Contrary to its name, ghost towns aren’t just really spooky places. They are actually abandoned villages, towns, or cities that often contain visible remaining—albeit neglected—buildings and roads.
So how does a once-flourishing location become such a place? Ghost towns are typically created when the industries or agriculture that supported them fail or come to an end due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, droughts, extreme weather, pollution, or war. The term may also include areas that have become significantly depopulated over time, such as those affected by high levels of unemployment and neglect.
Once-bustling places that are now empty make us curious. As a result, some ghost towns have become tourist attractions, such as Bannack, Montana. You’ll find that and the 4,530 other U.S. ghost towns you can find on the map below, and details about these ghost towns’ current statuses, common names, and locations in the following post.
View Ghost Towns in a full screen map
The U.S.’s 4,531 ghost towns are just that: abandoned villages, towns, or cities. But while they all have this classification in common, their statuses differ. From barren or semi-abandoned places to sparsely populated areas and those that are fully submerged, we’re going to highlight the most common of those now:
|Status||# of Ghost Towns|
|Town with residual population||102|
|D — Area is sparsely populated and may boast period structures (of varied physical condition) and/or a cemetery, but no operative town proper.||47|
|A — No apparent remains of former settlement exist. In some cases, site may be marked and/or contain a cemetery.||37|
As you can see from the table above, barren ghost towns are the most common type. Other popular statuses teeter on the verge of being ghost towns: like the 102 towns with residual populations, the 69 that are semi-abandoned, inhabited, and the sparsely populated areas that may boast period structures (of varied physical condition) and/or cemeteries, but no operative town propers.
Perhaps the most interesting are the 46 ghost towns that are submerged. Most of these (14) are located in Pennsylvania, including Cokeville, Fillmore, Livermore, and Social Hall, which are all under the waters of Conemaugh River Lake. Wilsonville was intentionally flooded to create Lake Wallenpaupack—similar to a plot line in the TV show Ozark. Another submerged town, Somerfield, remained hidden under the waters of Youghiogheny River Lake until 1999 when receding water levels began to reveal parts of the town.
While the stories of ghost towns are similar, their stories are all unique. But the same can’t be said for their names.
As is so often the case, there are quite a few shared names among the 4,531 ghost towns. So let’s take a look at the names shared by more than four ghost towns.
- Center Point: 7 ghost towns
- Clifton: 5
- Hopewell: 5
- Wilson: 5
- Alma: 4
- Aurora: 4
- Benton: 4
- Boston: 4
- Carpenter: 4
- Corwin: 4
- Elizabethtown: 4
- Eureka: 4
- Hamilton: 4
- Keystone: 4
- Lexington: 4
- Liberty: 4
- Midway: 4
- Millville: 4
- Pioneer: 4
- Pittsburg: 4
- Providence: 4
- Silver City: 4
- Victoria: 4
Center Point is the most common ghost town name. All seven of the towns that share this name are located in Texas, though in varying counties.
Interestingly, Hopewell—not Hope nor Hopes— is another popular name throughout multiple states. There’s a Hopewell in Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee—and two in Missouri… three if you could the ghost town named Hopewell Furnace. And while not as common as Hopewell, there is a Hope in both Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Ghost towns named Wilson are equally as popular as Hopewell, with five throughout Florida, Illinois, Maryland, and Michigan. Though, if you were to count the number of Wilsonvilles along with Wilsons, it would be one more.
Meanwhile, 61 other names are shared by three ghost towns, including Dogtown, Empire, and Ruby. Further, 291 ghost town names apply to two each while the remaining 3,668 others have unique names.
Be sure to check out the rest of the common ghost town names on the map above, because we’re moving on to their locations.
Each of the 50 U.S. states has at least one ghost town—though with 4,531 total, some states are clearly home to more than one. Let’s look at which states have the most abandoned towns, using Heat View.
With more than four thousand markers on the map, all in the same country, the points can start to overlap, losing their ability to tell a useful story. This is where Heat View can be beneficial, as it exposes marker density.
The Lone Star State appears to be home to the most ghost towns: 550, to be exact. Over 30 are located in Wilson County, specifically, while Guadalupe, Presidio, Washington, Gillespie, and Bexar counties all have 10+.
Oklahoma, Kansas, California, Florida, and South Dakota are each home to more than 240 ghost towns, while Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Utah all have ghost towns in the hundreds.
Use the search box in the ghost town map to enter a U.S. city, zip code, or address. The map will find your nearest ghost town, so you can begin exploring the past.
Alternatively, you might want something a little more populated… The opposite of a ghost town is a boom town! For the biggest boomtowns of every U.S. state, check out our map.