Ghost towns are abandoned places that have a unique and mysterious atmosphere. These towns can offer visitors an eerie glimpse into the past, often evoking feelings of curiosity and intrigue. This article will explore eight of the most intriguing ghost towns you can visit.
From the story behind their abandonment to the eerie and often spooky atmosphere surrounding them, these towns will leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits. Discover the history of some of America’s most fascinating ghost towns.
The Perplexing History of Ghost Towns
The history behind ghost towns is often perplexing and filled with mystery. These towns are usually abandoned due to various factors, from natural disasters to economic decline or the passage of time.
The reasons for their abandonment can sometimes be difficult to discern, which only adds to the intrigue surrounding them. Despite being deserted, ghost towns are still filled with history, and visiting one of these towns can provide an insight into what life was like in the past.
Bursting with Eerie Atmosphere
Ghost towns are known for their eerie atmosphere that can send shivers down your spine. The silence that envelopes the town can be unsettling, and the remnants of the past, including buildings, storefronts, and signs, can transport you back in time.
Some ghost towns are said to be haunted, with reports of ghost sightings or unexplained noises. Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, there’s no denying that visiting a ghost town can be a haunting experience.
From Nevada to Alaska, these abandoned towns hold the stories of miners, settlers, and boomtowns of the past.
In the 1700s, Spanish settlers first found silver in what is now known as Nelson. A hundred years later, prospectors discovered gold, including Civil War deserters, leading to one of Nevada’s largest booms. However, disputes over the Techatticup Mine often led to violence. The town’s mines remained active until the 1940s. Today, the ghost town of Nelson is a popular spot for photo shoots, films, and music videos.
Once a bustling mining camp, Goldfield was established in 1902 and was once the largest city in Nevada. Despite its decline due to a bust in the mines and a flash flood, about 250 people still call this “living ghost town” home. Don’t miss the said-to-be-haunted Mozart Tavern and join a paranormal ghost tour. The town comes to life during the annual Goldfield Days in August.
This Gold Rush town near Yosemite has been frozen in time for almost 100 years. With residents leaving due to dwindling numbers and a series of fires, Bodie has remained nearly untouched since the early 1900s. Tables are still set for dinner, shops are still stocked, and lessons are still on the chalkboard in the schoolhouse. Visitors are warned to avoid taking anything from the site or risk bad luck.
Glenrio is a small town located on the border between New Mexico and Texas. It was a popular stop on Route 66 from the 1940s to the 1960s. People would stop for gas, food, and drinks and stay in motels. But when the I-40 was built, drivers stopped coming to Glenrio, and the town fell apart. There are still 17 abandoned buildings left in the Glenrio Historic District.
St Elmo, CO
St Elmo was a busy town back in the day because it had gold and silver mines. People started to leave when the mines ran out and diseases were spreading. The town also lost its train service to Chalk Creek Canyon in the 1920s, making visiting harder for people. Today, there’s still a general store and a Ghost Town Guest House operating, so people can spend a night in this ghost town.
Bannack is a former mining town in Montana that’s known for being a little rough. Back in the Gold Rush era, many crimes and murders were happening in the town. The town was abandoned in the 1950s, but over 50 of the original 1800s buildings still exist today. Bannack is now a state park where people can explore the old town.
Cahawba was the first capital of Alabama from 1820 to 1825. It was a busy place, located at the junction of two rivers. But after the war, the capital was moved to Selma, and the town lost it’s business and population. It also suffered from periodic flooding. Today, it’s an Old Cahawba Archeological Park that honors the history of the Native American presence and the freedmen and women who lived there. You can see abandoned streets, cemeteries, and building ruins. There’s also a ghostly “orb” known to appear in the garden maze at the home of C.C. Pegues.
Thurmond was a busy town in the early 1900s because it was a major Chesapeake & Ohio Railway stop. It had hotels, banks, a post office, and more. But the Great Depression and the invention of the diesel train in the 1950s made the town less busy. Today, the National Park Service has restored the depot, and the town is on the National Register of Historic Places. You can take a self-guided tour of the now-quiet town by driving 7 miles down a narrow, winding road.
Santa Claus, AZ
Santa Claus is an abandoned town in the middle of the Mojave Desert dedicated to Christmas. It was founded in 1937 to attract buyers to the desert but wasn’t popular enough. The decline of Route 66 also contributed to the downfall of the town. You can still see rundown red-and-white buildings with forlorn tinsel; although it’s not maintained, you’re free to visit.
Castle Dome, AZ
Castle Dome is a huge place with 80 buildings and 300 mines. It was a booming settlement in the mid-1800s, with reconstructions of the gold and silver mining claims. There are many interesting stories about the place, including an 1863 mine owner attacked by 180 Apaches, an opium overdose, a stagecoach robbery, and a lynching. There’s also an $800 million fluorescent minerals wall and a doomsday cult that wintered here. It’s worth a visit!
Located in Alaska’s Wrangell–St. Elias National Park, this copper mining town, is at the end of a 60-mile dirt road. In its prime, from 1910 to 1940, Kennecott processed nearly $200 million worth of copper before being abandoned. Today, you can take a two-hour guided tour of the 14-story mill, and don’t miss the Root and Kennecott glaciers.
Another ghost town name Goldfield can be found in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains. With activities like a zipline, tours of a century-old mine, a walking ghost tour, seasonal gunfights, gold-panning, and the chance to talk with a “floozy” at Lu Lu’s Bordello, this ghost town is anything but quiet.
Rhyolite was once a thriving ore mining community near Death Valley National Park. In 1904, gold was found in its quartz, leading to 2,000 claims in the area. The town had a hospital, opera house, and stock exchange, but residents began to leave after the 1907 financial panic. In 1916, the lights were turned off, and the town became a ghost town. Today, Rhyolite is best known as the set for the 2005 sci-fi thriller “The Island.”
An underground mine fire that went wrong led to the creation of this modern ghost town. In 1962, the fire spread to the town’s old mines, causing sinkholes, smoke, and toxic fumes. By 1983, most residents had evacuated, and in 2002 the town’s ZIP code was recalled. Despite the dangers, some residents still live in Centralia.
Visiting ghost towns can be a fascinating and eerie experience, as they are windows into the past and offer a glimpse into what once was. The eight ghost towns we have explored in Illinois have unique histories and stories that make them worth a visit.
Whether you’re a history buff, a fan of the paranormal, or just looking for something unusual to do, you won’t be disappointed.
In conclusion, the ghost towns of Illinois are a treasure trove of history, mysteries, and stories. From Centralia’s burning underground coal mine to the deserted ruins of Cairo, there is something for everyone.
These forgotten towns have been abandoned, but they fascinate and intrigue visitors who explore them. The eerie atmosphere, the desolate landscapes, and the feeling of being transported to a different time are all part of the experience.
So, why not plan a visit to one of these ghost towns and see what they have to offer? Remember to take precautions when exploring these areas, as many can be hazardous due to their abandoned and decrepit condition.
But, with proper preparation and care, you can have a fascinating and unforgettable experience exploring the eerie history of these abandoned towns.