Ghost Town

Ghost Towns (CAUTION: annoying midi music)
Ghost Town Gallery
Ghost Towns of America

It is such a wonderful experience to walk through the many dusty and crumbling ghost towns of the American West. With a little luck and a lot of preservation, hopefully these old towns will still be there for our children and our grandchildren to enjoy.

What is a Ghost Town?

Basically, a ghost town is any historical town or site that leaves evidence of a town's previous glory. This could be in many forms — all businesses closed, municipal services at a minimum, rubble and old nails strewn about, ruins of former buildings, etc. Some places that are categorized as ghost towns; however, still have people living in them and though sometimes they don't want to be called a ghost town, most historians will continue to reference them that way if the reason or purpose for it's original "boom" is gone. This would include towns like Tombstone, Arizona; Cripple Creek, Colorado; Madrid, New Mexico, and dozens of others.

Other places which are considered truly "real" ghost towns, having very little left but foundations, sometimes still make use of an old cemetery, such as Elizabethtown, New Mexico.

These old sites can be wonderful places to explore as we speculate about the once vibrant lives that lived there. In other old towns, you may see former business buildings such schools and churches used as residences. A true ghost town is one that has been abandoned entirely.

Philip Varney, the author of several popular ghost town books defines these old communities as: "any site that has had a markedly decreased population from its peak, a town whose initial reason for settlement (such as a mine or railroad) no longer keeps people in the community."

Varney divides ghost towns into three categories: completely deserted ghost towns like Loma Parda, New Mexico; towns with a minimal population like Bodie, California; and still-thriving towns like Central City, Colorado.

Further, he defines what to look for in a ghost town.

* Scattered rubble or site where nature has reclaimed the land
* Roofless buildings or partially demolished buildings
* Boarded up or abandoned buildings, no population
* A community with many abandoned buildings and a small population of residents
* Historic community or town, functional, but much smaller than in its boom years
* A restored town, state park, or replica of an old town, community or fort

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