Holy Land

Holy Land USA

The skies slowly turn from blue to grey as an early-spring storm gathered its strength high above the headless forms of Saint Frances and Saint Anthony, who, together stand sentry at the gates to Holy Land U.S.A. Or rather, what remains of it.

Through the recent decades this bluff overlooking the city of Waterbury, Connecticut, has become a bleak, godless landscape of miniature ruins, but things weren't always this way. Opened in 1955, Holy Land U.S.A. was crafted as a theme-park, not unlike Gingerbread Castle or the Fairy Tale Forest, however in place of characters from the Grimm Fairy-tales, patrons of Holy Land found themselves wandering a collection of scenes pulled from the pages of the bible. The park today stands in a strange state – Toppled and eroded statues dot an overgrown property of ruinous a cityscape and miniature homes in various states of collapse. The last visitors left here in 1984, when the park closed to undergo renovations and expansion, unfortunately the owner passed away before those efforts came to fruition, and the hilltop has sat in purgatory forever after.

On a bluff over the weathering park can be found a newly-erected cross which stands in stark contrast to the miniature desolation around it. Each evening the 65-foot tall construction illuminates, becoming visible from miles outside the city. Next to it, laying upon the earth, can be found the former cross which stood in its place. This far plainer cross has, through dire events, come to be the most notorious feature of the park. Though we will not be delving into the detail of the matter, the former cross was removed a few years after a young girl of 16 years had her life cut short under it in the summer of 2010.

We made our way upward, toward the crest to visit the site of the old cross, now laying dented and tagged with illegible graffiti. Upon our arrival the ever-darkening skies finally released. Though unwelcome, the cold rain and haze which it brought made for an appropriate atmosphere. Far beyond us the grey skies reached outward over the city until they met with the grey earth upon the horizon, and at the center of this gloom we stood, the only audible sounds were those of the raindrops pinging off the metal form of the prostrate cross at our feet.

Perhaps in time Holy Land U.S.A. will have its own second coming. In 2013 the land was purchased by individuals who seemingly have the best intentions of the park at heart, and every so often the local Boy Scout Troops do manage to make their way here to paint the odd building or two, move downed trees, or cut back the constantly-encroaching briers. Faith is what founded this park in the first place, and perhaps that's all it really needs to exist once again.








 A relatively fresh paint job on the Tower of Babel, likely from a recent Boy Scout effort.

The rain comes.