Top Ten Spookiest Ghost Towns in America
It’s spooky season and we think one of the best ways to celebrate is by exploring some of the spookiest ghost towns in America and enjoying that crisp fall air! With our top ten favorite ghost towns dotted all over the country, there are plenty of opportunities to visit at least one or two.
Adventurer & Photographer
St. Elmo, Colorado
A booming gold-mining town in the late 1800’s, St. Elmo once had a population of about 2,000 residents. From 1870 to 1925, it produced 220,000 ounces of gold, worth $4.4 million at the time. It also produced a considerable amount of silver, lead, and zinc. The Stark family, an upper-class family that became deeply involved with the town, stayed long after the miners had left and their only daughter Annabelle is said to still haunt the old hotel.
Founded in 1862 and named after the local Bannock Indians, Bannack was the site of a major gold discovery in 1862, and served as the capital of Montana Territory briefly in 1864. From the late 1860’s to the 1930’s, Bannack continued as a mining town, though the population continued to fall as miners moved on to Virginia City in hopes of striking it rich. Today, there are over sixty structures still standing, most of which can be explored.
Need a little relaxation after touring Bannack? Check out some nearby hot spring destinations!
Bodie, California was once a gold boomtown and the home to more than 10,000 residents. At one time, it had more than 65 saloons and their clientele consisted of miners, robbers, gun-fighters, store-owners and prostitutes. This wild west town truly began in 1876, and the last people left Bodie in 1942. Now Bodie is one of the most famous ghost towns in America. Frozen in time, Bodie is preserved by California State Parks in a state of “arrested decay.”
Old Cahawba, Alabama
Old Cahawba, also known as Cahaba, is Alabama’s most famous ghost town. In 1819 the town became Alabama’s first capital. Although the state changed the location of the capital in 1826, Cahawba continued to grow into a thriving and wealthy river town.
For a short time after the Civil War Cahawba attracted emancipated African Americans seeking new freedoms and political power. By 1870, however, the population diminished to 300 as more and more of its residents left due to the flooding that occurred frequently. By the turn of the century most of Cahawba’s buildings were lost to fire, decay, or dismantlement.
Pere Cheney, Michigan
Pere Cheney was a small town founded in 1874, and was home to about 1,500 people. In 1893 diphtheria wiped out a large portion of its residence, and not long after several fires damaged many of the buildings. Only four years later, diphtheria raised it ugly head again and wiped out the rest of the town – leaving only 25 survivors. There is a legend of a witch that was banished to the woods and cursed the town – causing all of the sickness and disaster. If that isn’t spooky enough, there are also tales of people seeing lights floating in the woods, ghosts, children’s handprints appearing on car windows, and the sound of children’s laughter floating through the trees.
Rhyolite came into existence in 1904 when quartz was spotted all over a local hill. The town sprung up quickly and by 1907 Rhyolite had an exotic red light district, hotels, stores, a school, electricity, an ice plant, foundries and a hospital. People who lived there had very active social lives and went to baseball games, dances, parties, the symphony and the opera! Needless to say, Rhyolite was a lively place. Later in 1907 the financial panic struck Rhyolite, and it never recovered. The mines stopped producing, the banks failed, and by 1916 the light and power were turned off in the whole town.
Rhyolite is an easy stop on the perfect southwestern National Park roadtrip!
In 1889, Govan was established as a railway station for the Central Washington Railway, and became more developed as a local sandbank allowed workers to mine sand for further railroad construction. After about 10 years, Govan had about 76 residents and several stores. In 1902 Govan became the site of “the most brutal crime ever committed in the country” at that time, as the local judge and his wife were murdered with an axe. This murder was never solved, and by 1933 the town was bypassed by US Route 2, and it’s fate sealed as a ghost town.
Kennecott Mining Corporation was established in 1903 and with major copper deposits in the area, it quickly became a booming mining camp with miners and their families. It took 4 years of labor (sometimes in temperatures as low as 40 below zero) to build a railroad track through the mountainous and rugged terrain. Dog sled teams were crucial in not only the building of the railroad, but the building of the mines. After more than 30 years of prosperous copper mining, the area was depleted and by 1938, Kennecott was nothing more than a ghost town. While there are more than 100 abandoned settlements in Alaska, Kennecott is one of the most prolific ghost towns in America. Today this historic landmark is a popular tourist destination for adventurous spirits.
The only “living ghost town” in our list, Chloride is the longest continually inhabited mining town in Arizona. Founded in the late 1860’s when silver was discovered in the nearby Cerbat Mountains, the town used to be bustling with more than 70 working mines and around 2,000 residents. During World War II, most of the able-bodied men left to join the war, but Chloride was revived in the 50’s and 60’s as a haven for artists and musicians. Today Chloride has around 400 inhabitants, and you can take a step back in time when visiting this historic town – while getting a drink at the local restaurant or exploring some of the little shops and murals.
Considered one of the most haunted places in Vermont, Glastenbury was once a secluded mountain town with a logging operation and a charcoal boom with a maximum population of 241 people in 1880. Two murders in the late 1880’s along with several mysterious disappearances, bigfoot sightings, and tales of cursed forest all make Glastenbury an intriguing (and very spooky!) place. The forests around Glastenbury are known as “The Bennington Triangle” and legend has it that even before the town existed, the local Indigenous people refused to hunt in or inhabit the area. This might just be the spookiest ghost town in America – visit if you dare!
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