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Definition of ghost town

Examples of ghost town in a sentence.

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ghost town.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

1894, in the meaning defined above

Dictionary Entries Near ghost town

ghost story

Cite this Entry

“Ghost town.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ghost%20town. Accessed 10 Jan. 2024.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of ghost town, more from merriam-webster on ghost town.

Nglish: Translation of ghost town for Spanish Speakers

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Belchite, Spain

Belchite was the site of a particularly brutal battle during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Occupied by Franco’s forces in 1937, the town was attacked by the Republican Army. The siege destroyed Belchite, but its ruined buildings serve as a ghostly memento of the intense violence they witnessed.

Travel tip : The remains of the old town are half a mile from modern Belchite, southeast of Zaragoza city.

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The world’s best ghost towns will surprise you

Silent streets and derelict buildings offer a glimpse into the lives of once thriving communities.

With their silent streets and derelict buildings, abandoned towns offer a haunting view into the lives of once thriving communities. “ Ruin gazing ,” a term coined to describe people’s fascination with empty places, has been something of a tourist phenomenon for millennia: Visitors are drawn to broken cities and toppled monuments in search of reminders of our own hubris and of the power of time.

Thóra Pétursdóttir and Bjørnar Olsen, editors of the book Ruin Memories: Materialities, Aesthetics and the Archaeology of the Recent Past , describe our interest in ruins. “Masked objects are unveiled, inside is turned out,” they write. “Collapsed walls, broken windows and open drawers expose intimacy and privacy, recalling to light the previously hidden, forgotten or unknown.” ( See pictures of abandoned villages in Italy. )

From a former mining outpost in Namibia to an abandoned indigenous complex in New Mexico , explore these top ten ghost towns from around the world.

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Definition of 'ghost town'

Ghost town in british english, ghost town in american english, examples of 'ghost town' in a sentence ghost town, trends of ghost town.

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Meaning of ghost town in English

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  • aerotropolis
  • Cantabrigian
  • central city
  • conurbation
  • garden city
  • metropolitan elite
  • native place
  • non-municipal
  • As is true with many ghost towns, people moved to Bodie originally because of gold.  
  • Some American ghost towns still have a little life in them.  
  • You can find small, forgotten towns, called ghost towns, in many places in the western part of the United States.  

ghost town | Intermediate English

Examples of ghost town, translations of ghost town.

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a period of time during which something is in liquid

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Old English gast "breath; good or bad spirit, angel, demon; person, man, human being," in Biblical use "soul, spirit, life," from Proto-West Germanic *gaistaz (source also of Old Saxon gest , Old Frisian jest , Middle Dutch gheest , Dutch geest , German Geist "spirit, ghost"). This is conjectured to be from a PIE root *gheis- , used in forming words involving the notions of excitement, amazement, or fear (source also of Sanskrit hedah "wrath;" Avestan zaesha- "horrible, frightful;" Gothic usgaisjan , Old English gæstan "to frighten").

Ghost is the English representative of the usual West Germanic word for "supernatural being." In Christian writing in Old English it is used to render Latin spiritus (see spirit (n.)), a sense preserved in Holy Ghost . Sense of "disembodied spirit of a dead person," especially imagined as wandering among the living or haunting them, is attested from late 14c. and returns the word toward its likely prehistoric sense.

Most Indo-European words for "soul, spirit" also double with reference to supernatural spirits. Many have a base sense of "appearance" (such as Greek phantasma ; French spectre ; Polish widmo , from Old Church Slavonic videti "to see;" Old English scin , Old High German giskin , originally "appearance, apparition," related to Old English scinan , Old High German skinan "to shine"). Other concepts are in French revenant , literally "returning" (from the other world), Old Norse aptr-ganga , literally "back-comer." Breton bugelnoz is literally "night-child." Latin manes probably is a euphemism.

The gh- spelling appeared early 15c. in Caxton, influenced by Flemish and Middle Dutch gheest , but was rare in English before mid-16c. Sense of "slight suggestion, mere shadow or semblance" (in ghost image , ghost of a chance , etc.) is first recorded 1610s; sense of "one who secretly does work for another" is from 1884. Ghost town is from 1908. Ghost story is by 1811. Ghost-word "apparent word or false form in a manuscript due to a blunder" is from 1886 (Skeat). Ghost in the machine was British philosopher Gilbert Ryle's term (1949) for "the mind viewed as separate from the body." The American Indian ghost dance is from 1890. To give up the ghost "die" was in Old English.

"to ghost-write," 1922, back-formation from ghost-writing (1919) "article written by one man upon material supplied in interview or otherwise by a second and which appears in print over the signature of such second party" ["The Ghost Writer and His Story" [Graves Glenwood Clark, in "The Editor," Feb. 25, 1920], from ghost (n.) "one who secretly does work for another (1884). Related: Ghost-written . Ghost-writing also was used from c. 1902 for secret writing using lemon juice, etc. A late 19c. term for "one whose work is credited to another" was gooseberry-picker .

Entries linking to ghost

in Roman religion, "spirits of the dead considered as tutelary divinities of their families," from Latin manes "departed spirit, ghost, shade of the dead, deified spirits of the underworld," usually said to be related to Latin m ā nus "good," thus properly "the good gods," a euphemistic word. De Vaan cites cognates Old Irish maith , Welsh mad , Breton mat "good." The ultimate etymology is uncertain (compare mature ).

Three times a year a pit called the mundus was officially opened in the comitium of the Roman Forum, to permit the manes to come forth. The manes were also honored at certain festivals, as the Parentalia and Feralia; oblations were made to them, and the flame maintained on the altar of the household was a homage to them. [In this sense often written with a capital.] [Century Dictionary]

Origin and meaning of spirit

mid-13c., "life, the animating or vital principle in man and animals," from Anglo-French spirit , Old French espirit "spirit, soul" (12c., Modern French esprit ) and directly from Latin spiritus "a breathing (of respiration, also of the wind), breath;" also "breath of a god," hence "inspiration; breath of life," hence life itself.

The Latin word also could mean "disposition, character; high spirit, vigor, courage; pride, arrogance." It is a derivative of spirare "to breathe," and formerly was said to be perhaps from a PIE *(s)peis- "to blow" (source also of Old Church Slavonic pisto "to play on the flute"). But de Vaan says the Latin verb is "Possibly an onomatopoeic formation imitating the sound of breathing. There are no direct cognates." Compare conspire , expire , inspire .

In English it is attested from late 14c. as "divine substance, divine mind, God;" also "Christ" or His divine nature; also "the Holy Ghost; divine power." Also by late 14c. as "the soul as the seat of morality in man," and "extension of divine power to man; inspiration, a charismatic state; charismatic power," especially in reference to prophecy.

The meaning "supernatural immaterial creature; angel, demon; an apparition, invisible corporeal being of an airy nature" is attested from mid-14c. The word is attested by late 14c. as "ghost, disembodied soul of a person" (compare ghost (n.)). Spirit-rapping , colloquial for spiritualism in the supernatural sense, is from 1852. Spirit-world "world of disembodied spirits" is by 1829.

It is attested from late 14c. as "essential nature, essential quality." The non-theological sense of "essential principle of something" (as in Spirit of St. Louis ) is attested from 1680s and was common after 1800. The Spirit of '76 in reference to the qualities that sparked and sustained the American Revolution of 1776 is attested by 1797 in William Cobbett's "Porcupine's Gazette and Daily Advertiser."

It also is attested from mid-14c. in English as "character, disposition; way of thinking and feeling, state of mind; source of a human desire;" in Middle English freedom of spirit meant "freedom of choice." It is attested from 1580s in the metaphoric sense of "animation, vitality," and by c. 1600 as "frame of mind with which something is done," also "mettle, vigor of mind, courage."

From late 14c. in alchemy as "volatile substance; distillate" (and from c. 1500 as "substance capable of uniting the fixed and the volatile elements of the philosopher's stone"). Hence spirits "volatile substance;" the sense of which narrowed to "strong alcoholic liquor" by 1670s. This also is the sense in spirit level (1768), so called for the liquid in the clear tube.

According to Barnhart and OED, the earliest use of the word in English mainly is from passages in the Vulgate, where the Latin word translates Greek pneuma and Hebrew ruah . A distinction between soul and spirit (as "seat of emotions") became current in Christian terminology (such as Greek psykhē and pneuma , Latin anima and spiritus ) but "is without significance for earlier periods" [Buck]. Latin spiritus , usually in classical Latin "breath," replaced animus in the sense "spirit" in the imperial period and appears in Christian writings as the usual equivalent of Greek pneuma .

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a town permanently abandoned by its inhabitants, as because of a business decline or because a nearby mine has been worked out.

Origin of ghost town

Words nearby ghost town.

  • ghost prisoner
  • ghost runner
  • ghost shrimp
  • ghost story
  • ghostwriter

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use ghost town in a sentence

It’s a fascinating look at how ghost towns aren’t just dusty relics but can in fact teach us a thing or two about what a vibrant community could be in the 21st century.

Downtown centers became ghost towns, and revenue dropped sharply for coworking spaces as clients ditched short-term leases.

The sudden absence of these workplace cues presents a challenge for anyone whose office stands like a veritable ghost town due to Covid-19.

Visiting the Smithsonian during the pandemic can feel like passing through a ghost town .

The pandemic has turned the world’s financial capitals into ghost towns as nervous workers avoid mass commuting.

As Monday turned to Tuesday morning, five hostages had escaped and the Central Business District had turned into a ghost town .

The sun will set in less than an hour and a hubbub will emerge from the ghost-town houses and farms.

And the Ukrainian army, slowly, uncertainly, but ineluctably, is closing in on this besieged ghost-town of a city.

By the afternoon it was a ghost town inside the campus gates.

It's a ghost town now, just a handful of weathered wooden buildings sagging beneath snow.

According to the map, the ghost town was in a valley next to a dry lake bed.

A ghost town should have ghosts but none walk at the present time.

She said no more about it just then, as they had reached the old ghost town of Gleeson.

The tall, well-built cowboy star swung into his saddle and they trotted away between two tumbledown houses of the ghost town .

The trail led toward the hills back of the ghost town and it was evident that the man they were trailing had rested frequently.

British Dictionary definitions for ghost town

a deserted town, esp one in the western US that was formerly a boom town

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for ghost town

A town, especially a boomtown in the old American West, that has been completely abandoned and deserted: “If you drive through the desert, you can still see the main street of Dry Gulch, a ghost town.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with ghost town

A once thriving town that has been completely abandoned, as in Many of the old mining communities are ghost towns now . This idiom implies that there are no living people left in town. [First half of 1900s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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30 of the Most Stunning Abandoned Towns Around the World

By Kristine Hansen

Whether the result of nuclear disaster, war or erosion, or maybe even an industry’s or empire’s downfall, several cities around the globe—from the Far East to North America—have become abandoned, some practically overnight. In a few cases, failed ventures to create a glossy real-estate development have resulted in a blank canvas with little to no population. But to know these former towns is to understand our global history. Some of them feature the shells of abandoned buildings; raw, unmanicured landscapes; and the absence of people. All, however, are a photographer’s dream. If any of these towns look or sound familiar, here’s why: Many were used as filming locations well after their demise. Below, AD surveys 30 of the most stunning abandoned towns around the world. If nothing else, these locales will make you appreciate the buzz of activity in the city you live in—however big or small it may be.

island with buildings in the middle of a body of water

Hashima Island, Japan

This 16-acre Southern Japanese island—a former undersea coal-mining region nine miles off the coast of Nagasaki—experienced its prosperity from 1887 to 1974. And then, with the rise of petroleum usage, it evaporated. The buildings remain but the population has since moved on. With UNESCO World Heritage Historical Site status granted in 2015, however, could this island see its second chapter soon?

ruins at the site with power lines and abandoned buildings

Oradour-sur-Glane, France

This Nazi-occupied village met its terrible fate on June 10, 1944, when a German-led massacre killed 642 of its residents. Despite a village being rebuilt nearby after the war, a decision was made by then president Charles de Gaulle to preserve Oradour-sur-Glane in its entirety, as a memorial.

a ghost town in the fields under blue skies.

Bodie, California

The term “ghost town” is thrown around so often it’s hard to imagine there’s really one out there. But Bodie, near the Nevada state line in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe, is the real deal. Bodie, with its nearly 8,500-foot elevation, was once a boom town during the Gold Rush. Thankfully it’s a California Historic Landmark now, and managed by the Bodie Foundation, which pledges to preserve it forever.

a ghost town shown in a valley

Craco, Italy

This village in the Matera province—that’s in the boot’s “arch”—has appeared in quite a few Italian and American films, including King David, starring Richard Gere, in 1985; and Passion of the Christ, starring Mel Gibson, in 2004. But a massive immigration to North America during the 1920s, followed by a landslide, a flood, and an earthquake later that century, meant that by 1980 there were zero residents left.

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empty main street along Historic Route 66

Texola, Oklahoma

Located along America’s most famous route—Route 66—this town’s population has plummeted to 1,935. If you’re an American history buff, you might know Texola by its previous names (Texokla and Texoma, reflecting the change in state lines over the years). In 1930 there were 581 people living in Texola. But following a decline in cotton production, plus the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, only 35 people live here now—near the Magnolia Service Station and a super-tiny stone-walled jail.

ghost town with a dirty road

Tawergha, Libya

Seven years ago, this town achieved “ghost town” status after its residents were displaced as a result of the 2011 Libyan civil war. While 40,000 people used to call Tawergha home, that number fell to the occupants of only 250 tents, in a nearby town.

road going down an abandoned town

Copehill Down, Wiltshire, England

With its German-style architecture, this village already looks out of place in England, but it’s important to know that this village is totally faux on a whole other level. During the Cold War, Copehill Down was built from the ground up for British soldiers to practice warfare in an urban environment. The technical term for this type of village is Fighting in Built Up Areas, and this is not the only one out there.

abandoned town with mountains in background

Humberstone, Chile

Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, life in this Atacama Desert community that once had 3,500 residents came to a screeching halt when, in the middle of last century, mining for potassium nitrate (also called saltpeter, used to make gunpowder) ceased. Between the late 1880s and 1930, much of the world’s supply came from here and was considered a huge export.

afghan ruins with colorful sky at sunrise

Mandu, India

Dating back to India’s Mughal Empire, once the second-largest empire in that part of the world, Mandu has not thrived within the last 400 years. It was founded in 1526. Although these structures remain unoccupied, one thing’s for sure: Their construction was very, very sturdy to have survived this long. Here you’ll find India’s oldest marble building, for instance.

aerial view of an abandoned town by the water

Varosha, Cyprus

Hugging the Mediterranean Sea in Cyprus, Varosha—a section of Famagusta—hasn’t been inhabited since 1974, when the Turkish invaded this region. Before that, it was the equivalent of Italy’s Cinque Terre, coaxing high numbers of tourists to its high-rises, hotels, and restaurants. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor even used to holiday here. But don’t even think about visiting here now: It’s forbidden by the Turkish government.

abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel and State Line Cafe in the Route 66

Glenrio, New Mexico

Glenrio—a former railroad town—sits on the New Mexico–Texas border along Route 66. Despite it being a ghost town, in 2007 its 31-acre historic district (consisting of 16 structures) was put on the National Register of Historic Places. The following year, the Glenrio Welcome Center debuted, with modern conveniences. But there are no residents left. Portions of the Grapes of Wrath movie were filmed here, and an abandoned service station’s design appears in the Cars film.

replica of Paris in china with chinese characters in the foreground

Tianducheng, China

Built in 2007, this was supposed to be a luxury real-estate development near Hangzhou (in the Zhejiang province), complete with an Eiffel Tower replica, and home to 10,000 people. Only problem is that, so far, only 2,000 people have moved here, mostly attracted to the job market.

street that is falling apart with graffiti on it

Centralia, Pennsylvania

Another casualty of the mining decline—the number of residents in this town took a deep dive from around 1,000 in 1980 to just seven in 2013. That’s because of a coal mine fire that hasn’t stopped burning since 1962; its cause is hotly debated. Thirty years later, the state declared Centralia condemned, and now you can’t even get mail service here.

looking up at abandoned buildings under clear blue skies

Balestrino, Italy

Despite its stunningly beautiful structures that are still standing, it would take a lot of cash to rebuild this Italian town 40 miles south of Genoa. It would also require tinkering with Mother Earth. The real reason only about 600 people live here is that everyone else fled during the 1950s—due to the serious threat of landslides and coastal erosion.

abandoned bumper cars in a theme park

Pripyat, Ukraine

When Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant’s nuclear disaster occurred in 1986, it was the death of this Northern Ukraine community 65 miles from Kiev and near the Belarus border. Not everyone died (although around 150 did), but all 50,000 residents had to evacuate. Many suffered from acute radiation sickness as a result of exposure to high levels of radiation during the accident.

Old mine buildings in a ghost town in the woods

Cody, British Columbia

The prosperity of North American mining communities is pretty much over. Cody, in southern British Columbia, is no exception. This town used to have 250 residents—attracted to the handful of mines nearby beginning in the late 1800s—but now there are none. Most were employees of the Noble Five Mine, which shut down in the 1940s after a fire.

abandoned ruins of a leper colony on an island in New York

North Brother Island, New York

This 20-acre island in the Bronx—nestled between Rikers Island and the Bronx—is home to no one, just herons. Up until 1964, the island housed Riverside Hospital and its patients, particularly those who were highly contagious. And although the New York City Parks Department oversees the property, it’s not inhabited—yet. There have been proposals by architects and politicians for using the space, but nothing’s flown yet.

Building ruin in an Arizona mining ghost town

Ruby, Arizona

Ruby, which is 50 miles southwest of Tucson, thrived during the 1920s and 1930s as a mining camp—bolstered by activity at the Montana Mine and the Eagle-Picher Mining Company—but when that ended in 1941 so did the town. The post office quickly shuttered, followed by the few remaining residents relocating elsewhere. Today you can tour 25 abandoned buildings, for a $12 entry fee.

building half buried into the ground with mountains in the background

Plymouth, Montserrat

This Caribbean town—once the capital city of Montserrat—is difficult to find because it’s partially submerged as the result of a volcanic eruption during the summer of 1995. By that December, many of the 4,000 residents had evacuated. Some returned but were forced to leave again, in 1997, due to another eruption. Plymouth’s population is currently at zero.

bathtub in the middle of a desert

Kolmanskop, Namibia

Kolmanskop was a huge draw for those seeking diamonds during the early 1900s. Because the miners were mostly German, a village popped up with German architectural accents. Due to World War I, and that an even more prosperous diamond mine was discovered nearby, by the 1950s this mining town no longer prospered. De Beers currently runs the town as a tourist attraction. As for all that sand, it’s the result of a geological shift, making the potential to revive this town very unlikely.

sign and fence around an abandoned town

Seseña, Spain

Although not a total ghost town, there are definitely fewer people living in Seseña—a half-hour south of Madrid—than were expected. The plan to build 13,500 housing units here was led by a property developer who aimed to take advantage of the construction boom at the start of this century. Decimated by Spain’s economic recession in 2009, only about 3,000 units at that time had been sold. Today the population hovers just above 6,000.

abandoned a copper mine on a hill

Kennecott, Alaska

Copper mining in the Last Frontier State used to be a big business. That includes the community of Kennecott, a mining camp established in 1911. Today the massive red mill remains—protected by the National Park Service as a National Historic Landmark District—but nobody lives here. All mining here ceased by 1938, at which point it was turned into a national park (Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve).

fading road sign marks the dirt track

Wittenoom, Western Australia

A former company mining town (from 1953-1966) in the outback, Wittenoom’s most vibrant time was during the 1950s and 1960s, until mining for asbestos abruptly stopped. Earlier this year, just five years after a decision to close the town, Wittenoom’s population was down to just three residents.

Looking uphill across part of the ruins of an ancient city

Kayaköy, Turkey

Built on a hillside, Kayaköy’s ruins were built in the Greek style, to accommodate the Greeks who once lived there. When the 2 million Greeks living in Turkey were forced to leave that country in 1922, during the Greco-Turkish War, the town whittled away to practically nothing. Now, all that remains are these stone structures. You may recognize the town from the 2014 Russell Crowe film “The Water Diviner.”

cluster of white highrises in the distance

Kilamba New City, Angola

Built by the Chinese, just 17 miles outside of the capital city of Luanda, this brand-new development was destined to become a city that could comfortably house half a million people. But the developers failed to do their market research as many of the homes, shops and schools remain empty. The reason is simple: it costs too much for most people in Angola to move here. And while it’s not abandoned, only 80,000 people have moved here, a far cry from the expected numbers.

ancient buildings in the desert

Al’Ula, Saudi Arabia

Constructed during the 13th Century, Al’Ula—450 miles north of Mecca—was emptied out during the 1980s when most of its residents relocated to a newer town nearby. At one time, this was the capital of the ancient Lihyanites.

Abandoned ancient Mosque with sunlight funneling in

Agdam, Azerbaijan

As recently as 30 years ago, there were 28,000 people living here. But the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1993 forced them to flee. Many of the former homes are ruined, thanks to all that gun fighting, and the Agdam Mosque is a mere shell.

ghost town in the snow with mountains in the background

Kadykchan, Russia

Created by prisoners during World War II, this community boasted two coal mines. But with the creation of Russia—out of the former Soviet Union—one of those mines closed in the early 1990s. Then, a 1996 explosion closed this town forever, destroying most of its buildings. As of 2010, the population is down to zero, quite a change from 10,270 in 1996.

two story abandoned home

Cahawba, Alabama

Once Alabama’s capital city during the 1820s, and a major cotton-distribution area, Cahawba’s residents endured so many floods during the 1800s that living here suddenly became impossible. Visitors can check out the antebellum architecture and archeological sites in Old Cahawba, not far from Selma.

church next to trees under partly cloudy skies

Döllersheim, Austria

The roots in this Austrian village run deep: it reportedly dates back to 1143 A.D.. During the Nazi regime, residents were forced to evacuate Döllersheim, however, and the next chapter was as a military training area. After the war, this town was never inhabited again. Visitors can tour the church, square and graveyard.

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Writing Tips Oasis

Writing Tips Oasis

How to Describe a Ghost Town in a Story

By Isobel Coughlan

how to describe a ghost town in a story

Do you need some tips on how to describe a ghost town in a story? Use the 10 words featured in this post as guide to help you.

Somewhere with a scary atmosphere that could be haunted.

“He didn’t want to visit the spooky ghost town, but he was worried what the group would call him if he said no.”

“The spooky ghost town was real and scary, unlike those kitsch fairground rides that can’t even scare children.”

How it Adds Description

The word “spooky” is a perfect pairing for a ghost town as it implies an area is scary or even haunted. If your ghost town is literally home to spirits or ghosts, this word can signify their presence. However, it can also point to a general unpleasant atmosphere and portray that your characters are creeped out .

2. Intimidating

Someone or somewhere that’s frightening to the point you lose confidence .

“She took one step towards the intimidating ghost town and changed her mind. She wasn’t going to face her fears today.”

“They looked at the intimidating ghost town and it looked back, taunting them with its presence.”

If your ghost town scares your characters, the word “intimidating” can show the effect it’s having on them. “Intimidating” shows someone is feeling nervous or frightened, and this is a perfect way to show the intensity of your ghost-like setting. It can also foreshadow future plot points in the town, ideal if you want to hint at the future.

Somewhere that’s home to ghosts or spirits.

“But the haunted ghost town is just an old tale… Isn’t it?”

“She flat-out refused to talk about the haunted ghost town, and everyone had to respect her decision.”

The adjective “haunted” clearly implies that the location is home to ghosts or spirits. This is a powerful word to use if you’re writing a horror novel, as it helps to build a scary setting. It can also hint at the ghost town’s past, and you can use this word to build up curiosity surrounding your fictional world’s history.

Somewhere very quiet and almost silent.

“The hushed ghost town didn’t bother her. It was the people back home that got on her nerves.”

“He was shocked by the hushed ghost town. He expected hustle and bustle in all the streets.”

The word “hushed” conveys a place is very quiet or silent. If your ghost town is uninhabited or home to a scare population, “hushed” can portray the atmosphere there. “Hushed” can also build suspense, and you can pair this adjective with creepy action to scare your reader and characters.

Something or somewhere not being used by anyone.

“Don’t turn left off the freeway, there’s an old vacant ghost town over there. People haven’t lived there in years.”

“He crept through the vacant ghost town as if someone was watching him, but no one had lived here since the accident.”

The word “vacant” describes a place that’s completely empty, which is perfect when describing a ghost town. This word lets your reader know there’s no inhabitants. It can also be used to build an image of a neglected place, for example a run-down town that has bad infrastructure.

6. Disgraced

Somewhere that has lost the respect of the authorities of people.

“The locals had left the disgraced ghost town after the accident, and they had no intentions of coming back.”

“The disgraced ghost town never regained respect, and it has been left to rot.”

If your ghost town has been abandoned because of an incident or stigma, the word “disgraced” can help explain the situation to your reader. “Disgraced” describes somewhere that’s fallen out of favor with local opinion, and this can hint that something bad happened in the town. It also implies the town is a bad place, and the inhabitants questionable.

7. Chilling

Somewhere very scary.

“Even the thought of the chilling ghost town made her hair stand up on end.”

“The chilling ghost town made him question his courage; he did not feel safe there at all.”

If your ghost town is unpleasant and scary, “chilling” is a helpful word to use. This adjective shows that the location has a physical effect on the characters, as “chilling” refers to a type of fear that resonates in the body.

Somewhere far away from urban areas or cities.

“She didn’t want to leave the comfort of the city for a remote ghost town, but she had to honor her manager’s instructions.”

“Don’t talk to me about community, you live in a remote ghost town!”

Ghost towns with few inhabitants are common as you move further away from urban areas. Therefore, “remote” is a good adjective to use if you want to illustrate more about the ghost town’s location. In a horror story, “remote” can create a sense of helplessness, as there are no nearby authorities to help the characters.

9. Disturbing

Somewhere that evokes feelings of sadness or worry.

“It was a disturbing ghost town. All the houses looked as if they were frozen in time.”

“She awoke in the disturbing ghost town, and her stomach instantly sank.”

If you simply want to illustrate how horrible your ghost town is, the word “disturbing” can help. This adjective points to a location that’s scary or physically unpleasant, which is great for building a clear mental image of the settlement.

Somewhere that makes you feel nervous or is slightly strange .

“She couldn’t take the eerie ghost town anymore; it was too quiet and uncanny.”

“Together, they explored the eerie ghost town, but they were shocked at the reason it was so quiet.”

“Eerie” is linked to places that are odd or scary, and this is a great way to insight fear in your reader. The word “eerie” can also help to portray your character’s anxiety, especially when you pair it with more negative descriptive language.

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Wonder of the Day #1074

What Is a Ghost Town?



Have You Ever Wondered...

  • What is a ghost town?
  • What causes ghost towns?
  • Where are some famous ghost towns?
  • radiation ,
  • transportation ,
  • Radiation ,
  • Transportation

Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Anniston. Anniston Wonders , “ What is a ghost town? ” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Anniston!

There you are, riding your horse across the hard-packed dirt and sand. You’re hungry and thirsty. Suddenly, you see something in the distance! What is it? Are those buildings? Could it be a town?

You spur your horse to move faster in the sweltering heat. You must reach that town. There, you’ll find the food and water you’re craving. You can almost taste the bacon cheeseburger and fries you’ll order. You can feel the coolness of the sweet lemonade that’ll quench your thirst .

You ride faster and faster. The buildings get larger and larger until finally you’re there. But something’s wrong. These buildings are empty. The entire town is desolate . The only occupants are ghosts of the past. What is it? A ghost town, of course!

You may have seen them in movies, but do ghost towns exist in real life? Believe it or not, they do indeed exist and can be found all over the world. Any abandoned city, town, or village can be considered a ghost town. They usually also have visible remains, such as empty buildings.

Formerly bustling towns can become ghost towns for a variety of reasons. One example is settlements that spring up due to a particular economic activity, such as the discovery of a natural resource. They can become ghost towns when that commodity runs out.

In the past, such towns—often called boomtowns—were settled and quickly came to life. People there built mines or mills to harness natural resources, such as gold or coal. After these were taken, the workers often moved on. They went to another town to pursue similar work. This left the once-busy boomtown a shell of its former self.

Ghost towns can also be created by changes in access . For example, historic Route 66 encountered many changes during its lifetime. Occasionally, new interstate highways would be built that would lead to the closure of old roads. If a town depended upon that road’s traffic for its livelihood, its closure could mean the death of the settlement.

In a similar way, ghost towns have been created when railroads are abandoned or re-routed to different places. The creation of dams across the country has also occasionally resulted in the creation of ghost towns. This happens because of the flooding of previously occupied lands.

Disasters like repeated flooding can also create ghost towns. Fire can do the same . The town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, was abandoned in 1984 due to a mine fire. That fire has burned continuously underneath the town since 1962!

Disasters at nuclear power plants have created many ghost towns, especially in Ukraine, Belarus, and Japan. Due to contamination from nuclear radiation, hundreds of towns in these countries have been abandoned .

Today, ghost towns still receive visitors. They come to see the remnants of the past. Some of these famous tourist destinations include Bannack, Montana; Calico, California; Oatman, Arizona; Bodie, California; and Thurmon, West Virginia.

Have you ever visited a ghost town? Would you like to? Some people think they’re a bit spooky, but others find them fascinating. Maybe you can stop in at an abandoned town on your next vacation!

Common Core , Next Generation Science Standards , and National Council for the Social Studies ."> Standards : C3.D2.His.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.7, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

Wonder What's Next?

We realLEE think you’ll enjoy tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day!

Find an adult who can help you with the activities below:

  • Are there any ghost towns near where you live? If not, don't worry! You can grab a friend or family member and travel online to explore ghost towns virtually. Just check out this Ghost Town Gallery ! Which of these ghost towns would you most like to visit? Discuss with your friend or family member.
  • Many of today’s towns and cities started for economic reasons, much like boomtowns. Do you know why your town was founded? Is it near a natural resource? Does it have easy access to a highway or railroad? Ask an adult to help you do some research into the history of where you live. Then, write a summary of what you find out. 
  • Take a video tour of the ghost town of Bodie, California . Then, summarize this town’s story for a friend or family member. How was the town founded? What caused it to become a ghost town? Include any other details you think are important.

Wonder Sources

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_town (accessed 08 May 2020)
  • http://www.ghosttowns.com/ (accessed 08 May 2020) 
  • http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-coolest-ghost-towns (accessed 08 May 2020)

Did you get it?

Wonder contributors.

We’d like to thank:

Christah , Vihaan , Brandon , Jack and Angel for contributing questions about today’s Wonder topic!

Keep WONDERing with us!

Wonder Words


That's a great question, Daichi! You might like our Wonder "Are Ghosts Real?"



Hey, Marissa&ASHLEY--

We get it. That video had a Johnny Cash song in it, and they can be pretty powerful. We've added this WONDER to our list for refreshing. Thanks for your comment. 


We're glad that you learned something new, Zariam!


Hi, bob! What specific questions do you have about this Wonder?


Since this is just an introduction to the topic, we encourage you to take a Wonder Journey to learn more about ghost towns!


Hi, Meme! Do you live in a small town? We think that you might also be interested in  Wonder 1557: Where Is the Quietest Town In America?

I don’t like your website


weel i love this website

We love that you're WONDERing with us, bob!

Not even  Wonder 1226: What Is an Internet Meme? ??


We appreciate that you are WONDERing with us and looking for more information here at Wonderopolis, Jaran! Have you checked out the links under our "Try It Out" section?  Ghost Town Gallery  and  Ghost Town Video Tours  should help keep you WONDERing more about this topic!


rhylan and noelle

Luckily, we currently have  1959 Wonders for you to explore!! Thanks for being great Wonder Friends, rhylan and noelle!


Same here!  We would love to visit one sometime.  DEFINITELY during the day, though. ?


Thanks, Lucy!  Our questions come from Wonder Friends like you and our sources are listed at the bottom of the Wonder if you ever want to check them out.  Thanks for WONDERing with us!


I've been to some of the ghost towns that are around the world its really creepy

That's cool, Savannah! We're sure that was fun and scary at the same time! ??


Great question, Daleylynn!  Did you find your answer in the article?


Thank you so much, Sidney!  We are so thrilled that you enjoy WONDERing with us!  We hope you get a chance to visit a ghost town one day!  We think that would be exciting.


We think it would be very cool to visit a ghost town, Mike! There is something eerie and mysterious about it, yet fascinating. Glad this Wonder has got you thinking!


Thanks for joining the conversation, Hayes!  We are glad you checked out this Wonder! ?


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Jose! Super Mario Run sounds like a fun game!



It's great to hear from you, DangerDenis! Thanks for sharing your connection to this Wonder of the Day!


Jason voorhes


Oh hey, Jason. Wait, Jason Voorhes or a different Jason? If you're going to ask us to go camping with you, we think we will politely decline. Thanks for WONDERing with us!

Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis, Jason! We hope you stick around and explore the website some more! :)


Thanks for sharing that interesting fact, Miah! We're glad you learned something new! :)


Great question, Ashley! We encourage you to keep researching about Western towns and ghost towns at the library and online! We're glad this Wonder sparked your interest! :)


I like it !!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't think it is

We love your enthusiasm about WONDERing, Kaitlyn! We're glad you also liked the video! :)

Hi, matthew! We hope you had fun exploring this Wonder! Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis! :)

Hi, Patrick! We're glad you liked this video. Videos and images are great to pair with text to keep WONDERing and learning! :)

Hi, marcuc! Thanks for stopping by Wonderopolis for a quick hello! We hope you have an awesome day, Wonder Friend! :)


We're happy to help, jjjr! The Wonder text above is a good source of information and don't forget to check out the links found in the Try It Out section to learn more about ghost towns! Have a nice day, Wonder Friend! :)


Wonder Friend

Thanks for joining the conversation, markus! We're glad you're here! :)



Hi Wonder Friend! Thanks for WONDERing with us! Wow, that's a great WONDER! Have you seen a ghost town before? Keep WONDERing! :)


Tyler Jarvis

You might be right, Tyler! Welcome back! :)


Hi Makayla! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! We can tell you really read the Ghost Town WONDER! What was your favorite part? Can you remember a movie you've seen that had a Ghost Town in it? That's fun to WONDER about! :)


Daquan Room6

Hi Daquan Room6! We wish we could, but we haven't spotted any ghosts - have you? Halloween is coming up, perhaps there will be ghosts to Wonder about then! :)

Trevor Room6

Great question, Trevor Room6! If there are people living in Towanda, PA, that means it's an active town, not a ghost town. :)


Hey Zoey1005, thanks for sharing your comment with us! Ghost towns don't have ghosts in them, they are just deserted towns where people used to live and have since moved away. We Wonder if you have ever seen a ghost before? We Wonder if there will be ghosts to Wonder about as Halloween approaches?! :)


Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Nickia! :)


That's WONDERful, Pinkie Pie! We Wonder if you have a pet at home? :)



Hi Kai! We hope you'll read our Wonder to learn more about ghost towns! :)


girl or boy

Thanks for joining the discussion and sharing your opinion! We understand everyone likes different Wonders! :)

Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Cat! :)


We're so glad you learned something new with us today, Hannah! Keep up the great work! :)


Hi there, 4R Rats! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :) Ghost towns can be anywhere - we're glad you're thinking about the societies that live below us - just like ants! :) We bet most of the animals left with the people, but perhaps some animals have made ghost towns their new homes! We hope you'll continue to Wonder about this fun topic! :)


Hi Dori, thanks for sharing your comment! We're glad you're here, and we hope you like our Wonder tomorrow, too! We've got a few dog Wonders to share with you: https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-do-dogs-have-wet-noses/ https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/do-prairie-dogs-bark/ :)


Hi Max! Thanks for coming back to Wonder with us today! :) We Wonder if you have ever visited a ghost town? We think it would be cool to walk back into history! :) Thanks for sharing your predictions with us... we think you're on the right path! :)

Mekhi Room6

Hi there, Mekhi Room6! What a great question! We learned about the "boomtowns" that were full of people who were searching for gold and wealth. Once all the gold was discovered, they moved along to new towns to find occupations and homes. When they left, the towns became ghostly and deserted. We Wonder if you have ever visited a ghost town? :)

Ciani Room6

Hi Ciani Room6! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! We don't know for sure if ghosts exist! We have never seen one, but that doesn't mean they're not real! What do you think, Wonder Friends? :)

Josey Room6

Hi Josey Room 6, great question! While some people might say there are, others use the term "ghost town" to describe the feeling of a town. It's empty, almost as if only ghosts live there! We Wonder if you have ever visited a ghost town before? :)

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Related Wonders for You to Explore


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How Did the British Save Children From the Nazis?

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Question 1 of 3

What is the best description of a ghost town?

  • a A cemetery, or place where dead bodies are kept Not Quite!
  • b A city or neighborhood where paranormal activity has been witnessed or is believed to take place Not Quite!
  • c A mirage, or something that isn't really there Not Quite!
  • d A community that has been abandoned by its inhabitants Correct!

Question 2 of 3

What is the main reason why boomtowns are created?

  • a dynamite Not Quite!
  • b a particular economic activity Correct!
  • c a fireworks celebration Not Quite!
  • d natural and man-made disasters Not Quite!

Question 3 of 3

Which of the following are not conditions that can cause a ghost town?

  • a the loss of a natural resource and changes in access Not Quite!
  • b flooding and fire Not Quite!
  • c rerouted railroads and the creation of dams Not Quite!
  • d a full moon and gravitational forces Correct!

Quiz Results

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© National Center for Families Learning (NCFL)

1. out-of-town

  • Rhymes with Ghost-town
  • Ghost-town in a sentence

adjective. happening in or being of another town or city.

Rhymes with Ghost Town

  • abbottstown

Sentences with ghost-town

1. Noun Phrase Also nearby is the ghost town at Fairplay. 2. Noun Phrase Another town, the coal mining community of Bankhead, can still be visited as a ghost " aria-label="Link to town "> town .

noun. ['ˈgoʊst'] a mental representation of some haunting experience.

  • colorlessness
  • gost (Middle English (1100-1500))
  • gast (Old English (ca. 450-1100))

verb. ['ˈgoʊst'] move like a ghost.

noun. ['ˈgoʊst'] a writer who gives the credit of authorship to someone else.

  • ghostwriter

noun. ['ˈgoʊst'] a suggestion of some quality.

  • disappearance
  • universal proposition

verb. ['ˈgoʊst'] write for someone else.

noun. ['ˈtaʊn'] an urban area with a fixed boundary that is smaller than a city.

  • market town
  • Main Street
  • municipality

noun. ['ˈtaʊn'] the people living in a municipality smaller than a city.

  • townspeople

noun. ['ˈtaʊn'] an administrative division of a county.

  • administrative division
  • administrative district

noun. United States architect who was noted for his design and construction of truss bridges (1784-1844).

  • Ithiel Town

synonym term image

download a flashcard

Gareth Clark | 29 May 2019

14 of the world's most fascinating and eerie ghost towns.

From a remote mining town in New Zealand to a scary 'ghost island' in Japan, we introduce 14 ghost worlds across six continents. Would you dare to visit any of them?

1. Old Ghost Road Trail, New Zealand

A 'ghost hut' on the Old Ghost Road Trail, New Zealand (Shutterstock)

A 'ghost hut' on the Old Ghost Road Trail, New Zealand (Shutterstock)

Remote and not for the fainthearted, this 85km backcountry trail on New Zealand’s South Island starts at the abandoned mining town of Lyell, and only gets weirder from there as you pass fragments of settlements: schools, hotels and graveyards.

This was gold miners' country, and relics of those days, now abandoned to nature, scatter the land as you follow an old miner’s route deep into the wilderness.

2. Oradour-sur-Glane, France

Rusting cars in Oradour-sur-Glane (Shutterstock)

Rusting cars in Oradour-sur-Glane (Shutterstock)

Some places are left empty for good reason. It was in 1944, after the Allied forces had landed in France, that German soldiers marched into this village in central France and massacred its people, apparently in revenge for local resistance activity.

After the Second World War, Charles de Gaulle said that its burnt-out remains should be left as a memorial, and the effect is stilling.

3. Craco, Italy

The abandoned yet beautiful medieval town of Craco, Italy (Shutterstock)

The abandoned yet beautiful medieval town of Craco, Italy (Shutterstock)

Set high in the badlands of southern Italy’s Basilicata region, the medieval town of Craco is a living cautionary tale.

By the 1960s, over-expansion had caused landslides that forced its 1,800 residents – some still living in medieval conditions – to move out.

Today, guided hardhat tours wander its atmospheric cobbles and cave houses, gazing out over the rippling clay hills.

4. Kolmanskop, Namibia

An abandoned house being slowly reclaimed by sand in Kolmanskop, Namibia (Shutterstock)

An abandoned house being slowly reclaimed by sand in Kolmanskop, Namibia (Shutterstock)

In the early 20th century, this isolated part of the Skeleton Coast was abuzz. Overnight, it had become one of the richest tracts of land in the world following the discovery of a seam of diamonds.

By the 1950s, it was tapped out and the tiny Germanic-looking town built up around it was left to the sands, to make an eerily photogenic site, along with the rest of the wrecks that line this stretch of Namibia’s coast.

5. Villa Epecuén, Argentina

Ruins of the lost city of Epecuén in Argentina (Shutterstock)

Ruins of the lost city of Epecuén in Argentina (Shutterstock)

What was once a popular spa town disappeared without trace in the mid-1980s. Swallowed by a flood, it remained lost until 2009, when the salty waters began to recede and the relics of this lost town resurfaced.

Lying 540km south-west of Buenos Aires, it is now accessible via a rough track lined with petrified trees – a ghostly snapshot of a town caught mid-step.

6. Rhyolite, Nevada, USA 

A building in Rhyolite, Nevada's ghost town (Shutterstock)

A building in Rhyolite, Nevada's ghost town (Shutterstock)

Rhyolite had just 12 years in the sun. Even by the standards of late gold rush-era boom towns, it was a short-lived affair.

The paint had barely dried on its new stock exchange when the rug was pulled from under this Death Valley settlement by a financial crash.

Since then, its empty banks and stores have been joined by art displays, making it one of the more unusual ghost towns of the US.

7. Hashima Island, Japan 

This ghost island in Japan is known for its setting as the villain's base in a recent Bond movie (Shutterstock)

This ghost island in Japan is known for its setting as the villain's base in a recent Bond movie (Shutterstock)

Only part of this fortress-esque ‘ghost island’ – better known as the villain’s base in Bond film Skyfall – is open to the public.

Ringed by a great seawall, it is tightly packed with high rises for the workers who once manned its undersea mine, and when that closed some 45 years ago, everyone left.

Now, visitors can only set foot here on an official tour from nearby Nagasaki, but this eerie metropolis (once home to over 5,000) is worth it.

8. Poggioreale, Sicily

Sicily's ghost town was never rebuilt (Shutterstock)

Sicily's ghost town was never rebuilt (Shutterstock)

Tucked away in the Belice Valley in north-west Sicily, Poggioreale was destroyed when an earthquake hit the region in 1968.

Rather than rebuild the town, a new one was built a few kilometres away. The ruins are often used as a film set for movies about the Second World War.

9. Pyramiden, Svalbard, Norway

An old building and cityscape in Pyramiden (Shutterstock)

An old building and cityscape in Pyramiden (Shutterstock)

This mining community was founded by Sweden in 1910, but sold to the USSR in 1927. It has the most northerly statue of Lenin in the world, which was abandoned, along with the rest of the town and its infrastructure, in 1998.

10. Kayaköy, Turkey

The Turkish ghost town of Kayaköy (Shutterstock)

The Turkish ghost town of Kayaköy (Shutterstock)

Originally known as Livissi, and populated almost exclusively by Greeks, this village 8km south of Fethiye was abandoned in 1923.

The ghost town is now preserved as a museum village, with hundreds of rundown Greek-style houses and churches. It is a popular stopping place for tourists visiting Fethiye and nearby Ölüdeniz.

11. Pripyat, Ukraine

Abandoned building, Pripyat, Ukraine (Shutterstock)

Abandoned building, Pripyat, Ukraine (Shutterstock)

Abandoned after the Chernobyl nuclear in April 1986, this town has become a potent symbol of the inherent dangers of harnessing nuclear power.

It has also become something of a grotesque tourist attraction, with visits carefully timed to minimise the risk of over-exposure to high levels of radiation.

12.  Centralia, Pennsylvania, USA

The road in Centralia was abandoned because of a mining fire (Shutterstock)

The road in Centralia was abandoned because of a mining fire (Shutterstock)

This coal mining town, first established in 1856, was abandoned after the coal seam caught fire in the late 1960s.

The fire still burns underground to the day, the effects being seen in the buckled and cracked highway leading into the town.

13. Bodie, California, USA

Abandoned buildings and vehicles, Bodie, California (Shutterstock)

Abandoned buildings and vehicles, Bodie, California (Shutterstock)

When the Standard Company discovered substantial amounts of gold-bearing ore in Bodie in 1876, the town was instantly converted from a small mining camp to one of California's biggest towns.

At its height, it had more than 2,000 buildings, but when the gold ran out, so did the population. It was finally abandoned in 1940.

14. Grytviken, South Georgia

Old rusty whaling boats in Grytviken, South Georgia (Shutterstock)

Old rusty whaling boats in Grytviken, South Georgia (Shutterstock)

The settlement was established in 1904 by a Norwegian sea captain as a whaling station for his fishing company.

It was closed in December 1966, but the church is still used occasionally for marriages. The people had their own cinema, but it collapsed a few years ago.

Explore more places that will give you a fright: 

15 lost worlds that are asking to be explored, these are the most haunted places in history, would you spend a night in these haunted hotels, related articles, looking for inspiration.

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word ghost town


10 Must-Visit Historical Ghost Towns Of The American West

Posted: December 28, 2023 | Last updated: December 29, 2023

  • The historic ghost towns in the American West, such as Grafton and Garnet, offer eerie tourist attractions with a spooky history.
  • These American West ghost towns were once thriving settlements, but economic decline led to their abandonment.
  • Visitors can explore well-preserved buildings and learn about the past of each of these historic ghost towns in the US through self-guided or guided tours.

In bustling towns, laughter fills the air, and the streets teem with life as people go about their daily routines. On the other hand, ghost towns paint a different picture, where deserted streets, abandoned structures, and eerie silence prove that not everything that once thrived has a happy ending. Still, the idea of touring one is oddly satisfying, especially when it has a spooky history tied to it.

The deserted towns of the American West, including the ghost towns in Arizona , make eerie tourist attractions. The history of these old American ghost towns followed a similar path, where they experienced impeccable growth before their source of income, whether mining or farming, declined and the settlements dissipated. Whatever their story, these are some of the many must-visit historic ghost towns of the American West for that paranormal thrill.

Related: 10 Incredible Ghost Towns In Canada To Explore Today

Grafton, Utah

When it was completely abandoned: 1944.

History and breathtaking natural beauty define the once-bustling town of Grafton . Located in Utah near the renowned Zion National Park , Grafton dates back to 1859 when several families cooperated to do agriculture and build homes. Unfortunately, the community suffered raging floods and relocated from their original settlement to the current townsite between 1862 and 1866.

Although the last known resident moved away from the town in 1944, travelers still explore the ghost town of Grafton, which is also the most photographed ghost town of the West . Here, visitors can discover a cemetery and well-preserved buildings, including a schoolhouse constructed in 1886, the 1888 Adobe Russell Home, and the 1907 Ballard Home, among others.

  • Date Founded: 1859
  • Admission Fee: Free
  • Open: Year-round

Garnet, Montana

When it was completely abandoned: early 1940s.

Garnet was once home to about 1,000 people when the gold mining business was booming. This charming town had profitable years in the 1890s as the Nancy Hank Mine worked on and off until the Montana School of Mines declared it dead by 1960. An enormous fire burned nearly half of Garnet and drove it into disrepair until restoration works began in the 1970s. By this time, there was no one to call it home, as miners had to seek employment elsewhere.

Currently, this ghost town boasts over 30 well-preserved buildings, which visitors wander into as they enjoy the Old West Town vibe. While here, travelers can start exploring at the Visitor Center to check out memorabilia before proceeding to the self-guided trails with interpretive signs.

  • Date Founded: 1860s
  • Admission Fee: $3 for adults; Free for visitors under 16 years
  • Visitor Center opening hours: Daily from late May through September from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The route leading to Garnet, just after Bear Gulch Road, is steep, narrow, and bumpy, so it's not suitable for RVs and trailers.

Kennecott, Alaska

When it was completely abandoned: 1938.

Kennecott ghost town still fascinates people with its history . It became a thriving mining town when the Kennecott Mining Corporation came to life in 1903 and established five copper mines. The corporation drew miners with higher salaries and produced about $200 million worth of ore before depleting.

By 1938, Kennecott’s mining successes were history as it became a ghost town, leaving iconic buildings such as the Concentration Mill as a testament to its financial and mining prowess. Tourists tour the ghost town on self-guided tours by following the National Park Service Map or taking an immersive guided tour with St. Elias Guides .

  • Date Founded: 1903
  • Admission Fee: St. Elias Alpine Guides charge Adults (13+) $34 and Children(12-) $17 to access the 14-story Concentration Mill

St. Elias Alpine Guides offers tours from late May to early September

Related: Living History: Inside The Ghost Towns That Are Still Considered 'Home' Today

Rhyolite, Nevada

When it was completely abandoned: 1924.

Rhyolite is a historic ghost town in Nevada with hauntings and legends to explore . It traces its roots back to 1904 when prospectors Shorty Harris and E. L. Cross discovered quartz. The establishment of the Montgomery Shoshone Mine brought more people to the town, who built hotels, a school, stores, two electric plants, and a hospital.

Unfortunately, financial panic brought Rhyolite to its knees as mines ceased operating, banks failed, and mill production slowed, leading to a decrease in population. While walking around town, travelers find remnants of Rhyolite's past, such as the Bottle House, the train depot, and parts of the old jail and bank.

  • Date Founded: 1904
  • Open: Year-round from sunrise to sunset

Melmont, Washington

When it was completely abandoned: in the early 1920s.

Melmont is another American West ghost town in Pierce County, Washington, founded in the early 1900s when the Northwest Improvement Company set up a coal mine in the area. Although little of Melmont’s bustling days remain today, it had a train depot, a saloon, miners’ cottages, a hotel, and a post office.

Melmont gained ghost town status when the mines ceased operating in the early 1920s, and a forest fire raged over what remained. However, an easy hike through the townsite exposes travelers to an old shed used to store dynamite, the foundation of a schoolhouse, and wall structures.

  • Date Founded: 1900

Golden, Oregon

When it was completely abandoned: 1920s.

Golden is one of the many must-visit American West ghost towns; it was abandoned in the 1920s and is known for its fascinating history of building churches instead of saloons like other mining towns. This town dates back to the early 80s when small placer mines found small amounts of gold. However, the Americans who founded the camp pursued greener pastures, and Chinese miners took over, but the founders drove them out years later.

By the 1890s, Golden was a true mining town as hydraulic operations stripped gold off the streams. Today, ghost town enthusiasts stroll around Golden to explore the restored structures, including a former home, a church, a building that housed a store and a post office, and a shed.

  • Date Founded: In the 1890s

Bonanza, Idaho

When it was completely abandoned: around 1910.

Bonanza was the first community settlement in the Yankee Fork area in 1877. By 1881, the population had grown to approximately 600, and the town had a tin shop and a saloon where miners came to celebrate and socialize. However, a fire burned much of Bonanza in 1889, resulting in most residents moving to the nearby town of Custer.

Mining idleness also contributed to its abandonment, but the construction of a gold dredge in 1939 brought new life before collapsing again. The dredge is open seasonally for tours, and a few remaining buildings await history buffs to discover during a walking tour.

  • Date Founded: 1877
  • Open: Summer, Spring, & Fall

Related: Shaniko: Visiting What Is Possibly Oregon's Coolest Ghost Town

Miner's Delight, Wyoming

Miner's Delight is one of Wyoming's earliest towns, founded when miners discovered gold in the area in around 1867. The town offers insight into the state's early history, gold mining culture, and resilience after producing more than $5 million worth of gold ore despite facing closures and the Great Depression.

The townsite preserves several cabins, including one with rusting iron equipment such as an old stove and iron box screens. Travelers access Miner's Delight via a 0.25-mile-long walking trail near Fort Stambaugh Road.

  • Date Founded: 1867

Calico, California

When it was completely abandoned: 1907.

Calico is an old mining town in San Bernardino County, California, established in 1881 due to the discovery of silver ore. However, silver lost value and pushed miners to desert Calico in the 1890s. Subsequently, Calico lost its luster, but Walter Knott bought it in the 1950s and restored the buildings to their former glory.

Today, this town is part of the San Bernardino County Regional Parks, and tourists come here to explore its intriguing history at the Lucy Lane Museum, which displays Calico's relics and old photographs. The Maggie Mine also allows travelers to explore Calico's mining history through its exhibits and displays. Aside from such exhibits, Calico is full of spooks that make it famous .

  • Date Founded: 1881
  • Admission Fee: Adults 12 & over - $10; Youth ages 4 to 11 - $5; Ages 3 and under - Free admission
  • Open: Daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Note: Each attraction within Calico charges a different fee

Goldfield, Arizona

When it was completely abandoned: 1898.

During its heyday in the 1890s, Goldfield had three lively saloons, a schoolhouse, a brewery, a general store, and thriving mines. Unfortunately, the grade of ore dropped, and the once bustling community became what is today one of the many Western ghost towns to visit, despite efforts to revive the mines.

Today, this ghost town is a hub for travelers seeking an authentic Wild West adventure as they can witness gunfights performed by the Goldfield Gunfighters from high noon. Additionally, tourists can explore the town's mining history during the Goldfield Mine Tours, led by guides narrating Goldfield's heritage, gold mining procedures, and equipment.

  • Date Founded: 1892
  • Open: Year-round except on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Each attraction charges a different fee in this town.

10 Must-Visit Historical Ghost Towns Of The American West

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  1. Ghost town Definition & Meaning

    ghost town: [noun] a once-flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted usually as a result of the exhaustion of some natural resource.

  2. What is another word for ghost town

    deserted town. empty settlement. forsaken hamlet. vacated community. abandoned town. "A small town near Niagara Falls becomes a ghost town after industrial sludge from a leaking dump renders the area toxic.". Find more words!


    GHOST TOWN definition: 1. a town where few or no people now live 2. a town where few or no people now live 3. a town that…. Learn more.

  4. The world's 10 best ghost towns

    The world's 10 best ghost towns. 1 / 10. Belchite, Spain. Belchite was the site of a particularly brutal battle during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Occupied by Franco's forces in 1937 ...

  5. Ghost town

    ghost town: 1 n a deserted settlement (especially in western United States) Type of: town an urban area with a fixed boundary that is smaller than a city

  6. The world's most fascinating abandoned towns and cities

    Abandoned since 1941, a year after its once productive mine was closed, Ruby remains one of the best preserved ghost towns in the US. Positioned close to the Mexico border, the town boomed in the ...

  7. GHOST TOWN definition and meaning

    A deserted town, esp one in the western US that was formerly a boom town.... Click for English pronunciations, examples sentences, video.

  8. Ghost town

    A ghost town, deserted city, extinct town or abandoned city is an abandoned settlement, usually one that contains substantial visible remaining buildings and infrastructure such as roads. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it (usually industrial or agricultural) has failed or ended for any reason (e.g ...


    ghost town meaning: 1. a town where few or no people now live 2. a town where few or no people now live 3. a town that…. Learn more.

  10. ghost

    Ghost town is from 1908. Ghost story is by 1811. Ghost-word "apparent word or false form in a manuscript due to a blunder" is from 1886 (Skeat). Ghost in the machine was British philosopher Gilbert Ryle's term (1949) for "the mind viewed as separate from the body."

  11. Ghost town

    A disaster of another kind made Centralia, Pennsylvania, a ghost town.A coal seam fire that began under the town in 1962—and is still burning today—made the ground unstable and prone to collapse, with smoke seeping through cracks in the earth and sinkholes suddenly opening in the ground. Most residents finally relocated in 1984, and in 1992 the town was condemned, though it was still ...

  12. GHOST TOWN Definition & Usage Examples

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  13. Ghost Town synonyms

    nouns. Tags. settlement. town. place. suggest new. Another way to say Ghost Town? Synonyms for Ghost Town (other words and phrases for Ghost Town).

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    Most related words/phrases with sentence examples define Ghost town meaning and usage. Thesaurus for Ghost town. Related terms for ghost town- synonyms, antonyms and sentences with ghost town. Lists. synonyms. antonyms. definitions. sentences. thesaurus. Parts of speech. adjectives. nouns. verbs. Synonyms Similar meaning. View all.

  15. 30 of the Most Stunning Abandoned Towns Around the World

    Texola, Oklahoma. Located along America's most famous route—Route 66—this town's population has plummeted to 1,935. If you're an American history buff, you might know Texola by its ...

  16. 35 Creepy Abandoned Cities and Ghost Towns Around the World

    Bannack, Montana. When it comes to abandoned cities in America, a town that looks just like Bannack probably comes to mind. An Old West town ruled by gangs and vigilantes, Bannack was renowned for ...

  17. How to Describe a Ghost Town in a Story

    The word "spooky" is a perfect pairing for a ghost town as it implies an area is scary or even haunted. If your ghost town is literally home to spirits or ghosts, this word can signify their presence. However, it can also point to a general unpleasant atmosphere and portray that your characters are creeped out. 2. Intimidating.

  18. What Is a Ghost Town?

    In a similar way, ghost towns have been created when railroads are abandoned or re-routed to different places. The creation of dams across the country has also occasionally resulted in the creation of ghost towns. This happens because of the flooding of previously occupied lands.

  19. ghost towns Crossword Clue

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  20. Another word for GHOST TOWN > Synonyms & Antonyms

    Similar words for Ghost Town. Definition: adjective. happening in or being of another town or city.

  21. 14 Famous Ghost Towns Around The Globe

    10. Kayaköy, Turkey. The Turkish ghost town of Kayaköy (Shutterstock) Originally known as Livissi, and populated almost exclusively by Greeks, this village 8km south of Fethiye was abandoned in 1923. The ghost town is now preserved as a museum village, with hundreds of rundown Greek-style houses and churches.

  22. 10 Must-Visit Historical Ghost Towns Of The American West

    Kennecott ghost town still fascinates people with its history. National Park Service Map St. Elias Guides. Date Founded: 1903. Admission Fee: St. Elias Alpine Guides charge Adults (13+) $34 and ...

  23. Welcome to Colorado's First Cannabis Ghost Town

    Ordway, Colorado, could be America's first cannabis ghost town. The town of just over 1,000 people, located about fifty miles east of Pueblo in Crowley County, had 56 active growing facilities at ...

  24. List of ghost towns by country

    Commercial activity gradually weakened until the city became a virtual ghost town in 1960, the same year Côte d'Ivoire became independent. Today the city has revived somewhat as a tourist center, but it still has the aura of a ghost town. Mauritania. Chinguetti is a former medieval trading center on the Adrar Plateau. Namibia

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