ü Ghost Town USA YOUR Favorite Ghost Town Website!


ü Ghost Town USA - Home of the GHOST TOWN OF THE MONTH


ü Ghost Town USA – NOW on Facebook!



“Preserving the history of America’s fading and vanished towns,

communities and other places of habitation through education.”


Researching and exploring ghost towns throughout the United States & Canada since 1968.  - ONLINE 23 years!!!



What’s NEW & NEWSY at Ghost Town USA 


LATEST UPDATE: May 29, 2017

In the past 30 days or so we’ve made these changes:



PLEASE NOTE: There have only been a few updates on my Ghost Town USA webpages since January 2016, but in a way that is good!  In mid January 2016, I underwent surgery, and am now doing very well.  This past summer (2016), I finally got a chance to get back out and explore the highways and byways that make up Ghost Town USA.  That forced “downtime” coupled with a six week crash of Rootsweb - the fantastic host for this site - in late February –March, together with major lack of access issues remaining from that crash lasting off-and-on through the Fall of 2016 precluded any updating.  Once they were fully back online, ALL of my pages updated after July 10, 2015, had their “update odometer” reset to July 10, 2015.  As a result, I am now in process of revising and reloading all 300+ individual pages on this site – a time-consuming task at best!  These updates will be noted here on our Index Page.  




  • UPDATED our monthly feature: Ghost Town of the Month (May 29)
  • GENEALOGY:   NO updates since 2005 – sorry  :o(

1.     ONGOING: These past 4 summers (2013-2016), we took multiple ghost town road trips, and most of these locations will be posted over time. Check here for updates on towns already posted, as well as any new listings.

2.     ADDED NEW PAGE: For Harmony, CA

3.     UPDATING: Kansas page.  Major overhaul on the vignettes.

4.     ONGOING: Addition of 2010 census figures.

5.     ONGOING:  Changing formatting of some pages to a PDF format to incorporate photos on the actual page.

6.     ONGOING: Working on adding a “SOURCES” page for each site vignette and state/province pages to enable researchers to see where my information came from.   

7.     ONGOING: Updating a GPS page supplementing my monthly in-print Ghost Town USA column as featured Western & Eastern Treasures magazine.  Currently working on 2004. 

8.     ONGOING:  Ghost Town USA Column Index.  This is a comprehensive index to all of the ghost towns that have appeared in Gary’s column in Western & Eastern Treasures magazine from 1980 through the current issue.


1.     Check out the Southern California ALPCA’s Regional chapter’s own Facebook Page.

·       TREASURE:

1.     NEW!!!  ADDED a whole new Treasure Hunting section, starting with a NEW INDEX PAGE. This will be a “Guide to Searching for Lost Treasures.”

2.     Relocated our TREASURE LEGENDS index.

·       MISC: 

1.     Ghost Towns Yesterday & Today now has its own Facebook group.

2.     Ghost Town USA now has its own Facebook page.

3.     I am still looking for historical information and photographs on the Salton Sea area and Imperial County, CA. IF all goes well over the next year, I hope to FINALLY finish my very detailed Ghost Town Guru Guide to the Salton Sea region.  I have received a lot of new information and photos from several readers, and I have at least one more journey down there for some photos then I’ll be looking to finally publish this LONG project! 

  • PLEASE NOTE:  IF you find any broken or dead links, or pages with scrambled information, please advise.  IF you do, please let me know specifically which page the problem is on, as well as which link is broken.  I have over 350 individual web pages, along with many photos, so you need to be specific so I can find it AND fix it.  Thanks.


Freelance writing and photography


Celebrating 39 years of continuous publication – 1978-2017!

850+ articles and well over 3000 photos published in 22 different magazines, two books and this website. 

My first published article was in February 1978, my first book in 1996.

(*Includes articles posted on this website, and on the Ghost Town USA Facebook page.)



·       AUTHOR of the 2010 book Ghost Towns: Yesterday & TodayTM  Published by Publications International, Ltd, Lincolnwood, IL. Sadly after a couple reprintings, it is now out of print.  However, copies are still available through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

1.     Check out the exciting, wildly successful Facebook group of the same name that was originally based on this book.  With over 35,000 members, it is by far THE largest Ghost Town-lovers group on Facebook.  Check it out and see what all the excitement is all about!

·       AUTHOR of the book Dust in the Wind – A Guide to American Ghost Towns Published by Whites Electronics, Sweet Home, OR.  Still IN PRINT and selling well after 20 years!

·       Contributing Editor for Western & Eastern Treasures magazine.

·       Author of THE monthly column  Ghost Town USA   Featured monthly in Western & Eastern Treasures magazine, since April 1984 – 33+ years AND still going strong!

·       ADMIN/Moderator of the Ghost Towns: Yesterday & TodayTM Facebook page, with over 35,000 members.  Come and interact with other ghost towners from around the world!

·       SEARCHING FOR MY ROOTS THROUGH: GenealogY (As noted above, temporarily on hold)



License Plate Collecting


·       Want List:

·       Trade List:

·       General collecting information:


    License Plate Collecting clubs:

·       Automobile License Plate Collector's Association ( ALPCA )

1.     Check out the Southern California ALPCA’s Regional chapter’s own Facebook page.

·       Number Plate Collector's Club-Australia

1.     Visit NPCC’s main website.

2.     North American membership coordinator for NPCC





It was a summer evening - 1887.  He just got paid.  Money was trying to burn a hole in his pocket. 


Walking the dark and dusty, yet busy Main Street, Joe Miner passed stores, restaurants and boarding houses filled with tired miners.  Light emanating through the windows of the Cosmopolitan Saloon caught his attention and he crossed the street. 


He was beat.


He was lonely. 


After six days of back-breaking labor, Joe needed to relax.  His tiny, drafty, wooden cabin tucked in the junipers above the mine east of town offer no creature comforts or amenities other than a battered chair nearly unworthy of the name, barely edible hardtack, canned beans, tinned sardines, a couple well-read books and a broken down bedstead. 


He needed company.


He needed real food.


Stepping through the door, his senses were assailed by a full house.  Clinking glasses and bottles, sporadic shouts and laughter lifted above the hubbub as scores of sweaty, jabbering men shook off a week’s worth of stress and strain.  Deep rumbles and booms from the underground mines rattled the saloon, not even raising eyebrows on any of the assembled multitude.  Carefully working his way through the crowded room, Joe counted out the appropriate change and tossed it onto the scarred wooden bar top in exchange for a lukewarm mug of locally brewed draught beer. Turning to face the milling mob he wondered what in the world would possess a man to leave his wife and kids on the farm in Missouri, head west to find fame and fortune, then end up as grunt labor in an anonymous underground hole, blasting big rocks into smaller rocks, then shoveling those rock crumbs into tiny ore cars - only to make someone else rich.


Because of this booming mining town’s isolation, prices for life’s staples were so high he could barely meet necessary expenses, much less save anything.  His pants were holey and his boots disintegrating.  His back ached, he was constantly dirty.  He deeply missed his family. Rumors that the mine would be shutting down next year made him reassess why he was even here. 


Deep in the heart of Nevada, Joe was just another dirty, nameless face, jostled by an anonymous crowd of thousands populating a forgettable mining town plopped in the middle of nowhere. He was a worker ant in a teeming anthill, in just one of countless hundreds of similar towns scattered about the American West: each one proclaiming themselves to be “the next Comstock.” 


The man standing next to him asked if he’d heard the rumor of a rich gold discovery off to the south in Arizona.  It’s said the nuggets can be picked right up off the ground.  Joe shook his head, and sadly turned away. 

That’s the very same rumor that got him here in the first place.


That was yesterday - but, what about today?


A whispering breeze barely rustled the sagebrush rolled into a bristly pile against the south side of the half-collapsed rock wall stitched to a dead storefront.  Shining through vacant window and door openings, three arched sunbeams punctuated the storefront’s shadow sprawling across the rutted dirt of Main Street.  Across the street the Cosmopolitan Saloon lies dead, its second floor reduced to a jumble of firewood nestled inside street-level rock walls, bleached boards stabbing the sky at bizarre angles much like the children’s game “Pick Up Sticks.” Soaking up residual heat from a lowering sun, a fat brown lizard disturbed by our passing, skitters up the rock face of the ruins of another saloon building, disappearing through the wood-framed, vacant window socket.


Behind the ruins of dead buildings on the west side of Main Street, a babbling brook laces its way through tall cottonwood trees.  Beyond that stream, sunshine glints off intact windows lining the second floor of a massive brick building topped off by a metal roof lined with a half-dozen brick chimneys and a bright white cupola. 


Permeating the dead townsite is the smell of barbeque, the clanking of horseshoes and the joyful melody of young children laughing and playing.


We are not alone.


Why is this town dead?


Why the sound of joyful children playing?


Welcome to a world of the unexpected. 


Welcome to a world where you can meet history face-to-face, walk dusty streets with Joe Miner, visiting where businesses once thrived, experience the now-faded hopes and dreams of people looking to make a difference, touch the ghosts of the past. 


Welcome to the wonderful world of ghost towning.


SO - what are GHOST TOWNS?

Lambert Florin, one of the earlier ghost town hunters and prolific writers, called a ghost town “a shadowy semblance of its former self.”


Philip Varney, another well-known and well-respected ghost town hunter and author/photographer says ghost towns have two characteristics: “the population has decreased markedly and the initial reason for its settlement (such as a mine or railroad) no longer keeps people there.”


Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (G. & C. Merriam Co., Springfield, MA) defines a ghost town thusly: "a once-flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted usu(ally) as a result of the exhaustion of some natural resource (as gold)."


Using all these definitions as a basis, I have come up with the following description…


"A Ghost Town is a town or community that at one time had a commercial or population center,

and is either wholly abandoned or faded greatly from its peak and now is just a shadow of its former self."

Many people consider ghost towns to only be the tangible remnants of mining camps in the Western United States as described above.  However in reality, they may be the remains of agricultural communities, logging camps, railroading centers, construction camps, military posts, stagecoach stops, ferries, former resorts, European colonies, and so forth.  They can be found in every country of the world; any place people have lived.  Some folks even extend the description to Native American communities and ancient Egyptian and Greek cities.  However on these web pages, the listings are primarily aimed at American ghost towns, with a smattering of Canadian and other country locations established by non-indigenous peoples.  The term GHOST TOWN is subjective, like trying to describe love, beauty and art, or other subjects whose descriptions and connotations vary from person to person and can actually embrace controversy.


Ghost Town USA will explore deeper than the stereotypes.  We will seek out not only well-known places, but other types of ghost towns often forgotten by the masses AND mainstream media.  Listed herein, are ferry crossings, resorts, stage stations, Pony Express stops, logging camps, mining towns, military posts, fishing villages, mill towns, failed (and successful-but abandoned) European colonies, missions, presidios, rural post offices, farm towns, railroad construction camps/sidings/stations, toll road collecting houses, internment/POW camps, road towns and so on.  They’ll range from class A (barren sites) through class E (living towns with a boisterous past.)  YET, all locations featured in Ghost Town USA will have one thing in common – they will ALL at one time have had a commercial or population center and be either wholly abandoned or faded greatly from their peak, shadows of their former selves.  If there are any remaining residents, they sometimes bristle when their beloved communities make it onto a ghost town list somewhere!  Yet, by using our description of what a ghost town is, these places need to be included.  As such they are fair game to be explored, photographed and shared by Ghost Town USA.

Ghost towns are one of America's least understood and under-appreciated historical treasures. Unfortunately those with tangible remains, especially the classic ghost town with a street full of abandoned buildings, are disappearing far too rapidly and a large percentage of ghost towns left in the United States are either barren or rubbled sites.  Historians estimate there may be as many as 50,000 ghost towns scattered across the United States. Obviously there is no one source for information on all those locations, but the man that CNN called "The Ghost Town Guru" is working on it through Ghost Town USA!

If you have a passion for lost and forgotten sites, classic ghost towns, near-ghost towns, or even state-protected ones, read about them monthly in Gary’s
Ghost Town USA column, featured in Western & Eastern Treasures magazine.  Or you can discover more through Gary’s books: Dust in the Wind - A Guide to American Ghost Towns and the 2010 success story, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.  You can also have fun discussing ghost towns and sharing photos with OVER 34,000 other ghost towners on Facebook!!!


The ghost towns AND information AND photographs featured here in Ghost Town USA are only a tiny portion of my ghost town files.  Their listings on this site are purely subjective.

PLEASE REMEMBER, when out exploring, never forget how fragile these rickety relics of Americana are.  Always treat them with respect and abide by the
Ghost Towner’s Code of Ethics.  In that way, they may last a little longer, and be available for someone else (or YOU!) to visit next year.

COME.  Join with
The Ghost Town Guru™ on a journey into the world of GHOST TOWN USA!


"The Ghost Town Guru"
and "The Ghost Town Guru's Guides to the Ghost Towns of ***"
are trademarks of Gary B. Speck Publications.

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Gary B. Speck


Gary B. Speck Publications
PO Box 1328
Moreno Valley, CA 92556-1328



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