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Nothing Goes Wrong on Palmerston Island

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This New Zealand protectorate is one of the most isolated communities in the world. Palmerston Island is the westernmost islet of a coral atoll belonging to the Cook Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Just sixty two people – all from the same bloodline – occupy the remote island, which sits approximately 2,000 miles (3,200 km) northeast of New Zealand and 2,850 miles (4,590 km) southwest of Hawaii.

While the enclave is an island utopia, paradise comes at a cost: Palmerston lacks an airport, gas station, grocer, and hospital. There are no cars, marinas, hotels, or restaurants. Yet despite this lack of amenities, one family has managed to prosper on the island for over one hundred and fifty years. Read more…

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Buried from the public: Hart Island, New York

September 20, 2014 45 comments

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At first glance this modest island in New York appears unremarkable. The 131-acre dark speck of land has crumbling buildings, is off-limits to the public, and has not been occupied for the last forty years. Area residents might know of Long Island Sound’s Hart Island, but few are familiar with its long-standing mission as the largest – and least visited – burial ground in the United States.

For one hundred and fifty years the island has also been home to a prisoner of war camp, an insane asylum, a quarantine facility, a tuberculosis sanatorium, a boy’s reformatory, a disciplinary barracks, a Nike Ajax missile base, and a narcotics rehabilitation center. Read more…

Stately in Abandonment: Witley Court

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During its heyday Witley Court was one of Europe’s most lavish Victorian estates. An iconic portico and timeless fountain – both penned by famed designers – are hallmarks of this West Midlands treasure. Nearly one hundred were on staff, and for centuries it served as a residence for British Lords who often entertained royalty.

However an early twentieth-century fire ravaged the building, and a prohibitive cost to rebuild forced the owners to abandon the home. It wasn’t until decades later the derelict building was rescued by a preservation commission, and today it stands as the grandest Victorian manor in arrested decay.

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Relic From a Bygone Era: Pressmen’s Home, Tennessee

Located in the hills of Eastern Tennessee, this abandoned complex was once home to the International Printing Pressmen and Assistants Union of North America. The bucolic setting was chosen for its remote location and proximity to a spring believed to offer health benefits.

The property was purchased in 1911, and for sixty-five years Pressmen’s Home offered training, healthcare, and leisure services to union members and their families.

But by the late 1960s union leadership decided the remote location was too far removed from the political eye, and in 1967 the headquarters was moved to Washington D.C. Pressmen’s Home spent the next two years winding down operations, and the buildings have been vacant ever since.

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