- Some abandoned prisons and mental hospitals across the US offer haunting tours.
- Many mining towns turned into ghost towns after their supplies dried up.
- Amusement parks that have closed are being overtaken by nature.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Abandoned places have a way of sending chills up your spine. From empty prison cells to mysterious nuclear laboratories, the US is full of fascinating, slightly unnerving places whose empty halls echo with the stories of past occupants.
Keep reading to discover the eeriest abandoned place in every state.
ALABAMA: The town of Prattville still exists today, but many of the old factories and mills in the area are abandoned and full of rusty, silent machinery.
Prattville is named for Daniel Pratt, who purchased the land in the 1830s to build a cotton gin factory. Once that became a success, he established other factories to build wagons, blinds, doors, and tins, as well as a flour mill.
ALASKA: The mining town of Kennecott became a ghost town when its supply of copper ran out.
The Kennecott Mining Corporation was founded in 1903, when rich supplies of copper were found by two men exploring Kennecott Glacier. It became one of the world’s largest mineral companies, having produced at least $US200 million worth of ore.
The price of copper dropped during The Great Depression, and by 1938 the supply of copper in Kennecott had run out. It became a ghost town until the National Park Service acquired it in 1998 and turned it into a popular tourist destination.
ARIZONA: The Vulture Mine was founded in 1863, but shut down in 1942, when processing gold was a violation due to the need for resources during World War II.
Still standing in the ghost town today is a hanging tree where 18 people were put to death for various crimes, like stealing gold.
ARKANSAS: Dogpatch USA, a theme park based on the comic strip “Li’l Abner,” operated from 1968 until 1980, when the comic’s creator Al Capp passed away.
The family-friendly park offered a fudge shop, horseback riding, and paddle boats. It was then resold to various owners before it closed for good in 1993.
Many of the park’s former attractions are still standing, and the current owner lives on site and offers tours of the eerily empty park.
CALIFORNIA: Bodie was once a bustling mining centre.
The gold mining town of Bodie once had a population of 10,000 people. It was named for W.S. Bodey, who discovered gold in the area but froze to death while out getting supplies during the town’s first winter.
While it was once a lively town that boasted 60 saloons and dance halls, Bodie became a ghost town in 1881 when mining opportunities began to diminish, and in 1882 a fire ravaged the city. It has been carefully preserved in a state of “arrested decay” by the California Department of Parks and Recreation and is open to visitors.
COLORADO: The Atlas E. Missile Site in Greeley was one of the first operational intercontinental ballistic missile sites in the US.
Titan 1 missiles were the first series of multi-stage Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles that the US used as a deterrent in the Cold War. Titan 1 launching bases were built all over the United States in 1960, but were abandoned in 1965 in favour of more advanced missiles.
There are still six former Titan 1 missile complexes in Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
CONNECTICUT: Old Newgate Prison in East Granby shut down in 1827 due to inhumane conditions and security concerns.
Old Newgate Prison started as a copper mine in 1705. When the supply of copper dwindled in 1773, the Connecticut General Assembly decided to turn the shafts and tunnels into a prison.
Prisoners slept on straw surrounded by rats and other vermin and were forced to construct nails.
Now a state-funded historical site, it closed for renovations in 2009, only opening its doors to visitors again in July 2018.
DELAWARE: Fort Delaware held Confederate prisoners during the Civil War.
Fort Delaware was built to protect Wilmington and Philadelphia’s ports in 1859. After the war, the fort became obsolete and much of it was torn down until the State Parks Commission acquired it and began preservation efforts.
More than 2,400 people died at Fort Delaware, and today’s visitors can take guided ghost tours to explore reports of paranormal activity.
FLORIDA: The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna has a dark past filled with violence and abuse.
The school opened in 1900, and during its tenure saw the death of 81 students, many buried in unmarked graves. Former students known as the “White House Boys” tell stories of receiving hundreds of lashes and witnessing other gruesome punishments.
A memorial to the suffering of the White House Boys was dedicated in 2008 and it was closed by state authorities in 2011.
GEORGIA: The Georgia Nuclear Aircraft Laboratory in Dawson Forest closed down in 1971 and was mostly dismantled, but some concrete remains are still standing.
The Georgia Nuclear Aircraft Laboratory was built in the 1950s as a radiation testing ground by the Air Force and weapons manufacturer Lockheed. While the work there was classified, scientists were reportedly trying to invent a nuclear-powered aeroplane by exposing military equipment to radiation to see if it could hold up. The surrounding forest reportedly lost all of its leaves due to the exposure.
HAWAII: The Coco Palms Resort in Kauai attracted Hollywood stars in its heyday.
The Coco Palms Resort was the setting of several films – “Pagan Love Song,” “Miss Sadie Thompson,” “Blue Hawaii,” “Voodoo Island,” and “South Pacific” all filmed there.
Then Hurricane Iniki, a Category 4 storm with winds up to 145 miles per hour, battered the resort in 1992, resulting in its closure.
It sat abandoned for more than 20 years, often robbed and vandalised, until Hyatt Hotels put plans in place to demolish and revamp parts of the resort in 2015.
IDAHO: As the supply of silver eventually dwindled in Burke, so did the town’s population, rendering it a ghost town.
When silver ore was discovered outside of Wallace, Idaho, in 1884, miners flocked to the area. Within three years, Burke was established.
The town had a railroad passing right through the middle of it because the canyon was so narrow. The Tiger Hotel, built in 1888, even had the railroad passing through its lobby – very convenient for travellers.
ILLINOIS: Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul operated during both World Wars, from 1917 to 1993.
The Chanute Air Force Base was a training centre that, at its peak, housed 25,000 soldiers.
The city of Rantoul was devastated when the base closed, having lost more than half its population and $US100 million in commercial spending. The EPA has since reported heavy contamination in parts of the premises and is in the process of disposing of it.
INDIANA: Formerly known as The Indiana Hospital for the Insane, Central State Hospital in Indianapolis opened in 1848 and closed in 1994.
According to the Indianapolis Recorder, it is believed that many patients experienced abuse while hospitalized there.
The building is rumoured to be haunted, but it offers tours to let members of the public decide for themselves.
IOWA: A cemetery, creamery, and church — all abandoned and graffitied — are what remain of Buckhorn.
Buckhorn was a farming cooperative founded in the early 1900s that was bought out by the Mississippi Valley Milk Producers Association in 1962. It’s a popular Instagram spot where visitors take snapshots of the crumbling buildings and empty landscape.
KANSAS: Joyland Amusement Park in Wichita contains skeletons of roller coasters.
Joyland was founded in 1949, was reopened under different operators in 2006, and closed down a few years later. The park operated before safety and animal rights regulations were put in place, resulting in its fair share of accidents – some of them fatal.
KENTUCKY: Reports of paranormal activity at Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville inspired a horror movie.
The Waverly Hills Sanatorium was built in 1910 to house thousands of people who had contracted tuberculosis before a cure was known. As many as 64,000 people may have died there, according to Mental Floss.
Reports of paranormal activity inspired the horror movie “Death Tunnel” set in the underground passageways used by staff to remove bodies from the building. The Waverly Hills Historical Society offers guided tours and paranormal investigations.
LOUISIANA: Six Flags New Orleans closed after Hurricane Katrina and never reopened.
In 2009, the city terminated Six Flags’ lease and announced that the area would be turned into a shopping complex, but nothing has happened so far.
MAINE: The Maine Youth Centre was a juvenile detention centre that opened in 1854.
One of the oldest reform schools in the US, the Maine Youth Centre once held over 200 troubled youths. Former residents sued the youth centre in 2003 and 2019, alleging mistreatment. The centre paid $US500,000 to settle the most recent lawsuit.
The institution was replaced with the Longcreek Youth Development Centre in 2001.
MARYLAND: Curtis Creek in Baltimore is a floating junkyard.
Curtis Creek is a graveyard for unused, unwanted, or wayward ships, mostly from World War I. Freighters, ferries, and barge ships sit rotting in the shallow waters. It’s one of many such floating junkyards along Chesapeake Bay.
Visitors can launch boats in the Jaws Marina adjacent to the creek to get a close-up view of the disintegrating ships.
MASSACHUSETTS: When the Franklin Park Zoo expanded in 1985, the bear pens were left behind in disarray.
Franklin Park Zoo dates back to 1912. It offered free admission until business slowed in the 1930s. When the zoo was remodeled and expanded in 1985, some of the older enclosements and structures were left outside its new perimeters.
The old bear cages are still standing today but are marked with “No Trespassing” signs, according to Atlas Obscura. In the movie “Mystic River,” Sean Penn’s character’s daughter is found murdered in the pits.
MICHIGAN: The $US2.5 million Michigan Central Station sits abandoned in Detroit.
Michigan Central Station opened in 1913. It cost $US2.5 million to build – $US55 million today when adjusted for inflation. At its peak during World War I, more than 200 trains left the station each day. But ridership declined as airlines and highways attracted more passengers, and the last train departed the station in 1988.
Multiple attempts to restore and repurpose the building have fallen through, so the transportation hub still sits abandoned.
MINNESOTA: Tanner’s Hospital in Ely was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Tanner’s Hospital, built in the early 1900s and named for Dr. Anterro Tanner, provided therapy for patients recovering from surgery. It was renamed Carpenter’s Hospital when Dr. Carroll Carpenter took over, and then became an apartment complex called Lakeview.
The now-unused building is still referred to as “the castle” by some.
MISSISSIPPI: Arlington was built around 1818 outside Natchez.
Arlington was built around 1818 by John Hampton White. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 1974 for its detailed architecture. It’s considered “one of four important Federal Style villas which established the basic form for the later antebellum houses of Natchez,” according to the nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places. A fire damaged the house in 2002.
MISSOURI: Lemp Brewery in St. Louis has been turned into a haunted house.
Lemp Brewery was founded in 1840 by John Adam Lemp, who discovered that natural caves under St. Louis provided the perfect temperature for brewing. The giant building spanning five city blocks was built by his son, William.
Prohibition forced the brewery to close in 1919, and the building was sold in 1922. The dilapidated, vacant building still stands today and has been repurposed into a haunted house.
MONTANA: Garnet calls itself “Montana’s best preserved ghost town.”
Garnet was a bustling mining town of 1,000 people that had hotels, barber shops, a school, and saloons in the late 1800s. When World War II began, dynamite use was redirected towards the war effort, curtailing mining efforts, and turning it into a ghost town.
Today, it’s open to visitors for a $US3 entrance fee.
NEBRASKA: Roscoe, Nebraska, has a zip code and around 60 remaining residents, but not much else.
Blogger Jim Sullivan of Places That Were visited in 2016 and found an old service station, a store called Chamberlin’s that had long been closed, and abandoned houses.
NEVADA: Rhyolite is one of Nevada’s largest ghost towns, formed in 1904 during the Gold Rush.
Like most Gold Rush towns, the rush was short-lived. The mines closed in 1911 and the town was empty by 1916.
Parts of the abandoned town have been restored by Paramount Pictures to use as movie sets.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Redstone Granite Quarry in Redstone opened in 1887.
The Maine and New Hampshire Granite Company set up shop in Redstone, New Hampshire, in 1887. At its peak, it employed 350 workers including cutters, polishers, engineers, carpenters, and blacksmiths. The company’s business began to slow during World War II when the focus shifted to cheaper materials such as limestone and concrete aggregate, and the entire property was sold at auction in 1948.
Machinery dating back to the late 1800s still litters Rattlesnake Mountain.
NEW JERSEY: Feltville Historic District is nicknamed “The Deserted Village.”
Officially called the Feltville Historic District, the area in the wooded Watchung Reservation earned the nickname “The Deserted Village” since many have tried and failed to establish roots there since 1736. Three families still call it home, but most of the 19th-century houses in the area sit abandoned.
The woods surrounding the village are known as the “Enchanted Forest” thanks to rumours of ghosts and Satanist activities.
NEW MEXICO: Cuervo became a ghost town when Interstate 40 was built through it.
Cuervo was founded in 1902 when the CRI&G Railroad (Chicago, Rock Island, and Gulf Railroad) expanded out west. Trains stopped arriving in 1910, and Route 66 began passing through it in 1926, bringing business from travellers on the road.
But when Interstate 40 was built through the town, cars no longer stopped there. Cuervo had a post office until 2011, but it’s a proper ghost town today.
NEW YORK: Hudson River State Hospital in Poughkeepsie operated from 1871 until 2003.
Hudson River State Hospital, formerly known as “Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane,” was a mental hospital that operated from 1871 until 2003. The facility used straight jackets, electroshock therapy, and lobotomies as methods of treatment for mental illnesses. As talk therapy and psychiatric medications were deemed better options, the 160-acre grounds began to empty and fall into disrepair.
Aside from the eerie remnants of medical equipment and holding rooms for the criminally insane, there have been reports of paranormal activity.
NORTH CAROLINA: The race car tracks at North Wilkesboro Speedway are eerily quiet.
Enoch Staley built the track in 1946 and the first race was held a year later. A race promoter named Bill France got involved, eventually leading to a meeting in Daytona, Florida, where NASCAR was born.
It closed in 1996 and held a few more events in 2010 and 2011 in an effort to revitalize interest in the space, but the local city council backed out of allocating funds to reopen it.
Its legacy lives on, inspiring the Thomasville Speedway that was featured in “Cars 3.”
NORTH DAKOTA: North Dakota’s old Governor’s Residence is said to be haunted.
The Governor’s Mansion was constructed in 1884 for a First National Bank executive, who sold the house to the state in 1893. It served as an official North Dakota Governor’s Residence for 20 governors and their families until 1960. It was opened to the public as a North Dakota State Historic Site in 1983, renovated to look as it did in 1893.
Governor Frank Briggs died of tuberculosis in the house in 1898, and a butler refused to sleep there claiming it was haunted by his spirit.
OHIO: The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield offers a tour led by a former prisoner.
The Ohio State Reformatory opened in 1896 and closed in 1990. At its peak in 1955, the facility held 5,235 prisoners.
OKLAHOMA: Riviera Drive-In Theatre in Oklahoma City closed due to weather damage.
In its glory days, the Riviera Drive-In Theatre could host 700 cars. Those days are gone, as it was shut down due to weather damage in 1999.
YouTuber miah022 filmed his visit to the now-defunct theatre in 2012 and documented the remains of fallen screens, concession stands, and a ticket booth.
OREGON: From its construction to its closing, Tillamook Rock Light in Tillamook Head fielded one disaster after another.
Four months into its construction in 1880, a storm swept away the workers’ tools and provisions. Then in 1881, the ship Lupatia wrecked and sank nearby, killing all 16 crew members. When the lighthouse opened later that year, light keepers’ rotations were found to be both physically and mentally taxing due to intense storms and isolation.
After earning the nickname “Terrible Tilly,” the lighthouse was shut down in 1957 and remains closed to the public.
PENNSYLVANIA: The Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia inflicted torturous punishments on its inmates.
Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829. The prison’s philosophy was radical at the time – inmates were kept in strict isolation that was supposed to encourage penitence, hence the name. Famous inmates included Al Capone and “Slick Willie” Sutton.
Prisoners’ punishments at the penitentiary were gruesome. By 1971, it was closed and totally abandoned. Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark and museum.
RHODE ISLAND: Fort Wetherill in Jamestown dates back to the Revolutionary War.
Fort Wetherill used to be a coastal defence battery and training camp on granite cliffs 100 feet high. Its history dates back to the Revolutionary War, but the more recent buildings are from World War II. The actual fort is crumbling, abandoned, and off-limits today, but the surrounding area is a state park with scuba diving and campgrounds.
SOUTH CAROLINA: The Babcock Building of the South Carolina State Hospital in Columbia is a National Historic Landmark.
The Babcock building of the South Carolina State Hospital, formerly known as the South Carolina Lunatic Asylum, was built between 1857 and 1885. It served as a more spacious replacement to the facility’s smaller Mills building. All of the patients were relocated in 1990.
The building moonlights as a Hollywood set – the movie “Chattahoochee” starring Gary Oldman filmed in one of its abandoned rooms.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Rockerville was another gold rush town that eventually dissipated.
Rockerville was briefly revived in the 1950s when the Mount Rushmore National Memorial opened and tourists began passing through it on Highway 16, but it became a ghost town again when the highway was expanded and rerouted around the town. The Rockerville Volunteer Fire Department used the old buildings on Main Street for a training exercise in 2016.
TENNESSEE: Tennessee State Prison in Nashville held inmates from 1898 until 1992.
Tennessee State Prison closed when a federal court ruled that it had to move to a less crowded facility. Its 800 cells had been quickly filled within the first days of it opening, according to The Daily Mail. It once held the man who shot Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Department of Corrections released a drone video tour of the abandoned building in 2016 to satisfy the curiosity of wannabe-trespassers.
TEXAS: The Houston Astrodome has been empty since 2002.
When the Houston Astrodome opened in 1965, it was the first domed multi-purpose sports venue in the US. But then the Houston Astros baseball team and the Hoston Oilers football team moved on to new stadiums. The last event there took place in 2002 and it has been empty ever since.
The only time the Astrodome fills up these days is when people need shelter during a natural disaster.
UTAH: Whatever is left of the houses in Thistle remains partially buried due to a landslide.
Thistle was established in the Spanish Fork Canyon in 1883 along the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. Then, in 1983, the entire town flooded after a landslide dammed two creeks. It remains an eerie ghost town to this day.
VERMONT: Hyde Manor in Sudbury was a resort hotel for wealthy tourists in the mid-1800s.
Hyde Manor was constructed in 1865 on land that used to house a small joint called Mills Tavern until Pitt Hyde bought it in 1801.
The hotel was passed down through the Hyde family until a fire in the 1940s damaged much of the property. It was sold in 1962, operated as “The Top of the Seasons” hotel until 1970, and then closed for good. Today, its sagging, decrepit frame is still standing.
VIRGINIA: The abandoned Virginia Renaissance Faire in Fredericksburg still contains ruins of castles and a town square.
From 1996 to 1999, the Virginia Renaissance Faire tried to immerse visitors in medieval food, architecture, and entertainment. But the climate proved too muggy and swampy to attract enough people to be profitable, so it relocated, leaving the original site abandoned. Ruins of castles, towers, and a town square have since been overrun by the surrounding forest.
WASHINGTON: Northern State Mental Hospital in Sedro-Woolley closed in 1973.
The Northern State Hospital for the Mentally Ill was established in 1909 on a 700-acre farm. The institution was self-sustaining with its own water reservoir, lumber mill, library, and cemetery. In the 1950s, it reached its capacity with 2,700 patients.
The old hospital buildings are off-limits to visitors, but other decaying buildings on the grounds are open and accessible by trails.
WEST VIRGINIA: Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in Rock was built on a Native American burial ground.
Lake Shawnee Amusement Park opened in 1926. The land had been inhabited by a Native American tribe until a farmer named Mitchell Clay and his family settled there in 1783, resulting in a clash.
Businessman Conley T. Snidow bought the land in 1926 and built the amusement park. It closed in 1966 after two children died on the grounds. The current owner now offers “haunted tours” of the abandoned park around Halloween.
WISCONSIN: Much of the Solvay Coke and Gas Company in Milwaukee has been demolished.
The 46-acre Solvay Coke and Gas Company in Milwaukee hosted various industrial facilities as early as 1866. A coke and gas facility operated on the premises until 1983, followed by a scrap and salvage operation until 2003. Most of the buildings were demolished that same year, and the EPA stepped in to remove hazardous waste containing asbestos and coal tar.
WYOMING: Much of Kirwin was swept away in 1907.
William Kirwin first discovered ore in the area in 1890. Companies hoping to strike it rich flocked to the area and the population of the town of Kirwin grew to 200 people by 1904.
A snowslide in 1907 swept away most of the town. What remains sits abandoned at an elevation of 9,200 feet.
- Read more:
- THEN AND NOW: What 10 abandoned places in the US looked like before they became ruins
- 9 abandoned airports around the world and the history behind them
- 11 abandoned underwater sites and the history behind them
- Take a look inside the abandoned school where Netflix films ‘Sex Education’
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