By Cheri Sicard
Join Briggs, of The World According to Briggs, for a tour of his Top 10 ghost towns in America picks.
There’s a special fun creepiness to towns and cities whose inhabitants have abandoned them and moved on without a trace, leaving everything behind. And RVs offer a practical way to explore and experience many of these unusual places.
Briggs says there are ghost towns sprinkled all over America. The state of Colorado has so many ghost towns, he produced a separate video just on those.
Ghost towns happen for a variety of reasons. Most times, however, mining or some other sort of industry that kept the town going went away.
The video below highlights our host’s favorite top 10 ghost towns in America. I am not sure I agree with his picks, but it did give me some new places to visit. But c’mon Briggs, how could Bodie, CA, not be on the list?
So what made Briggs’ list of best ghost towns in America?
#10 Centralia, PA: A bustling coal town as recently as 1962, when a fire started in the mine. Over the years smoke would come out. In 1981 the town was condemned by the state because of the underground fires that continue to burn. Not sure I would want to visit this one, but it is possible. The video gives more details.
#9 Bannack, MT: Founded as a gold mining community in 1860, this Wild West town has a colorful history and at its peak had a population of about 10,000 people. By 1950, most of the residents had left and the last remaining stragglers departed in 1970. Today Bannack is a state park. More than 50 buildings, resembling an Old West film set, still remain.
#8 Old Cahawba, AL: Alabama’s state capital from 1820-1825, the town was a cotton trading transport center before the Civil War, and a village for slaves after the war. All the residents had left by 1900. You can visit today as it is now on the National Historic Register and is well maintained by the Alabama Historical Commission. There are lots of ghost stories associated with this ghost town, and lots of YouTube accounts of them.
#7 Orla, TX: Designed as a stop on the Pecos River Railroad, the town faded after the advent of motor travel. Founded in 1890, around 250 people lived in Orla until oil, gas, and sulfur increased its population in the 1960s. It seems Orla is slowly coming back to life. It is still registered as a ghost town, but it has a truck stop and a few other businesses.
#6 Bombay Beach, CA: In the middle of the desert near the Salton Sea, Bombay Beach was a vacation destination back in the 1940s. After farmers dumped toxic waste, the fish and the lake died. The sight is pretty eerie to even see boats abandoned in the dried up lakebed.
#5 Goldfield, AZ: Discovered in the late 1800s, Goldfield had run out of gold by the turn of the century. It tried to revive under the name Youngsburg, but was abandoned again in 1926. The U.S. military inadvertently burned down half of what was left of the town during some training exercises in 1940. Today Goldfield is a tourist destination with a shop, museum, and saloon. While there are no residents, the town does have an unofficial mayor.
#4 Iditarod, AK: First appearing in the U.S. census in 1920 with 50 residents, this gold mining camp on the Iditarod River had about 300 people there at its peak, and by 1940 had only a single resident.
#3 Rhyolite, NV: Situated in Death Valley, Rhyolite was a booming mining town in its day with almost 8,000 residents calling it home. But by the 1920s, thanks to both natural and financial disasters, all residents except one sole holdout had left.
#2 Thurmond, WV: Originally a stop on a local rail line, Thurmond also supported mining operations in its heyday. The automotive industry killed Thurmond. Registered as a ghost town, a handful of people still live in the remote picturesque town.
#1: Calico, CA: A well-preserved silver mining town. In 1890, 3,500 residents called Calico home. Shortly after, the silver operations ceased being economically viable and residents moved away. Today the town is operated by the state as a full-fledged tourist attraction, and is also frequently used as a film and TV set.
Check out the video for more details. And let us know in the comments below, where are your favorite ghost towns?
I don’t even consider this list plausible. What list wouldn’t include Oatman AZ?!? Come on, man!
Atlantic City, Wyo. ? and a couple others in Wy too.
There are quite a few people living in both Bombay Beach and Goldfield. Mr. Briggs might want to get an RV and go do some research.
I think his research was done from the kitchen table in front of a laptop…