In the second section of America’s ghost towns off on my own personal bucket list, I’m going to continue where I left off and move across the country in alphabetical order.
Discovered by and named for James Pearce, the town of Pearce, Arizona formed up around the infamous Commonwealth mine after James made a chance discovery with the throw of a rock. Said to be one of the most prosperous mines in the state, it’s easy to understand how this patch of desert seemed to grow overnight into a bustling little town with a movie theater, railroad, saloon, post office, boarding house, and literally both the families and houses of tombstone. Sadly the town met its demise when the Great Depression rolled across the country and took with it a large portion of the businesses in town. Soon it would be as if Pearce had never been at all. Today, the town is seeing a resurgence as buildings are being transformed into shop fronts catering towards the tourists making their way on the famous “ghost trail”.
Santa Claus, Arizona
Although Santa Claus, Arizona was never technically a town, it was a popular tourist attraction on Highway 93 south of the Nevada/Arizona border at Hoover Dam. Closed in 1995, this once magical attraction with themed food and trinkets for everyone’s favorite holiday, has now been left to rot in the Arizona sun and has been covered with years of graffiti.There’s really no telling what you might find if you decide to visit, apart from the few remaining buildings, but I for one am shamelessly happy there’s one less Santa themed place in the world… you know… because he’s creepy.
Hailed as the most famous amusement park in the United States, Dogpatch U.S.A. in Marble Falls, Arkansas opened it’s doors in 1968 to a crowd of 8,000 people. With a creative mix of characters, rides, and attractions the park performed well for a number of years despite behind the scenes drama and a few personal injury lawsuits along the way. Dogpatch kept its doors open until 1993, and shortly there after began garnering attention for being vacant. Sadly for all of you urban explorers out there, the park was purchased by inventor Charles L. Pelsor in 2014 and is slowly being revived while remaining open for tours.
Built in the 1860’s and named after William Bodey (Waterman S. Body), who was the first to discover gold in the area, the town grew steadily until the early 1880’s when the gold mines began to close and people moved on to more prosperous areas of the country. Although there was a brief resurgence of inhabitants throughout most of the early 1900’s thanks to new mining technology, the town slowly faded towards the ghost town it would become in the 1940’s. In 1962, Bodie was declared both a State Historic Park and National Historic Landmark thanks to the state of “arrested decay” that has been maintained since the state took over. The park is open year round for tourism.
Formed in the 1880’s and named for the beautiful mountains that surround the city, Calico grew up around multiple silver mines and soon became a thriving locale. When the value of silver dropped only 10 years later, the town was hard hit and people would begin to abandon the city until the final residents left in 1929. When Walter Knott purchased the ghost town in the 1950’s he set about restoring the remaining buildings and tried to make them look as authentic as possible while making them sturdy for a hopefully long future. Luckily for Knott, his hard work paid off and Calico was made a State Historic Landmark in 2005, and is open year round for tours and a step back in time.
Chemung Mine/Masonic, California
Discovered in 1909, Chemung Mine in Masonic Mountain remained open until 1938 when as far as I can discern, it was abandoned overnight (probably not). Inhabited by 1,000 people at the height of its existence, the mining town is built on three levels, and used an extensive tram system to transport the gold from the mine back into town. Although the town has been abandoned for 78 years, the remains of buildings are still standing and said to be in good condition for their age and lack of repair. Located close to Bodie, you’ll have to drive to get here, but even if you’re unimpressed with the dilapidated buildings, the beautiful desert views should be worth your time.