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Abandoned places fascinate visitors with their mysterious traces of life that still live on in those spaces. From long-abandoned Old West mining towns to formerly glamorous resort towns and more, these American ghost towns are sure to intrigue.

Bodie, California
One of the best preserved ghost towns in America has a subarctic climate that eventually proved too harsh for its final residents who fled this dried up mining town by the 1940s. With more than 100 buildings still intact (including a fully stocked general store), Bodie is a must see destination on the ghost town circuit.

bodie

Photo: Jason A. Heidemann

Cairo, Illinois
Cairo, the southernmost city in Illinois, is hardly abandoned—in fact it has a current population of 2,800 (down from its peak population of more than 15,000 in 1920)—but you wouldn’t know it from wandering its eerie downtown whichis lined with abandoned buildings in various states of crumble and decay.

Cairo

Photo by Jason A. Heidemann

Calico, California
A ghost town with SoCal razzle dazzle, Calico is a one-time mining town that went bust before the turn of the century and was later purchased and restored by Walter Knott (of Knott’s Berry Farm). Today it’s known as Calico Ghost Town, a theme park of sorts complete with fake shootouts, gold panning andmining tours. Don’t forget to hit up the souvenir shop!

Calico

Cody, Wyoming
This frontier town wears its wild west past on its sleeve including souvenir shops and eateries like Big Chief’s Western Gifts and the Cody Cattle Company. The “ghostliness” of this town with a population of nearly 10,000 refers to the Old Trail Town, the site first William “Buffalo Bill” Cody. The structures in Cody are all authentic, although they have been brought in from all over the West.

Cody

Goldfield, Arizona
Established in 1893, Goldfield once boasted three saloons, a boarding house, a general store, a meat market, a blacksmith, a brewery and a school house. These days, Goldfield is filled mostly with actors who are there to give you an “authentic” Wild West experience, including a ride on Arizona’s only narrow gauge train, a mining tour, and a mock shoot out. Bring a sense of humor.

Goldfield

Kennecott, Alaska
As if Alaska couldn’t feel any more vast and empty, check out this old mining camp whose claim to fame is that it its surrounding area once contained the richest concentration of copper in the world. By the ’30s the highest grades of ore were depleting and the camp shut down for good in 1938. Kennecott was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1938.

Kennecott

Rhyolite, Nevada
We can only imagine how quickly the residents were eager to flee Rhyolite and its punishing summer heat as soon as the town’s mine closed. These days, Rhyolite, which sits at the eastern edge of Death Valley 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, is a true gem of a ghost town even if only a few structures are still intact. Check out the eerie art installations at the nearby Goldwell Museum.

Rhyolite

St. Elmo, Colorado
Visitors to the Centennial State should swing through this fascinating ghost town which lured prospectors in search of gold and silver. By the early ’20s, things in St. Elmo had gone sour when the mining dried up and the railroad discontinued service. Few people continue to live in town and tourists to the area can stay at the St. Elmo Hotel, visit the general store or take a ghost tour.

St.Elmo

Salton Riviera, California
The rare California ghost town that has nothing to do with the Wild West (at least not of the gold and silver mining kind), the so-called “Salton Riviera” was a collection of resort towns that boomed during mid-century, but have since gone belly up due to flooding, pollution and economic downturns with only scattered residents remaining. Don’t miss heartbreaking Bombay Beach.

SaltonSea

Photo: Jason A. Heidemann

Silver City, Idaho
This church may not look abandoned at first glance, but try telling that to the parishioners who fled this once-prosperous gold and silver mining town in the Gem State’s Boise Valley decades ago. 70 privately owned structures are still intact and in fact the Idaho Hotel has been partly restored and is available for lodging and dining during the summer months.

SilverCity

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Tagged: California, Destinations

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Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is an associate editor at Orbitz, a social media marketing consultant and a freelance cultural reporter for numerous publications. His works has been featured in the Huffington Post, Time Out, Passport, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and many others.

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