Abandoned Towns and Cities of the United States
If you stray from the beaten path while traversing America, you’ll undoubtedly come across one of the country’s thousands of abandoned towns and cities, what many call “ghost towns,” hidden within the forgotten fabric of the land.
An especially prominent feature of the American West, abandoned towns constitute forsaken ideas and ideals, misguided ventures and adventures, natural disasters, and the end result of changing times and shifting timelines.
Indeed, these ghostly remains of what once was serve as stark reminders of the physical realities of our not-to-distant past, while directing us to consider the future.
Here are just ten of the many abandoned towns and cities of the United States, along with a little insight as to why they now stand silent.
> Bodie, California: Abandoned early 1960s
Bodie, California, now a State Historic Park, was one of the many gold-mining towns of the American West. Once a “boom town” with more than 10,000 residents, Bodie set 8,000 feet up in the Sierra Nevadas and is said to have once been one of the largest cities in California, with numerous saloons, churches, hospitals, four fire departments, and even a Chinatown along the dusty mile long main street. While the majority of residents left the dying city by the late 1940s, some held on until the early 60s, it then becoming a National Historic Site in 1962. Only a small part of the town still stands today, but what remains has been well preserved with some remaining structures still containing goods from various periods which draw a good number of tourists each year–although there are no commercial facilities in the area.
> Fort Jefferson, Florida: Abandoned 1874
A C-class military fort at the far western tip of the Florida Keys, 70 miles west of Key West, Fort Jefferson is only accessible by boat or seaplane. Designed to hold 1500 soldiers, construction began in 1846 but was never completed. Covering almost the entire island, Fort Jefferson’s 50' high brick walls had three levels of firing platforms that would hold 450 cannons. During the Civil War, however, the incompleted and unarmed fort was captured by Union troops. After the war ended, the fort was turned into a prison, eventually housing a total of 2400 inmates. In 1874 it was abandoned after a hurricane did major damage.
> Ruby, Arizona: Abandoned 1950s
One of the best preserved ghost towns in Arizona, Ruby was founded as a mining camp, producing mostly copper, lead, and zinc. At its peak in the mid 1930s, Ruby’s population reached 1,200 but quickly diminished after the mine was closed in the mid-1950s. The few buildings that remain include the jail, a schoolhouse, mine offices, and a handful of homes.
> Centralia, Pennsylvania: All but abandoned since 1981/officially declared uninhabitable in 2002
A thriving community of several thousand until 1962, the city experienced a devastating blow when a fire broke out in a landfill near the Odd Fellows cemetery and quickly spread through a hole in the earth to the coal mine beneath the city. Fueled by the rich vein of coal, the fire was unable to be extinguished and has been burning for over 45 years now (some estimate that the available coal will keep the fire going for perhaps 250 years). The massive fire continues to produce sinkholes, smoke and toxic vapors, and the buckling of streets. Beginning in 1984, residents of the town were bought out of their homes with Congressional funds so that they could relocated to safer places. (Some residents [about ten] have chosen to stay, believing that the evacuation is a conspiracy by the state to obtain their mineral rights to the anthracite coal reserves beneath their homes.
> Time Beach, Missouri: Abandoned late 1970s
Once home to 2200 residents, the town of Times Beach, Missouri is the site of one of the worst pollution disasters in American history. From 1972 to 1976, city officials sprayed waste oil on the unpaved roads to alleviate an ongoing dust problem; waste oil that contained dioxin, a toxic carcinogen and component of Agent Orange. The dioxin permeated the soil and flooding further spread it through the town. After a ten-year long cleanup effort (during which all remaining residents evacuated), the town was transformed into Route 66 State park.
> Gary, Indiana: Abandoned late 1960s
About 30 minutes south of Chicago, Illinois, Gary, Indiana was established as a company town for U.S. Steel in 1906 specifically for its employees. When the steel industry took a major downturn in the 1960s, however, residents began to seek employment elsewhere, with Gary being abandoned and never recovering. Now the murder capital of the US, Gary remains home to thousands of people, with a growing homeless and indigent sector.
> St. Joseph, Florida: Abandoned 1841
The seaport of St. Joseph was about 15 miles west of Apalachiola, on St. Joseph Bay, just south of Port St. Joe, and east of Panama City. The largest town in Florida in the early 1800s (even the site of the state's first Constitutional Convention), St Joseph had a population of approximately 6000. The town suffered a tremendous shock, however, in 1841 when a ship carrying victims of Yellow Fever docked, which spread rapidly and killed upwards of 75% of the population. Survivors fled the town leaving it to the elements, which quickly buried the sick city beneath a layer of sand following a hurricane. The site is marked only by an historical marker.
> Council, Alaska: Abandoned around 1900
Once having upwards of 15, 000 residents, Council, Alaska, was built between 1897 and 1898 after gold was discovered near the Ophir Creek. Following the gold, however, residents abandoned the city after larger discoveries of gold near Nome around 1900. Following a failed re-habitation effort in the 1970s, the telephone lines were finally removed by the utility company in the fall of 2004--with utility poles remaining in place, wires connecting to a defunct power plant from the same period. A present, Council has about 25 old buildings and much old mining equipment including a dredge. During the summer, Council is used as a fish camp and a recreational location for residents of near-by Nome and White Mountain.
> Bara Hack, Connecticut: Abandoned 1890
First settled in 1780 by a pair of Welsh families, Bara Hack (often referred to as the "Haunted Village of Lost Voices”) was abandoned immediately following the close of the Civil War, with the last residents leaving by 1890. The remnants of the town include foundations and walls of deteriorating buildings, a cemetery, and an overgrown cow path that may have once been a carriage road. Today the land where the town once stood is privately owned
> Baltimore, Indiana: Abandoned 1880s
Built on the western banks of the Wabash River in Mound Township, Warren County, Baltimore was conceived in November of 1829 by William Willmeth and Samuel Hill. Flourishing for several years (and reaching a population of 70), Samuel Hill and Samuel Wetzel invested heavily in the fledgling town, but when the Wabash and Erie Canal was completed on the opposite side of the river in the 1840s, the community dwindled. With the exception of a single brick house built in the 1880s, no trace of Baltimore now remains.
Thumb via: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_town
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