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Ghost towns conjure up images of totally abandoned buildings, dilapidated streets, and total isolation. But that’s not always the case: Some ghost towns are still holding on or trying to bounce back to the days of yore. Here are a few “abandoned” towns in America that some people still call home.

Related: Top 10 Towns People Abandoned For No Reason

10 Goodsprings, Nevada

Nevada and California are lousy with ghost towns. Former mining boom towns often fell quickly into disrepair during the Gold Rush of the mid-19th century and even well into the early 20th century. Most of these are historically protected or state parks and thus uninhabited.

However, Goodsprings’ proximity to Las Vegas and Hollywood has contributed to its survival into modern times. It’s home to the Pioneer Saloon, thought to be the oldest and most authentic saloon in the southern half of the state.

The village is most famous for being the site of actress Carole Lombard’s death in a plane crash. Her husband, the imminent Clark Gable, stayed at the aforementioned Pioneer Saloon for hours in grief.

Today, Goodsprings is home to a little under 200 people and hosts food and adventure tours.[1]

9 Thurmond, West Virginia

Like most ghost towns, Thurmond had one thing keeping its residents afloat for years. Thurmond’s railroad station led to a massive boom in travel and commerce in the previously isolated area.

To accommodate them, the Dunglen Hotel was built across the river from Thurmond (which, at around 200 citizens, prohibited alcohol). The hotel quickly gained notoriety as a haven for gambling and partying, with balls and shows being held every week in the grand lobby and recreation rooms. According to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, it was the site of the longest-ever poker game (14 years!).

As the popularity of Thurmond dwindled due to its inaccessibility (other than by railroad), the nail in the coffin was the destruction of the Dunglen Hotel in 1930 at the hands of arsonists. Now located in New River Gorge National Park, the government owns most of the land not inhabited by its 5 residents (as of the 2010 census).[2]

8 Bannack, Montana

Back before Montana was a U.S. state, it was a territory inhabited by the Native American Bannack tribe (hence the name.) In 1892, gold was discovered nearby, and of course, Bannack became the place to be. So much, in fact, that it served as the capital city of the Montana Territory for two years.

Harsh winters, crime, and its remote location doomed Bannack in the 20th century. There are still 12 people living there today. But don’t worry, they have some fun. Once a year, the town has “Bannack Days,” where visitors can experience Bannack as it might have been in its heyday. Historical reenactments, faux mining, and authentic Western food draw hundreds of visitors to Bannack every summer.[3]

7 Rodney, Mississippi

At one point, this sleepy little hamlet was only three votes away from becoming the capital of the state. Even before that, the geography of the area made it ideal for crossing the raging Mississippi River, drawing Native Americans and eventually commercial boats through the location.

In the 1830s, Rodney boasted the state’s first opera house, as well as plenty of stores and restaurants. Unfortunately, in 1843, the population tanked due to a violent outbreak of yellow fever. But Rodney was able to bounce back, reaching its peak in the 1860s.

Ultimately, it was the Civil War that ruined this steamboat town. Although the city itself didn’t see any carnage, the war destroyed the surrounding land and, thus, the livestock and economy. Like most of the South, Reconstruction only furthered these trends, and today, the exact population isn’t known.[4]

6 Shaniko, Oregon

This former “Wool Capital of the World” was first called a ghost town at the Oregon Centennial Exposition in 1959, despite the fact that as of 2020, it has 30 people living there. The area lost business when, in the 1960s, Oregon’s railroads were updated with more direct routes to major cities, leaving Shaniko isolated.

Home to a well-kept historical district, Shaniko becomes a respectable tourist attraction in the summers for those looking to explore an (almost) genuine ghost town. During this time, the municipality’s small museum is open, along with its general store and other historical relics.[5]

5 Jerome, Arizona

It can be sad to read about all these little places that were simply forgotten or abandoned throughout the years. Here’s one that almost met that fate but has since been on the rise.

Jerome, Arizona, was home to copper mines and over 10,000 people at the end of the 19th century. Like many ghost towns, once resources from the ore became scarce, so did the population. The Great Depression exacerbated these problems, and the town nearly faded from existence.

But the residents of Jerome wouldn’t let that happen: Rather, they turned to tourism. Jerome is now a National Historic Landmark and popular tourist destination with a population of almost 500 (up from less than 100 in the 1950s).[6]

4 Cairo, Illinois

Situated right on the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, Cairo, Illinois, has a rich history you might not expect from the Midwest. Ulysses S. Grant established a Civil War base in Cairo in 1862, and from then until 1920, the population continued to rise rapidly.

For years, the two rivers made this town an extremely successful port for trading and commerce via steamboats. At its peak, Cairo was home to over 15,000 residents.

Unfortunately, during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, tensions between Black and white citizens of the area came to a head. Violent protests, shootouts, and even firebombings plagued the area, making Cairo extremely unsafe for families of all races. Cairo’s reputation tanked, and while the rivers made it popular in the early 20th century, by 2011, the town had a major flood that destroyed most of the levees surrounding the area.

Today, Cairo is home to just under 1,500 residents. Despite this sizable population, it’s often referred to as a ghost town due to its nearly completely abandoned downtown and historic district.[7]

3 Monowi, Nebraska

Unlike most of the other towns on this list, Monowi has always been small. Its peak population was 150 in 1930, and now it is down to one. That’s right, only one person lives there. Rudy and Elsie Eiler lived in Monowi in 2000, but when Rudy died in 2004, Elsie decided to stay. Being the only resident means she’s the mayor, librarian, secretary, and whatever else the village needs.

There are other hamlets in America that have populations of one. However, Monowi is the only one that is still officially incorporated, thanks to Eiler’s diligence. Every year, she collects taxes from herself to keep the town’s three lampposts lit and the water on—she even runs a tavern with “the coldest beer in town.”[8]

2 Centralia, Pennsylvania

The least populated municipality in Centralia has a pretty good reason for being so: Staying too long can be hazardous for your health.

In 1961, a fire was lit in a nearby dump, which eventually spread to the coal mines beneath the ground. The 1,500 residents had no idea anything was wrong until 1979 when it was discovered that the temperature of underground gas containers was much higher than it should have been. Then, a sinkhole opened up, nearly killing a small boy.

Understandably, many fled as the fire continued to burn. Toxic gasses like carbon monoxide were emitted by the fire, threatening anyone in the area. Only 11 years after the detection of the underground fire, the population dwindled to 63. In 2002, the Centralia ZIP code was discontinued, and in 2013, an agreement was made with the seven remaining citizens that they could stay in Centralia until their deaths. As of the 2020 census, only five remain.[9]

1 Gary, Indiana

Like Cairo, Gary is not technically a ghost town, but it is in the process of becoming one. Actually, it’s the ninth-largest city in Indiana, with a population of almost 70,000. This sounds like a lot, but compare it with the city’s peak population of 176,000 in 1960. What happened to cause the population to drop by 60%?

Well, a lot of things. Gary was “The Magic City” just across the border from Chicago throughout the early 20th century. The steel mills, situated right on the shores of gorgeous Lake Michigan and only 30 miles (48.2 kilometers) from Chicago, provided ample jobs for immigrants and natives alike. Gary was known as an adorable and bustling small city, the epitome of Midwestern culture. This is so true that in his 1957 musical The Music Man, Meredith Wilson had his con man main character pretend to be from Gary to solidify his trustworthiness.

Unfortunately, only three years later, Gary would begin its descent. In 1960, competitive prices from other countries’ steel mills led to a massive loss of jobs and commerce for Gary. Similarly to Cairo, Gary also experienced civil unrest throughout the 1960s due to racial tensions. Three thousand National Guardsmen were needed to restore order, and citizens were subjected to strict curfews and bans on gasoline and liquor.

All these factors led to a quick scurry to leave Gary, primarily by residents who could afford to move. Those who couldn’t were left behind as the city deteriorated. In the 1950s, Gary was known as “the city of the century.” By 1994, it had been named the murder capital of the U.S.

Despite these misfortunes, the government and the people of Gary are resilient. The area has had many new developments to entice tourists and potential citizens, including arts centers and casinos. Many dilapidated buildings are being torn down or restored instead of just left to rot in the hopes that this once prosperous area can bounce back.[10]

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