This week: This old houseEdited by: Arakun the Twisted Raccoon
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Quote for the week: "Where there is no imagination there is no horror."
~Arthur Conan Doyle
Have you ever passed an abandoned building and wondered about its history? What was it used for? Who did it belong to? Why was it abandoned?
Old, abandoned farmsteads are common in the midwestern US where I live. Many of them were abandoned back in the 1930s. The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl made it impossible for the original owners to make a living on the land, so they left their homes behind and moved on.
In a few cases, buildings may have been abandoned because the owner was successful. It is common to see a new, modern farmstead just down the road from an old, abandoned one. The farm family may have outgrown the old buildings and found it easier to rebuild on another section of the property than to renovate the existing structures. They may have left the older buildings standing for sentimental reasons or just because they weren't sure what to do with them.
At one site, three small abandoned houses sit in a row. According to local legends, a family build the first one back in the late 1800s. After they had lived there a few months, strange things started to happen and they believed the house was haunted. Eventually, they moved out and built the second house, only to have the strange occurrences follow them. They built the third house only to have it happen again, so they abandoned the site and left the area.
Abandoned buildings and farmsteads can be dangerous even without ghosts or other supernatural entities. It doesn't take unoccupied structures long to deteriorate, especially under extreme weather conditions. Even a newer building might become unsafe to enter after a few northern winters without heat. Animals and insect invaders will add to the destruction. Overgrown vegetation can hide old farm equipment, barbed wire, or wells. Your characters will need to be careful if they find themselves wandering around old buildings or farms, especially late at night.
In some cases, whole towns or settlements have been abandoned. These ghost towns may have been left behind when a key industry closed its doors and people moved on in search of jobs. In some cases, a plague may have claimed all the inhabitants, or they might have left for reasons never discovered.
In the area where I live, a dam was constructed on a major river back in the 1940s. Many workers moved to the area to work on dam construction, and small temporary settlements arose to house them. When the dam was finished, most of the workers moved on, and the settlements were abandoned. Most of the buildings have been torn down, but a few shacks are still standing on some sites.
If your characters decide to enter an abandoned building or farm site, remember that just because a place is unoccupied it does not mean it doesn't belong to somebody. They might find themselves in trouble if they enter any property without the owner's permission. In other cases, they might find out that the property isn't as empty as they thought. Homeless people might be using it as a shelter or a wanted criminal might be hiding there.
Something to try: Write a horror story set in a ghost town.
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