12 of the Creepiest Abandoned Towns Across America and How They Came to Be That Way
1. Dudleytown, Connecticut
This may just be the most haunted abandoned town in America, and it’s even been nicknamed “The Village of the Damned.” Very little aside from a few shattered buildings and stone foundations remain, but the fact is that this tiny hamlet still managed to catch national attention for all the tragedy that happened.
Though its population peaked at a grand total of 26 in the 1850s, Dudleytown had been the location of a shocking number of mysterious disappearances, murders and suicides throughout the years. Many of the members of the founding family, the Dudleys, also went insane over the years. As a result, many people believe that this area is cursed.
Urban explorers who have walked through this neighborhood have seen strange lights, shadow people and full bodied apparitions at night. Some have claimed that they could hear sobbing without being able to figure out where it’s coming from. Others have claimed to be pushed by unseen hands. To this day, the entire village is considered to be hexed, and those who enter it often find themselves dealing with bad luck.
According to local legend, the founders of Dudleytown were descended from Edmund Dudley, an English nobleman who was beheaded for treason during the reign of Henry VII. From that moment on, the Dudley family was placed under a curse, which followed them across the Atlantic to America. Several residents of Dudleytown are said to have gone insane, and two local women, Mary Cheney and Harriet Clarke, are said to have committed suicide, the latter having reported visions of demons prior to her death.
2. Bodie, California
Bodie might just be the most famous Wild West ghost town in existence. Populated after the boom of the Californian gold rush, Bodie once was home to over 10,000 people. The town had everything from houses of ill repute to churches, saloons and general stores in its peak. It soon was abandoned after mining in the area ceased.
Partly due to the dry weather and partly due to luck, most of Bodie’s old buildings are still intact. This town frozen in time has turned into a major historic park, and visitors are welcome to get up close and personal with this uniquely preserved piece of history.
3. Picher, Oklahoma
This once bustling town lost all its residents due to environmental issues that came with its massive lead and zinc mining industries. Though they did make feeble attempts to keep lead dust and zinc dust from entering the local atmosphere, the area was declared a Superfund site in the 1980s. By 1990, studies had shown that 1/3 of the children living in Picher had symptoms of lead poisoning. The final push for exodus happened in the mid-2000s, when scientists warned that the ground was about to collapse. Today, the ground is still intact, and so are the buildings…but it’s too toxic a place to really visit.
4. Centralia, Pennsylvania
An underground coal fire that has been burning for over 1/2 a decade is what’s to blame for this once popular town’s abandonment. At first, people just assumed that the coal fire would burn out, and life continued as usual for Centralia’s mining residents.
Concerns first arose in the 1970s, when sinkholes began to open up in neighborhood yards. Smoke began to rise from the ground, and soon it became clear that the area’s ground was no longer stable. Everyone but a select few moved out. The fire continues to spread to this day, and it’sexpected to burn for another 250 years.
Bonus Fact: The creators of Silent Hill used Centralia’s abandoned scenery as inspiration for their horror-filled game!
5. Ellis Island Hospital, New York
One of America’s biggest landmarks is Ellis Island, and it was basically considered to be a town in and of itself. While many may have visited its main building, what others don’t realize is that there’s an entire half of Ellis Island that is entirely abandoned and left to rot. The biggest portion of this abandoned micro-city was the Ellis Island Hospital Complex, which housed sick immigrants who had to be quarantined before they could enter the United States.
At one point, this massive hospital complex had over thousands of people who either were suspected of having a disease or who were actively sick. This half of the island had its own power station, a mental hospital, as well as its own laboratory. Due to the dark past that it held, many people felt it wasn’t appropriate for tourism and therefore shut it out of tours for decades. Efforts are being made to revitalize this section now, but it will take years before it’s 100% safe and condoned by officials.
6. Thurmond, West Virginia
Like many of the towns that suffered transportation issues, much of Thurmond’s decay dealt with the fact that its coal-based train system no longer meshed with the new diesel-running trains that are currently in use. While it’s technically not a true ghost town thanks to its grand total population of 5, its eerie atmosphere makes it a place that is undoubtedly chilling regardless of what time of day you visit.
7. Underground Seattle, Washington
In the late 1890s, a massive fire swept through Seattle and destroyed most of the downtown neighborhood houses. Instead of doing the normal form of rebuilding, the citizens of Seattle built homes on top of the ruins of the older parts of the city as a way to avoid sewage issues and floods from popping up.
For decades, Seattle’s underground city remains were filled with tunnels, forgotten basements, and even left-behind belongings. It was only until recently that the ruins were rediscovered. People quickly took a liking to the tunnels, and actually began to preserve them. Tours of the original Seattle are available, so it’s definitely a unique ghost town that’s worth checking out.
8. Times Beach, Missouri
Times Beach was one of Missouri’s most hip and happening towns back in the day, even though the entire town had a bit of a dust problem. One local businessman decided to change all of that by dumping dioxin all over the roads and farms in the local area. A flood later ensued from a local river, washing the dioxin all over everyone’s property.
This was particularly bad because dioxin is one of the most deadly chemicals known to man. In 1982, the entire town had to be evacuated, and it was turned into a major Superfund site. To this day, all that’s left is graffiti, beat up buildings, and memories of a town that once was awesome.
9. Santa Claus, Arizona
The 1930s were a strange time, indeed. During this decade, some folks in Arizona felt it would be a great idea to put together a Christmas-themed town in Arizona, complete with cute little trains and Christmas-y architecture. It didn’t work out, but the place ended up getting famous for a short time for being the place where kids would send letters to Santa. The entire town was put on sale in 1983…and it’s still up for grabs today.
10. Flagstaff, Maine
Flagstaff was one of the few American heritage sites that actually was linked to Benedict Arnold’s military campaign. Known for the great streams and rivers that powered local mills, the area of Flagstaff had elegant buildings, and also had a neighboring hamlet called Dead River Plantation.
After the construction of the Long Falls Dam in 1949, Flagstaff became submerged in water. The entire town was legally disincorporated, and all the buildings, items and historical landmarks disappeared. All that’s left of Flagstaff’s past is a man-made lake.
11. Cahawba, Alabama
If there was ever a town that encapsulated everything of the antebellum South, it was Cahawba. This town once was the capital city of Alabama, and has all the old world plantation stories you’d imagine to be there. By the Civil War, it even was the location of a prison that housed Union soldiers.
Unfortunately, Cahawba couldn’t have been built in a worse location. Floods were such a regular occurrence that the town was largely abandoned by the time that the 19th century was finished. That being said, buildings, streets and cemeteries still exist in the ghost town…all available to visit.
12. Texola, Oklahoma
Once a popular stop on the infamous Route 66, Texola’s history spans back for decades before the road was even built. Known for being so close to the border between Texas and Oklahoma that even officials didn’t know what to classify it as, Texola seemed to be fraught with misfortune after misfortune.
Whether it was the fact that it was most well-known for its jail prior to Route 66, or whether it was the ravages of the Dust Bowl that marked its descent into obscurity, Texola now lies abandoned.
What’s your thoughts on this list? Are you planning to check them out on your next roadtrip? Let us know on the comments below