There’s something about ghost towns that makes them particularly alluring. Their existence has always been a matter of controversy: there are usually different versions as to why the town was abandoned, and many people doubt whether or not they are really haunted. However, while many ghost towns are safe to visit, some are actually very dangerous. So here’s a list of 23 terrifying ghost towns where you should avoid stepping your foot in. Leave the lights on, because some of these towns will scare your pants off!
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#21. Thurmond, West Virginia
Several decades ago, the rural village of Thurmond, West Virginia, was home to nearly 500 residents. It was actually quite a popular town since it claimed to hold the world record for the longest poker game in history. But one day, something tragic happened.
Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia
In 1930, a fire burned down the Dun Glen Hotel. Not only was this the biggest building in the town, but also one of the main sources of income and work. After this incident, people gradually began to leave the village, and now only 5 people live there. You can visit Thurmond if you dare, but bear in mind that getting there is no piece of cake, as it can only be accessed by train!
#20. Terlingua, Texas
Terlingua, Texas is one of the several wild ghost towns in the Far West. It was once a thriving mining village home to over 3,000 people, and it actually provided most of USA’s quicksilver. But during the 1920s, people gradually began leaving the town. Can you guess why?
Photo: Courtesy of Van Tramp
One day, one of the nearby mines flooded and the mineral prices fell. Between the 1920s and the 1930s, the four mining companies that had settled in the area closed down and the village went broke. Now, there are nearly 50 permanent residents, while most of the town’s buildings have been left in ruins. Creepy!
#19. Dallol Ethiopia
Dallol, Ethiopia, is considered as the hottest place on Earth. In fact, it holds the world record for the highest average temperature for an inhabited location, when an average annual temperature of 35°C was recorded between 1960 and 1966. Back in the 60s when the record was broken, the town was still inhabited, but nowadays it is almost completely abandoned.
Photo: Courtesy of Sometimes Interesting
This is one of the most remote ghost towns in the world, as there are no roads in the region. In fact, the only way to get there is by camel. But why did people ever live there, you may wonder? Well, there used to be a potash mine and a salt mine nearby, but these have been abandoned as well. Apparently, the heat wasn’t worth the effort!
#18. Kennicott, Alaska
Just like the Texan village of Terlingua, the town of Kennicott, Alaska, is another mining village that ended in abandonment. This town flourished during the early 20th century when copper was discovered in the area. The town was so remote that the owners of the mine offered really high wages in order to encourage the workers to move there.
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But in spite of these high salaries, the miners were forced to work seven days a week for very long shifts. The problem was that the copper was completely mined out after a few decades. Thus, by 1938, the mine shut down, the miners were fired, and Kennicott became a ghost town from one year to the other.
#17. North Brother Island, New York
North Brother Island is an uninhabited island in New York City’s East River, really close to the mainland Bronx. It is known for being the quarantined home of Typhoid Mary, the woman who allegedly caused several typhoid outbreaks in New York City during the early 20th century.
Photo: Courtesy of slate.com
After the typhoid pandemic, this island was exclusively used to quarantine people with infectious diseases. This is why one of the island’s only buildings is this abandoned brick hospital, once called the Riverside Hospital. The building has been abandoned ever since the early 1950s, and the island is currently inaccessible to the public.
#16. Kilamba New City, Angola
The story behind Kilamba New City, Angola, is very unusual. This enormous housing development was built by a Chinese construction firm, and it was meant to house nearly 200,000 people. It was part of the Angolan government’s plan to get people out of the slums. However, things didn’t work out as planned.
Photo: Courtesy of kilamba-info.com
The problem was that the prices of the houses were too high and nearly nobody could get a mortgage. Therefore, for many years, this well-designed neighborhood became a ghost town. Ever since 2015, people have slowly begun to purchase some of the smaller apartments, but the area remains mostly uninhabited.
#15. Cahawba, Alabama
Believe it or not, this abandoned village was once the capital city of Alabama. But what happened? Well, it happens to be that in 1825 Cahawba was destroyed by a terrible flood, and if this weren’t enough, the city was devastated by the Civil War.
Photo: Courtesy of Strange Abandoned Places
After the Civil War broke out, a group of Confederate soldiers seized the town and took control of its resources, leaving its residents with two options: either starving to death or migrating somewhere else. After the war ended, a few thousand people returned to their former homes, but a flood in 1865 destroyed the city once again. Today, it remains practically uninhabited. Would you dare to visit? Watch out for the weather!
#14. St. Mary’s College, Maryland
The ruins of St. Mary’s College, Maryland, go by the name Hell House. Even its name is spooky! This school was built in 1890 to train boys to become priests. However, the college closed down in the early 1950s, and the enormous building was turned into ruins.
Photo: Courtesy of Medium
However, this abandoned building became a popular site among teenagers, who would come and explore the insides and paint graffiti all over the place. In addition, a fire burned most of the building down in 1997. You’d also be interested to know that there are several myths and ghost stories that revolve around this former college.
#13. Virginia City, Montana
Believe it or not, the ghost town of Virginia City, Montana, was once a lively town home to over 10,000 people. Like many others on this list, it was once a rich mining town but was abandoned once the minerals – in this case, gold – ran out.
Photo: Courtesy of MotorHome Magazine
Unlike other towns we’ve seen so far, this one here is a famous tourist spot. However, many people believe that some of the town’s buildings are haunted. Would you dare spend the night in this town? I wouldn’t!
#12. Humberstone, Chile
The U.S. isn’t the only country home to creepy abandoned mining towns. Located in the Atacama Desert in Chile, Humberstone was once the largest town for mining Sodium Nitrate, also known as saltpeter. But what happened?
Photo: Courtesy of Culture Trip
When the mine went broke, this small town was quickly abandoned. But the creepy part is that the buildings are gradually rusting away and many of them are even falling apart and breaking into pieces. What’s more, the Atacama happens to be the driest place on Earth. So if you dare visit this site on your own, be sure to carry dozens of liters of water with you, or else you won’t make it back!
#11. Ross Island, India
Ross Island’s history goes way back, as it was first established by the British Empire in 1788. This tiny island was a human settlement at first, but its inhabitants soon discovered that the weather conditions were just too harsh. As a result, it was eventually abandoned.
Photo: Courtesy of Flickr
Several decades later, it was used as a penal colony, and it served this purpose for over a century until the Japanese took control during World War II. Shortly after the war ended and the Japanese left, the island was left abandoned. However, tourists are still allowed to visit the island. They say that the souls of the 19th-century serial killers still roam the island. Would you dare to visit?
#10. Govan, Washington
Govan, Washington, was once a humble farming village home to 114 people. But during the 1960s, a terrible fire burned down the town’s business center. Furthermore, when a new route bypassing them was created, the town began to go broke, just like the case of the Pixar movie Cars.
Photo: Courtesy of Seattle Refined
In 1967, the local post office closed down, and this marked the town’s definite abandonment. The ruins of the buildings can be visited, but they’re quite creepy. Look at the building shown in the picture – would you dare go inside at night?
#9. Essex County Jail, New Jersey
This abandoned building you see here was once the Essex County Jail of New Jersey. This giant structure was built in 1837, and it is, in fact, one of the oldest buildings in the county. But for the past decades, this former jail has been rotting in decay.
Photo: Courtesy of Abandoned But Not Forgotten
Apparently, the building was in such a poor condition that people were forced to abandon it from one day to the other. In fact, people claim that several confidential documents remained inside the jail because local authorities didn’t have enough time to evacuate the entire building. Nowadays, many homeless live inside the former jail.
#8. Rhyolite, Nevada
And yet another mining town! This is Rhyolite, a ghost town located in the middle of Nevada’s desert. This town was founded in 1904 when quartz was discovered in the area. In just a few years, Rhyolite became a thriving village, home to many houses, churches, schools, and even hotels. But what happened?
Photo: Courtesy of hdrcreme
Three years later, there was an unexpected turn of events. There were rumors that the mine was going to close, and this triggered a sudden widespread financial panic. As a result, people began to leave the village, and in less than a decade it was completely abandoned. Power was turned off in 1916, and one century later, you can still see the ruins of the old wooden buildings. Would you dare visit it?
#7. Boston Mills, Ohio
Boston Mills, Ohio, is quite a peculiar town. To begin with, it’s popularly known as “Helltown“, and as you can imagine, there is all sort of myths revolving this ghost town. These myths include satanic cults, serial killers, and even spirits of children wandering through the forests. Yikes!
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This town was founded by the government in 1806, and it was located inside a national park. However, the few houses that were built were soon abandoned. Furthermore, in 1985, there was a major chemical spill in the area, and the reasons behind this accident still remain unknown. Would you dare visit this ghost town, despite the spirits and the toxic waste?
#6. Kolmanskop, Namibia
Kolmanskop was a German mining colony located in the Southern African country of Namibia. The town was founded in the early 20th century after diamonds were discovered, and it became one of the wealthiest towns in the whole country. But what happened?
Photo: Courtesy Hadithi Africa
Shortly after World War II, the town began to decline. As the diamond mine began to deplete, the miners began to migrate elsewhere, and the town was completely abandoned by 1956. But what’s most curious about this ghost town is that most of the buildings are covered by thick layers of sand. Sure, you can visit Kolmanskop, but if you enter any of the houses, you’ll end up buried by sand from head to toe!
#5. Pyramiden, Arctic Circle
Can you picture a ghost town in the middle of the Arctic, where there is no sunlight for 6 whole months? Yikes! Well, this is the case of Pyramiden, a former Soviet mining settlement. To be precise, it is actually located on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, which is very near the Arctic.
Photo: Courtesy of Mi Viaje
This village was owned by the State of Sweden, but they sold it to the Soviets in 1927. But 7 decades later, the Soviet government announced that the mine would be shut down, so all of the town’s population fled. The structures of the houses are still quite well-preserved, mainly due to the cold. But in spite of the beautiful view of the snow-topped mountains and the decent state of the buildings, would you dare set foot on a village where not a single soul lives?
#4. Villa Epecuén, Argentina
Villa Epecuén was a tourist village located in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1985, the nearby Lake Epecuén flooded and broke both the dam and the dike that protected the city, leaving the entire town underwater. However, the village was never rebuilt.
Photo: Courtesy of Fronteras
The ruins of the city still exist, and in fact, it is open for tourism. All of the structures are covered by a thick layer of white and grey salt since Lake Epecuén happens to be one of the lakes with the highest concentration of salinity in the world. The town is kind of spooky and it fact it kind of looks like a town that has just been bombed. But the spookiest thing is that before the flood, Epecuén was home to a giant cemetery… who knows where those bodies are now!
#3. Isla De Las Muñecas, Mexico
During the mid-1950s, a young man named Don Julián Santana abandoned his wife and children and moved to a small secluded island on Teshuilo Lake, Mexico. Apparently, one day he saw a young girl drown in the lake, and in her honor, he hung baby dolls in the trees surrounding his house.
Photo: Courtesy of Más Mexico
But they’re no ordinary dolls since all of them are super creepy. In fact, they kind of look like replicas of Annabelle, don’t they? Besides, these dolls – there are literally hundreds of them – began to deteriorate over time, so as the years go by they look even creepier! What’s more, Santana died in 2001. Can you guess how he died? Yeah, that’s right, by drowning, just like the little girl! Would you dare visit this island while being stared at by hundreds of these dolls?
#2. Centralia, Pennsylvania
The ghost town of Centralia, Pennsylvania is like no other place on Earth. Five decades ago it was home to 1,000 people, but it has been completely abandoned ever since. But why? Well, in 1962, a landfill caught fire. The problem is that the landfill was connected to a web of underground coal tunnels. Thus, not only did the town catch fire, but the underground tunnels caught fire as well!
Photo: Courtesy of History.com
The fire above the ground was eventually put out, but nobody managed to extinguish the fire underground. Thus, people were forced to leave the town, in order to avoid the risk of death by asphyxiation. In fact, if they hadn’t left, they would have risked being swallowed by the ground. According to some scientists, the fire may keep on raging for another 250 years. I bet not even the brave dare set foot in this site!
#1. Pripyat, Ukraine
Pripyat is probably the most famous ghost town in the world. Located in Ukraine, it was the village nearest to the Chernobyl nuclear plant, which tragically exploded in 1986. Before the accident, it was a thriving city home to nearly 50,000 people, most of whom worked in the nuclear plant. But from one day to the other, the entire city was forced to evacuate.
Photo: Courtesy of STSTW
The area surrounding Chernobyl – known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone – is one of the most dangerous sites on Earth, due to the incredibly high levels of radioactive contamination. In fact, because of this, scientists claim that it will only be safe to inhabit Pripyat 5,000 years from now.