Trail’s End Motel.
The names of just a few of the motels that dot the sides of Route 130, a near-85 mile strip of black ribbon that winds its way through Central New Jersey. Back in the day, Route 130 was a main thoroughfare. Then it got usurped a bit when the NJ Turnpike was opened in the early 1950s. Still, as it has remained heavily travelled bit of blacktop
These old motels are of the one level, often L-shaped, variety. The ones probably built in the 1950s or 1960s. But these can’t be be considered “vintage” or “retro”. Now they are just old.
The signage out front advertises Weekly Rates and Truckers Welcome. Some even boast Color TV and Free HBO.
They don’t have pools.
At one point in time, these places were a probably pretty comfortable place to rest. And single-level places like these allow one to keep an eye on their car (or rig or motorcycle) right from their room.
Not a bad option, especially if the vehicle holds all of your possessions.
See, these place seem now to be are more like halfway houses – halfway to nowhere. The transient, not really the traveler, finds more appeal in these places.
The Lake-Wood Court Motel is yet another of these such places. Located in South Brunswick, New Jersey, it’s a place I pass on my daily commute. The sign is certainly retro, but the structure itself just seemed sad. And lonely.
I had wanted to shoot it for awhile. So, back in April, I made the first of five visits there. Not sure when I noticed, but it seemed more and more empty. It didn’t say No Trespassing anywhere, so I just pulled up, parked and walked around the place.
Sure enough, it was empty. No more travelers or transients, after all this time.
I started to notice the bits and pieces of past activity.
The small American flag hanging behind one of the units. A birdfeeder that had fallen out of the ground and lay on the dirt.
Crushed beer cans. Cigarette boxes.
Behind the actual motel, an addition had been built, like an apartment. Not sure who lived there. The owner maybe?
There, a fly strip hung from the roof over the porch and sign on the door told Bill what number to call because all of the doors were locked.
I went back and shot more.
The shed. The bike. Twisted metal.
Then one day, as I was driving past….bulldozers were parked in front. The next day, the Lake-Wood Court Motel was halfway to a pile of rubble.
Three days later, it was fully gone.
I just made it. Caught last bits of sunshine that shone on the old place.
I couldn’t find out why it was knocked down. Nothing in the paper. Even contacted the local town historian, to no avail.
It wasn’t “vintage” or “retro” or even “antique”. The Lake-wood Court Motel was just old.
But for a lot of people, the traveler and the transient alike, it was place to put their feet one, at least for the night.
And maybe wonder about what was going to happen, further on up the road.
Editor note: Mark also has this as a slide show/video with music by Slaid Cleeve on Vimeo here . The video is a must see.