These Awesome Photos Bring Stories of Forgotten Valley Places Back to Life

A photographer’s curiosity leads to a popular peek into the past

When Rhinebeck photographer Liz Cooke first set foot on the abandoned grounds of Hudson River State Hospital in Poughkeepsie four years ago, the hauntingly beautiful scenes within its gates left a mark on her that would soon engage thousands of others from the Hudson Valley.

1891 Castle in the Woods

Hudson River State Hospital

Exploring the empty grounds, Cooke photographed the crumbling remains left behind after the psychiatric hospital closed for good in 2003. These eerie, uninhabited shots captivated the community after she shared them on Facebook — prompting the start of Abandoned Hudson Valley (AHV), a photographic venture unveiling the stories of forgotten places in disrepair around the region. 

Wyndcliffe, a Gothic 24-room mansion built for socialite Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones, spurred a wave of palatial home-building along the Hudson River and resulted in the origin of the phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses.”

“Going to these sites is like entering a time capsule — sometimes nothing has been touched in [upwards of] 30 or 40 years,” Cooke said. “[At] many of these areas, you will not believe what you’re seeing. They are bizarre, fascinating and bittersweet, and it’s pretty easy to connect with the lives that were lived there. I’m not into the paranormal, but these places have stories to tell and you can feel it.”

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Boy Scout drums in a riverside shanty. 

Since its launch in 2013 by Cooke and fellow photographer Andy Milford, AHV has uncovered a multitude of local ruins ranging from decaying homes and graffiti-covered hotels to desolate roadside attractions and crumbling brickyards. It also shows rare glimpses inside locally acclaimed attractions like Bannerman Castle and Catskill Game Farm. 

Convalescent home

While AHV documents the now-empty remnants of the past, its photos often revive memories and stories for the people that at one time filled those places with life. 

Pink Room, the Catskills

“It’s so incredibly gratifying to bring people together through places that some thought were completely forgotten,” Cooke said. “We remind people that they aren’t.”

To view the growing collection of Hudson Valley ruins, visit, and “like” Abandoned Hudson Valley on Facebook for new photos and updates.

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