By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Many of us pass by them all the time and might not give them a second look. But, abandoned buildings in Minnesota are finding new life on Facebook.

The popular page started as a passion project for one Mankato photographer.

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“I break for barns like this,” Zak Rivers said as he took a picture of a barn from the side of a rural road near Mankato.

When Rivers got his first camera a dozen years ago, he found himself taking the long way to get to his weekend band gigs through southern Minnesota.

“Every time you hit a dirt road you see something that’s interesting,” Rivers said.

He put his findings on Facebook.

“I started with old bar signs, and it wasn’t long before I was posting abandoned buildings and barns, things like that,” Rivers added.

As his photography work picked up, he wondered about places in other parts of the state.

“As I got busier with portraits and weddings and things like that I decided to open it up to the public. So they could contribute,” he said.

The Facebook page called Abandoned: Minnesota has grown to more than 58,000 members in the last year.

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From tiny churches, to a farmhouse along the Mississippi, or an old corn crib near Canby, hundreds of photos have been shared.

Credit: Abandoned Minnesota

“Your phone does such a great job taking pictures, everyone can contribute,” Rivers said.

But, what Rivers finds the most rewarding are the stories that often go along with them.

“There’s something about that people really like,” River said.

As he challenges us all to take a different route and to see something old in a new light.

“Just whatever magic old, abandoned places have for people,” he said.

The Facebook group reminds people not to trespass when taking pictures.

Some professional photos are also available as prints to buy on the site.

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Liz Collin