in the car with my friends, I explained to them where we were heading and why.

A couple of weeks ago I had had a dream that I visited this place with one of my two friends who was with me that day, and an old childhood friend. We went there in the evening, set up tents and camped.

Except in the morning they wern’t there. Their tents, sleeping bags, gear and backpacks had vanished. They hadn’t showed up for work. In fact their workplaces didn’t even know they had ever existed at all. A visit to this location had entirely cancelled their lives.

I asked my friends if they still wanted to go, and they were like hell yeah. I asked if they would like to go even if they found out horrifying things about the place. They were still like hell yeah.

And so we found ourselves at a narrow dirt road next to a railway track.

We knew that the place had been demolished years ago, and there would only be a ruin left. We knew the approximate location, but there was very much undergrowth in the forest.

And finally we did manage to locate the foundations of a building not very visible here.

The most recognizeable part were the former stairs. The stairs, which were climbed by a mass murderer. But it wasn’t until we walked back to my car when I told this to my friends.

Back in 1953 this was the small, rural railway station of Soso located approximately in the middle of nowhere between the city of Oulu and the municipality of Muhos. On Easter eve the family of the station master were going to bed, when he heard noises downstairs.

There he met a man, who wanted to rob the station. Surprised at the fact that somebody was home, he asked to be able to stay for the night. He was denied, so he got a hammer from his bag and attacked the station master. When his wife tried to interfere, he bludgeoned her to death.

The robber heard noises from upstairs, where he continued his spree by murdering the station master’s 18-year-old daughter and the six-year-old son of one of the station master’s sons. He then used dynamite to blow open the station safe, which was empty.

All in all he got a bit more than 3 000 euros and also stole some music discs and fabrics. He left by foot, but encountered a taxi and took a ride, which he paid with the robbed bills.

The murders were discovered that very same night, when the station master’s two sons returned from a night out and found their relatives killed. The taxi driver contacted the police, and a description of the robber was issued in the news.

This alerted the attention of the robber’s landlord, who not only recognized him from the description, but had become suspicious about his behaviour. The man, who usually didn’t care about news was exceptionally curious about them the next day. The landlord alerted the police.

The case against the perpetrator was pretty solid. Stolen items and money were found in his home. He had used gloves, but one of the fingers had a hole in them, so his fingerprint was found on the scene.

He eventually confessed, stating financial trouble and loneliness as his motives, but later withdrew his confession. He got a life sentence and died in prison in the early 1970’s due to kidney failure which was caused by the heavy medication he was taking. He suffered of even more loneliness, as the other prisoners had no understanding for his crimes. His wife filed for divorce and he never had any contact with her or their daughter again. The only person he was in contact outside the prison was his mother.

The station was closed in 1977 and demolished later. Now only the foundations and the stories remain.

We drove home and went to our beds. The first thing in the morning I called my friend to ask, if she still existed. She swore she did.

This was to be my final adventure in the North of Finland. A few weeks later I had finished packing, and that same friend accompanied me, when I hired a van and drove my stuff to the capital region.

But of course this wasn’t the end of urban exploration for me, quite on the contrary. I soon had loads of new ground to explore.

The Sawyer’s Villa Part III

One of the nice, round windows we saw from the outside was in the staircase of the building.

When I photograph, I try to catch spaces and shapes. Some of my friends are more interested in details.

Well, let’s mimic them this time. This magazine from 1972 is about health and beauty. This issue features a special part about liver diseaces.

One side of the upstairs featured a rather large lobby. There’s a cupboard on the right. The extra lock on the door might indicate, that the house has been split into several apartments at some point of its life.

Another look at the nice round window. The roof still seems to be in pretty nice shape despite years of abandonment. I still wish somebody would rescue this beauty.

A view from the upstairs room. The roof looks pretty good here, too, despite the house having stood empty at least for almost a decade. In Google street view photos from 2011 already show broken windows.

The rooms upstairs are lower than downstairs. That’s why the ovens were smaller, too. That one looks rather funny, as it is so short.

The other round window of this end was in a side room. When writing this I found older photos from another urban explorer from this house. Back in 2014 there were wallpapers and even furniture inside.

The side rooms continued through this side of the building. There were also round windows in the other end of it.

That is not a ghost. Just the third one of our party.

Another window shot, where my lightning priorities didn’t really go as planned.

There was even a balcony. Unlike the roof, this one didn’t look safe at all, and we didn’t go there.

Another look at the stairs. Once again I have to comment the strange window layout. There’s a similar window downstairs in the basement stairs. Yet they also added the round window upstairs.

Another careful look towards the basement. We still chose not to go there.

This entry hall could have been magnificient. I mean look at all the light.

One final peek inside. And a final exterior shot of it all. Bye, cutie.

As you can see, the sun is setting, but none of us had to hurry home this time. That’s why I suggested another place with a creepy side story and a horrible history.

The Sawyer’s Villa Part II

Like I promised, we’ll start with the ground floor of this large, red, early 20th century villa we found with my friends.

There had been several layers of wallpaper, the latest of which was bright yellow. Most likely it has been ripped off by less friendly fellow explorers, although there is the possibility that someone at some point has wanted to see the logs to learn more about the condition of this building either to renovate it or to move it to give it a new life in another location.

I almost wish that was the case. This was a beautiful old building, and I would love to see it get renovated.

Like I said earlier, I believe this to be the former living room. It was the biggest of all rooms, but also had the biggest fireplace. It looks a little like it has been green, but I really hope, that it hasn’t been green while the walls have been yellow. The combination would have hurt the eye.

There were also big built in cupboards in the living room. I won’t promise you they are original, but they are nevertheless very old.

Another one of my windows. Not one of the best, though.

Another room, which was orange. I believe this to have been the kitchen. The smashed plywood thingy there is not the floor, but rather a large shelf.

This was in one of the walls. ‘Put an X if you were here. Grab a pen there.” I wonder, what happens, when the table is full.

One of the reasons I believe the orange room to have been the kitchen are the tiles on the walls. The second thing is the ventilation shaft. This looks like the corner, where the stove and washing basin were located, if there ever was running water in this house.

The third room downstairs was yellow again. There had been a door to the living room seen in one of my earlier photos, but it had been shut at some point.

The shut door can be seen on the right. It looks like somebody painted the fireplaces yellow when they bought the yellow wallpaper. That would’ve hurt the eye a lot less than green fireplaces and yellow wallpaper, even though they are my two favourite colours.

A look towards the orange room. There’s yet another differently shaped and sized window from all the others. That one looks like a slightly later addition.

And a look from the kitchen towards the main entrance.

Another window shot.

And the stairway to heav… oh, well, at least the bedrooms.

The Sawyer’s Villa Part I

Time seemed to fly that summer. And big changes were happening in my life. Like I said in an earlier post, I decided to leave Northern Finland and relocate South. I had applied for jobs all summer, but nothing seemed to happen.

Not until July, when my former colleague sent me a message telling me she wanted to move to the capital region and asked me to become her flatmate. Without hesitating for a second I said yes. A week later she called me that we had an apartment.

I cancelled my rental contract, put my car up for sale and quit my job without knowing what the future had to offer. A few weeks later I was offered a job. I started packing, selling stuff and throwing useless things away.

When my friends at my local cafe heard that I was leaving, they immediately suggested another urbex trip. I didn’t need much convincing and suggested that we’d start at the workers’ institute that we visited the previous time.

We did manage to get to the village, but we weren’t alone. There were sounds of people shouting and driving mopeds around the place, and when we walked closer, a good ten teenagers drove away from the jungle, which had grown behind the building. The last one of them had too much speed, braked heavily when he saw us and fell straight on a big rock, knee first.

He was in a lot of pain and screamed under his moped. We lifted it up and tried to check, if he was seriously injured. The pain soon went away and he got back on his moped and drove away.

We went closer to the house, but another group of people, three young men walked ahead of us. They looked menacing with army pants, black hoodies and shaved heads and talked about doing drugs. We didn’t want to face them so we quickly walked away. That was to be my last visit to the workers’ institute in its current shape. It was bought by an energy company and demolition started in the summer of 2020.

But luckily there was still one unvisited building left on my list.

And so we found ourselves on the main street of a village, which had been built around a sawmill. It was the usual story once again. The sawmill was closed, the buildings abandoned.

This time we didn’t visit production facilities. Instead we found a huge, old wooden house. It had been a home before abandonement, and according to the legend, it was built by the sawmill company, hence the name Sawyer’s Villa.

It was a luxurious old red wooden house with big windows on the porch.

The windows had been broken, ripped off and thrown around the yard. I doubt there was a single intact glass left in the whole building.

And there were quite a number of different sizes and shapes of windows. Surprisingly many, to be honest.

The wooden floor was original and in a very good shape. It had probably had a change of paint several times during the history of the building.

A first glimpse inside one of the rooms, probably the living room. If you compare this to the cottages I explored in the previous posts, this has been the home of very wealthy people.

In addition to two floors above ground, there was also a basement. By now you have probably noticed, that it’s close to never I visit them.

And I won’t go there this time, either. I’ll dedicate two more posts to this building. One for the ground floor and one for the upper floor.

To be continued.

Not as Closed as it Seemed at First

After three buildings we started looking for the fourth. I had a guess where it was, but things were getting harder. First of all we turned on the road, which wasn’t as remote as the previous one had been. There were inhabited houses and people walking their dogs. We would have to be much more careful in order not to be spotted.

An even bigger problem was, that this road headed into the woods. Where there were shadows, was a huge amount of mosquitos. The air was thick of them, they were aggressive and their bites itched hard. As I hadn’t managed to locate the fift house, we agreed that the fourth one would be our last of the day.

It was a small, modest cottage on the back of an overgrown yard. Plywood covered windows indicated that there wasn’t a lazy gardener living there, and the door was open for us just to walk in.

The porch already indicated, that this was very much an abandoned building.

The structure looked sound from the outside, but it had fooled us. The cottage was on the verge of completely collapsing.

There were holes in the roof, there were holes in the floor. There were also loads of mosquitos. We agreed to be quick and then leave.

The roof wasn’t collapsing in just one part of the building. There were several holes on it.

The living room featured a wonderful vintage couch and chairs. It also revealed that not even the chimney was as sound as it looked like from the kitchen. Half of it could be found in pieces on the living room floor.

A closer look at the thing from the kitchen revealed, that not only were the roof and chimney down. There was even a wall missing. I wonder, what actually was still holding this thing together.

One of the very few personal items still left in the house was an instruction booklet on treating diabetes.

One final look at the sofa in the living room. The large glass panel was a strange find, as there were no windows that big in the house.

I could have gotten another one of my nice window shots, but I just didn’t want to move further inside the house. All in all we just stood on the doorstep to the two rooms, as we were not feeling very safe (nor comfortable because of the mosquitos).

This four location exploration trip has now come to its conclusion. But there will be more.

Ruins of a Life

After exploring the horse farm, we moved on towards our next location just a few hundred metres down the same road. After looking through the photos of another urban explorer and comparing them to the satellite photos from the area, I determined I was looking for a very old house, which had probably partly collapsed by now by the look of the roof.

We got to the location, but found no house. There was a small opening to a sandy plot of land in the bushes and we determined, that was, where the house had been.

My friend started roaming the area, and I pretty soon noticed why. The house was perhaps gone, but those, who had demolished it, hadn’t done a very good job in cleaning the property. There were lots of old things sticking from the ground.

My grandparents used similar sun cream in the early 1990’s. I can vividly remember, that they had cans like this in their bathroom back then.

It’s been a while since coffee was sold in cans like this.

A can of imported Danish beer. I tried to Google some old Tuborg cans to determine its age, but it proved to be impossible.

There were also some small pots and bowls.

I think that used to be a kettle. It was buried so deep in the ground, we were unable to find out the truth.

The brick is probably what remains of the chimney. The glass bottle has been a lucky surivor: after all, an excavator has rooted through this place.

Of course they needed an axe. In satellite photos from the area there are three buildings visible. One has been the main building, and the auxiliary buildings have probably once again featured a firewood storage, privy, sauna and things like that.

There were several glass bottle survivors in the area.

This is a sign of very old life. Someone has placed an ad in the papers that they want to sell a healthy, strong, good horse. And yet below it somebody is selling a welding machine and someone else wants to buy a sewing machine.

It was impossible to trace the age of the newspapers. I know that logo was used still in the late 1980’s, as it was casted in the facade of the printing house built in 1986. The papers in the house were definitely older than that, but I have no clue when the logo was created.

This was all there was to see in our third location of the day. But we weren’t finished yet.

Hold Your Horses Part IV

So this was the entrance to the building. The door was locked and the handles had vanished, so we couldn’t exit this way.

The door led to a small hall, where you could either choose to go straight to the kitchen through what had probably been the original entrance to the house, or remain in the annex. As we had already explored the original house, now was the time for the annex.

This rather blurry image is from a toilet. Before this was built there had probably been a privy in the auxiliary building.

There was also a small storage room. Through it was the access to another bedroom.

There was quite some mess here. Even the bed was upside down.

Well, maybe this was why the bed was upside down. I’ve talked about this with a couple of friends and fellow explorers, and yes, I would one day like to get the chance to use these in an abandoned house myself.

The other side of the annex were a small dressing room, a shower room and a sauna. This is the dressing room. The floor is similar to the one in the kitchen.

There was so much debris and so many doors, that it was at times difficult to move through the rooms.

This is where they got to shower once the annex was built. Before that the only place was the sauna.

The shower was not a very clean place anymore.

A look through the shower room’s window towards the auxiliary building. From here it can be seen, that it in fact consists of three parts. Taking into account all my previous guesses, I think the most likely story is that the old person whose mail I found had originally lived in the cottage and their kids had built this house, where the old person would live with them until their old age. But again I’m just guessing.

Abandoned by the bees. So there’s an abandoned home inside an abandoned home. Clever.

The newer sauna was much smaller than the old one in the auxiliary building.

Even this stove was wood powered. Electric ones came later.

This look back towards the hall from the dressing room was the last image from this house I took. We then continued to the third location in the same area.