Learn About Ghost Towns
Lee M. Michaels
What is a ghost town? Something you can only find in old westerns? Actually, ghost towns can be found all across America—and in some of the most unexpected places. Although a ghost town has been traditionally defined as a ‘once thriving town…that has been completely abandoned,’ people familiar with ghost towns apply the term more broadly. Nowadays, ghost towns can be refurbished relics with plenty of shops and museums to educate and entertain the public. They can also be tumbled-down shacks and overgrown lots miles from civilization. Anywhere people have lived that is no longer thriving or has been converted to a tourist attraction will now qualify as a ghost town.
If you do visit one of the more remote, traditional ghost towns, there are some facts you should know. There are both state and federal laws regarding ghost towns. The removal or desecration of anything at a ghost town site can mean heavy fines and even prison. Metal detecting is not permitted either, nor is digging—although you can take plenty of pictures. The amount of graffiti and vandalizing that already exists at these sites is enough to make historians cry. Do some basic research before you visit: some ghost towns, like Bay Horse, Idaho, are located on private property and no longer accessible to the public.
One of the best ways to locate a ghost town is by using topographic maps. Topo maps give the elevation, terrain, and other key geological features of an area. They are most useful in unpopulated regions, and can make the difference between a great day trip and a complete disaster. An interesting hill may appear to be a short hike, yet actually be twice as far and twice as steep as it looked. A good topo map can give you the lay of the land, and help you make the most of your ghost town adventures.
About the Author
Lee M. Michaels is an avid fan of the outdoors and lives in the Northwest. Lee works with AnyplaceAmerica.com. Created by a lifelong outdoorsman, Anyplace America offers free topographic maps of any place and geological feature in America, including latitude and longitude, nearest city, and elevation.
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