Ghost towns are oddly alluring. Their existence raises many questions, like why were they abandoned in the first place and are they really haunted? The mystery and danger surrounding them create a sense of curiosity and intrigue we just can’t ignore. While a good many ghost towns are perfectly safe to visit, and likely just as boring, it’s probably best never to step foot in some of the ones we’re about to tell you about. They’re creepy, eerie, and quite frankly, some are dangerous and unstable. Here are 25 Terrifying Ghost Towns You Should Avoid.
North Brother Island, New York
Uninhabited until 1885, North Brother Island in New York has the unfortunate reputation of being the quarantined home of Typhoid Mary, the woman who caused several typhoid outbreaks in the area. The island was specifically used to quarantine people with infectious diseases in Riverside Hospital. Mary believed she was wrongly detained on the island up until her death in 1938. The hospital was shut down and reopened after World War II but is now abandoned. The island isn’t accessible to the public anymore and is now the largest nesting area for Black-Crowned Night Herons.
With some 30,000 people driven out of the small town of Tawergha, Libya, it now remains a desolate and eerie specter with little chance of the residents capable of returning. Why? Because the people of Tawergha are considered to be complicit in acts of murder, rape, and sexual torture for their support of Gaddafi’s regime.
Ross Island, India
Ross Island was first established and owned by the British in 1788. Getting its name from Sir Daniel Ross, the island was originally a settlement, but the weather conditions were too severe, so it was abandoned. Later, it served as a penal colony until the Japanese took it over during World War II. Of course, today, no one lives there and it’s entirely abandoned with the exception of brave tourists.
A former potash mine near one of the hottest places on Earth, Dallol, Ethiopia, has seen better times. Being remote and without roads, it’s no surprise this town didn’t make it. The only way to get to it is by camel and people only go there to mine for salt.
Thurmond, West Virginia
In its heyday, Thurmond, West Virginia, boasted 500 active residents and even claimed the longest poker game, according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not. For a long time, the only way to get to the town was by railroad. When one of its famous hotels, the Dun Glen, burned down, Thurmond went with it and never bounced back. Today, it now claims 5 residents, and they’re government park employees since the town is owned by the National Park Service.
In 1944, Nazi SS troops marched into Oradour-sur-Glane and rounded up the men, women, and children. They slaughtered 642 of them, gunning down the men and putting the women and children in a church before burning it down. The desecrated ghost town now stands as a memorial to the lives that were lost.
A classic wild west ghost town, Terlingua, Texas, was also a mining community that eventually went bust. The town provided for most of the nation’s need for quicksilver until the mine flooded and mineral prices fell. The town’s residents abandoned the town, leaving it to decay.
It’s hard to believe but Cahawba, Alabama, was once their capital city, but because the land was swampy and flooded easily, they moved it after a major flood in 1825. Things only got worse for the town when the Civil War struck. A blockade and Confederate soldiers strangled the town for its resources, causing the residents to flee and the town to suffer. The town was then decimated by a flood in 1865.
Essex County Jail, New Jersey
Built in 1837, the old Essex County Jail building in New Jersey is one of the oldest buildings in their county but is severely rotting to decay. When it was abandoned, many confidential documents remained because the structure was so unsound everyone had to leave right away. It later became home to homeless drug addicts who riddled it with graffiti.
Kennicott, Alaska was another mining town that grew to prominence thanks to the discovery of copper in 1903. Due to the unpopular location, owners of the mine provided substantial salaries to the workers who came to work there. The men would work seven days a week for long hours and send home money to their families. Prosperity didn’t last long. By 1938, Kennicott became a ghost town with the copper being mined out.
Kilamba New City, Angola
Built by the Chinese in exchange for oil, Kilamba New City in Angola grew out of the vision of getting people out of the slums, but after it was completed, the prices were too high and no one could get a mortgage. So, it remains a modern, colorful, and well-designed ghost town.
Pyramiden, Arctic Circle
Pyramiden is an old Soviet mining settlement in the Arctic Circle. Technically, it’s located on the archipelago of Svalbard in Norway. It was first owned by Sweden until they sold it to the Soviets in 1927, who mined it for 70 years. When the announcement came that the mining colony would be shut down, people departed so quickly that today it looks like they just disappeared. Because of the extreme cold, the ghost town will be preserved in time for at least 500 years.
Starting in 1904 with the discovery of quartz, Rhyolite, Nevada grew quickly once word spread the ore could be mined nearby. It went from a small town to a thriving community of churches, schools, hotels, and everything you’d find in a town. But things took a turn for the worse in 1907 due to a financial panic, and the town quickly took a nosedive with people leaving almost as quickly as they came. Power was turned off in 1916, and it never came back on.
Virginia City, Montana
Once home to 10,000 people, Virginia City, Montana, like many others, was a mining town people deserted once the gold ran out. Now, it’s a popular tourist destination to experience the old west, but that doesn’t make it any less eerie. Many believe parts of the town are haunted.
Govan, Washington was a modest farming community with a population of 114 people. But with a fire burning down their business center and a new US Route 2 bypassing them, the town declined quickly. When the post office closed in 1967, the town went with it.
There’s quite possibly no other ghost town like Centralia, Pennsylvania. Once home to a 1,000 people, it’s now an abandoned neverending fire pit. In 1962, the town deliberately set fire to a landfill, a landfill connected to an intricate web of coal tunnels. The fire above ground was put out, but below ground, it kept raging and reached the town center, pushing everyone out. Now, people are warned not to go near it due to death by asphyxiation or being swallowed up by the ground. Experts believe the fire could burn for 250 years.
Port Arthur, Tasmania
Considered the toughest prison in Australia, Port Arthur in Tasmania was built in 1833 but abandoned by 1877. One of the worst massacres in Australia happened there in 1996 when a man killed 35 people and injured 23 more. It’s a popular tourist destination and is especially considered to be haunted.
Boston Mills, Ohio
Boston Mills, Ohio, also called “Hell Town” by some, is full of folklore and myths, including satanic cults, serial killers, and the spirits of children wandering around the woods. Founded in 1806, the town was entirely taken over by the government and turned into a National Park. Homes were boarded up and the town was abandoned. Additionally, in 1985 when rusty, toxic drums leaked into Krejci Dump, making one hiker ill, Hell Town had one more myth added that the government had taken over the land to cover up a chemical spill.
St. Mary’s College, Maryland
Speaking of Hell, the Ruins of St. Mary’s College in Maryland goes by another name -“Hell House.” Opening in 1890 to train boys for seminary, it closed its doors in the 1950’s and quickly became a popular spot for teenagers to explore and deface. Myths and ghost stories were told about the spot until a fire in 1997 burned most of the abandoned buildings down, cementing the stories into legend.
Humberstone is another mining town that went belly-up. Located in Chile, Humberstone was the largest town for mining Saltpeter (Sodium Nitrate). Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s slowly rusting away and falling apart thanks to the harsh Atacama Desert.
Once a popular Mediterranean beach destination in the 1970’s, Varosha, Cyprus, was quickly abandoned when the Turkish army invaded, causing 40,000 people to flee. It’s never been the same since and has become an eerie and quiet beach town, falling apart due to neglect.
Pripyat had the unfortunate luck of being the closest town to Chernobyl during its meltdown in 1986. With a population of 49,000 people, it virtually became a ghost town overnight during the evacuation, creating a Soviet city frozen in time. After decades, it’s becoming invaded by the surrounded forests and will likely be entirely swallowed up before long.
The German mining colony Kolmanskop in Namibia got its start in the early 20th century with the discovery of diamonds. The town boomed with families seeking riches and busted just as quickly. Today, its uniquely European architecture is flooded with sand dunes.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Agdam, Azerbaijan, fell into chaos with the rise of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. War broke out, and shells bombarded the town. Once home to 40,000 people, it was completely abandoned, and Armenian soldiers destroyed it out of spite. It’s now a ghost town of rubble and used as a buffer zone by the Armenian military.
Isla De Las Munecas, Mexico
Leaving his wife and child behind, Don Julian Santana moved out to an island on Teshuilo Lake and claimed to have seen a girl drown one day. To honor her memory, he hung baby dolls all over the island. Today, there are now hundreds of dolls strewn across the landscape. Weather and time has destroyed and deteriorated the baby dolls, turning them into creepy and eerie spectacles. Ironically, in 2001, Don Julian Santana was found drowned in the same spot he claimed the little girl was.