When it comes to vacations, most people think about them in terms of 'relaxing' or 'active', meaning that you can, for instance, lay on the beach not noticing as days go by, or go climb a high mountain to challenge yourself and harden your spirit.
In fact, there are many more types of vacations that we can go on and one of the most peculiar is a 'ghost hunting' one. While it may sound weird to some, there are people (and not just a few) who prefer to get their adrenaline pumped by experiencing abandoned and haunted places, cemeteries, ancient empty buildings and all kinds of spots which can give them the chills.
Interestingly, there are so many abandoned places and locations that are considered haunted around the United States and Canada that visiting them becomes a booming industry. Of course, not as booming as getting to the top of Empire State Building or Burj Khalifa, but still in high demand. In fact, there are several hundreds of ghost towns in the United States and Canada. Many of them were built around mines and abandoned soon after mines were depleted, while others suffered because of environmental hazards. And there are of course those which have a completely different story.
Read on if you like walking the streets empty of activity, navigating the dusty alleyways and wondering if the shadow you saw in the window was a person or a glimpse of a deceased one.
25 United States: Kennecott, Alaska
Because of its severe weather conditions, Alaska feels empty and vast. Like the natural emptiness of its areas isn't enough, Alaska is also home to almost 40 ghost towns. One of them is Kennecott, a place which was once famous for having the world's richest concentration of copper. At the beginning of the 20th century, it cost $200 million, which is an equivalent of almost six billion dollars now.
With the depletion of ore, people started to leave Kennecott. In 1938 it was declared a National Historic Landmark.
24 United States: Old Car City, Georgia
This one is a real photographer's paradise because the whole territory of this 32-acre long car city is covered with vintage abandoned cars. It's not actually a city, but a territory that once belonged to the Lewis family, which was dealing with selling used car parts. Family accumulated more an more cars and they slowly started to blend with surrounding landscapes until this place eventually turned in the biggest vintage car graveyard in the world.
The son of original owners thought that it's a great idea to convert this unique place into a showplace which it is today. You can find more than 4,000 vehicles and six miles of trails there. It's both Instagrammer's and a photographers dream.
23 United States: Bodie, California
Bodie is one of the must-see American ghost cities for all lovers of abandoned places because it's one of the best-preserved ghost towns in the United States with more than 2,000 buildings (including 200 restaurants) quite well-preserved. This ghost town wasn't reconstructed which means that it still retains the spirit of its faded glory.
It was a mining town established in 1859 when gold was discovered in the area. What started as a camp of 20 miners turned into a 10,000 people settlement, but residents left when gold supply was exhausted by the 1940s. Exploring the ghost town you can still find a lot of untouched items which are resting exactly where they were left more than 70 years ago.
22 United States: Virginia City, Montana
Another gold mining town, Virginia City in Montana was a far more dangerous place than Bodie in California. It was a remote area with no justice system and law enforcement. It resulted in robberies and more than 100 murders between 1863 and 1864 alone.
Gradually the city grew bigger (to around 10,000 citizens) and became the capital of Montana Territory (before Montana became a state). Unlike Bodie in California, the buildings of Virginia City were restored and it became a lively tourist destination.
21 United States: Cairo, Illinois
Unlike previous ghost towns on the list, Cairo in Illinois isn't made of wood and it wasn't abandoned because of depleting gold. And you can't fully call it abandoned because a few thousand people still live there. However, compared to its peak population of 15,000 we can predict that it will be abandoned pretty soon. In fact, meeting the resident in the city which looks totally abandoned is much creepier than meeting no one.
The town of Cairo was once booming with steamboat industry and was an important station along numerous train lines. However, because of the racial tensions and economic desperation town's population declined. Today, if you look at Cairo's deserted town, you will find it difficult to imagine how it was overflowing with life in the past.
20 United States: Calico, California
Calico is another mining town which was abandoned at the beginning of the past century. Located in Calico Mountains of the Mojave Desert region of Southern California, it was a silver mining town which was full of life till silver was there. Many decades after it was abandoned Walter Knott purchased and restored it and now it's a theme park with souvenir shops, gold mining tours, and fake shootouts.
A perfect spot for those who like reconstructions more than the eerie feeling of untouched and unreconstructed ghost towns that still have the energy of its past residents and events.
19 United States: Goldfield, Arizona
As you can tell by its name, Goldfield was also born during the times of the Gold Rush. And it was quite a vibrant city with a schoolhouse, three saloons, a brewery, a meat market, and a blacksmith.
The town has reached a number of 1,500 residents and was booming. However, after five years after it began, Goldfield started to die out until it became a ghost town in 1898. Following the efforts of George Young, the town was resurrected in 1921 under the name 'Youngsber', however, the 'resurrection' lasted only for five more years. Fifty years after it Robert F.'Bob' Schoose and his wife Lou Ann decided to rebuilt the ghost town and today Goldfield is filled with touristic attractions bound to make you feel like you're in an authentic western town. Streets are filled with horse and wagons, gunfighter presentations and people in old western costumes.
18 United States: Rhyolite, Nevada
The town of Rhyolite at the eastern edge of Death Valley 190 kilometers northwest of Las Vegas was also built during the Gold Rush and it existed for 12 years from 1904 to 1916. Remarkably, despite its limited lifespan, it was the third-largest city in Nevada in the first decade of the 19th century.
The town is still known for its bottle houses and appearance in a series of western movies. Today you can see a part of the old jail, a train station, a three-story bank and a general store in Rhyolite. Most of the other buildings were destroyed.
17 United States: St. Elmo, Colorado
St. Elmo lured prospectors in search of silver and gold, but now it lures a lot of ghost hunters because it's one of the most fascinating ghost towns in the United States. Back in the days when it was an active town, more than 2,000 people lived there and more than 150 mines were functioning in the area. All the fun stopped when the Alpine Tunnel was closed in 1910.
Today, in addition to the incredible feeling of an authentic ghost town, you can also find a general store (opened from June to October) and a cabin to stay in St. Elmo.
16 United States: Garnet, Montana
Unlike many of the towns on the list, Garnet in Montana lasted more than 5 and even 15 years, although it was also built during the Gold Rush. This town was inhabited from the 1860s to 1910s and it was abandoned after a huge fire destroyed more than a half of the town. Because gold mines were almost empty there was no sense in rebuilding Garnet, so people decided to leave it.
Nowadays, more than 30 historic buildings (including a hotel, a store, a saloon and a dozen of cabins) stay in Garnet with untouched interiors full of the items left by the town's inhabitants more than 100 years ago.
15 United States: Batsto Village, New Jersey
The name of this town comes from the Swedish word 'batsto' which means sauna. Founded in 1776 it was a 'company town' busy with ironworks and run by William Richards for 92 years. In 1876 it was purchased by industrialist Joseph Wharton who decided to experiment with manufacturing and agriculture. He improved the village life greatly and after his death, the property was managed by Girard Trust Company. There was a plan to build a 'trans-ocean airport' on the location in the 1950s but it never happened.
In 1961 Batsto Village was opened for visitors and today you can see 40 of the original structures, including Batsto Mansion, a blacksmith, a general store and many more.
14 United States: Silver City, Idaho
Silver City in Idaho is a perfect place to take you back in history. You can take a horseback ride through this place and enjoy more than 75 buildings which date back from the 1860s to 1900s. Back in the days when Silver City was active, it had 12 functioning mines, 75 businesses, and over 2,500 residents. This city had the first daily newspaper and the first telegraph in Idaho.
It's remarkable that Silver City still has a functioning hotel which is over 100 years old. You can freely visit it during the summer months.
13 United States: Ashcroft, Colorado
Sometimes I wonder why so many people know about the Gold Rush, but have no idea about the Silver Rush. As you can see from the history of towns listed in the article there were no fewer cities built around the silver mines, compared to those built around the gold ones. One of them is Ashcroft in Colorado, which started from two silver prospectors in 1880 and turned into a town with 3,500 residents only in five years. When mines ran out of silver there were only 100 residents left in Ashcroft.
In the 1930s there were plans to built a ski resort there, but they didn't come true and Ashcroft remained a ghost town.
12 United States: Cahawba, Alabama
Cahawba ghost town boasts to have an incredibly Instagrammable church which you can see on the picture above. In addition to this, it had a rich history before becoming deserted. From 1820 to 1825 it was Alabama's state capital, then it was a hub of cotton distribution, after it, the Confederacy built a prison there, where thousands of Union Soldiers were kept between 1863 and 1865 and by early 1900 most of the buildings got demolished. During all these times the city was bothered with floods which served as the main reason for its abandonment.
Now it's a ghost town preserved as a state historic site and today local people are working to develop it into an interpretive park.
11 United States: Bannack, Montana
Bannack is a remarkable ghost town because back in the 1860s it was notorious for being the 'toughest town in the west'. It gained such title due to the gunplay and greed generated by Montana's gold wealth. The dangerous route to Virginia City which was located nearby was a target for murderous bandits who took the lives of many innocent people.
People who have been to the city of Bannack say that you can still meet the ghost of bandit's victims in the old buildings of the town. Speaking about the latter, there are around 60 buildings there and some of them have excellently preserved interiors. Make sure to visit it if you're not afraid of ghosts.
10 Canada: Butedale, British Columbia
Now let's see what Canadian ghost towns have to offer us. The first on the list is Butedale, a small ghost town in British Columbia located on Princess Royal Island. It started in 1918 as lodging, mining and fishing camp. In the peak summertime population of Butedale was about 400 people.
Butedale became a ghost town because of the surrounding environment. The economy of a town was based on cannery business, but the physical characteristics of the area caused many problems and collapse to it.
Today, Butedale is included in the route of cruise ships and ferries sailing the Inside Passage of British Columbia. It can only be accessed by boat.
9 Canada: Bounty, Saskatchewan
Located in the south-central area of Saskatchewan, the village of Bounty had only 200 residents when it functioned. At one time there was nobody living in the community which attracted the attention of vandals who caused great damage to the property of local residents. After the acts of vandalism only a few people decided to get back to the village (in 2001 the population was only 5 people), but eventually, it became totally deserted.
There are about 8 buildings still standing in the village of Bounty, and you can see vacuum cleaners, couches, vehicles and everyday items mixed in piles there.
8 Canada: Ireland’s Eye, Newfoundland
Just like Butedale in British Columbia, Ireland's Eye in Newfoundland is also accessible only by boat. The first settlements were made in Ireland's Eye area in the 1600s. At the beginning of the past century, this island was home for a thriving fishing community. In 1956 the population of the island was 92, but in 1965 the last resident has left Ireland's Eye as a part of Fisheries Household Resettlement Program.
While most of the buildings were destroyed, visitors can still see several houses, the town's graveyard, and church.
7 Canada: Forty Mile, Yukon
Forty Mile, Fort Constantine Historic Site and Fort Cudahy are all located on the Yukon River northwest of Dawson city. Forty Mile is one of the most important sites in the history of Yukon because it was the first town in Yukon (founded in the 1880s) which was built around the gold deposits. At its peak town had a population of over 700 people, a police department and an Anglican mission school.
Forty Mile is now co-managed and co-owned by Yukon Government and Tr'ondëk Hwëch’in.
6 Canada: Robsart, Saskatchewan
Robsart was founded in 1910. With the arrival of the railway town started to develop quickly and shortly after new settlers arrived, new business bloomed and community enlarged. In 1920 Robsart had 350 residents, town council, mayor, its own town hall and more than 50 businesses. There was even a postcard with Robsart houses and a motto 'A town with a bright future'. Unfortunately, no bright future was awaiting it, because grain elevator fire, huge blaze, and Great Depression put the town's prosperity into a long decline.
Through the 1980s and 1990s the locals have striven to resurrect the village but in 2002 the village of Robsart was completely dissolved.