GHOST TOWN USA! ™
YOUR Favorite Ghost Town Website!
LOVE IT! – LIVE IT! – READ IT!
Home of the GHOST TOWN OF THE MONTH
Gary B. Speck
Gary B. Speck
and exploring ghost towns throughout the
ONLINE 20 years!!!
Preserving the history of America’s fading and vanished towns,
communities and other places of habitation through education.
What’s NEW & NEWSY at Ghost Town USA
In the past 30 days we’ve made these changes:
1. This past summer, we took two ghost town road trips. One was through Central California and Nevada, and the other was a longer trip to Seattle. Some of those locations will be posted over the next several months. We visited a couple old ghost town friends and a couple new locations. Look for updates on the already posted towns and new listings from our new places.
2. ADDED a Topaz Relocation Center, Utah (March 10)
3. ONGOING: Addition of 2010 census figures.
· LICENSE PLATE COLLECTING:
1. Check out the Southern California ALPCA’s Regional chapter’s own Facebook page.
3. Dust in the Wind – A Guide to American Ghost Towns also has its own Facebook page.
4. I am still looking for historical information and photographs on the Salton Sea area and Imperial County, CA. We are anticipating publication of a very detailed Ghost Town Guru Guide to the Salton Sea region soon. I have received a lot of new information and photos from several readers, and I have at least one more journey down there for some photos then I’ll be looking to finally publish this LONG project!
Freelance writing and photography
Celebrating 36 years of continuous publication – 1978-2014!
Over 770* articles and well over 3000 photos published in 22 different magazines, two books and this website.
My first published article was in February 1978, my first book in 1996.
(*Includes articles posted on this website)
· AUTHOR of the 2010 book Ghost Towns: Yesterday & TodayTM Published by Publications International, Ltd, Lincolnwood, IL. This book is still selling well and in June 2011 went into a SECOND PRINTING!!!
1. Get in on the exciting Facebook group for this book.
2. Come on by and like its Facebook page while you’re at it!
· AUTHOR of the book Dust in the Wind – A Guide to American Ghost Towns Published by Whites Electronics, Sweet Home, OR. Still IN PRINT and selling after 17 years!
1. Like the above book, DITW also has its own Facebook page.
· Contributing Editor for Western & Eastern Treasures magazine.
· Author of THE monthly column “Ghost Town USA” Featured monthly in Western & Eastern Treasures magazine, since April 1984!
· SEARCHING FOR MY ROOTS THROUGH: GenealogY
License Plate Collecting
· Want List:
· Trade List:
· General collecting information:
License Plate Collecting clubs:
· Automobile License Plate Collector's Association ( ALPCA )
1. Check out the Southern California ALPCA’s Regional chapter’s own Facebook page.
· Number Plate Collector's Club-Australia
1. Visit NPCC’s main website.
2. North American membership coordinator for NPCC
A summer evening - 1887. He just got paid. Money burning a hole in his pocket.
Walking the dark and dusty, yet busy Main Street, Joe Miner passed stores, restaurants and boarding houses filled with tired miners. Light emanating through the windows of the Cosmopolitan Saloon caught his attention and he crossed the street.
He was beat.
He was lonely.
After six days of back-breaking labor, Joe needed to relax. His tiny, drafty, wooden cabin tucked in the junipers above the mine east of town offer no creature comforts or amenities other than a battered chair nearly unworthy of the name, barely edible hardtack, canned beans, tinned sardines, a couple well-read books and a broken down bedstead.
He needed company.
He needed real food.
Stepping through the door, his senses were assailed by a full house. Clinking glasses and bottles, sporadic shouts and laughter lifted above the hubbub as scores of sweaty, jabbering men shook off a week’s worth of stress and strain. Deep rumbles and booms from the underground mines rattled the saloon, not even raising eyebrows on any of the assembled multitude. Carefully working his way through the crowded room, Joe counted out the appropriate change and tossed it onto the scarred wooden bar top in exchange for a lukewarm mug of locally brewed draught beer. Turning to face the milling mob he wondered what in the world would possess a man to leave his wife and kids on the farm in Missouri, head west to find fame and fortune, then ending up as grunt labor in an anonymous underground hole, blasting big rocks into smaller rocks, then shoveling those rock crumbs into tiny ore cars. Only to make someone else rich.
Because of this booming mining town’s isolation, prices for life’s staples were so high he could barely meet necessary expenses, much less save anything. His pants were holey and his boots disintegrating. His back ached, he was constantly dirty and he missed his family. Rumors of the mine shutting down next year made him reassess why he was even here.
Here deep in the heart of Nevada, he was just another nameless face, jostled by an anonymous crowd of thousands populating a forgettable mining town plopped in the middle of nowhere. He was a worker ant in a teeming anthill, in just one of the countless hundreds of similar towns scattered about the American West: each one proclaiming themselves to be “the next Comstock.”
The man standing next to him asked if he’d heard the rumor of a rich gold discovery off to the south in Arizona. It’s said the nuggets can be picked right up off the ground. Joe shook his head, and sadly turned away.
That’s the very same rumor that got him here in the first place.
That was yesterday - but, what about today?
A whispering breeze barely rustled the sagebrush rolled into a bristly pile against the south side of the half-collapsed rock wall stitched to a dead storefront. Shining through vacant window and door openings, three arched sunbeams punctuated the storefront’s shadow sprawling across the crumbling pavement of Main Street. Across the street the Cosmopolitan Saloon lies dead, its second floor reduced to a jumble of firewood nestled inside street level rock walls, bleached boards stabbing the sky at bizarre angles much like the children’s game “Pick Up Sticks.” Soaking up residual heat from a lowering sun, a fat brown lizard disturbed by our passing, skitters up the rock face of an old saloon building, disappearing through a wood-framed, vacant window socket.
Behind the dead buildings on the west side of Main Street, a babbling brook laces its way through tall cottonwood trees. Beyond that stream, sunshine glints off intact windows lining the second floor of a massive brick building topped off by a metal roof lined with a half-dozen brick chimneys and a bright white cupola.
Permeating the dead townsite is the smell of barbeque, the clanking of horseshoes and the joyful melody of young children laughing and playing.
We are not alone.
Why is this town dead?
Why the sound of joyful children playing?
Welcome to a world of the unexpected.
Welcome to a world where you can meet history face-to-face, walk dusty streets where businesses once thrived, feel the now faded hopes and dreams of people looking to make a difference, touch the ghosts of the past.
Welcome to the wonderful world of ghosttowning.
SO - what are
Lambert Florin, one of the earlier ghost town hunters and prolific writers, called a ghost town “a shadowy semblance of its former self.”
Philip Varney, another well-known and well-respected ghost town hunter and author/photographer says ghost towns have two characteristics: “the population has decreased markedly and the initial reason for its settlement (such as a mine or railroad) no longer keeps people there.”
Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (G. & C. Merriam Co., Springfield, MA) defines a ghost town thusly: "a once-flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted usu(ally) as a result of the exhaustion of some natural resource (as gold)."
Using all these definitions as a basis, I have come up with the following description…
"A Ghost Town is a town or community that at one time had a commercial or population center,
and is either
wholly abandoned or faded greatly from its peak and now is just a shadow of its
Many people consider ghost towns to only be the tangible remnants of mining camps in the Western United States as described above. However in reality, they may be the remains of agricultural communities, logging camps, railroading centers, construction camps, military posts, stagecoach stops, ferries, former resorts, European colonies, and so forth. They can be found in every country of the world; any place people have lived. Some folks even extend the description to Native American communities and ancient Egyptian and Greek cities. However on these web pages, the listings are primarily aimed at American ghost towns, with a smattering of Canadian and other country locations established by non-indigenous peoples. The term GHOST TOWN is subjective, like trying to describe love, beauty and art, or other subjects whose descriptions and connotations vary from person to person and can actually embrace controversy.
let’s explore deeper than the stereotypes.
Let’s seek out not only the well-known places, but other types of ghost
towns often forgotten by the masses AND the mainstream media. Listed herein, are ferry crossings, resorts,
stage stations, Pony Express stops, logging camps, mining towns, military
posts, fishing villages, mill towns, failed (and successful-but abandoned)
European colonies, missions, presidios, rural post offices, farm towns,
railroad construction camps/sidings/stations, toll road collecting houses,
internment/POW camps, road towns and so on.
They’ll range from class A
- barren sites through class E
- living towns with a boisterous past.
YET, all the featured locations will have one thing in common – they
will ALL at one time have had a commercial or population center and be
either wholly abandoned or faded greatly from their peak, shadows of their
former selves. If there are any
remaining residents, they sometimes bristle when their beloved communities make
it onto a ghost town list somewhere! Yet
by using our description of what a ghost town is, these places need to be included. As such they are fair game to be explored,
photographed and shared by Ghost Town USA.
Ghost towns are one of America's least understood and under-appreciated historical treasures. Unfortunately those with tangible remains, especially the classic ghost town with a street full of abandoned buildings, are disappearing far too rapidly and a large percentage of ghost towns left in the United States are either barren or rubbled sites. Historians estimate there may be as many as 50,000 ghost towns scattered across the United States. Obviously there is no one source for information on all those locations, but the man that CNN called "The Ghost Town Guru" is working on it!
If you have a passion for lost and forgotten sites, classic ghost towns, near-ghost towns, or even state-protected ones, read about them monthly in Gary’s Ghost Town USA column on the pages of Western & Eastern Treasures magazine. Or you can discover more through Gary’s books: Dust in the Wind - A Guide to American Ghost Towns and the 2010 success story, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM. You can also become a friend of the later and have fun discussing ghost towns and sharing photos with nearly 4000 other ghost towners on Facebook.
ghost towns featured on these pages are only a tiny part of my entire file of ghost
towns, and their listings on this site are purely subjective.
PLEASE REMEMBER, when out exploring, never forget how fragile these rickety relics of Americana are. Always treat them with respect and abide by the Ghost Towner’s Code of Ethics. In that way, they may last a little longer, and be available for someone else (or YOU!) to visit next year.
COME. Join with The Ghost Town Guru™ on a journey into the world of GHOST TOWN USA!
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and "The Ghost Town Guru's Guides to the Ghost Towns of ***"
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