Ghost towns

Ever since someone linked this a few years ago I have been facinated with ghost towns and urban decay.

I’m not sure what it is that draws me to spend time looking at abandoned places.
It’s odd to look at homes and towns that once thrived and for some reason or another they are now empty shells.
Like Chernobyl. It makes me think how sad for those people to have to flee for their lives leaving their memories behind.
I look around my town and see boarded up houses looking sad and lonely and wonder what those people who built them would say if they saw them now. What memories do they hold?
I would really love to get into some of these places in my area and get some pictures, but it’s tresspassing for most of them I’m sure.

Has anyone here taken any pictures of ghost towns or abandon places? Anybody else ever feel the urge to?

Not so much ghost towns, although I have been to a few and found them interesting, but I too am fascinated by certain areas of urban decay.

I remember taking a train several times into Chicago years ago and it went through some pretty rough and beat up neighborhoods. For some reason, I was totally captivated by seeing abandoned warehouses and broken windows and boarded up apartment buildings. I wondered what they looked like when they were new - and the people who worked there, lived there…and how it all came to pass that they were now ruins.

I always wanted to go there in the middle of the night and walk through the area - I know that is insane, and if I had had the chance I am sure I would have chickened out.

To this day, it is still a wild fantasy of mine to walk through that decay and sadness in the middle of the night and feel the loneliness and terror at the same time.

I’ve been to Bodie, near Mono Lake in California. It’s worth a trip even though it’s a bit off the beaten path. I was told that it is one of the better preserved ghost towns around. They’ve got a well preserved general store with period products. I’m not sure if they are original to Bodie, but I’ll bet they’d bring a fortune on EBay. It had a population of over 10,000 and there’s bunches of buildings in various states of disrepair. It was one of the first towns to have remote electricity piped in, and they built the transmission lines straight because they thought that electricity had a difficult time moving around curves. I wasn’t into photography at the time, but if I went again I’d take my usual billion photos with a digital camera.

I’ve seen Bankhead, Alberta–the ghost town that has been removed but still exists.

Bankhead was a coal-mining town that also happened to be in a national park. In the early part of the 20th century, it mined coal from Cascade Mountain in the Rockies for the Canadian Pacific Railway. The town itself was higher on the mountainside than the mine works, but both existed not far from today’s town of Banff.

By the 1920s, a strike, and the poorer quality of the coal being dug led to the mine being closed; and with the mine closure, the town died too. Since a coal mine is not something that really belongs in a national park, the decision was made to remove the town and all the buildings. Some were torn down, some were moved to nearby Banff, and a few even went to Calgary. The mine buildings themselves were demolished.

Problem is, you just can’t remove all that stuff totally and return the land to its original state. Today, visitors to Bankhead can see the foundations of the houses in the town, still lined up on opposite sides of what was once a street. Trees and bushes grow out of some of the house foundations. The stairs that once led up to the front doors of the local church are still in place, though the church is long gone. Bankhead’s little war memorial for its boys who went off to World War I still stands, and local veteran’s groups still place wreaths on it.

The mine site itself is fascinating, with the great concrete foundations of the tipple and other buildings still in place. Huge piles of coal slack dot the area. The actual mine entrance has been blasted shut, but signs point out where it was, as well as display photos of what the site once looked like. Despite there being few structures to speak of, a walk through the ghost town of Bankhead makes for an interesting day.

Ghost towns and abandoned places have fascinated me a bit. I’ve vacationed in the southwest part of Colorado a few times and have visited some of the remote mining towns. There, the dry climate helps preserve the buildings.

Back home in East Texas, a lot of these communities were sawmill or farming communities. The humidity and the vegetation make short work of the buildings. There was a school house about 100 yards north of our family’s place. My dad often told me about the building still being there when he was a kid. There’s no sign of it now. I’ve done a little research and found out that there was a thriving community there around 1900. You can still see signs of the old wagon road.

Fort Worth has some big old art deco buildings on the south side of downtown that now sit mostly abandoned. I’m sure they were once thriving business centers.

When I see a new shopping center or housing development going up here in the city and I listen to the developers or the politicians talking about the promising future for their communities, I sometimes think about these abandoned places and I can picture someone making the same grandious plans back then.

Downtown Syracuse is weird. The old mixed-use 4-5 story downtown has buildings that are nearly all abandoned except for their first floor retail outlets. Oddly enough the buildings themselves are not boarded up or decrepit despite being mostly early 60s or earlier architecture. I wonder why they don’t convert them into apartments (I understand why they don’t rent them as offices: overabundance of office space due to lack of business, plus lack of parking.)

However, in smaller cities in the Rust Belt, and states adjacent to it (e.g. TN, VT,) there are plenty of understandably abandoned brick factories (thick glass windows sometimes intact and sometimes not.) I totally understand why you wouldn’t be able to convert those, due to a different floorplan, lighting, and insulation.

Which makes it even weirder, because in Jamestown NY and Brattleboro VT some of them have been converted to apartments. They certainly have more character than fake-old earthtone places (something my current condo association which is replacing the genuine dark cedar planks with earthtone Hardiboard should take into account :mad: At least earth tones are better looking than generic cream, but still.)

I like old downtown buildings whether or not they are still operating under the original purpose, have been abandoned, or are repurposed.

– Red brick factories with the necessary broken window pane or two.
– 50’s era department stores with the massively open windowing with metal trim.
– Stone bridges and other stone waterworks. There are some amazing ones near and in around Wissahickon Park in Philly. One is just a stone wall with a water pipe coming out of it but the way it is built into the side of a hill makes it look like a European shrine (as well as a few old-looking-and-crumbling stone bridges.) Not to mention that smack dab in the middle of a secluded nature trail you pass a promontory with a freakin STATUE on it. How it survives without graffiti or destruction despite the cameras planted near it is beyond me.

Old Adaminaby is a ghost town with a twist. It’s located in the snow country of SE New South Wales, and was abandoned in the 1950s when a dam was built for the hydro-electric scheme, flooding the town. Many of the buildings were physically moved to create nearby New Adaminaby, but quite a few were simply consigned to Davy Jones’ Locker. Now, fifty years later, the man-made Lake Eucumbene is at incredibly low storage levels because of the prolonged drought, and the buildings of Old Adaminaby are starting to appear from beneath the waters. Which I think is kinda cool.

Yes, there’s one on Lamma Island in Hong Kong harbour, abandoned in the 1970s (?) due to the proximity of a new quarry. I got to it through the jungle, and took a load of sepia photos of it. It’s quite stunning: shutters banging in the wind, rice bowls left on the tables, kids’ toys scattered around, old photos on the walls, and a pack of feral dogs looking suspiciously at me. Really really spooky.

Gilman, Colorado is just a short drive from Vail and is now just a bunch of buildings clustered on the mountainside.

Old Adaminaby sounds very interesting!
Gilman is off limits to the public but it didn’t say why.

In my area there was an abandoned farm house that I used to love to wander through. It was boarded up and was in pretty good condition. The local fire department used it as practice a while back and I was pretty sad about that.
There was also another farm house tucked way back in some woods that I used to check out every once in a while. But I couldn’t really go in that one because it was pretty dangerous.
It was cool. I looked like someone had cut the house in half like a big open doll house.

I find it really difficult to associate ghost towns with thriving cities (post 2)

To me, as a Brit, a ghost town is something waaaaay out west in the middle of nowhere with tumbleweed and dust blowing down the main street, a saloons batwing doors creaking, some shutters banging and a mangy looking coyote looking desperately for summink to eat.

Why have you just ruined this for me, why?

I know what DMark means, though, chowder. You ride the El over/through these places and it truly is desolate. No sign of people at all, just empty, boarded-up buildings, broken glass, and weeds growing through the pavement. No lights, no movement. Some parts of Chicago have fallen on hard enough times that no one is IN those parts anymore.