There are billions of people in the world and some cities are so densely populated that you can’t even wash your car on the street, and it's impossible to find decent accommodation. And then, on the complete opposite end of the scale, there are ghost towns, places which have been left abandoned and now serve as a reminder of the past.
These towns have been left without permanent residents for decades, and there's a number of reasons as to why that is; Some are old mining towns which were built during the gold or silver rushes, but when the minerals dwindled in the surrounding areas, so too did the town's population. Other towns have been left in a state of disrepair because the industry no longer had a market, and then there are individuals who had to leave their homes because of a nuclear power plant meltdown or a natural disaster.
Ghost towns continue to captivate travelers who are interested in the past, and who want to explore something different. Below are 25 images of forgotten towns, many of which offer a glimpse into what life would have been like at the time, although now there is nothing much to be found there except for dust and tumbleweeds.
25 Wyoming's South Pass City May Be A Ghost Town But It Also Has A Visitors Center
South Pass City can be found in Wyoming, and according to Travel Wyoming, it is a historic destination which was once at the heart of the gold mining operations in the area. The town was founded in 1867 due to the gold boom in the Sweetwater Mining District, and according to the publication, within a single year, the town had a population of 2,000.
But the prosperity did not last and after the bust in 1872, the population dwindled. Now, the town has been transformed into a visitors center, with living history demonstrations and movies being shown, as well as multiple structures to marvel at.
24 Bannack Was Once A Boom Town During The Gold Rush
The United States is home to many ghost towns, and one of the more well-known ghost towns of the west is Bannack, in Montana, which was once a destination that drew miners to the area after gold was found in the late 1800s.
According to Bannack State Park, the town was founded in 1862 after John White, who discovered gold in the creek waters. However, by 1863, gold had been found in Virginia City, and the publication notes that many prospectors decided to try their luck here instead. But not everyone left, and it was only in the 1950s, when the gold reserves were depleted, that Bannack really started to become a ghost town.
23 Eureka Is Now A Distant Memory Of The Mining Town It Once Was
Eureka was once a booming mining city near Mpumalanga in South Africa, but now all that remains of the city is a memory of the past. According to Country Life, there was a gold strike here in 1884, bringing with it many diggers and prospectors, and the town's peak it had several canteens, a butchery, a bakery, and even a post office.
But after the gold started to run out, the individuals who had once called this city home moved on, and Eureka became a ghost town.
22 Interstate 40 Bypassed Glenrio And It Quickly Became A Ghost Town
Glenrio is a town located between Texas and New Mexico, and according to Legends of America, the town was born in 1901, when Rock Island and Pacific Railroad came through the area.
But unlike many other towns in the United States, it was not abandoned after gold or coal reserves dwindled, rather it became a ghost town because of its location. The town had catered to tourists traveling on Route 66, but when Interstate 40 was built, it bypassed Glenrio, and with the lack of traffic passing through the region, it became a forgotten town.
21 The Great Depression Resulted In The Citizens Of Terlingua Leaving In Search Of New Prospects
Terlingua was once a mining town in Texas, and home to the Chisos Mining Company. At the end of the 19th Century, mercury was discovered in the area, the town became home to around 2,000 people, The Perennial Style reports. But when mercury was no longer in demand during the Great Depression, the town became abandoned, as people moved away in search of other prospects.
Although it is considered a ghost town, Terlingua is home to 58 residents, and according to the publication, you can still find a few restaurants and shops here.
20 The Greek Island Of Spinalonga Was Once A Leper Colony
Spinalonga is a Greek island, and although photos of it may make it look as though it would be a picturesque holiday destination, it was once home to a leper colony.
According to BBC, in 1904, the islet was transformed into a leper colony and by 1913 anyone with leprosy was sent to live on this island. At one point there were as many as 400 people living here and it remained in action until 1957.
Now, the island can be visited by tourists interested in the history of this colony and the people who once called it home.
19 Thurmond Still Only Had A Single Railway Even When It Was Booming
Thurmond is a town in West Virginia that was once a boom town because of the coal deposits found here in the early 20th Century, Atlas Obscura reports. The publication also notes that even when the town was doing well, there was but a single railway line in and out of the town.
The buildings have been well-preserved, making it a sight to behold and offering a glimpse into what this coal-town may have looked like at the height of prosperity. Now, according to This Is Insider, a 2010 population census revealed that there were just five residents.
18 The Buildings On The Finnish Island Of Jussarö Have Been Left To Rust Away
Jussarö is an island in the Ekenäs Archipelago National Park in Finland, and it’s a place that not many people would have heard of, which is not surprising since the former iron ore mine that was here closed in 1967, Visit Raseborg reports. The mine had been in operation for 30 years, but its abrupt closing resulted in the men who worked here having to relocate, and the buildings were left abandoned.
For a time after the mine closed the publication notes that the Finnish Defence Forces used the island for training purposes until it was transferred to Metsähallitus in 2005, and then opened to the public.
17 The Dusty Streets Of Rhyolite Have Served As The Backdrop For A Western Film
Rhyolite was created during a gold rush, after two men struck gold in the Bullfrog Mountains in 1904, Trip Savvy reports. The town survived only as long as the gold did, and although at its peak it had impressive buildings, swimming pools, and more than 50 saloons, by 1914 the Nevada town’s population was dwindling. Just five years later, it became a ghost town.
According to Atlas Obscura, the mine was closed in 1911, but the town has had some foot traffic since becoming a ghost town and has used as the backdrop for western films, including, The Air Mail.
16 When The Coal Ran Out, Gunkanjima Island Became Completely Deserted
Japan’s Gunkanjima Island, or Hashima Island as its also known, is located off the coast of Nagasaki, Atlas Obscura reports. In the early 1900s during Japan’s industrial expansion, the island was mined for its submarine coal deposit, with the publication noting that many of the miners were forced laborers from Korea.
The publication notes that to accommodate the miners, the island was transformed into a densely populated city (almost 6,000 people lived here during the mid-1950’s), filled with apartment blocks, restaurants, and gaming houses. But the coal eventually ran out, the mine was closed, and the city was left abandoned.
15 Millwood Was A Tiny Town That Appeared Quickly And Disappeared Just As Fast
Millwood was a small mining village in Knysna, South Africa, that experienced a short-lived boom during the gold rush. According to Garden Route Adventure Guide, the news of gold had spread fast, resulting in many people visiting the area, and hotels and other buildings sprung up in short periods of time.
And just as quickly as they sprung up, they disappeared, because the publication notes that Millwood was a ghost town within five years. This was the 1800s, and although its long since been abandoned (according to Garden Route Meander, by 1892 diggings had largely been abandoned), visitors to the area can walk around and see the old street names and abandoned ruins.
14 The Town Of Dallol Is Abandoned, Which Is A Good Thing Because It's The Hottest Place On Earth
Dallol is a ghost town in Ethiopia, and it’s one of the most uninviting towns you’ll ever visit because of the arid conditions. According to Trip Savvy, it’s the hottest place on Earth based on a year-round average, and the average daily temperature is 94°F (around 34°C).
No one lives here permanently, but the publication notes that the remote location has been used for mining operations ranging from potash to salt. Mining stopped in the 1960s though, and although many of the places on this list are worth a visit, perhaps Dallol is one visitors would like to skip.
13 Kolmanskop Is Covered In Sand But Is Still A Reminder Of The Diamond Boom In The Namib Desert
There was once a town called Kolmanskop established in a place you would not imagine to have a thriving town; the Namib Desert. But the reason for the town was the neighboring diamond mine, which according to National Geographic, was built to house the workers.
The town was abandoned in the 1950s, although many of the buildings still stand today, partially covered by sand. According to the Kolmanskop website, the population of the town was 1,300 at its peak, but the last family left in 1956.
12 The Residents Of Goldfield Went In Searcher Of Greener (Or In This Case, More Golden) Pastures
What remains of Goldfield now is padlocked buildings and boarded up windows, Ghost Towns reports, although there are still many original buildings standing, making this a fascinating town to visit. Goldfield was founded in 1902, and as the name suggests, it was a town born out of the gold rush, with as many as 30,000 people calling it home during its peak of popularity in 1906, the publication reports.
But the success of Goldfield would not last forever, and once the gold ran dry, the town was left deserted.
11 Bodie Was Once Home To Unsavory Characters And Now It's Not Home To Much At All
Bodie is one of California’s most well-known ghost towns, and according to History, was established in 1876. The shacks and buildings of the time still stand and serve as a reminder of what the town once was. Bodie was a gold and silver mining town that attracted many people to the area, and at one point there were as many as 10,000 people living in the town, although many of them were unsavory characters.
Although it’s frequented by tourists, the town has been without residents since the 1940s.
10 St. Elmo Is Believed To Be One Of The Most Haunted Places In Colorado
Colorado’s St. Elmo may be a ghost town, but it’s not devoid of life because it's become a popular tourist attraction, especially for those interested in the paranormal. Ghost town, in this case, may have more than one meaning, and according to Country Living, St. Elmo is said to be one of the most haunted towns in the state.
But before St. Elmo was a spooky attraction, it was a mining town with as many as 2,000 residents at its peak, and then, by 1930 it was home to just seven.
9 The Whaling Boats In South Georgia's Grytviken Have Been Left To Decay
Grytviken was once the largest whaling station in South Georgia, and now it lays abandoned with whaling ships and buildings rusting away.
According to Urban Ghosts Media, the whaling station was founded by a Norwegian captain in 1904, and the station, during its peak, was home to around 300 men. Here they used all parts of the whales, from bones to meat and blubber, but the publication notes that when whale stocks dropped, the station was closed in 1966.
According to World Abandoned, the site now has a museum which is visited by tourists.
8 Fordlândia Was Henry Ford's Unsuccessful Project In The Middle Of The Amazon
Fordlândia can be found deep within Brazil’s Amazon forest, and according to Atlas Obscura, the town was built because Henry Ford wanted to create the world’s largest rubber plantation here. His intentions were bold, but his plans were unsuccessful, despite millions being poured into the project, which spanned over six million acres and had a power plant, a hospital, and even a golf course.
The publication notes that the rubber saplings Ford planted were not growing as planned, and there was also the risk of malaria, and unhappy workers started to riot. According to The New York Times, after much financial loss, Ford turned over his project to the Brazilian government in 1945.
7 A Combination Of Unfortunate Factors Led To The Eventual Ghost Town Status Of Texola
Along Route 66 lies the town of Texola, a town which Architectural Digest listed as one of the most stunning abandoned towns in the world. Texola is a near-ghost town, with only 35 people calling it home now, although the publication reports that it was once home to almost 600 people in 1930. The combined effect of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and a decrease in cotton production caused its residents to relocate.
Among the landmarks this small town has to offer are the stone-walled jail and the historic
Magnolia Service Station, The Route 66 reports.
6 Garnet's Deserted Log Cabins Once Housed 1,000 People
The deserted log cabins in Garnet offer a glimpse back in time and allow us to imagine what life would have been like in a gold mining town during early 19th Century. According to This Is Insider, the small town was once home to as many as 1,000 residents during its peak, but Garnet now has the title of a ghost town, although its a particularly well-preserved one.
Access to Garnet is limited in winter, but it is open all-year-round to visitors who want to explore the town.
5 Ōkuma Was Evacuated After A Nuclear Power Plant Meltdown
The town of Ōkuma, located in Fukushima Prefecture in Japan, has a sad history because according to The Guardian, it stands empty because of a nuclear disaster. This disaster happened in 2011 when the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station suffered a meltdown, and the 10,500 residents of the town had to be relocated.
The publication notes that the town remains “under evacuation orders with decontamination still not finished.” There are a few people who watch over the ghost town, and they are referred to as Jijii Butai, or The Old Man Squad. Their mission is to protect their former homes, and stop suspicious people from walking on the streets.
4 The Small Town Of Poggioreale Is Like A Portal Back To The '60s
Poggioreale is a small town in Western Sicily that has been left deserted. The reason it was abandoned was due to an earthquake which hit the region in 1968, and according to MSN, the community then built their homes across the valley.
Although this town has not been turned into a tourist attraction like many of the old mining towns across the world, it is a haunting reminder of the life that once existed here, and visitors can explore the empty streets and ruins. The publication notes it's almost like being transported back into the '60s and magazines from this time still lie on the floor of the homes.
3 Cahawba Is One Of Alabama's Most Well-Preserved Ghost Towns
Cahawba in located in Dallas County outside of Alabama, and according to Only In Your State, it once served as the capital of Alabama. In fact, it was the state’s first capital for six years, from 1820 to 1826, but since then, a lot has changed.
No longer is Cahawba a prestigious town, instead, it is considered a ghost town and one of the state’s most well-known. The publication claims that there are many abandoned buildings here which have been preserved, and the town serves as an archaeological site.
2 Tianducheng Is A Chinese Town That Has Been Modeled After Paris
Architectural Digest notes that Tianducheng was meant to be a luxury development in Hangzhou, China, and was inspired by France’s capital city Paris because it even has a replica of the famous Eiffel Tower. However, the development (which was built in 2007) was meant to house 10,000 people, and it hasn’t really done so, with just 2,000 people calling it home at the time of publication.
MSN notes that the people who do call the area home, work in the French-themed amusement park nearby. And while it may lack permanent residents, it is a popular tourist attraction.
1 Elk Falls In Kansas Has Named Itself As 'The World’s Largest Living Ghost Town'
Elk Falls (given its name by the falls in the area) is a town in the Kansas Ozarks, and according to Legends of America, it refers to itself as the “world’s largest living ghost town.” A town with this title is immediately one that creates interest, and according to the publication, the town was established in 1870 by a man named R. H. Nichols who, along with six other businessmen, had great hopes of turning this plot of land into a settlement.
According to Kansas Travel, the town is still worth visiting especially in the summer months, and there are a few remaining businesses, although they tend to be seasonal.
References: Travel Wyoming, Bannack State Park, Country Life, Legends Of America, The Perennial Style, BBC, Atlas Obscura, This Is Insider, Visit Raseborg, Trip Savvy, Atlas Obscura