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11 Forgotten American Ghost Towns That Still Have Residents

Ghost towns often bring to mind scenes of completely deserted buildings, crumbling roads, and complete solitude. However, that’s not the full story—some ghost towns are clinging to life or even attempting a comeback to their former glory. Let’s explore 11 ghost towns across America where, surprisingly, people still live.

Bodie, California

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Bodie stands as a frozen testament to the Gold Rush era. Once a bustling town with over 10,000 residents, its streets were lined with saloons, miners, and tales of prosperity. Today, Bodie exists in a state of “arrested decay,” carefully preserved by the California State Parks. A few caretakers and park rangers reside here, maintaining its legacy and sharing its stories with fascinated visitors.

Goodsprings, Nevada

Nestled close to Las Vegas, Goodsprings refuses to fade into the sands of Nevada. This former mining town, now home to around 200 souls, is famous for the Pioneer Saloon, a relic of the Old West and a silent witness to the grief of Clark Gable over the loss of Carole Lombard. Goodsprings thrives, not just on its historic charm, but also through its appeal to adventurers and food enthusiasts.

Rodney, Mississippi

Rodney’s narrative is one of resilience. Nearly becoming Mississippi’s capital, it flourished until the Civil War and Reconstruction eroded its prosperity. Now, with its population unknown, Rodney stands as a monument to the history of the Mississippi River and the transformative power of time.

Shaniko, Oregon

Shaniko’s title as the “Wool Capital of the World” may belong to the past, but its spirit endures. With 30 residents, it transforms each summer into a tourist haven, offering a glimpse into its rich history through well-preserved buildings and museums.

Thurmond, West Virginia

In the heart of the New River Gorge National Park lies Thurmond. Once bustling with commerce and notorious for its Dunglen Hotel, the town’s spark dimmed following a devastating fire and the decline of rail travel. Yet, Thurmond stands, albeit with five residents, as a testament to the enduring spirit of America’s railroad era.

Bannack, Montana

The discovery of gold near Bannack marked the beginning of its story, one that saw it become the capital of Montana Territory briefly. Despite harsh winters and crime leading to its decline, Bannack breathes life with its annual Bannack Days, inviting visitors to step back in time and relive its golden days.

Cairo, Illinois

Cairo, positioned at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, has a storied past marked by prosperity and turmoil. Despite its decline during the Civil Rights Movement and natural disasters, Cairo, with its population just under 1,500, remains a living testament to the complex history of America’s heartland, even as it is often referred to as a ghost town.

Gary, Indiana

Gary, once bustling with nearly 176,000 residents due to its steel industry, has seen a dramatic population decline. Yet, calling Gary a ghost town would overlook the resilience of its nearly 70,000 inhabitants. Despite its challenges, Gary is striving towards rejuvenation, focusing on arts, culture, and community development to reclaim its former glory.

Monowi, Nebraska

Monowi stands out for its unique distinction: a town with a population of one. Elsie Eiler, the sole resident, embodies the essence of community, serving as mayor, librarian, and tavern owner. Monowi’s story is a poignant reminder of the fading rural towns across America, yet it shows the strength and determination of its people.

Jerome, Arizona

Jerome’s tale is a phoenix rising from the ashes. Once a booming copper mining town with a population over 10,000, it nearly became a memory during the Great Depression. Today, Jerome is a vibrant community of almost 500, thriving on tourism and celebrating its history as a National Historic Landmark.

Centralia, Pennsylvania

The story of Centralia reads like a tragedy, with an underground mine fire that has been burning since 1961 leading to its near abandonment. Once home to 1,500 residents, now only five brave souls remain, living above a town that smolders beneath them. Centralia’s story is a stark warning of the environmental and human costs of industrial negligence.

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