Abandoned Wisconsin: The Demise of America’s Dairyland

Troy Hess

Hess’s photography collection is the work of years of exploration, down back roads and through abandoned communities. The decline of the dairy industry in Wisconsin is well known, despite our continued insistence on calling ourselves “The Dairy State.” But the days of huge families running a (somewhat) profitable farm are long past.

Started as a passion project, and with plenty of subject material available in the northern counties, Hess has collected dozens of haunting images. These eerie abandoned buildings are reminiscent of Victorian death photos – both sad and creepy. They are one last memento of what was before the houses, farms and abandoned schools crumble into nothing.

For residents of large cities, these empty buildings may seem bizarre and anachronistic. Where property is at a premium, buildings are not left to softly crumble away. But for those of who grew up in a rural location, the images are sadly familiar. “Hey, that kinda looks like that house out north of town…” With little else other than land, buildings like these are a normal part of the landscape – empty reminders of a more prosperous time.

A wonderful collection of  peaceful and lush images, tinged with an empty sadness.