A ghost town is any town which had been flourishing but was abandoned after the exhaustion of its natural resources or its main business activity like coal mining or gold exploration, etc. Other than the depletion of natural resources, natural calamities, nuclear accidents, loss of potential in existing business, emergence of new potentials,wars, economic crises, and other similar factors that have also turned many living and vibrant colonies into ghost towns.
1. Bodie- Mono County, California
Located in Mono County, California to the northeast of Yosemite National Park at an elevation of 8,378 feet, Bodie is currently an abandoned ghost town. The town was named after William (a.k.a.Waterman) S. Bodey who discovered gold in the north hills of Mono in 1859 but did not survive to see the town flourish afterwards. He froze to death on the way back home in a snowstorm. A knife found near the remains has been preserved at the park museum. The dormant period of 1860-1870 occurred at Bodie. The Standard Company purchased the mine in 1877, and it attracted miners from far and wide increasing the population from a few hundred to 10,000 inhabitants within a few years. After the depletion of ore, people abandoned the town in search of prospect gold mining sites. Bodie is like a frozen point in time of a Californian city. It is a former town of real cowboys, street fights, saloons, and night life
2. Kowloon Walled City
During the British rule, Kowloon Walled City, situated in the suburbs of Hong Kong was a check post built for security against intruders and pirates. During World War 2, the Japanese occupied it. After the surrender of Japan, it was occupied by land grabbers, unauthorized occupants, or settlers. They started unplanned buildings to the extent that sunlight could not reach the ground in some parts of the city. The accumulated trash was ever increasing. The town became a lawless abode of addicts, casinos, and all sorts of illegal activities Dog meat was being consumed as food. Neither China nor the British wanted to own the city and finally agreed upon its demolition.
3. Kolmanskop- Namibia
Located just a few kilometers from the port of Luderitz of Namibia exists the remains of a town once known as Kolmanskop. It came into being in 1908 when people endeavored to explore diamonds in the Namibian desert. It took only two years in the making of a town having all the necessary facilities. The diamond market suffered badly after the world war. Following the decline in sales, the population started receding at a faster rate, ultimately leaving behind a ghost town half buried in sand. Kolmanskop shall be most probably reclaimed as a whole by the indigenous sand of Namibia leaving no traces of its existence behind it.
Located approximately 15 miles west of Limoges, Oradour is a ghost town in France. Residents of this small town were hauled up to the town center by Das Reich the SS 2nd Panzer Division comprising 180 soldiers. They were mustered under the pretext of a security check, but according to the only survivor, Madame Marguerite Rouffanche, they were divided into groups. Women and children were sent to the church, and men to the market square. All of them were shot to death. The massacre of 642 residents left the town abandoned till today.
5. Prypiat- Ukraine
Located in northern Ukraine, Prypiat had around 50,000 residents until 1986. on April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear accident caused the disaster of the Reactor # 4 in the vicinity of Prypiat. To protect the residents from the lethal radioactive emissions, the colony of nuclear workers was evacuated. The preventive measures’ cost was only too unbearable, and the Soviet economy collapsed as consequence. Prypiat stands as a ghost town today.
6. Craco- Italy
Craco is a small town located at about a distance of 25 miles from the Gulf of Taranto in Italy. It is located in the Basilicata region and is considered to have been under ownership in the year 1060. Its population in 1891 was recorded as 2,000 out of which 1,300 migrated to America after suffering a poor agricultural period. Following the earthquake and landslides, the remaining residents also moved to North America leaving behind a scenic ghost town.
7. Pompeii- Italy
Pompeii is located a few miles away from Mount Vesuvius. This ancient city was founded in 600 B.C. and destroyed in 79 A.D. following the disastrous eruption of the Mount Vesuvius volcano. The volcanic eruption was so sudden that people did not find time or a chance to escape. It was so severe that 20 feet of volcanic ash covered the whole city, and 2,000 citizens were instantly killed and buried in ash. Appearing like still life, the human bodies were preserved like fossils, and the city is the most famous ghost town in the world depicting a real-life scenario following the Mount Vesuvius volcanic eruption.
8. Bam- Iran
Bam is a small Iranian town located between the Jebal Barez mountain chain and the Lut Desert at an elevation of 1,060 meters above sea level. Bam emerged as an oasis as a result of a unique underground water management system, known as ‘Qantas’ and is functional even today. The main building, Arg-e-Bam, has 38 watch towers, 1 main gate, and many other smaller gates. The population of Bam was 43,000 according to the 2006 census. A violent earthquake of 6.5 Richter scale intensity brought disaster to it; killing 26,000 residents and reducing it to a ghost town.
9. Minamisoma- Japan
Minamisoma, the recent ghost city of Japan, is located at 55 kilometers from the Sendai Airport. It is situated within a 30 kilometer radius from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant which played havoc on it after its leakage. The most powerful earthquake in the history of Japan with a magnitude of 8.9 hit its northeastern coast. Thousands were killed, and most of the population was evacuated for fear of suffering radiation. Sunflowers grown in the vicinity of the nuclear plant have reduced the radioactivity level to some extent.
10. St. Elmo- Colorado
Located in Chaffee County, Colorado, United States of America, St. Elmo is a well-preserved ghost town that tops the list of National Geographic’s ‘Top Ten Ghost Towns.’ St.Elmo is situated 20 miles southwest of Buena Vista. This mining town was founded in 1880 for mining gold and silver, but it was abandoned following the discontinuation of the railways in 1922. It occupies a place in the National Register of Historic Places.
Ever since being recorded, the history of mankind is full of turmoil, chaos, and havoc. Human beings have been subjected to the worst kind of natural calamities as well as to self-inflicted injuries. An in-depth review of these events reveals that to surrender is not in the human nature. Every destruction has been invariably followed by construction, if not exactly on the site of the devastation, in its nearest possible vicinity at least. The Japanese started growing sunflowers following the leakage of the nuclear plant to reduce radioactivity, and they have succeeded to some extent. The worst-hit cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still there, determined to survive. The lesson learned is that ‘Where there is a will, there is a way.’ The depletion of resources has always prompted people to find alternate sources in the form of materials or processes. The cyanide process or cyanidation was developed when mining for gold was at its decline with the consequent decline in the related activities. This inventive process revitalized gold mining.