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Abandoned Mill Village: Behind the Walls

When my friends and I visited the Abandoned Mill Village, we couldn’t resist taking a look inside the little houses that had been abandoned for forty years or more.

Many of them were painted bright colors inside, perhaps they had once been cheerful little homes. But now the paint was peeling from the walls, parts of the floors were caved in, and plants had begun to creep in through the broken windows and cracks in the walls.

It’s a spooky feeling walking through a place now dilapidated, that was once somebody’s home. I wish I could see what these houses looked like when families were still living in this village.

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Bailey Power Plant

Bailey Power Plant, with its smoke stacks that make Winston-Salem stand out from all the other cities, will come alive once again after being abandoned for more than twenty years. 

This building was once the center for the tobacco manufacturing giant, RJ Reynolds Tobacco, and provided power for all the factories in the area. But when tobacco manufacturing moved away from this city, Bailey Power Plant fell out of use and was left to sit vacant and crumble over the years. The center of Winston-Salem soon became a ghost town of abandoned forgotten factories. Nobody ever came downtown anymore. 

But luckily, the potential of these old buildings was realized, and they began getting turned into lofts, office space and research labs as part of the newly named Innovation Quarter. As the years went by, and life began to creep back into downtown, everyone wondered when and if the old power plant, the city’s most intriguing building, would also be brought back to life. Sure enough, early this year, work began on the old power plant. 

So on a warm summer afternoon, I wandered around the old building to document the changes.

I just wish I could slip past the fence and look inside!

It will soon be home to many small businesses, restaurants, a patio with string lights, and who knows what else!

I am glad to see these old buildings restored and saved. 

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Mimosa Summer

The Mimosa trees bloom during the middle of the summer, after the time of flowering springtime trees is long forgotten. When the beginning of summer seems so long ago, but the end of summer is so far away. When it feels like summer never ends, and it will always be this way.

The feathery pink blooms that stand out from the never ending sea of green, remind me of adventures late into the endless summer evenings, and times that made me forget that winter was ever here.

On this summer evening, a bike ride towards Salem Lake led us to this secret path we had never noticed, that ended with a Mimosa tree at the lake’s edge. It was one of those mini adventures I love so much, that kept us out later than expected, but it didn’t matter because it stays light for so long these days.

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Beach Houses of the Past

As older houses along the Outer Banks grow old and fall apart, they tend to get replaced with enormous and over exaggerated mansions. But there exists a small strip of road that is like stepping back into the past, where the houses reflect a simpler time. A time where there were less tourists, and the homes were small and humble. 

They were not painted outrageous colors, but left in their natural rugged state, able to withstand the most brutal hurricanes. 

The landscapes are left to grow wild, with tall sea grass a few cactuses and hundreds of tiny red wildflowers. 

I often wish I could go back in time to when all the Outer Banks looked like this. Before there was the same surf shop on every corner, before all the big hotels and fancy houses..
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Long Branch Trail

The trail I watched being built all last summer from my office window is nearly complete. 

My blog post Forgotten Corners shows what it looked like when construction first began. What used to be an overgrown meadow over a once busy industrial area, is now a nicely landscaped greenway.

The old Railroad track that ran though this area providing coal to the factories has been preserved. 

On the other side of the path lies the current train track where freight trains travel back and fourth all day.

There was hardly another soul in sight on this new path, since it is not quite finished, and maybe not too many have heard about it yet. But I’m sure it won’t be long until it is packed with people. But I prefer how it is now, in it’s empty state. 

I’m happy to see this plot of land being put to good use, and that some of the old elements of what it once was got to stick around.

And they kept the cobblestone!