TOURIST TRAPPED

Avid traveler, urban explorer and follower of America's history, landmarks, and road side oddities.

Wonderland Amusement Park- Beijing, China

Officially Abandoned and Destroyed in May 2013

An urban explorers dream! An eerie look at Wonderland which was planned to be the largest amusement park in all of Asia. Financial problems were to blame for the parks abandonment and eventual ruin. 

Ether Monument- Boston, Massachusetts

The Ether Monument, located on the Arlington Street side of the Boston Public Garden, commemorates the first use of ether as an anesthetic in 1846. This momentous event in medical history occurred at what is now called the Ether Dome at Massachusetts General Hospital which is within short walking distance from the monument. This monument and fountain, also called “The Good Samaritan”, is the oldest monument in the Garden and depicts a Moorish doctor holding a naked man in a pose rather similar to Michelangelo’s Pietà. The monument was designed by William Robert Ware and sculpted by John Quincy Adams Ward.

Boothe Memorial Park and Museum- Stratford, Connecticut

Situated on 32-acres in the in the southwest corner of Connecticut lies one of the most unique tourist spots I’ve seen in quite awhile. In 1914, two brothers, David and Stephen Boothe, established a museum park that held a unique array of buildings on a sprawling expanse of land. Included in the park is a blacksmith shop, clock tower, lighthouse, a non-denominational chapel, observatory, and trolley station among other architecturally different buildings. A model train exhibit is on site, as well as displays of early farm life- including an unexplained chicken coop. Perhaps the most interesting display is of the last standing toll booth plaza in Connecticut before they were abolished statewide. The log cabin like structure was located in Milford, CT along the Merritt Parkway from 1940-1988 before its removal. 

The Booth Memorial Park also lays claim to the “Oldest Homestead in America.” The current home, built in 1840, sits atop a foundation from a 1663 home and has been continuously occupied since that time.

Oneida Football Club Marker- Boston, Massachusetts

On Boston Common, from 1862-1865, a variant of football and rugby was played on the fields near Beacon Street- the first kind of football to ever be played in the United States. This variant is an oft forgotten albeit important precursor to organized American Football. The game played during this time was referred to as the “Boston Game”. In 1925, this marker was put in place by the living members of the undefeated Oneida Football Club to commemorate the significance of the event in sports history.

Ernest Borgnine Park- Hamden, Connecticut

Actor Ernest Borgnine, born in Hamden in 1917, is well deserving of a park— however, not this one. Located at the corner of Putnam and Dixwell Avenue, Ernest Borgnine Park is a small expanse of land next to a shopping center. Besides the sign with the name of the park, no explanation is given as to why a park dedicated to Ernest Borgnine is located in Hamden in the first place. Dedicated in 2005, Mr. Borgnine had seven years before his death in July of 2012 to wonder why his birthplace would dedicate a park to him in such an unfortunate area. 

Salem Willows- Salem, Massachusetts

Salem is a treasure trove of tourist traps yet Salem Willows is one for the locals. In 1801, white willow trees were planted along an oceanfront spot near a smallpox hospital. Patients could walk along shaded paths while convalescing. The area became a public park in 1858 after the closing of the hospital. In its early days, the area was well known for its food and its convenience for city dwellers looking to get away. Streetcars to the area were torn down in the mid 20th century and all the restaurants closed in the 60’s.Today the area is chock full of arcade games- skeeball anyone?-take out stands, and kiddies rides. Nonetheless, the area is still worth a visit for the ocean views.

Small Pox Memorial- Milford, Connecticut

In 1777 a British ship carrying Revolutionary War prisoners dumped nearly 200 Continental soldiers infected with small pox on the Connecticut shore. 46 of those men died and were buried in a mass grave. The monument, which dates back to 1852, is a brownstone obelisk that lists the names of those who died. To the one soldier that could not be named, a separate marker exists to “An Unknown American Soldier”. The marker has since become a monument to all those in Milford who died in the Revolutionary War. This monument elicits strong patriotism to any who visit and is less a tourist trap then an American icon.

Pez Visitor Center- Orange, Connecticut

Whether you are a plastic toy enthusiast or just someone who enjoys learning about small sugary candies, the Pez Visitor Center is the roadside attraction for you. With just a small five dollar admission fee (which includes a two dollar store credit- enough to buy a dispenser of your very own) visitors enter the world of Pez. Along the walls, one can learn about the history of Pez while museum-ish glass cases display the many different types of dispensers created through the years. On certain days, the factory is in operation and one can see the production center of the small candies.  

Thorvald’s Rock, AD 1004— Hampton, New Hampshire

Playing off the “rock in a hole” theme, Thorvald’s Rock is quite a gem. Located at the Tuck Museum in Hampton, this rock supposedly marks the grave site of Thorvald, brother of famous Viking, Leif Eriksson and son of Erik the Red. Although this claim has been disputed for many years, tourists from all over came to chip away at the rock until it was finally put in a hole and surrounded by concrete walls and iron bars. Whatever your opinion, Thorvald’s Rock is worth a view!

Goody Cole Monument- Hampton, New Hampshire

Eunice “Goody” Cole was the only woman convicted of witchcraft in the state of New Hampshire; imprisoned until her death in 1680. Upon her death, Goody Cole was buried in an unmarked grave, its whereabouts still unknown to this day. In 1937, the townspeople of Hampton began efforts to clear Goody Cole’s name including burning all court documents accusing her of witchcraft and reinstating her place as a citizen. In 1963, the Goody Cole memorial stone, a rather unimpressive stone carving, was dedicated to her life and placed among other stone structures at the Tuck Museum. 

Bound Rock- Seabrook, New Hampshire

Bound Rock is one of the oldest boundary markers in the United States, originally separating the towns of Salisbury, Massachusetts and Hampton, New Hampshire. Later, in 1768, the rock marked the boundary between Seabrook, New Hampshire and Hampton. For many years, the rock was located in the middle of the Hampton River, but as the river changed its course, so did the rocks location, often disappearing for years on end. In 1937, the rock was found in a sand dune and a concrete wall was placed around it to protect this piece of New Hampshire history. In 1962, a steel grate was put on top of the concrete enclosure meaning the rock, in all its glory, is nearly impossible to see. 

Mark Twain’s Grave- Elmira, New York

Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York is the final resting place for one of the greatest authors in American history- Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. Signs in the cemetery direct visitors through the sprawling expanse to Twain’s grave site where he is buried along side his wife and daughter, Clara. Clara’s husband, Ossip Grabrilowitsch, a popular pianist  conductor and composer of the time, is also buried on the plot; his likeness appearing on the monument alongside Twain. Other notable burials at Woodlawn include Ernie Davis and Hal Roach.

Fantasy of Flight- Polk City, Florida

Opened in 1995, Fantasy of Flight is an aviation themed attraction that offers daily aerial demonstrations to visitors. Fantasy of Flight offers interesting “immersion experiences” that give visitors the opportunity to enter into a WWII era aircraft, complete with sound, and a darkened room that is made to look like an English airfield. Although I am not much interested in the history of aviation, I consider this attraction a must see!

There might be nothing prettier than Beacon Hill after a blizzard…

New York Public Library, Intersection of 5th & 42nd Street- New York City, New York

Although a historic building in and of itself, the reason for the New York Public Library’s status as a tourist trap comes directly from its appearance in popular culture, most notably in the 1984 film Ghostbusters. The iconic lion statues out front, named Patience and Fortitude, are easily recognizable as are the pillars and archways of the buildings entrance thus making it a much visited tourist trap.