Find Abandoned Places Near You Easily With an App

Find Abandoned Places Near You Easily With an App

As a landscape photographer I'm always looking for unique locations. Living in Arizona, I seek out ghost towns, abandoned mines, and old airfields, military or civilian. 

Ideas are sometimes hard to come by, but here's a cool app that is sure to give you some ideas. It's called "Forgotten", and it's free, and works on iOS or Android at the Google Play Store. 

The only drawback is that it originally concentrated on the southwestern United States and California, but the developers are adding new locations every week. Depending on what you are searching for, there are locations in every state and around the world. Searching for "mines" for example has nice coverage in the Midwest and the eastern U.S.

After you enter your search you'll get a Google Map with pins at your selections. You can search for things like churches or mills, or just about any abandoned place. You can also just look at a state and see everything.

Locations are listed in order of distance. When you click on a pin, you'll get a photo of the location, some comments from people who have been there, latitude and longitude, and driving directions. 

One mildly disconcerting feature of the app is every so often you'll see a price next to a location. That means someone found a place and you'll have to pay a fee to get the exact location. You can even post your own locations and attach a fee to them. I guess it could be justified by saying the person asking for the fee doesn't want the place over-run with photographers, but frankly these places aren't likely to become photo meccas. You can also post your own locations and attach a price to the specifics. Most of the money will get come back to you, with a small fee going for app upkeep and administration.

People who use Forgotten can create a free account, save favorites, and use the website that has the same information, and it will sync to your favorites.

At any rate, there are plenty of contributed locations that are free, and that's how I've been using the app.

There are a few things that could be better. The app has kind of a rough feel. Maps take 2 fingers to scroll, which is a bit unintuitive, even though the app reminds you to do that. 

Some distance calculations were wrong, but on the next use they were correct. You do have to make sure the app is set to use your location. 

On iOS when you want directions, the app needs Google Maps. It would be nicer for iOS users if you also had the option to use Apple Maps. 

I had a chat with Joe Manier, who created the app. He told me he mostly takes pictures from his drone, and started compiling a list of good locations.

He's had more than 10,000 downloads, and while most of the abandoned locations are in the U.S. there's are now places popping up all over the world. 

Forgotten is is a pretty unique app and photographers should find it useful. I found some iOS apps that are similar, including Really Good Photo Spots and Explorest - Photo Locations. Both apps look interesting but require in app purchases to make them fully useable. Neither seem available for Android but there are similar apps for people using that platform. 

If part of your passion is finding out of the way lonely, decaying locations for photography Forgotten is worth a serious look.

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13 Comments

I'm going to load that now. Thanks!

Musing Eye's picture

This is cool, and at the same time I'm amused that this article is published at basically the same time as the "don't publish coordinates of sensitive locations!" article. In some ways I like that, I don't think that FS has to have a singular editorial position on such, even if we consider these comparable concepts.

Xander Cesari's picture

I had the same thought but I think there's a difference of scale here. Hopefully these places won't see the millions of visitors that the national parks have had to deal with.

I'm more concerned about this app enabling trespassing and causing issues for property owners or photographers travelling on posted land and getting in trouble. I'm downloading it and checking it out but people have to remember to be aware of land use laws and courtesy wherever they go.

Spy Black's picture

Yeah, it's pretty safe to say there's gong to be some trespassing issues. also venturing into places that may not be safe for any number of reasons.

William Howell's picture

Yeah you have to be careful, no need to get in trouble or get hurt for a photograph.

Duane Klipping's picture

Just had an article yesterday about the sins of geo tagging and today we condone an ap that does just that. The author says looking for unique places how can they be that if everyone can find it on an app.

I understand your point but The Grand Canyon, for example, is unique and you don't even need an app to find it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Darrel Wright's picture

Got that same pic but at the golden hour

On the ThaiVisa Expat forum (www.thaivisa.com) is a section dedicated to 'abandoned, derelict and decaying locations around Thailand'. So far, around 20 pages are filled with pictures and related information.

The thread can be found at:
https://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/952668-abandoned-derelict-decaying-...

David Pavlich's picture

I signed up just for the fun of it. I didn't expect to find any information for in and around Winnipeg and I didn't. I did check on my old haunt, New Orleans, and found the abandoned Six Flags theme park.

Too many fake loctaions from too many people using it to try to make money.
This becomes "ego posting" whihc is not very useful.
Suggest that the site/app be for posting useful information without payment
Or pay to join the site/ buy the app and it's all free

Just FYI, you have to create an account to use it.