America is a large country, and while we may be one of the youngest in the world, we aren’t without our share of history. All throughout this nation, you can find yourself amidst the skeletal remains of abandoned ghost towns, looking through a window into past days gone by. While America has many to choose from, we are showcasing five of the top real American ghost towns.
1. Bodie, California
East of the Sierra Nevada mountain range lies an old boomtown originally established in 1876. Following the discovery of a vein of gold in the region, hopefuls flocked to Bodie in the thousands. The shine started to wear down in 1880, and after a brief revival by reinventing itself as a mining town, it all went downhill fast after 1912. Purchased in 1940 by the Cairn family in efforts to protect the ghost town, Bodie now has 110 structures remaining in a state of arrested decay. Visitors can walk among these stoic buildings and experience the eerie sight of their furnished and stocked interiors left just as they were in the early 1900s.
2. St. Elmo, Colorado
Settled in 1880, St. Elmo once boasted a populated of over 2,000 individuals. Mining for gold and silver kept things afloat, but as is the case with many boomtowns, things quickly declined as the profits ran dry. By 1922 the railroad discontinued its service and was abandoned, and the town was quickly emptied all but for a few straggling citizens that still occupy the outskirts to this day. Visitors can view the town’s original town hall and jailhouse, as well as the general store and gasoline station.
3. Kennecott, Alaska
Alaska isn’t the first state that comes to mind when many think of ghost towns, but Kennecott is another mining town that experienced a boon and subsequent abandonment. Established in the early 1900s, Kennecott served as a prosperous copper mine until 1938 as the ore supply was depleted. Many visit the ice frosted town to explore the abandoned mines and mill, which are navigated by tour guides in the area.
4. Glenrio, Texas/New Mexico
Sitting on the state line between Texas and New Mexico is Glenrio, founded in 1903 and a ghost town with a more unique feel. A product of the Route 66 era, this town once was a traveler’s hot spot, including the “First Motel in Texas” / “Last Motel in Texas”, a diner, and a Texaco station. Interstate 40 came to be in 1973, bypassing the small town altogether and resulting in a loss of tourism and profit for the inhabitants. Now abandoned, visitors can go to see the closed cafe, gas stations, hotel, and other still-standing buildings.
5. Rhyolite, Nevada
About 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas in the Bullfrog Hills lies Rhyolite, begun in 1905 as prospecting spread through the area. In its very short-lived prime, Rhyolite was home to over 3,000 residents, but things quickly went south as soon as 1910. The mine was working at a loss and was closed in 1911, leading to an exodus from the dying town. By 1920 there were nearly zero folks remaining. Now claiming the title of “one of the most photographed ghost towns in the West,” visitors can see the unsettling remains of the lives once lived here, including a crumbling school building and the Bottle House structure.