Looking for abandoned places for neat photography shoots!
January 8, 2014 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Do you live or know of neat places in Illinois, Missouri and Indiana that my explorer/photographer friend could visit? Let me know!

Hi! I am good friends with an art photographer who has a penchant for exploring and photographing abandoned places. (Warehouses, barns, houses, schools, you name it!) I am looking for some neat spots in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana that she could go. It would especially be helpful to have information regarding who to contact for permission to visit and photograph some of these places. Thanks mefites!
posted by Driven to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie occupies the site of a former army munitions facility and there are a number of abandoned bunkers and other structures remaining on the site. No permission is necessary to enter these.
posted by enn at 9:14 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

The downtown of East St Louis, Illinois, has plenty of abandon structures to peruse, if you're adventurous enough (including the beautiful and heartbreaking tree-sprouting Majestic Theater). Careful though; I once stumbled into a crack den that I thought was a completely abandon building.
posted by slogger at 9:33 AM on January 8, 2014

The Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago is filled with beautiful stonework.
posted by ignignokt at 9:45 AM on January 8, 2014

The Center for Land Use Interpretation may be a good place to find some cool sites. They catalog unusual sites nationwide here.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 10:34 AM on January 8, 2014

The Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri, is a pretty cool place to visit and photograph. There are a number of buildings of various ages on the property, and they mostly look as though they haven't been touched in years. They have regular tours of some of the buildings, but you could likely get more time if you contacted them about photography.
Just north of the river in Jeff City is the Renz Women's Penitentiary, which was abandoned after catastrophic river flooding in 1993. This place is not open to the public on tours, and they will hassle you if you try to trespass without going through the proper channels. Sorry, I don't know what those channels are. But it might be worth the research.

The ruins of the mansion at Ha Ha Tonka (on the Lake of the Ozarks) is a pretty cool spot. It's also a Missouri state park, so it's easy to access.
At the Lake of the Ozarks on the strip (the old business district near Bagnell Dam) is a real throwback. Some of the amusement features here haven't been updated since the 40s or 50s.

Lots of architectural interest (both revived and decayed) along the old Route 66 corridor (which mostly follows I-44 in Missouri).

Many towns in these states (and across the US) are filled with rural decay. Small towns that were once on railroad lines often have abandoned business districts and buildings as the population has dwindled. Falling-down barns are not hard to find.
Also, consider looking for abandoned road sections (like the parts of Route 66 or old Route 40 that weren't integrated into the interstates). Sometimes there's an old gas station or building that might be worth a look.
posted by aabbbiee at 11:13 AM on January 8, 2014

Have a look at the old Manteno State Hospital in Manteno, IL.
posted by lstanley at 11:14 AM on January 8, 2014

East St. Louis: politically, culturally, and somewhat physically abandoned.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:13 PM on January 8, 2014

The old prison in Joliet, IL. I think you could probably just contact the city for info on access.

Easy to get to on a road trip too, as it's not too far from I-80. And if you go just a bit farther north (about a mile), you'll find downtown Lockport, which is a neat old river town. Some empty storefronts along the main road in some pretty interesting-looking buildings, but probably not as "abandoned" as your friend would be looking for.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:21 PM on January 8, 2014

Ooh, another one, also close to I-80 (north at the Harlem Avenue exit in Tinley Park, IL). The now-closed Tinley Park Mental Health Center has some pretty unusual buildings.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:28 PM on January 8, 2014

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