Across the United States, there are numerous ghost towns that preserve the past. When you go to these places, it can be eerie, but interesting to learn about the history of a place and to see how it was. Some of the most well-known ghost towns are all that remains of the dusty, lawless Wild West. But there are other parts of America where you can find interesting ghost towns where you wouldn’t necessarily expect them. Here are 5 interesting ghost towns that are worth visiting in the U.S.
U.S. Ghost Towns
1. Cahawba, Alabama
From 1820 to 1825, Cahawba was the state of Alabama’s first permanent capital city. You’d never believe it now, but before the Civil War, it served as a major regional hub for selling and transporting cotton. Because of the city’s location near both the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers, flooding caused many residents to move to other places. Epidemics of yellow fever had the same result, and by 1900, the city was abandoned. You can now visit Old Cahawba Archaeological Park to learn more about the history and walk through the streets.
2. Bodie Ghost Town, California
Bodie Ghost Town is California’s official state gold rush town - and has a reputation for being cursed, too. Rumor has it that if you leave with an artifact from the area, you’ll be cursed until you bring it back. Nearly 10,000 people lived in this town when gold was discovered there in the 1870s. Close to Yosemite, Bodie is at high elevation and so the weather is more extreme here. Because it is a California State Historic Park, the wooden buildings are very well-preserved.
3. Centralia, Pennsylvania
In 1962, the residents of Centralia were forced to evacuate due to an underground coal fire that is expected to burn for another 250 years. This happened accidentally - a fire at a landfill spread to a nearby abandoned coal mine, and the fire spread through the mine shafts and across the coal deposits under the town. Centralia only had a population of 2,000 when the fire started, but now the city’s population is down to 6 individuals who are determined to stay there despite the sinkholes and smoke rising through cracks in the ground.
4. Grafton, Utah
Known as the “most photographed ghost town in the West,” Grafton is well-preserved thanks to the efforts of the Grafton Heritage Partnership. The town was founded as part of a cotton-growing experiment and grew quickly in the first few years. Unfortunately, the soil was not very good for growing cotton and a war with the Black Hawk Native Americans in 1866 caused most of the town’s residents to leave for good. By the 1940s, the town was completely deserted. Set against a backdrop of beautiful mountains, the schoolhouse (which also served as a church) makes a beautiful picture.
5. Kennicott, Alaska
Upon visiting, you’ll wonder why anyone in this town wanted to leave, due to the beautiful scenery - but you’ll also wonder how people were able to live there in the first place due to harsh conditions and being so remote. Located in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Kennicott was a thriving copper mine from 1911 to 1938. But in 1938, the copper ore ran out and everything was abandoned, including hospital, school, general store, and even a skating rink. People left their personal belongings behind which makes for an interesting yet eerie visiting experience. The National Park Service offers tours of the town, which are worth taking!
This article was written by Cathy Trainor.