History Channel's Abandoned TV Reality Show Review
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History Channel's Abandoned TV Reality Show Review

Abandoned debuted over The History Channel on December 30, 2011. The TV reality series opener features a band of urban treasure hunters exploring the old Scranton Lace Company of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Abandoned is one of The History Channel's latest TV reality shows. Jay Chaikin, along with helpers Dan and Mark, explore abandoned properties in the United States, trying to make a dollar from the salvaged contents inside.

History Channel's Abandoned Debuts

Abandoned debuted over The History Channel on Friday, December 30, 2011. A promotional trailer for the series features the now-defunct Six Flags New Orleans, which on August 27, 2005, was closed down in preparation for Hurricane Katrina. Located in the Big Easy's 9th Ward, Six Flags New Orleans – "like an American Chernobyl" – was devastated by Katrina, never to reopen again. The only thing salvaged from the amusement park was Batman the Ride, hauled away by Six Flags Fiesta in Texas to play another day.  

The Abandoned TV trailer was distributed to various media outlets, including The History Channel, Discovery Network, CNBC and the BBC under various names. The show was titled Uncertain Future for CNBC and No Trespassing for the BBC.

Abandoned Pilot Episode

Abandoned's pilot episode takes place in historic Scranton, Pennsylvania. Jay Chaikin, along with his crew, have paid $1,500 to explore and selectively salvage the old, abandoned Scranton Lace Company. Established in 1890, the Scranton Lace Company (later the Scranton Lace Corporation) manufactured Nottingham Lace, tablecloths, napkins, shower curtains and the like. During World War II, the company partially shifted its focus, teaming up with Victory Parachutes and Sweeney Bros. to produce parachutes and camouflage netting for the American war effort. Scranton Lace came to an inglorious end in 2002 when the company's vice president duly informed workers – during mid-shift, no less – that the factory was shutting down, "effective immediately." It was perhaps one of the most extreme pink slip firings in American manufacturing history.

Located at 1315 Mylert Avenue, the Scranton Lace Company was once one of the area's largest employers. In January 2011, the Scranton City Council sounded the final death knell for the once-proud Scranton Lace, giving final approval to Lace Building Affiliates to redevelop the 32-building site.

Jay and his crew enter the abandoned factory for their one-time urban treasure hunt. The building is like an old, forgotten cemetery, unkempt, vacant and devoid of any human life. Among their discoveries is an old, rusted Modess tampon dispenser, a reminder that most of Scranton Lace's employees were women. They also encounter a number of old sewing machines, opting to leave them where they sit as past experience has taught them that they have little value.

At one time Scranton Lace housed a theater, bowling alley, gymnasium, infirmary and clock tower. Jay and his men explore the old bowling alley, tossing a few balls down its rotting wooden planks and knocking over a few pins for old time's sake. The clock tower houses a huge Meneely cast iron bell from the early 20th century. Jay believes the bell is worth at least $6,000, but it's hands off, as the old boy has been designated an historic Scranton landmark.

A mammoth loom used to produce lace on an industrial scale still stands in the factory. It was imported from Birmingham, England, in the early part of the 20th century, and along with the machine came English workers trained to run it. Jay remarks that the scrap value for the iron monster would run into the tens of thousands of dollars, but he's just not equipped to handle such a large salvage operation. "Unfortunately, I can't get it in my truck," he quips.

One of the more useful items salvaged by Jay and his crew are the factory's iron vault doors. Taking them home, Jay skillfully incorporates the doors into a handsome gun cabinet, which he hopes to sell for over $3,000. Included with the cabinet is a certificate of authenticity, detailing the history of the doors and their former home at the Scranton Lace Company.

Scranton Lace Company with visible clock tower in Scranton, Pennsylvania - Delta Development Group Inc.

Abandoned Has Treasure Hunting/Historical Appeal

Abandoned has great potential as a series. It appeals to both urban treasure hunting enthusiasts and history buffs. The number of abandoned buildings, factories, amusement parks, towns, et al., in the United States alone guarantees that producers would never run out of locales for our intrepid treasure hunters to explore and salvage.

The pilot episode of Abandoned was aired by The History Channel with the understanding that if ratings were high enough, additional segments would be ordered. At present, the show's status is unclear, with some fans lobbying The History Channel for Abandoned's return. We can only hope, however, that Abandoned, well, hasn't been "abandoned" itself, and unceremoniously relegated to the scrap heap of television history...

Note: Abandoned has found new life on the National Geographic Channel and makes its return – or premiere, however you want to look at it – on Wednesday, August 22, 2012. New episodes will follow...

Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved. 

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Comments (23)

Nice.I tweeted!

good review

Sounds like an interesting show and I'd like to watch it if it returns.

This was an excellent review, William. I never saw the program, I spend more time watching the Military Channel than I do the History Channel, but I would check it out if the program ever returns.

Oh Great dear friend William, much elated with your writings. Wonderful achievement. Thanks. I am out of votes today. Please accept me as your friend.


Erica Graham

I tuned in for each showing of Abandoned. This show was absolutely fantastic. I really liked the fact that they shared the history of an important place I had never even heard about. I also liked that they took artifacts and preserved them by incorporating them into something else. The gun cabinet was absolutely amazing. The show inspired me to want to know more about the Scranton Lace Factory, so I googled it and WOW. I have been logging on to the History Channel a lot to check for more Abandoned shows. I would really like to see new episodes of the show. Dan, Jay and Mark are very entertaining and quite easy on the eyes. Abandoned is a refreshing change from all the same "garb" on now. Abandoned is an all around awesome show!!!

Meg B

Loved the show. Been searching my TV menu/cable listings for it since I saw it and haven't found another episode. Fingers crossed that it will be on again soon. Very cool concept.

Brad Michael

Love this show! Gotta get some more! Keep it coming!!

Randi Strongin

I really loved this show. You have the complete package-history, suspense, humor, & entrepreneurial spirit. I look forward to more episodes, please.


Saw the show and really loved it. Did not know this factory was so ahead of it's time in the way it treated their employees. The guys on the show were great and quite nice looking. They really held my interest on the facts of history of the factory. Looking forward to more episodes.

John Burdick

Really liked this show. Was stoked to see the local connections. Great concept. Both interesting and informative. I loved all the historical facts and nuggets of information. I've had a hard time finding additional episodes, and now I know why. PLEASE make more episodes of this show!!!!!

Jamie and Andy Parker

Great article... and great show! We love Abandoned. It adds true meaning to the phrase, "One man's junk is another man's treasure." Isn't that what the American Dream is all about? These 3 guys have a talent for taking nothing and turning it into something. Please give us more!

Dan Pease

Great show. Loved the inside look as to what happens to so many of the "abandoned" 19th and 20th century factories that once supported entire towns. Give us more!

Dawn Phillips

I really enjoyed watching abandoned and would love to see more. I really liked that it was factual yet entertaining. The hosts were intelligent yet comical a perfect mix. I hope to see more episodes in the near future.

Donna B

Loved the show - loved the history lesson - buildings have stories that are connected to a time/generation of people living in America.

Shane Filer

Neat show -- enjoyed hearing about abandoned factories, since that's the industry that I do business in. Enjoyed hearing about the local history of a Pennsylvania city's major manufacutring base. Would definitely watch this one on a regular basis. Might be a good idea to develop some sort of a website to bid on the product(s) that get made after the show?

If there's anything new on Abandoned, I will post it here or update the info in my above feature article. I didn't realize Abandoned had struck such a positive nerve with viewers.

Meg B

Lets hope the powers that be at history channel have seen these posts and decide to add this slow to their line up.

I saw that first show with Scranton Lace and thought it was great! Nice article!

I just watched an episode of this show and loved it. Learning about the history of old abandoned buildings and the objects they hold is inspiring to me as an artist. The episode I saw was about an old mill and a gothic church. I hope to see more episodes. Nice article!

Wishing you the best on this new season!  David Jones, Chowns Group.......

i use to go to scranton lace w/mom&dad they owned fabric store and if u ever saw those machines run u would know what work really was i am interested in talking to the owners about making an offer on stuff in the old factory can not contact jayorricki can not find 411 number for them cannot find a web page for them any help ???8136857585