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Former Sunrise Resort Property Sits and Waits

Now a state park, land burdened by garbage, vandals and deteriorating buildings.

Viewfinder is an occasional photo gallery of a subject from around our towns. This week? The former Sunrise Resort.

The Sunrise Resort property was to become a state park that would supposedly include a campground and meeting space, ending a 92-year run as a vacation destination.

Today it is a state park for visitors to walk, hike, bike and fish. A campground and meeting space? Hardly.

Sold about 30 months ago to the state, the buildings and recreational areas that once held wedding receptions, company picnics, family reunions, school trips and overnight guests still stand, but only as haunting images of what once was.

The once-manicured landscape is overgrown. Cabins and hotel-style rooms have been broken into. Worse, it is as if the previous owners left on their last day of operation, leaving everything as it was. The dining areas still have tables and chairs. Broken dishes litter the floors. Beds, mattresses and bureaus remain. Paddle boats and other equipment were left behind. Perhaps the best example, however, is in one dining area, where the condiment station remains stocked.

There is other trash, too. Tons of it. Tires, abandoned vehicles, trailers and storage buildings stuffed with who knows what, other furniture, kitchen supplies and much more. Also, broken glass is abundant and the Olympic-size swimming pool offers a 10-foot drop.

For those just interested in a hike or some fishing, the buildings and there contents might not be a big deal. For the curious who can't resist the allure, they offer an accident waiting to happen, or other trouble. Since 2009 there have been two suspicious fires, one in a barn, the other an abandoned building.

The state purchased the 143-acre property, located in the Moodus section of East Haddam next to Machimoodus State Park, on Jan. 3, 2009.

“For 93 years Sunrise Resort has provided recreational opportunities," then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell said at the time. "Now we are continuing the tradition by providing even more opportunities for families around the state to come here to hike, canoe, kayak and camp."

Not exactly. At least not yet. The state was hoping to find an investor willing to operate the property. So far, it hasn't happened. Still, it does offer a nice place to hike and a small beach along the Salmon River.

Sunrise Resort dates to 1916 when Henry Engle owned a 3-acre property named "Elm Camp." The resort grew under different owners. It was purchased in 1986 by the Johnson family.

The state purchased the site from Bob Johnson for $3.2 million.

Robert Nyman February 29, 2012 at 02:45 AM
I also grew up in the area and agree, it's a precious area in a good location. What a perfect idea, use community service workers, volunteers to co-ordinate the project. If it was considered Forestry, Wildlife Santuary, or some of the most beautiful campsites the State would have with easy access. For all of the creative bureaucratic revenue seekers, concessions would be an option, site fee's, etc.
Daniel johnson August 16, 2012 at 04:46 AM
Like I went through there cause I was snooping like every kid does with his friends like held those places in the pics I didn't even c I was there for like 3 hours
Karen October 11, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Johnsonville is being movie shot right now, and so is Sunrise with another movie! These movies are paying the state to use the property. HOWEVER, If some rich developer or whomever where to buy it and set it up as it once was as a resort, and a "small tourist Town", It could become an attraction for people who love Theater and Dinners ETC.....Better get it before the INDIANS DO and turn it into slumville of condominimums. !!
Karen October 11, 2012 at 11:52 PM
The Towns should buy it and make it into a FAIR GROUNDS or something.
Eric B. Ridel January 07, 2013 at 11:57 PM
I am ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTED after seeing those pictures as I spent many summers down there for a week and its now destroyed. I have great memories of a beautiful resort owned by great people and of course, the state and their ignorance and greed ruined it all. Thanks a lot Ct and GET A CLUE!

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