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America's Coolest Ghost Towns

Updated November 6, 2020 7.6k votes 1.5k voters 152.1k views33 items

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"Ghost Town" is a slang term for a town or city that has, for one reason or another, been abandoned by people. Typical reasons for cities to be evacuated and abandoned by humans include an economic collapse, armed conflicts and wars, changes in the transportation grid, natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes or - in some cases - specific acts of local governments. Sometimes, the term "ghost town" is also applied to places that are sparsely populated, or from where a once-large population scattered, but this list will largely focus on abandoned, empty ghost towns.

American academics have attempted to get even more specific about the definition of "ghost town." Professor T. Lindsay Baker of Tarleton State University in Texas has issued two defining characteristics of ghost towns: (1) there is no more reason for this town to exist and (2) there are tangible remnants of the town for visitors to see.

In America, the notion of a "ghost town" became popularized largely following the California Gold Rush, when a variety of mining towns and camps sprung up across the Western and even parts of the Southern US that were later abandoned when the local resources were used up. Some of these ghost towns entered the popular culture, including Deadwood, South Dakota (which inspired the HBO TV series of the same name) and Cripple Creek, Colorado. Many of these ghost towns have been preserved and serve as state parks, while other former ghost towns have been slowly repopulated over time (such as Aspen, Colorado).
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    Tombstone, AZ

    Tombstone is a historic western city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, founded in 1879 by Ed Schieffelin in what was then Pima County, Arizona Territory. It was one of the last wide-open frontier boomtowns in the American Old West. The town prospered from about 1877 to 1890, during which time the town's mines produced US$40 to $85 million in silver bullion, the largest productive silver district in Arizona. Its population grew from 100 to around 14,000 in less than seven years. It is best known as the site of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and draws most of its revenue from tourism. The town was established on a mesa above the Tough Nut Mine. Within two years of its founding,... more on Wikipedia
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  • Calico is a ghost town and former mining town in San Bernardino County, California, United States. Located in the Calico Mountains of the Mojave Desert region of Southern California, it was founded in 1881 as a silver mining town, and today has been converted into a county park named Calico Ghost Town. Located off Interstate 15, it lies 3 miles from Barstow and 3 miles from Yermo. Giant letters spelling CALICO can be seen on the Calico Peaks behind the ghost town from the freeway. Walter Knott purchased Calico in the 1950s, architecturally restoring all but the five remaining original buildings to look as they did in the 1880s. Calico received California Historical Landmark #782, and in... more on Wikipedia
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  • Centralia is a borough and a near-ghost town in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, United States. Its population has dwindled from over 1,000 residents in 1981 to 7 in 2013 as a result of the Centralia mine fire that has been burning beneath the borough since 1962. Centralia is the least-populated municipality in Pennsylvania. Centralia is part of the Bloomsburg-Berwick micropolitan area. The borough is completely surrounded by Conyngham Township. All properties in the borough were claimed under eminent domain by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1992, and Centralia's ZIP code was revoked by the Postal Service in 2002. State and local officials reached an agreement with the remaining... more on Wikipedia
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  • Rhyolite is a ghost town in Nye County, in the U.S. state of Nevada. It is in the Bullfrog Hills, about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, near the eastern edge of Death Valley. The town began in early 1905 as one of several mining camps that sprang up after a prospecting discovery in the surrounding hills. During an ensuing gold rush, thousands of gold-seekers, developers, miners and service providers flocked to the Bullfrog Mining District. Many settled in Rhyolite, which lay in a sheltered desert basin near the region's biggest producer, the Montgomery Shoshone Mine. Industrialist Charles M. Schwab bought the Montgomery Shoshone Mine in 1906 and invested heavily in infrastructure,... more on Wikipedia
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