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Great ghost towns

It’s that time of year when ghosts and all manner of mysterious things pique our curiosity. For me, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is -- I’ve always been drawn to crumbling, old, vacant, dusty buildings wherever I travel. They speak volumes about the lives of the people who once inhabited them, and can help you get a clearer sense of life in another era.

In America we are blessed with the remnants of boomtowns created by the gold, silver and ore stampedes of the 1800s and early 1900s. Towns sprung up out of nowhere, thrived and disappeared, sometimes all within the span of a decade. What’s left behind is tourist gold: Fabulous evocative streets lined with saloons, dance halls, banks, jails and more. You can almost feel the tumbleweeds rolling by!

In the new Bing Travel slideshow, Great Ghost Towns, we went in search of some of the best examples of ghost towns in the United States. We also found a few overseas that were too good to pass up. Check them out, then tell us what cool abandoned towns you’ve visited on your travels!


  • St. Elmo, Colorado. A privately owned fully preserved ghost town.

  • Anyone ever hear of Pioche, Nevada?  Population is around 600- so not a true ghost town.  It's claim to fame:  They say it was the roughest town in the old west!  In fact- one of the signs around Boot hill even says 76 people died with their boots on- before the first one died of natural causes.  Even better- It's close to several other ghost towns including Delmar, Atlanta, Castelton, and a miriad group scattered all over the place!

  • Lake Valley, NM was once a bustling silver mining town.  Its heyday was in the late 19th century.  Now cared for by NM BLM, Lake Valley has several buildings still standing and a wonderful schoolhouse museum where visitors can view photos and relics of the town's past.  It's a great ghost town.

  • Jerome, Arizona

    "America's Most Vertical City" and "Largest Ghost Town in America".

    Once a thriving mining camp between the late-1880s and early 1950s, Jerome is now a bustling tourist magnet and artistic community with a population of about 450. It includes many artists, craft people, musicians, writers, hermits, bed and breakfast owners, museum caretakers, gift shop proprietors and fallen-down-building landlords. Jerome is an enchanting town, and a photographer's paradise. From its external appearances it hasn't changed much in nearly 100 years. Make Jerome your destination for your next trip to Arizona. Being centrally located, a stay at one of Jerome's bed and breakfasts, inns or hotels is perfect for a home base to explore the entire northern Arizona region from. Drive from Jerome to Cottonwood, Clarkdale, Sedona, Prescott, Flagstaff and even the Grand Canyon and then return to Jerome to relax for the evening and dine at one of the fine restaurants in Jerome. Then just relax to the peaceful surroundings that no other city in Arizona can offer.

  • Bonnell,  Indiana  was  once  a  bustling  railroad  town  in  the  hills  of  southeastern  Indiana  but  now  only  2  people  remain.  Originally  the  town  had  a  sawmill,  stockyards  and  several  stores.  For  photos  of  a  self  guided  tour  of  the  area,  go  to:

  • Centralia, Pennsylvania. It doesn't exist anymore due to the anthracite that has been burning under ground there since a mining explosion decades ago. Visitors that do manage to find it (use an OLD map) should wear protective masks and tread carefully. Bill Bryson's "A Walk In The Woods" documents his experiences there.

  • Columbia, Ca. Is a fully preserved ghost town. Open to the public on a daily bases. At Christmas time you can go to the old candy shop and watch them make candy canes the old fashion way. It has saloons, old cemetery, old school house, and several shops, stage coach rides and much more. The old theatre still has some great shows worth seeing and the Masonic Lodge is also full of history.  If your ever in the area its a great place to visit and capture a taste of the old west. Just 3 miles up the road is also Jamestown. Famous for its old railtown. This railroad was used for movies and old west shows. ( Back to the future #3, the old water tower and train from Petticoat Junction, house from Little House on the Prairie just to name afew) The history is all there.....great for the kids. The schools in the area also use these towns for their students history field trips.

  • Carson City, Colorado, Sherman, Colorado, Capitol City, Colorado Animas Forks,Colorado,  these towns were mining towns,  near Lake City, Colorado in the San Juan Mts.   There are many mines and remants of small communities in the area between Lake City, Creede, Ouray and Silverton Colorado  The Alpine Loop and Silver Thread are the roads in the area that take you through many of these ghost towns and even several old mining camps (some are open to public).

  • Dudley Town, Ct

    I hiked there several times about 20 yeaars ago, very weird, still and quiet.  Then another time there was gusts of severe wind

    and a huge tree fell with a thud, parallel to our path.  I was taking pictures and my camera would not work.  I put the camera in my back pack thinking the batteries must be dead, it worked fine when I looked at it later.

    I do not think it is accessible any longer.

  • Fayette State Park, Upper Peninsula of Michigan - Garden, MI

  • Pleasant Hill, NE.  This former county seat of Saline County Nebraska, boomed during the 1860s to around 1910 when the flour mill was built on the banks of Turkey Creek.  The railroad was built through near by Dorchester, NE and thus ended the town of nearly 2500 people.   Many of the buildings of Pleasant Hill, NE were either moved to Dorchester, or preserved at the Saline County Historical Museum in Dorchester.  Pleasant Hill's population in now only a dozen, but the old streets and a huge cemetery just 1/2 mile west of the old town memorializes the many families and prosperity of Pleasant Hill, NE.

  • Fall Branch, Tennessee The only gas station in town just closed, Lot of abandoned buildings and really old cemetery's. The claim to fame is the water fall (on private property).

  • Portsmouth Island, NC.  The last residents (2 elderly ladies) moved to the mainland (if you can call the Outer Banks the "mainland") in 1973.  Call Rudy Austin in Ocracoke and he'll take you to the island with his flat-bottomed boat.  It is truly worth the trip.  Plenty of sea-worn buildings, a beautiful beach and true isolation.

  • Portsmouth Island, NC is a deserted barrier island town on the coast of North Carolina, only accessable by boat. Many of the original buildings have been restored. It is worth a visit.

  • Scott, too wild, we both must have been typing about Portsmouth at the same time!

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