A post on Medium in May 2016 attempted to tackle a seemingly unanswerable question: what's the weirdest town in America? To do this, Lyman Stone used 20 different variables, including what percentage of each city's population was foreign-born, married, working, in the armed forces, etc. He then compared that data to national averages. What he found was that San Jose, CA, is the most bizarre town in the US. But though it may be demographically weird, San Jose doesn't hold a candle to these weird small towns in the United States.
Truth be told, there are thousands of weird US towns that didn't make this list, some of which include Hollywood, Portland, and Providence. The following, however, are notorious for their stark oddity. If you've ever wanted to travel America in search of the silliest, saddest, and most unhinged of all the states, consider this a travel guide to the weirdest small towns in America.
- Photo: JohnDS / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
In 1981, there were 1,000 people living in Centralia, PA. By 2010, there were less than a dozen. What happened? Well, there's been a coal mine fire burning beneath the town since 1962. Sinkholes, toxic smoke, gas—the highway itself is hot to the touch. Residents apparently couldn't deal. Although it's been on fire for decades, experts believe that it may burn for another 250 years.
If, for some bizarre reason, this sounds like a place where you'd like to live, you can't. In 1992, the state of Pennsylvania seized all the property in the town and condemned it. They allowed the then-current residents to stay, but once they're gone, that'll be the end of Centralia.46,9446,782Is this strange?
- Photo: Jessica Spengler / Wikimedia Commons
There is a small town 58 miles southeast of Anchorage where everyone lives together. In one building.
The 14-story Begich Towers is home to the 214 people of Whittier, AK. It was originally an army barracks, but the tower grew to include a police station, a post office, store, church, video rental shop, playground, bed and breakfast, and health center. It's a cozy nook if there ever was one.38,4866,585Is this strange?
Monowi, NE – Population: 1Photo: Bkell / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
There is literally one person who lives in Monowi, NE. Her name is Elsie Eiler. She used to live in Monowi with her husband, Rudy, but he passed away in 2004. Elsie is the mayor, the town bartender, and the sole librarian. She pays taxes to herself.
As of 2011, Elsie was an octogenarian, meaning the town might soon be abandoned.39,5777,033Is this strange?
Colma, CA – Where Two Million People Have Been Laid To Rest
In Colma's two square miles, there are 17 cemeteries. The San Mateo County necropolis has been dubbed the "City of Souls" because it hosts an estimated two million dead people and only 1,200 live ones. Back in the days of William Randolph Hearst and Wyatt Earp—who are actually buried there—they transported bodies from San Francisco to Colma to make room.27,1825,535Is this strange?