Dark Side Of The Tri-State: Q&A With Mr.X!
So the thing that got me started on the Dark Side Of The Tri-State series of web postings was my daughter Kelcey’s Facebook photo of an old abandonded church that she and I had explored. Then my friend Leisa turned me onto a great website called Recreational Tresspasser, which is filled with allegedly haunted, at the very least creepy decaying places in the tri-state area like the previously mentioned Salem Kirche and the Old Dogtown School. I reached out to the man who created the Recreational Tresspasser site who will only give his name as ‘Mr.X’. I had a few questions for this man of mystery:
Q: Mr. X, I love the name of your websirte, recreationaltrespasser.com. Is that why you remain anonymous, because you trespass, more or less to get your photos and stories?
A: I am glad you like the name. I came up with it trying to find a name that was catchy and appropriate for what I did. Plus, I wanted a name that was not used. As far as Mr. X goes, I figured that being anonymous would have its perks. It is a good default as far as emails go so I am not putting my name on everything. Also, I generally try to get permission to visit these sites, but sometimes that is not an option so it is better to be safe. The truth is that I really do not care as much anymore now, I just have never thought about changing it. When I first started the site in 2005, I was much more concerned about it. I do want to make something very clear on the trespass issue. I have some pretty strict rules about what buildings I will or will not go into and this code has prevented entry from some pretty cool places. As a general rule, I do not enter a location that is posted “no trespassing” or whatever. There are, of course, exceptions to that. I do not vandalize, break in, or do anything to harm the place. If a way is open, I go in. If not, I’ll come back.
Q: How did you first begin the quest of documenting urban decay. What was the first location you explored?
A: It all started with Evansville State Hospital. I mean, everyone has interests in old creepy buildings, but it was not until I heard that they were going to tear it down that I had an interest in doing anything. I heard it was on the chopping block so I looked around the internet for pictures. I wanted to see what the place looked like inside and out. I could find nothing. Then again, not many people had flickr accounts in ’05 or even Facebook so maybe there were pictures out there, but not on the internet to find easily. So in short, I could find literally nothing on the place other than some old postcards and very old pictures…mostly of the original building. This was not good enough. I wanted more. I decided one day that since I could find no pictures that I would just go in and take them myself and post them for everyone to see. I would do some research (though I am sure I am missing quite a bit of the whole story of the place) and try to put together what I could with what I could find. It was not intended to be any type of academic source or anything, but I wanted to have some information to go with it so it was not just pictures. So that is what I did. I went several times as the door was always open and took many pictures. That place really got me started. After that, I wanted more. I started researching the Boehne Camp as best as I could. I scoured through old newspaper articles in attempt to piece together the story of that place. I am not sure I have done it justice either. After that, it became a routine to look around the city for old and abandoned buildings and get their pictures. Even though the name is “Recreational Trespasser” I do think of the site as a means of preserving these otherwise neglected or torn down structures.
Q: Out of all the locations close to Evansville, which one were you most entranced with?
A: The Evansville State Hospital of course! It truly was a remarkable place. It was just everything about it; the size, the history, and the fact that it was in such bad shape after such a short time were all things that made it so intriguing. It was obvious there were no plans to save it. I think they started stripping it almost after immediately it closed. I think that and some other factors accelerated the decay of it. That place was also so large you could never really go everywhere. There was always something new to find on each visit. I think it was the last time I went that I saw that they had a darkroom, which still smelled like developer. Now it is gone, and there was likely much more to see.
Shortly after the site went up, I received many emails from past and present employee at ESH. They set me straight on a few things. I really enjoyed communicating with all of them. Evansville State Hospital is fortunate to have so many people that care about their residents.
Mr.X also has a new Facebook page, as he now lives in Indianapolis and is documenting the weird and creepy up that way these days. I’m attempting to try and pick up where he left off down in this part of the state. I’m always looking for help and ideas. Know of a creepy, decaying perhaps even haunted spot around here? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org