The United States is full of abandoned mining towns from the 1800s that, even in the 20th century, maintained the original ruins and architecture. The current result is a glimpse into the past to see how people really lived in the Old West, but watch out, some of the towns are believed to be haunted.
These are 12 of the best American ghost towns you can visit today.
1. Bodie, California
This former gold mining town was closed in the early 1900s when all non-essential gold mines were shut down during World War II. Located near the Nevada border, this ghost town is home to a Masonic Cemetery, as well as a mining museum with information on the process that peaked during the old gold rush days.
2. Kennecott, Alaska
This abandoned mining town is a National historic landmark. Once a company town under the Kennecott Copper Corporation, the town processed nearly $200 million in copper between 1911 and 1938. When supply diminished, Kennecott slowly emptied, eventually becoming abandoned.
3. Panamint City, California
According to Legends of America, this town was at one time known as "the toughest, rawest, most hard-boiled little hellhole that ever passed for a civilized town." Founded in 1872 after silver was found, this town lasted until The American Silver Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 1948. Now the town's ruins are part of Death Valley National Park.
4. Virginia City, Montana
This town was founded in 1863, following the discovery of gold. Virginia City boomed post-Civil War until they went through all of the gold, and over time it was abandoned. The town has been rejuvenated as an example of what a real town looked like in the Old West. Visitors can attend the Grand Victorian Ball in old-timey dress and witness the original buildings, which have been certified by the Montana Historical Society.
5. St. Elmo, Colorado
This abandoned mining town is said to be haunted. The town closed in the 1920s after multiple mines in the area failed. Supposed to be haunted by the Stark family that once kept things running, a fire in 2002 destroyed many of the original buildings. You can still stop by and witness the abandoned buildings that weren't damaged like the original schoolhouse and maybe even catch a glimpse of the ghost of Annabelle Stark, who is believed to protect the town from vandalism or trespassing.
6. Goldfield, Arizona
Founded in 1893 with the creation of the historic Mammoth Gold Mine, this town is located on the historic Apache Trail. The town now gives tours with wild west shows that let you experience what the town must have been like in its former glory. Visitors get to pan for gold and even visit the general store in the original historic structure.
7. South Pass City, Wyoming
One of the most well-known western ghost towns in Wyoming, this was one of the historic stops near the Oregon Trail. In the late 1800s, it was a booming mining town for only two years before the gold started to dwindle. It tried to rejuvenate itself over the years, but eventually, everyone moved on. Many of the original structures are still there to witness on historical tours, like the Carissa Saloon, the 1896 Smith-Sherlock Co. Store, and the Sweetwater County Jail.
8. Centralia, Pennsylvania
The first two mines opened in the mid-1800s, and slowly over the years, the town dwindled and faded away. In the 1960s, the abandoned mines caught fire unground (believed to be from burning trash) and continue burning under the town to this day. Only a few families remain living in the town.
9. Nuttallburg, West Virginia
This now-abandoned town was founded in the 1870s in association with the Nuttallburg mine. The Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad was built through the New River Gorge, right by town, contributing to the town's success in coal mining. Eventually, it was closed down in 1958, and the National Park Service acquired the town's ruins.
10. Terlingua, Texas
Located near Big Bend State Park, Terlingua is one of the most well-known ghost towns in Texas. Today you can visit to see the original decaying buildings and mine shafts as well as stop by the revitalized saloon, which is fully operational and ready for visitors.
11. Nelson, Nevada
Back in the late 1700s, early Spanish settlers found gold in Nelson, calling the area El Dorado. A century later, a new group of prospectors came to town, many of which were Civil War deserters, leading to one of the greatest gold booms in the history of Nevada. It also turned the town into a violent death trap and epicenter for rampant crime, especially down in the Techatticup Mine. By 1945, all valuable minerals had been stripped from the mines, which, combined with some dangerous flash flooding, led to the townspeople's desertion of the town. Now it's a popular tourist destination, guaranteed to give you some creepy photos with its eerie abandoned buildings and old cars left behind.
12. Cahaba, Alabama
Cahaba was actually Alabama's first state capital back in the 1820s. Once a booming trade town, it became a safe community of freed slaves following the Civil War. Unfortunately, massive flooding led to the town's complete abandonment by 1900, leaving behind old buildings with tons of history. Another location believed to be haunted, visitors have sworn they have witnessed a ghostly orb floating behind the home of C.C. Pegues in the garden maze. If you dare, explore the abandoned streets and buildings for yourself to see if there really are any ghosts haunting the area.
This article was originally published in February 2019.
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