Abandoned America: 50 States, 50 Deserted Places (PHOTOS)
By: Simone M. Scully
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Scattered across prairielands, hidden in forests or left to rot in the middle of cities, America is full of ghost towns and abandoned buildings. Some might find these sites creepy, but from mining towns to abandoned farmsteads to forgotten roadside stops, these places stand frozen in time, a reminder of America's history.
During the Gold Rush, mining towns sprung up quickly wherever gold and silver were discovered, like Nevada's town of Rhyolite and St. Elmo in Colorado. But these towns fell apart just as quickly as they were built when the mines were depleted. In the early 20th century, railroads lured settlers to homesteads in states like North Dakota with promises that the rain would follow the plow, according to National Geographic. But, when this failed to be true, these new towns and farms were quickly abandoned and forgotten, left to decay in the fields.
Hospitals, bridges, and even automobiles have similarly been left to decay once they outlived their purpose. In Iowa, a bridge that carried traffic over the river for 50 years was abandoned when the county re-channeled the river and rerouted the road. Meanwhile, a South Carolina forest has become a train graveyard, full of more than 70 rusting trains, and even a broken bus from New York City.
Today, many of these abandoned buildings are crumbling in ruins. It doesn't take long for nature to overtake structures that have been left exposed to the elements. In his bestselling book, The World Without Us, Alan Weisman wrote that structures crumble when weather does un-repaired damage and other life forms, such as insects, birds or mice, create new habitats in the rubble. To combat this natural decay, some ghost towns and historical abandoned buildings have been restored, preserved or turned into museums, like one of the flour mills in Minneapolis.
Here, we tour 50 abandoned towns, factories, bridges and lighthouses that can be found in each of the 50 states of America.