Those two words promise adventure to thousands of Americans who take to the highways and byways of this country in search of these lost or forgotten habitations.
But what are they?
Curled wood battens peel away from the facade above a sagging, weathered canopy, standing only by virtue of a few rusty nails. Glassless windows stare blankly onto a rutted dirt street overgrown with native vegetation. Flaking paint of an unreadable advertisement is barely visible on the desiccated, chocolate colored wood wall. A rusting bed frame leans against the storefront under a broken window with a faded "Visitors Wel..." painted in gold paint. A slight breeze blows through open window casements and doorless entries, rustling the decaying debris of a dead town. This is all that remains of the hopes and dreams of hundreds of people. People whose hopes and dreams have evaporated and blown away like Dust in the Wind.
So, what is a ghost town?
"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 former self."
Ghost towns are one of America's least understood and appreciated historical treasures. Unfortunately the ones with tangible remains, especially the classic ghost town with a street full of abandoned buildings, are disappearing far too rapidly. A large percentage of ghost towns left in the United States are either barren or rubbled sites. Another classification of ghost towns could better be considered "semi" or "near" ghost towns. These locations still contain a few die-hard residents, along with a collection of abandoned or unused building--the remains of a dying town. Lastly many well-preserved ghost towns fall under government or private protection and are open to the public.
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 like the lost and forgotten sites, classic ghost towns, near-ghost towns, or state protected ones, Ghost Town USA has them all. You can read all about them monthly in the pages of Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine, or you can explore different locations on this website. Please note that the ghost towns featured on these pages are only a tiny part of our entire file of ghost towns.
When you are out exploring, always remember how fragile these rickety relics of Americana are. Always treat them with respect, and please 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.