ghost town

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ghost town,

term for any once flourishing American community that has been abandoned, generally for economic reasons. While most of the towns have little or no population, they often contain old buildings, which may serve as tourist attractions. Many, such as Virginia City, Nev., were gold-mining towns hastily built during a boom. When the gold strike ended, the itinerant prospectors left. Ranking with the largest and most interesting Western ghost towns are Silver City, Idaho; Elkhorn, Mont.; Bodie, Calif.; and St. Elmo, Colo. Other ghost towns were former milling centers, railroad connections, or oil-well communities. In Texas several ghost towns were originally settled by European exiles who emigrated to the United States following the 1848 revolutions. Some, such as Burning Bush, Tex., were religious havens. Many deserted areas of towns have been restored to their original appearance; notable examples are Denver, Colo., Mystic, Conn., Williamsburg, Va., and Harpers Ferry, W.Va.


See D. King, Ghost Towns of Texas (1953); F. S. Blanchard, Ghost Towns of New England (1960); L. Florin, Western Ghost Towns (1961); R. Silverberg, Ghost Towns of the American West (1968).

Ghost town

A town, especially a boom town of the American old West, that has been completely abandoned. Once-living places like Madrid, NM, or Bodie, CA, were abandoned as quickly as they were built, leaving only an empty shell, oftentimes with the contents still intact.

ghost town

town left vacant after gold strike; common during frontier days. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1080]
References in periodicals archive ?
All of these changes have contributed to turning Normanby High Street into a ghost town.
It is an expanded and updated version of a previous book, Ghost Towns of Manitoba, published in 1985.
Even Hamilton, a few crumbling foundations and a cemetery, seemed very quiet, but of course ghost towns are quiet.
It has been my intention to consider ghost towns as peculiar sites of social memory in Australia, and to point to the existence of a wider context of interest in 'lost' Australian places than has been suggested by Read.
Then the chaotic seven-year Mexican Revolution, sparked into bloody life in 1910, left many mines abandoned--and Real became a ghost town.
The pair worked together on new series Ghost Towns, and Angus was shocked when he heard Robbie had been calling the medium a fraud after he claimed he contacted Robbie's dead nan.
Ghost towns of the Pacific Northwest; your guide to ghost towns, mining camps, and historic forts of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.
Yet politicians are allowed to promote tourism as 'the economic salvation of rural Wales' (and use it as an excuse to avoid providing 'real' jobs), so winter ghost towns are inevitable.
Policy director Andrew Simms said: 'Changes in the way we shop, bank and communicate are creating ghost towns in Britain.
All three towns live on between the covers of Tom Till and Teresa Jordan's Great Ghost Towns of the West (Graphic Arts Center Publishing, Portland, 2001; $39.