Greetings and salutations once again, friends. My name is Tori Jane, and I’m a writer for Only in Your State. When I’m not writing, though, I can be found enjoying various extremes in life; for example, I’m an accomplished storm chaser and photographer, and when I get the opportunity, I’m an avid urban explorer with hundreds of hours (and thousands of miles) of urbex under my belt.
Editor’s Note: Many abandoned destinations across America are considered off-limits to visitors. We do not condone trespassing and other illegal activity but rather encourage readers to enjoy learning about fascinating destinations like this one. Always explore at your own risk.
Here’s a very condensed, zoomed-out version of my current map:
At the time of this writing, I have literally hundreds of pins across numerous states, all of which are places I’ve found myself and marked (no marking places I’ve never been allowed). Every year, I add many more. Over the last few years, I’ve found some incredible (and eerie) things, like entire abandoned towns, multi-story schools with desks and books still inside, homes with belongings still inside (including wedding photos and even a wedding dress, yikes), and, of course, the occasional hospital or asylum. Oh, then there was the time with the murder house that got remodeled, and I ended up with beautiful before/after photos, but that’s another story for another time.
For those not into this weird little niche of a hobby, urbex is short for urban exploration or simply poking around abandoned buildings and seeing what there is to see.
Despite the lawlessness seemingly seeping out of every wall and crevice of these places, there are rules in the urbex world, like 1. Never mention exactly where your spots are (it’ll attract vandals and, besides, part of the fun is in doing the extensive footwork yourself), and 2. Never, EVER take things from sites or vandalize them.
Leave them as you found them. Period. Keep it nicely preserved for future explorers not unlike yourself to enjoy. Besides, the vandals will have already arrived, more likely than not – no need to further add to the destruction of these places. That’ll happen on its own without your assistance.
This year, like every year, I embarked upon my annual spring stormchasing trip with two goals in mind: to bag as many amazing storms as possible and, of course, to map as many abandoned places and buildings as I possibly could in the meantime. This year, I found something remarkable – something hiding in plain sight in the middle of a bustling Texas suburb, partially concealed by surrounding trees and overgrown brush. Driving past it entirely by happenstance, I slowed down and said, out loud and by myself in my truck, “Oh, man. No way.”
I found a place nearby to park and got my usual gear out -- steel-toed, knee-high boots, mosquito spray, an N95 respirator, and bear mace (you never know), among other things that are helpful for being as safe as humanly possible. Next came the camera, of course – my weapon of choice. Urbex and storm chasing have at least one thing in common: both hobbies are like trophy hunting, though instead of bringing antlers home I bring home photos. Thousands of them. I don’t even want to know how many terabytes of photos from storms and run-down buildings I have (sometimes both in the same photo).
I walked the approximate quarter mile to the large, imposing building that had attracted my attention: it was a four-story hospital, with just about every single window blown out and some significant fire damage on one end of the building.
It was incredibly easy to access – open, for the most part – and for a few minutes, I simply stood there in front of it, unable to believe what an enormous score this was.
I began shooting. Cars drove by. A woman walking her dogs past waved at me, and I waved back. I’ve found that if you confidently act as you belong there and you’re quite obviously a photographer and not a vandal or squatter, folks don’t usually mind your poking around.
Of course, the best course of action in most cases is to research the property once you find it and contact the owner for written permission to enter, though this isn’t always realistic or even possible to do.
It’s not every day you find an entire abandoned hospital that’s so insanely easy to access. Finds like this are “holy grail tier,” as I call them, and they’re among the rarest – and to me, most valuable – finds.
I approached the building and entered what appeared to have been a lobby at some point through open doors, and from there I found some stairs. There were numerous elevator shafts in the building, all of which would be avoided like the plague. There’s no way to break a leg or lose your life faster than by falling down one of those bad boys, and I’m not about that life (or death).
And thus would begin my two-and-a-half-hour adventure exploring the largest abandoned building I’ve ever found. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
In some rooms, there were still shelves, books, or medical equipment. I found a few red tubs marked “INFECTIOUS WASTE,” which I went ahead and stayed far away from.
There were no beds left, and most of the furniture had also been removed, though I could find a couple of toppled copy/fax/print machines on the lower floors.
The story goes like this: the hospital closed more than 20 years ago. It had been open for more than 40 years by that time, and it had been plagued by internal controversy and financial struggles. According to the official story, the hospital closed because of “reductions in Medicare and Medicaid,” but according to a nurse who used to work at the property, it really closed because of mismanagement, embezzlement, and fraud from upper management.
Patients were said to have been moved overnight, and many nurses arrived for their shifts the next morning at a locked-up building without warning, leaving more than 400 people without jobs.
The hospital was involved in no less than one active lawsuit at the time it closed, and legend has it there were many more.
Sure, this place may not have the spooky backstories involving evil doctors, serial killer nurses, and sadistic headmasters like many other abandoned hospitals do, but it’s still a hospital, and that’s creepy in and of itself.
Walking through the quiet, empty halls, I couldn’t help but wonder: who was born here? Who died here, and who got a new lease on life here?
Surely, stories of tragedy and triumph echoed through these halls and seeped into the rooms whether I could feel it or not.
Some people undoubtedly had the best days of their lives here, with the births of children and other joyous occasions marking them forever.
But still more had the worst days of their lives here, too; how many tears have these walls been witness to? How many people's entire lives were completely uprooted by the time they walked out of here? How many had to start over? How many people never walked out at all?
These things – and many more that we likely understand subconsciously while wandering around – certainly add a heaviness to the air at places like this.
The morgue area, especially, was cloaked in a dark, heavy overall vibe, though during my entire time here, I did not experience anything unexplainable even once.
This shows, I think, that places don’t need to be “haunted” to be terrifying. All you really need to do is really think about what it means to be somewhere like here – usually, it’s not good. People don’t typically go to the hospital for fun, and they certainly don’t die here for kicks, either.
All you really need to do for a good scare is get lost inside your own mind – and all the eerie possibilities – while you lose yourself in the seemingly endless halls of what was once a bustling institution, now left to the elements to fade into black.
...but until it does, it still remains for folks like us to wander around a while, pondering all the possibilities of what could have been.
To discover more incredible boots-on-the-ground adventures across America from our team of local travel experts, check out all of the articles in OnlyInYourState’s Everyday Explorers series. What destinations would you like to see featured next on
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