First things first, let’s talk about what Ghost Towns are. Ghost towns are not haunted or ghost-dwelling towns. However, they might look like it because no one lives there, and yes, some abandoned places and towns are considered haunted. But seriously, can anyone prove it? Because every empty place is deemed to be haunted. Ghost towns can give you some spine-chilling and spooky experiences, that’s for sure.
Ghost towns exist in real life and can be found worldwide. Any abandoned city, town, or village can be considered a ghost town. They usually also have visible remains, such as empty buildings, factories, palaces, and houses. The term can sometimes refer to cities, towns, and neighborhoods that are still populated but have significantly less population than in past years.
Some seriously spooky ghost towns are frightening and yet attract many tourists. But it wasn’t always that way. Most of them were once prosperous mining towns filled with people hoping to make it rich by discovering gold or diamonds. Many have been untouched for over a hundred years, yet some still have a ton of historical buildings standing.
Wars and the depletion of resources have made many regions around the world into ghost towns. In addition, disasters at nuclear power plants have created many ghost towns, especially in Ukraine, Belarus, and Japan. Due to contamination from atomic radiation, hundreds of cities in these countries have been abandoned.
Some of these are due to mass killings; some cities were abandoned due to the depletion of resources like coal, diamonds, and whales. However, these places have been deemed safe for visiting and have become significant tourist spots.
The creation of dams across the country has also occasionally resulted in notable ghost towns. In addition, flooding and fire started many ghost towns. Some of these notorious ghost towns are popular for many reasons. They are a favorite spot for hikers and filmmakers.
Franklin was a coal mining town located in east King County, Washington. The community was established in the 1880s. On August 24, 1894, a mine disaster in King County occurred at the Oregon Improvement Company mine in Franklin. The fire caused thirty-seven miners to suffocate in the mine.
A jury later found out that the fire had been intentionally set, but the person responsible also perished in the disaster. The town had many homes, a hotel, a school, two saloons, the mine, and buildings that accompanied it. But they are all gone now, with the forest overgrowing everything. Still, there are a few relics to see.
Terlingua is a mining district in southwestern Brewster County, Texas, United States. It is located near the Rio Grande and the villages of Lajitas and Study Butte, Texas, and the Mexican state of Chihuahua, situated between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park in a dusty corner of West Texas.
In the mid-1880s, mercury, also known as quicksilver, was discovered in the area, and mines were quickly built, creating a city of 2,000 people. The market for mercury mining steadily declined throughout the 1930s. The Chisos Mining Company, which employed virtually all of Terlingua directly or indirectly, filed for bankruptcy in 1942.
Though the vast majority of the people moved out of Terlingua when the mine closed, it continued to support a population of about 350 people up until the late 1940s. Afterward, it declined to such a point that it was an actual ghost town.
Today, the area supports a population of more than 250 people and remains a popular tourist destination. Today you can visit the ghost town and have dinner at the Starlight Theatre and Saloon. Part event venue and restaurant, the historic Starlight Theatre and Saloon is one of the central features of modern Terlingua Ghost Town. There is also an original boot hill cemetery with actual dead people, both long-term and recently departed.
Tkvarcheli is a ghost town in Abkhazia. It is situated on the Ghalidzga (Aaldzga) river, and a railroad connects it with Ochamchire. Akarma, an area within the city, is a town with abandoned apartments and factories.
Tkvarcheli was famous for its coal mining industry during the 1930s. However, due to war in Abkhazia, the town’s industries stopped, and the population came down to a mere 35 inhabitants. During the height of the Second World War, the region was given town status, and over 40,000 were employed in their industries.
The town’s population was 21,744 in 1989. With three main ethnic groups were Abkhaz (42.3%), Russians (24.5%), and Georgians (23.4%). As a result of the War in Abkhazia, the town’s industries stopped, and its population decreased significantly and was between 7,000 and 8,000 in 2004 and now only 35.
Animas Forks is located twelve miles northeast of Silverton in San Juan County, Colorado, United States. At over 11,000 feet, Animas Forks is one of the highest mining camps in the Western US. By 1876, Animas Forks was a mining community. The town had 30 cabins, a hotel, a saloon, a post office, and a general store. Roughly 450 people occupied Animas Forks in 1883.
At that time, there was even a local newspaper, the Animas Forks Pioneer. But by 1910, most of the mining had stopped in the area. As a result, Animas Forks was a ghost town by the 1920s. In addition, the silver market crashed in 1893, which drove even more folks out of town.
The beautiful Animas Forks is located on roads known as the Alpine Loop. The Alpine Loop is visited by over 100,000 people each year. Several original buildings are remaining. The best way to explore the region is by Jeep or other high-clearance 4×4.
Melmont is a ghost town in Pierce County, Washington, USA. The city was founded in 1900. The town consisted of a schoolhouse, a train depot, a saloon, a hotel, a post office, a butcher shop, a store, and rows of cottages used as housing for the miners.
The most notable feature of this old ghost town is the foundation that remains of the old schoolhouse. It used to have three stories, but the top two were demolished after abandonment so that the wood could be used to construct the Carbon River Ranch a few miles down the road.
Around 1918 when the railroad switched from steam to diesel and electric model locomotives, the economic base and need for Melmont’s coal came to an end. In the 1920’s most of the remaining buildings in the town were destroyed by fire.
Gamsutl is a ghost town in the Gunibsky district of Dagestan, Russia. Gamsult lies on Mount Gamsutlmeer at 1,400 meters above sea level. It is nicknamed “Machu Picchu of Dagestan.” This oldest settlement of the country has been completely abandoned.
The exact age of the village is unknown. But it is considered to be one of the oldest settlements in Dagestan, being 2,000 to 5,000 years old. There were 300 houses before, but they are now reduced to barely 70, and it is now one of the most visited ghost towns.
The Cerro Gordo ghost town is located in the Inyo Mountains, near Lone Pine, California. Mining operations spanned 1866 to 1957, producing high-grade silver, lead, zinc ore, gold ore, and copper ore. Founded in 1865, Cerro Gordo — Spanish for “fat hill” — was an infamous boomtown for silver and lead miners looking for the metals deep under the desert near Death Valley.
Finally, in 1938, the last inhabitants packed up and left the depleted mines behind. Cerro Gordo was one of the most violent towns in America. Nevertheless, it was a booming mining town in 1817 that helped Los Angeles in its initial prosperity. The place had 4,000 residents, 500 buildings, seven saloons, and three brothels.
Cerro Gordo is privately owned as a ghost town and tourist attraction, accessed by special permission. It has several vintage buildings, a hotel, including the general store.
Deception Island is an island in the South Shetland Islands close to the Antarctic Peninsula. Whale oil was a growing industry during the 1900s. The island previously held a whaling station. However, with the discovery of alternatives and whale oil prices dropping during the Great Depression in the 1920s, the ships and factories were abandoned.
The island now has a population of 0. It is now the most popular tourist destination with over 15,000 visitors per year, withholding two scientific stations from Argentina and Spain operational during the summer season.
Deception Island has become a popular tourist stop in Antarctica because of its several colonies of chinstrap penguins and the possibility of making a warm bath by digging into the sands of the beach.
Jonestown or The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project was a remote settlement in Guyana, established by the Peoples Temple, a San Francisco-based cult under the leadership of Jim Jones in 1970. It was 3,000 acres of land with cabins, houses, and other accommodation facilities.
Unfortunately, Jonestown was the site of the brutal mass murder of 900 residents. So when Jones leased the land and set up the People’s Temple, the location became the center of media attention. As a result, the cult he set up was run like a prison camp.
People who tried to escape were shot down with guns and crossbows. Jones made almost 918 people drink poison, a significant number of whom were injected against their will or were shot dead. Some people call it mass suicide, and some mass murder. But whatever happened, it was because Jim Jones made them do it. Jonestown will remain a ghost town until the government decides what to do with the area.
Rhyolite is a ghost town in Nye County, in the U.S. state of Nevada. It is in the Bullfrog Hills, about 120 miles (190 km) northwest of Las Vegas, near the eastern boundary of Death Valley National Park. The town began in early 1905 as one of several mining camps. During an ensuing gold rush, thousands of gold-seekers, developers, and miners flocked to the mining town.
As a result, Rhyolite is one of America’s Gold Rush era’s most-visited, photographed, and famous ghost towns. Rhyolite had it all. They had two swimming pools, baseball teams, the opera, 50 saloons, 35 gambling tables, 19 lodging houses, 16 restaurants, barbers, bathhouses, brothels, and even a weekly newspaper—the Rhyolite Herald.
In addition, they introduced a monthly magazine, police and fire departments, a hospital, a school, a train station, a railway depot, three banks, a stock exchange, and two churches. From the early prospectors in 1905, the town had grown to about 7,500 to 10,000 people in 1908.
Rhyolite declined almost as rapidly as it rose. As 1908 progressed, there was no market anymore, no product, and no more investment. That was the beginning of the end for Rhyolite, and by 1919, it was all gone.
By the end of 1910, the mine was operating at a loss, and it closed in 1911. Many out-of-work miners had moved elsewhere by this time, and Rhyolite’s population dropped well below 1,000. By 1920, it was close to zero.
The location of Nelson is in El Dorado Canyon, Eldorado Mountains. The town is in the southeast region of the Eldorado Valley. Located five miles away from the Colorado River, Nelson was known as El Dorado by the Spaniards who discovered it. Nelson Ghost Town is one of the most famous ghost towns near Las Vegas.
Nelson Ghost Town is a mix between a junkyard and an outdoor art display. It’s popular among photographers and videographers because it looks like a movie set. It attracts plenty of photographers and filmmakers because it seems like it was taken straight from the Wild West.
Here, you can tour Eldorado Canyon to learn the history of mining in the area or spend time taking photos of vintage cars, rusted-out gas pumps, and old barns.
Grafton is a ghost town located south of Zion National Park in Washington County, Utah. The town was established in 1859 by a small group of settlers from Virgin, 7 miles west. The town is only a quarter of a mile from the main highway to Zion National Park. The original residents grew cotton, wheat, and alfalfa.
Despite the fertile soil and the scenic surroundings, life was difficult due to floods, attacks by Indians, and the sometimes harsh winter weather. The town met its end in 1921 when the local branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was discontinued. The last residents left Grafton in 1944.
Movie producer Harry Sherman purchased the town as a film location site. It to be the most photographed ghost town in the West; it has been featured as a location in several films. In addition, a schoolhouse, several homes, and a cemetery have been restored and preserved in Grafton ghost town.
Elkmont is situated in the upper Little River Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains of Sevier County, in the U.S. state of Tennessee. The Elkmont area was first settled in the 1840s. Located along the Little River, Elkmont was occupied by early homesteaders. By the 1900s, intensive logging took place in Elkmont, and a railroad was built. Elkmont attracted many wealthy people because of its location and resorts.
The logging railway contributed to turning the town into a top vacation destination! Wealthy families in Knoxville would take the train to the Smokies for weekend getaways, and the area was eventually bought to set up their resort community.
When the national park was established in 1934, residents had to decide whether they would sell their homes for total value and relocate right away, or whether they would sell their properties to the National Park Service for a discounted price and get to stay in their homes for the remainder of their lifetime. Unfortunately, most leases expired in 1992, so the Great Smoky Mountains National Park had about 70 historic buildings with no one to maintain them.
Centralia is a borough and near-ghost town in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, United States. First established in 1856, this coal-mining town was abandoned after the coal seam caught fire in late 1962. Naturally occurring coal deposits are called “seams” in the mining industry. Wherever such veins occur, coal-seam fires are apt to break out.
It is burning in underground coal mines at depths of 300 feet over an 8-mile stretch area. It could continue to burn for over 250 years at its current rate. The fire still burns underground to the day; its effects can be seen in the buckled and cracked highway leading into the town.
Centralia has become an unlikely tourist destination. One former attraction was the abandoned stretch of Route 61. Dubbed the “Graffiti Highway,” it attracted masses of street artists.
Balestrino is a comune in the Province of Savona in the Italian region of Liguria. The beautiful hilltop town of Balestrino was abandoned in 1953 following several earthquakes. This urban space was evacuated entirely in 1953 when the town was declared impractical after earthquakes hit the town several times.
The town is decaying, and it is fenced off completely. However, the new town with the same name remains home to several hundred people below it. There are excellent views of the old castle and the ruined village from the terrace of the nearby cafe.
Kuldhara is an abandoned village in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan, India. It is one of the few famous ghost towns in India. It was established around the 13th century and was once a prosperous village inhabited by many Paliwal Brahmins.
However, after a dwindling water supply, an earthquake, and dried-up rivers, the village was abandoned. By the 19th century, the village was abandoned entirely. There are around 410 ruins of buildings and over 200 structures still standing on the outskirts of the village.
Craco is a ghost town and comune in the province of Matera, in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, Italy. Craco was once a monastic center, a feudal town, and a center of education with a university, castle, church, and plazas. Today, thanks to the dramatic landscape and unique atmosphere.
Craco is one of the famous ghost towns known for the set of many movies, including Saving Grace, James Bond Quantum of Solace. Craco was founded in the 8th century. The village sits on a cliff; the area was inhabited by Greeks who moved inland from the coastal town of Metaponto.
It was abandoned towards the end of the 20th century due to faulty pipework that was thought to have failed, causing the town to be abandoned due to a landslide. Craco is not open to the public because of safety concerns and because the homes are still privately owned by many of the families forced to abandon them between the 1960s and 1980. However, it is partially accessible on a guided tour.
Hashima Island is an abandoned island off Nagasaki, Japan. The 16-acre island was known for its undersea coal mines, established in 1887. The island had a population of 5,259 in 1959. In 1974, with the coal reserves nearing depletion, the mine was closed, and all of the residents departed soon after, leaving the island abandoned. It is also known as Gunkanjima, meaning Battleship Island, for its resemblance to a Japanese battleship.
The island’s most notable features are its abandoned concrete buildings, undisturbed except by nature, and the surrounding sea wall. The only part of this ‘ghost island’ – better known as the villain’s base in Bond film Skyfall is open to the public. The coal mine of the island was formally approved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2015.
Calico is a ghost town in San Bernardino County, California, United States. Located in the Calico Mountains of the Mojave Desert region of Southern California. Calico is an Old West mining town that has been around since 1881 and was abandoned in the mid-1890s after silver lost its value.
In 1951 it was purchased by Walter Knott, an ex-miner, and rebuilt as a modern ‘ghost town’. At Calico Ghost Town you can explore Maggie Mine, the only formerly used mine in the area that’s safe for guests to see. You can also take a ride on Calico Odessa Railroad to see all of the sights.
Pripyat is a ghost city in northern Ukraine, near the Ukraine–Belarus border. Named after the nearby river Pripyat, the town was founded on February 4, 1970, as the ninth “atomgrad,” a closed town in the Soviet Union, to serve the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. In 1979 the city and had grown to a population of 49,360.
The ghost town left by the worst nuclear disaster of all time is being taken over by nature and urban explorers. Abandoned after the Chernobyl nuclear in April 1986, this town has become a potent symbol of the inherent dangers of harnessing nuclear power.
On April 26, 1986, during a test, a reactor of Chernobyl Nuclear Station exploded, causing fire, which led to releasing hazardous amounts of radioactive chemicals into the air, which contaminated millions of square miles in dozens of European nations. The IAEA estimates that the explosion killed approximately 30 people.
It has become a tourist attraction, with visits carefully timed to minimize the risk of over-exposure to high radiation levels.