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Nothing is more haunting than seeing a once bustling city desolate and soulless, left for ruin. Fascination for America’s former boomtowns lives on, even though the towns themselves and their inhabitants, don’t. Take a trip down the lonely road to these former metropolises that have been uninhabited for decades.
1. Bodie, California
Formerly Body, prospector W.S. Body, this gold mining town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains was discovered in 1859. The lawless town had over 60 saloons and reached its peak between 1877 and 1881. Ultimately, a fire destroyed most of the town, leaving what’s left of the buildings in disrepair. Since then, Bodie has been placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1961.
2. Centralia Pennsylvania
The former mining town has been subject of many spooky books and movies. In 1962, a freak accident occurred when municipal trash burn just outside town struck a coal vein, igniting an underground fire that has been burning for over 50 years. Toxic gases seeped from an unsteady ground from the coal fire, forcing residents to leave and the government to condemn the area. Residents have been affected by led poisoning and carbon monoxide, and in 2010, about a dozen die-hards still remained despite of the life-threatening dangers.
3. Flagstaff, Maine
The town was settled in the early 1800s, drawing residents with its timber resources. The lumber town began development in the 1840s with a grist and sawmill. Roots were planted and the town flourished, that is, until 1949, when the towns of Flagstaff and Dead River were flooded for the construction of the Long Falls Dam. Once the dam had been completed, Flagstaff and Dead River were soon under water. Some buildings were razed, others moved, and still others were left to a watery grave because some homeowners refused to settle on compensation with Central Maine Power Company. Living residents were not the only ones forced to relocate. The Flagstaff Cemetery was dug up, grave by grave, and transferred to neighbouring Eustis, Maine.
4. Dogtown, Massachusetts
Nestled on Cape Anne, Dogtown was settled in 1693 in an ideal location that provided protection from pirates and enemy natives. It earned a bad reputation before total abandonment because, for some time, the town was inhabited with vagabonds and widows of sea-goers. The widows reportedly kept dogs for protection but became feral after their owners died. Among those last occupants, were suspected witches including Thomazine “Tammy” Younger and Peg Wesson. Though most of Dogtown is dense woodland, great for outdoor types, Dogtown Road is littered with the remains of the cellar holes of the settlers. Roger Babson commissioned unemployed stonecutter to carve inspirational inscriptions on three dozen boulders in Dogtown during the Great Depression, and still stand today.
5. Kennecott, Alaska
At the end of a 60-mile dirt road, is the former mill town that produced $200 million worth of copper ore between 1911 and 1938. The copper was accidentally discovered when prospectors Jack Smith and Clarence Warner, found a green patch on a hillside they thought was good for grazing their horses. Turns out, that green patch was actually copper. The area was the source of not only copper, but political battles between conservationists and J.P. Morgan, founder of Kennecott Copper Corporation, who financial interest in the copper. Since then, the highest grades of ore were mostly depleted by the early 1930s, rendering the town useless of production. These days, tours of the mill town are available throughout the day, and several of the buildings are being rehabilitated.