The classic image of a Western ghost town is an old, abandoned street littered with dusty wooden buildings that was suddenly abandoned once people used up the riches of the area. This is often true, but sometimes the ghost towns of America show up in surprising places, and they aren’t always made of dry wood.
Sitting in the middle of the hot, dry California desert, Bodie is the image of a classic ghost town, a street lined with old buildings and slowly rotting in the sun. What makes Bodie unique is the curse that is said to protect the town from unscrupulous visitors who would make off with any bits of the town’s remains. Those that try it will have nothing but bad luck until the artifact is returned to its proper place.
When Nevada’s Lake Mead is full, you’d never expect that hiding under the calm, blue waters are the remains of several American ghost towns. But when the water levels drop, old foundations that have been underwater for over 80 years come into view. Curious visitors can visit the ruins of St. Thomas, now protected by the National Park Service as a historic site.
This Montana ghost town was once a classic of the old west, but it’s been fixed up to be attractive to a whole new generation of visitors. Visitors will think they’ve stepped into the 1800s as they take in a live show or visit some of the local shops.
Once a thriving and bustling railroad stop, the West Virginia town of Thurmond derailed when roads arrived in 1917 and slowly deteriorated into nothing but empty buildings with a set of old train tracks running through the center. Unlike the wooden ghost towns of the west, Thurmond is made of brick and stone and looks solid enough to be a part of West Virginia for many years to come. And in fact, Thurmond did come back to life. In 1995, the National Park Service took the town over and today, Thurston is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Set in California’s Mojave Desert, Calico was once home to a thriving community of silver miners. By 1907, due to the value of silver having plummeted, Calico was left sitting empty. Flash forward to 1951, Walter Knott, who also created Knott’s Berry Farm, restored it and added a couple of simple attractions. These days tourists can wander through abandoned buildings, pan for gold, or check out the old mine in one of the America’s quintessential ghost towns.