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GHOST TOWN USA

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ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST

 

 

By

 

Gary B. Speck

 

 

 

Ghost town hunting is a fascinating hobby, but eventually you - the explorer - will find a place that has been touted in books and articles and is a wonderful place to stop, and so on.  You then make a point to visit, and guess what?

 

IT’S GONE!!!  Or changed radically.

 

Unfortunately, this is becoming an all too familiar occurrence as time slowly slips behind us.  In my 40 years PLUS of exploring American ghost towns I have been disappointed and have witnessed numerous sites disappearing.  Some have been minor sites or single buildings, while others have been entire, well-known towns.  SO, this behooves each of us to get out there and photographically preserve what’s left!  With digital cameras having replaced film cameras, there’s NO EXCUSE to not take a lot of photos of these places to document what is left, and the changes being made, even in the short, but permanent term!

 

I’m not going to get into the reason why places disappear, but most are because of us – mankind – human beings - Homo sapiens.  Granted nature does take its toll, but nothing like we do.  Today (2014) there is much ado about climate change - a more politically correct term than global warming – supposedly caused by our addiction to fossil fuels and carbon-based products (a topic I will NOT broach here).  But humans (and nature) also cause other changes: changes that don’t make the daily news - the disappearance of ghost towns being one glaring example.  Of course this is much easier to document, and it doesn’t make CNN or FOX News or even PBS.  But for those of us invested in exploration and the hobby of ghost towning, it is just as important. 

 

Once a ghost town has disappeared, it’s gone forever, except in photographs and other memories.  So, here’s the preaching part again.  Get out there and document these places before they are gonE! 

 

Some of the greatest casualties in my knowledge base include the following places that I have seen disappear or suffer significant change.  After the name and state, I have listed the cause of the town’s or structure’s demise.  There are MANY others but these are ones I am acutely aware of.

 

Any links incated thusly, are links to our Ghost Town Definitions page.  If you are not sure of what this word is, that page should hopelysplain it to you.  Thanks (this was a reader suggestion a few years back)

 

 

CENTRALIA, PENNSYLVANIA  Human – accident - fire

I have NOT visited Centralia, but did a lot of research while working on my most recent book: Ghost Towns: Yesterday & Today. The bottom line on this place is that it is, or should I say, WAS a coal mining town.  In 1930, nearly 2500 people lived here, and in 2010 the population was 0.  What caused this mass desertion was an underground fire that began in 1962 with burning trash at the town dump, which had the unfortunate position of being located adjacent to a mined coal seam.  HMMM.  Fire, oxygen and fuel.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

 

It was! 

 

The fire quickly ran underground and the burning coal seam underground has caused the entire town to be shut down, evacuated and the buildings removed.  Even the highway into town has been rerouted.  So, where thousands once lived and worked is now an empty, uninhabitable wasteland.  Wouldn’t it be great to see pictures of the town in its prime?

 

Eagle Mountain, CALIFORNIA Human – intentional - Site posted against entry  

This class C, iron-mining company town is located at the massive Eagle Mountain iron mine, tucked into a pocket on the southeastern side of Joshua Tree National Park.  It was formerly accessible by County Road (CR) R2, north of Desert Center, which itself is a slumbering road town in the heart of the desert, along I-10 midway between Indio and the Colorado River.  You can still make the journey, but the road is blocked and posted.  Take a telephoto lens or telescope to view the remaining buildings at this huge town site. See our Eagle Mountain page for additional details.

 

EXPOSED TREASURE MINING CAMP, CALIFORNIA Human – intentional - mining

This little Mojave Desert mining camp was located west of State Highway (SH) 14, a few miles south of Mojave in the heart of Southern California’s Mojave Desert.  The mineral that created it, destroyed it!  I explored it pretty thoroughly back in 1984 and really enjoyed my quality time with the crumbling buildings and when I find the photos I took that day, will post them.  One day a dozen or so years ago, I was planning a trip to that area again, and couldn’t find the camp.  Where it was, was a huge tailing pile from an open pit gold mine.  That pile also covered up the neighboring mining camp of Desert Queen.  In fact, what was once known as Standard Hill, has also been pretty well ground up and the gold has been extracted.  From what I understand, the magnificent stamp mill that stood in the camp had been relocated to the Friends of the Mojave Road’s museum at Goffs. The mines on Standard Hill are not listed in GNIS, so I have only given the GPS info for Standard Hill below. See the map for the entire Mojave-Rosamond Mining District, and a 1914 view of the mining camp.  The large, two-story bunkhouse is shown on the left, and the mill complex at the right center.

 

FRONTENAC, Minnesota Human – intentional – partial demolition of historic structure

This town has not disappeared, but did suffer the partial loss of a major building.  When we visited the town in the summer of 1998, the famous old hotel was having the entire rear portion demolished.  From what I understand, the rest is still standing, but it is unused at the present.

 

GRAFTON, Utah Human – intentional – 2 buildings removed - 1 burned and 1 collapsed

This town has not disappeared, but did suffer the loss of two major buildings. In July 1990, just to the west of the Louisa Russell home was the remains of a burnt building, and across the entrance road to the west was a crumbling log building.  Both are long gone, the sites now barren and unmarked.  SEE our GRAFTON page for additional details of the town.

 

LITTLE LAKE, CALIFORNIA Human – intentional – complete site demolition

            SEE our Little Lake page for details on this lost and nearly forgotten ghost town along US Highway 395 south of Lone Pine and north of Inyokern.

 

LUDLOW, CALIFORNIA Nature – accidental – partial collapse of major structure in earthquake

This town has not disappeared, but did suffer the partial loss of a major building.  On October 16, 1999 the magnitude 7.1 Hector Mines Earthquake ripped through the Mojave Desert just a few miles away.  The once-majestic, two-story concrete, Murphy Brothers store suffered serious damage, the entire front portion collapsing.  As of 2007 it was still standing, although fenced off.

 

MOUNT MONGOMERY, NEVADA Human – intentional – one building burned

I received the following E-mail from Daniel D. on July 18, 2010.

Someone burned the old casino down a few months ago.  It is a total ruin with just a few walls left.  …The restaurant you mention was in fact the first casino with some food available.”

See PART 2 of our US 6 - On the Road pages for additional information on this old road town.

 

NORTH SHORE, CALIFORNIA Human – intentional – demolition of the motel building, complete renovation of the yacht club into a museum (since relocated).

            This town has not disappeared, but did suffer the loss of a major building, and extensive remodeling of another. SEE our North Shore page for details on this old faded resort town.

 

PICHER, OKLAHOMA Human – intentional – closed by government due to serious pollution problems

This former zinc mining town in the northeastern corner was declared a superfund site and has been abandoned.  The Federal Government has purchased the properties and evicted all Picher’s occupants.  Please be advised that accessibility here is subject to change and that it is a dangerous location due to the undermining of the entire townsite by the lead mines.  If you do visit, please remain on the public roads.  I visited Picher during our summer 2012 ghost town tour and will be posting a page for this old town in the near future.  Like Centralia, I also did a lot of research on this town for its inclusion in my newest book: Ghost Towns: Yesterday & Today.

 

SALTDALE, CALIFORNIA Human – intentional – Site posted against entry

This former salt mining and shipping center on the north side of Koehn Dry Lake has been posted against entry.  At the time of my visit in April, 2013, there were workers at the railroad grade, and numerous signs prohibiting entry were located just north of the rail crossing.

 

SOUTHERN CROSS, MONTANA Human – intentional - mining

SEE our SOUTHERN CROSS page for details on this lost ghost town.  I recently heard by a poster on the Ghost Towns Yesterday & Today Facebook page that the site is still open and a few buildings still remain.

 

TEMECULA HOT SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA Human – intentional - development

            Bulldozers took out this old hot springs spa in the 1990s.  Gotta have more houses!!!  The site is actually now barren and sits across the street from a housing tract.

 

THISTLE, Utah Nature – accidental - flooding

         SEE Part 6 of our “Tour Guide to the Ghost Towns Along U.S. Highway 6” for the story of THISTLE.

 

 

Please note:  In the above list, there are a lot of locations from California.  I’m not trying to claim that California leads the nation in this phenomenon, I just happen to live in and explore this state the most, therefore, I note these changes quicker.

 

 

GPS and Standard Township/Range locations for the sites featured above

 

SITE NAME

ELEV.

LATITUDE

LONGITUDE

TOWNSHIP/RANGE

Centralia (Columbia Co., PA)

1460’

40.8042541 / 40° 48’ 15” N

-76.3405035 / 76° 20’ 26” W

NOT USED IN PENNSYLVANIA – Conyngham Township

Eagle Mountain (Riverside Co., CA)

1365’

33.8575137 / 33° 51’ 27” N

-115.4872075 / 115° 29’ 14” W

W½ Sec 1, all Sec 2, T4S, R14E, San Bernardino Base Line & Meridian

Exposed Treasure Mine Camp (Kern Co., CA)

SEE Standard Hill

35.007960 (approximately)

-118.171563 (approximately

NE¼ Sec 32, T11N, R12W, San Bernardino Base Line & Meridian

Frontenac (Goodhue Co., MN)

751’

44.5260787 / 44° 31’ 34” N

-92.3321254 / 92° 19’ 56” W

SW¼ Sec 3, SE¼ Sec 4, T112N, R13W, 5th Principal Meridian

Grafton (Washington Co., UT)

3665’

37.1672050 / 37° 10’ 02” N

-113.0799425 / 113° 04’ 48” W

N½ Sec 3, T42S, R11W, Salt Lake Baseline & Meridian

Little Lake (Inyo Co., CA)

3130’

35.9366936 / 35° 56’ 12” N

-117.9067408 / 117° 54’ 24” W

NW¼ Sec 17, NE¼ Sec 18, T27S, R38E, Mount Diablo Meridian

Ludlow (San Bernardino Co., CA)

1778’

34.7211004 / 34° 43’ 16” N

-116.1600117 / 116° 09’ 36” W

S½ Sec 5, N –Ctr Sec 8, T7N, R8E, San Bernardino Base Line & Meridian

Mount Montgomery (Mineral Co., NV)

6450’

37.8285428 / 37° 49' 43" N

-118.4309530 / 118° 25' 51" W

SE3 Sec 27, T1S, R32E, Mount Diablo Meridian

North Shore (Riverside Co., CA)

-205’

33.5094710 / 33º 30’ 34” N

-115.9230530 / 115º 55’ 23” W

NW¼ Sec 34, T7S, R10E, San Bernardino Base Line & Meridian

Picher (Ottawa Co., OK)

820’

36.9870117 / 36° 59’ 13” N

-94.8307845 / 94° 49’ 51” W

Sections 20 and 21, T29N, R23E, Indian Meridian

Saltdale (Kern Co., CA)

1923’

35.3591276 / 35° 21’ 33” N

-117.8875671 / 117° 53’ 15” W

NW¼ of the NE¼ Sec 3, T30S, R38E, Mount Diablo Meridian

Southern Cross (Deer Lodge Co., MT)

6972’

46.2102031 / 46° 12’ 37” N

-113.2364462 / 113° 14’ 11” W

SW¼ Sec 4, T5N, R13W,  Principal Base Line and Meridian

Standard Hill (Kern Co., CA)

3123’

35.0071939 / 35° 00’ 26” N

-118.1742422 / 118° 10’ 27” W

N½ Sec 32, S½ Sec 29, T11N, R12W, San Bernardino Base Line & Meridian

Temecula Hot Springs (Riverside Co., CA)

1093’

33.5539148 / 33º 33’ 14” N

-117.1683658 / 117° 10’ 06” W

NW¼ Sec 24, T7S, R3W, San Bernardino Base Line & Meridian

Thistle (Utah Co., UT)

5043’

40.0371781 / 40° 02' 14" N

-111.5288024 / 111° 31' 44" W

Corner Secs 28, 29, 32 & 33, T9S, R4E, Salt Lake Baseline & Meridian

 

 

 

 

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FIRST POSTED:  June 05, 2010

LAST UPDATED: August 10, 2014

 

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