Eerie stories of ghostly encounters throughout the United States abound. From Gold Rush and Great Depression-era and mining municipalities to 1950's road stops decimated by modern highways, ghost towns provide a look at the past in once-bustling areas of the country. These desolate areas are surrounded by spooky tales of souls left behind and other paranormal occurrences. If you want to take your next road trip to a new, eerie level, add a ghost town or two to your itinerary.
Located northwest of Philadelphia, Centralia, PA caught fire in 1962. The blaze spread through the underground mines, causing widespread sinkholes that began spewing smoke and toxic fumes through the town. Most residents were forced to abandon their homes and businesses, which fell into disrepair. The fire is still burning and is expected to burn for another 250 years or more. With all real estate claimed under eminent domain and condemned by the state, little is left in the spooky town aside from the enduring flames.
Arizona's Mojave Desert offers an exciting winter-themed destination aptly named Santa Claus. An abandoned town dedicated to Christmas, the locale is decorated year-round with all things Saint Nick. Founded in 1937, Santa Claus was built in an attempt to attract more residents to the desert. The town succeeded at increasing visitors' Christmas spirit but was not enough to attract permanent residents. If you're jonesing for some holiday cheer in August, take a trip to this quaint town full of rundown red and white buildings.
Standing untouched for around 100 years, Bodie is a former Gold Rush town near Yosemite. After experiencing decay and fleeing residents at the start of the 20th century, the remaining inhabitants were ultimately forced out with a series of fires. With dinner tables still set and shops still stocked with supplies, the town is frozen in time, making Bodie a fascinating glance into yesteryear.
A pre-Civil War trade city, Cahaba sits at the junction of the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers. The city served as the state's first capital from 1820 to 1825. After the war, the town served as a home for freed slaves, but it experienced significant periods of flooding that eventually caused it to be fully abandoned. A few ghostly orbs spotted throughout the years have earned the town a haunting reputation. This southern scary spot is one for the ghost tour, for sure.
A former copper mining town, Kennecott rises from the end of a 60-mile dirt road in the middle of the Wrangell St. Elias National Park. Part of the largest national park in the United States, the preserved-in-time mining town is a look into the past. After processing nearly $200,000,000 worth of copper at its peak, all that remains of the town is a 14-story mill and power plant. Explore Kennecott and you just might hear the eerie echo of a long-lost miner.
Rhyolite is a former mining town in southern Nevada, in Death Valley. After gold was discovered in the area in the early 1900's, Charles M. Schwab funded the town. By 1905, Rhyolite was home to impressive services, including a hospital, opera house, and stock exchange. It took a hit in the financial crisis of 1907, however, and was fully abandoned by 1912. A go-to set for filming westerns, Rhyolite is a fun destination for a trip back in time.
Originally called Forrest City, St Elmo was once a bustling mining town. After the train service to Chalk Creek Canyon ended in 1926, the town's population dwindled, and by the 1950s, it was nearly abandoned. Today, the popular tourist destination features a general store and hotel, encouraging visitors to spend a few nights experiencing the spooky atmosphere. This one is a great addition to any Colorado road trip.
A desolate former mining town, Bannack is well-known amongst paranormal enthusiasts and was even featured on the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures for the floating orbs spotted around. The Gold Rush city was known, in its time, for being plagued with robberies and murders. The sheriff of the town, which is en route to Virginia City, was also rumored to be an outlaw. Abandoned by the 1950s, Bannack continues to draw visitors thanks to many original structures open for exploration.
Thurmond was once a booming West Virginia town, heavily dependant on the railroad, as is much of the state. A major stop on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, the municipality produced over 20 percent of the company's revenue in 1910. With the Great Depression, closely followed by the invention of diesel trains in the 50s, Thurmond's prosperity sharply dropped. Today, the population of Thurmond is around 10. The town is one to hit — an ideal addition to any trip recounting the devastation of the Great Depression.
Sitting on the border between New Mexico and Texas, Glenrio was a fun stop on Route 66 for many years. From the 40s through the 60s, the town's gas stations, bars, motels, and diners were always packed. When I-40 was built in the 1970s, the town was promptly abandoned. Ghostly structures still remain in Glenrio, today.