It’s late at night, you’ve been driving for miles in the dark, fuel gauge dancing around empty and not a town or gas station in sight. Things are looking bleak. Then, on the horizon, silhouetted against the moon, a sign giving the name of a town, Deliverance
and underneath, dirty and part-choked with brambles, the word ‘Population……’ But all you can tell is the number has a zero in it. You heave a sigh of relief and pull off down the narrow road, sure that you must be able to get gas here or at worst a bed for the night. The road ends in a town square lit only by the moon, everyone must turn in early here!
You pull up alongside the kerb outside the Deliverance Hotel and step out, a ball of tumbleweed bounces past. Then you notice it, no lights anywhere in town and fresh worries flood your mind. Walking up to the hotel door you push gently only to find it falls away, crumbling to the floor. This doesn’t look good and it’s gonna get a whole lot worse before morning. You turn, about to walk back to a night spent in your car when at the head of the steps, only feet away, shadow touching your feet is the shape of a man!
“No one comes round here much these days, guess you’re lost young fella? You’ve just stumbled into Deliverance, Ohio one of the world’s 1,716 ghost towns!”
Once, each of these towns had human inhabitants who would go about their daily lives oblivious to the fact that one day, and no one knew when, they would have to leave their homes and their town. Either because of hardship, the threat of disease or war or from some other natural or human made disaster.
The unlucky ones never left. They, like the inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane were brutally murdered along with friends, family and neighbours, turning a happy, thriving community into a ghost town overnight.
Some ghost towns were fortunate though. Although all of the town on our site lost the vast majority of their population at one point or other, some recovered.
Either tourism brought new life to the town or the discovery of new industries nearby. Sometimes the repopulation took place as the town was renovated but for many the population still stands at zero. The ghosts of times gone by still linger and the world goes on around them
Many ghost towns are in places that are easily accessible from major tourist destinations or large towns or cities. Because of this, the atmosphere of these ghost towns is lost amongst the crowds of tourists coming to look.
Visiting ghost towns that are remote is a far more rewarding (and a lot scarier!) activity.
You will be the only person, wandering through silent streets, entering deserted houses, standing where fathers worked and mothers cooked or looked after children. You may find yourself standing where the villagers lives ended.
Nothing is more poignant than being on the spot where history happened, casting your thoughts back decades or centuries and imagining the scene that day when the ghost town was created.