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February 5, 2009

G-g-ghost Towns!

Thursday Thirteen

My first introduction to ghost towns was on TV. New Zealand doesn’t tend to have many ghost towns. We’re people who believe in recycling and we take our buildings with us when we leave! I remember Shaggy, Scooby and the gang exploring ghost towns and the baddies running after them. I remember the Brady Bunch going on a road trip and getting stuck at a ghost town. When we visited the US, hubby and I were determined to see some of the real thing, and we did–until we were both ghost towned out!

Here are Thirteen Ghost Towns:

1. But first – the official definition of a ghost town is a place where people once lived and deserted for some reason or another – usually it’s to do with economics and a town no longer producing enough work to support the population. We usually think of them as historic sites but there are modern ghost towns too.

2. Kolmanskop, Namibia

People rushed to the Namib desert to make an easy fortune and a town, complete with a casino, school, hospital and exclusive residential buildings, was established in the barren sandy desert. The diamonds gave out and the town was abandoned. Drifts of sand fill the buildings these days.

3. Bodie, USA

This is one of my favorites. The entire town is well preserved and in the middle of nowhere. It took ages to drive there and I remember the heat! I understand it’s pretty cold there during the winter. The people walked out when the gold ran out. At its peak around 10,000 lived there and it was a town with a bad reputation. One little girl, whose family was taking her to the remote and infamous town, wrote in her diary: “Goodbye God, I’m going to Bodie.” This phrase came to be known throughout the west.


And here’s a photo of me at Bodie.


4. Prypiat Ukraine

Prypiat is an abandoned city in the Zone of alienation in northern Ukraine. It was home to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant workers, abandoned in 1986 following the Chernobyl disaster. Its population was approx 50,000 prior to the accident.

5. San Zhi Taiwan

This futuristic pod village was initially built as a luxury vacation retreat for the rich. However, after numerous fatal accidents during construction, building was halted and not completed.

6. Craco, Italy

Between 1892 and 1922 over 1,300 people moved from the town to North America. Poor farming, earthquakes, landslides, and War – all contributed to this mass migration.

7. Bam, Iran

This is another I’ve visited, although I don’t have any digital photos to show you. The modern city sprawled around the old abandoned mud city and both were mostly destroyed during the 2000 earthquake. It was a simply amazing place and I’m so glad I got to see it intact.

8. Oradour-sur-Glane, France

This is one ghost town with a horrid history. The occupants of the village were massacred by German soldiers as punishment for the French Resistance. It is left to stand as a memorial to the dead.

9. Gunkanjima, Japan

In 1890 when a company called Mitsubishi bought the island and began a project to retrieve coal from the bottom of the sea. Petroleum replaced coal in Japan in the 1960’s, and coal mines began shutting down. Hashima’s mines were no exception. The town has been used for the 2003 film ‘Battle Royale II’ and inspired the final level of popular Asian videogame “Killer7”.

10. Famagusta, Cyprus

The Turkish Army gained control of the area during the war. They fenced it off and have since refused admittance to anyone except Turkish military and United Nations personnel. The Annan Plan had provided for the return of Varosha to Greek Cypriot control, but this never happened. No repairs have been carried out for 34 years, and all of the buildings are slowly falling apart.

11. Agdam, Azerbaijan

It was once a thriving city of 150,000 people, but it fell victim to vandalism while occupied by Armenians. The buildings are gutted and empty.

12. Kadykchan, Russia

When the Soviet Union collapsed, residents were forced to move to gain access to services like running water, schools and medical care. The state moved them out, and they were taken to other towns and provided with new housing. Once a tin mining town of 12,000 people, the city is now desolate.

13. Rhyolite, Nevada, USA

I visited this ghost town last year. It’s an old gold mining town and once again, it was in the middle of nowhere and an unpleasantly hot place to eat our picnic lunch. Trees, anyone???? It’s near Death Valley, btw, which was why it was so hot. The financial panic of 1907 caused the town to go bust.

Here’s a shot of one of the banks.


Have you visited a ghost town? If so, where? If not, what’s your favorite TV show/movie featuring a ghost town?


  1. MsMenozzi

    The closest I’ve come to visiting a ghost town was going to my father’s home town of Ward, WV. It was a coal town in its heyday, and now it’s just a scattered cluster of houses and old empty buildings.

    My aunt still lives there, with one or two other families, and that’s it. I think that disqualifies it from being an official Ghost Town, though.

    Neat list!
    Happy TT!

    Ciao for now!

  2. Stephanie Adkins

    Those are so cool! I love visiting anything haunted or ghostly. :grin: Great list! Happy Thursday! *HUGS*

  3. Adelle Laudan

    I envy your trip to Bodie. Great list.
    Happy T13!

  4. Alice Audrey

    I live in Montana but I’ve never actually been to a ghost town. I’ve driven past a couple of times, but never actually set foot inside one.

  5. Jennifer SHirk

    Never been to a ghost town. But it’s interesting how it happens.

  6. Heather

    Interesting post, Shelley! I’ve never visited a ghost town (though I would love to), but have been to an Iron Age farm–just as many ghosts there, I’m sure!

  7. Susan Helene Gottfried

    I am totally caught up in the image of the buildings in that first town being full of sand. Powerful stuff right there.

    (and quite probably good for fiction!)

  8. Mel

    OMG so cool! I love these kinds of things.

  9. Mary

    Great list! I always think of ghost towns as only being in the old -West (USA), usually abandoned after the gold ran out, and I have seen one of those. But it is interesting to hear other reasons for ghost towns around the world.

  10. Janice~

    I think Bodie mined silver not gold, I know that’s odd because most ghost towns in California were old gold boom towns.

    I live in California BTW, and I have been to a ghost town near Don Pedro Lake, but I can’t remember its name, it had been changed into a tourist destination.


  11. Shelley Munro

    Amy – thanks for the link. There were some great photos.

    Inez – old graveyards can be creepy. My husband, sister and I still talk about one we visited in Scotland. When we walked across the ground it was spongy and it felt as if we were sinking into the ground. Now that was creepy!!

  12. Shelley Munro

    Susan – the photos of this ghost town were neat. I liked the image too. It’s a lot like the Egyptian ruins. A lot of them were swallowed by sand.

    Mary – I thought that too. I was surprised when I did some research.

    Janice – all my guidebooks etc say gold rather than silver. The gold ran out in the 1940s.

  13. Colleen Love

    Hi Shelley!
    I LOVE ghost towns. My husband’s family originates from Shaniko, Oregon. It is now a registered ghost town. They have redone the hotel there so you can stay the night and it is soooo much fun! Lots of cool energy there that just stirs the imagination. I would love to stay there long enough to write a book. There is just something so inspiring to walk where others that lived so long ago, did.
    Here is a link to their website that has awesome photos:

    Great TT!



  1. Amy Ruttan » Blog Archive » Grasping at straws - [...] Shelley did an interesting post of Ghost Towns here. [...]