Abandoned towns inspire intrigue in adventurous travelers. Why were these once-thriving communities left to rot? What secrets do they still hold? Below is our list of seven of the creepiest abandoned towns.
Pripyat, Ukraine (The Chernobyl Disaster)
April 26, 1986 spawned one of history’s most destructive nuclear explosions. Due to a flawed design of the No. 4 reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, a major accident spewed radioactive material into the atmosphere of the nearby city of Pripyat. As a result, approximately 50 people died, and over 6,000 people developed thyroid cancer. The Soviet government had the city evacuated shortly after the explosion.
The Chernobyl Disaster had a nightmarish effect on the surrounding nature. If you were to explore Pripyat today, you would see genetically mutated, surreal-looking plants and animals. (Think two-headed cows and six-legged sheep.) However, due to the toxins that are still present in the town’s atmosphere, Pripyat is off limits to visitors.
The story of Oradour-sur-Glane is one of great tragedy. Never a large city, it was an easy target for the Germans during World War II. Nazi occupation of the town completely disintegrated the once-quaint lives of its residents. As a result, in 1944, resistance fighters from the town killed highly-decorated SS officer Helmut Kämpfe.
Nazi forces decided to seek revenge upon Oradour-sur-Glane. The town’s men were herded into a barn, and its women and children were forced into a church. All 642 residents were killed. Even following the Nazis’ defeat in 1945, the French government decided to keep the town off limits to inhabitants, as it wanted to preserve the memory of the fallen residents. However, it does house a public museum honoring those who died as a result of the massacre.
North Brother Island, New York, United States
While technically not a town, this abandoned place has its place on this list due to just how eerie it is. Located on New York’s East River, it was once a hospital reserved for people with highly contagious diseases, such as typhoid, tuberculosis, and smallpox.
After opening in 1885, it briefly closed during World War II, after which it was used to treat wartime veterans. In the 1950s, it became a rehabilitation center for adolescents facing drug addiction, and in 1963, it closed for good. Ever since, the hospital has been completely abandoned.
Supposedly, North Brother Island is one of New York’s most haunted locations, with many of the island’s visitors reporting hearing screams coming from the ruins of the hospital.
Kennecott, Alaska, United States
Once a thriving mining town, Kennecott produced over $200 million worth of copper ore between 1911 and 1938. (Today, this would be worth roughly $3 billion.) In 1938, local government closed the mines down, leaving Kennecott a ghost town. Since then, it has been incorporated into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. As a result, the town has seen a steady stream of tourists, who are fascinated by the town’s history. Its abandoned mines are a popular destination for urban explorers across the world.
Never heard of the island of Montserrat? You’re not alone. It is a largely forgotten-about United Kingdom-owned territory in the Caribbean. Founded in 1632, Plymouth was the territory’s first European settlement.
Since its initial colonization, the territory didn’t manage to catch the attention of the world at large until July of 1995, when a series of large eruptions from Soufrière Hills Volcano—which had been inactive for centuries—forced the town’s inhabitants to evacuate.
Residents were able to return to Plymouth in 1997. However, soon after, the volcano began to erupt once again, leading to a permanent evacuation. Most residents then migrated to the homeland, the United Kingdom.
Hashima Island, Japan
As this article has alluded to already, mining towns don’t generally last long, and Hashima Island is no exception. However, the town’s history is far more elaborate than that of the typical abandoned mining town.
In 1887, coal miners founded a colony on the island. And in 1890, Mitsubishi bought out the entire colony. Then, during World War II, Chinese and Korean prisoners of war were forced to work in the mines, giving the island an extremely dark legacy that still precedes it to this day.
In 1974, Mitsubishi closed its mine, leaving it abandoned. Still, Japan allows visitors to take guided explorations of the island’s ruins, making it a popular destination for the adventure-seeking tourist.
Bodie, California, United States
Bodie is a ghost town located on the border of Nevada. Miners founded Bodie when they found deposits of gold within the town in 1859. By 1879, the town had a population of ~7,000 people, most of whom had migrated in an effort to find gold.
Due to its huge population of gold-seekers, Bodie built a reputation as a “sea of sin,” and the town became notorious for shoot-outs, gambling rings, and brothels. Slowly, however, people began to leave Bodie, mainly because the town had no more gold.
By 1910, only a few hundred people remained in Bodie. And by the end of World War II, they had completely abandoned the town. In 1961, the US government declared it a national landmark. Its many buildings have not been restored, but they are protected from further decay.
Today, Bodie receives ~200,000 annual visitors, making it one of the world’s most popular ghost towns.
Have you visited any creepy abandoned towns? Tell us your stories in the comments!