For many, the idea of a ghost town holds infinite fascination. For history buffs, they can be an irresistible draw. Tombstone, Arizona is the most widely known ghost town – home of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, rowdy saloons and cheesy old westerns. If you’re in search of a true sense of place and history, these lesser-known ghost towns are right up your alley.
- Virginia City, Montana – Thanks to the Virginia City Preservation Alliance, this ghost town is remarkably well preserved. Once a raucous mining town in the mid-late 1800’s, Virginia City currently boasts a population of roughly 132. There are a variety of tours including a stagecoach tour, a ghost tour and a self-guided tour. During the summer, you can attend Victorian balls and authentic operas of the 19th Don’t forget to visit the Thompson Hickman Library to see one of the town’s pride possessions – the “Clubfoot of Clubfoot George.” Yep. Clubfoot George was hanged in 1864. A few years later, to settle a saloon argument, some townfolk dug up his grave and kept the mummified clubfoot. It currently resides in a glass dome in the library. You can even buy a postcard!
- Kennecott, Alaska – The Kennecott Mines are part of the National Park System. From `1911-1938 the Kennecott Copper Mines were highly productive. Once the mines were picked clean, the town was abandoned and left to sit for nearly 60 years. Bit by bit, the buildings are being stabilized and repurposed for modern use. There are a variety of guided activities and tours available for visitors – do a bit of research before you visit.
- Thurmond, West Virginia – Thurmond is not quite a ghost town – five people still live there. Once, it was one of the busiest stops of the C&O railroad before the advent of the diesel engine. Abandoned areas around Thurmond have been purchased by the National Park Service and the town itself will revert to the NPS when the last of its five residents is gone. It is a tremendous chance to see mountain life at the turn of the last century.
- Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado – If you crave a unique, luxurious ghost town experience, Dunton Hot Springs is the place for you. The National Park Service missed this town and a private company bought and restored it. Gourmet food in an authentic 1800’s saloon? Rustic quarters with 1000-thread-count sheets? Yep. And hot springs all over the place! What was once a mining town is now a pretty great spot for a getaway weekend.
- Jerome, Arizona – Once a copper mining town whose population peaked at 20,000, Jerome is a fully restored ghost town that is home to about 450 artists and small business owners. In addition to the many shops and restaurants, visitors can visit an old mine, take a ghost tour and visit several historic homes and businesses.
Pack your camera and your walking shoes! It’s time to get out there and “live” some history.