Unusual Abandoned Places Across America

Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Staten Island Boat Graveyard by Bob Jagendorf (CC BY-NC)

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Staten Island Boat Graveyard
Staten Island Boat Graveyard by Bob Jagendorf (CC BY-NC)
Bodie Ghost Town
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Michigan Central Station
Sean Chen/shutterstock

Michigan Central Station

Detroit's once-proud railway station has wallowed in ruins for more than two decades, a victim of the collapse of the U.S. auto industry and a faltering economy. But it won’t be that way for long. In 2018, Ford bought the property, which features an impressive 18-story tower, and renovation is underway for a scheduled opening at the end of 2022 or early 2023. Plans include shops, markets, and restaurants, with office space in the tower.

Related: 50 Stunning Photos of Historic Train Stations Across America

Castle At Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Sharon Day/shutterstock

Castle at Ha Ha Tonka State Park

The ruins of a 20th-century castle are one of the main highlights of this Missouri state park. The castle itself was the dream of a Kansas City businessman who died suddenly before it was finished. His sons continued the work, but the mansion was ultimately destroyed by fire. The still-standing walls have since been preserved and stabilized, making the area a unique curiosity in the Missouri Ozarks. 

Related: The Best State Park in Every State

Pima Air and Space Museum

Pima Air and Space Museum

Many areas where unused aircraft are stored are military facilities and don't often permit tours. The Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona is currently closed by order of the U.S. Air Force, but previously conducted "Boneyard" tours. If you're itching to see an airplane boneyard, consider checking out the once-monthly tour held by Boneyard Safari at the Aircraft Restoration & Marketing Facility in Tucson, Arizona. Docents guide guests through a variety of aircraft, though the tour is limited to three hours due to hot weather conditions.

Related: 19 Awe-Inspiring U.S. Military Vehicles

Sloss Furnaces
Paul Briden/shutterstock

Sloss Furnaces

The Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama, had a strong 90-year-run producing iron beginning in the late 1800s. Since ceasing production in 1970, the plant has been designated as a National Historical Landmark and now operates as a museum — the only one of its kind in the nation. 

Related: Eerie Abandoned Factories Across America

'Salton Riviera'
Ovidiu Hrubaru/shutterstock

‘Salton Riviera’

A once-thriving resort destination not far from Los Angeles, the Salton Sea area is ripe for exploration, though some may find the putrid-smelling air — a byproduct of the sea's heavy concentration of minerals and salts — difficult to bear. Established in the 1950s, the area touted as the "Salton Riviera" included residential areas and plenty of businesses, but a rising (and very salty) sea level led to eventual abandonment. Numerous structures from the era still exist and offer a glimpse into a different time.

Bahia Honda Rail Bridge
Elena Elisseeva/shutterstock

Bahia Honda Rail Bridge

The Bahia Honda Rail Bridge is in the lower Florida Keys. This railroad bridge was built in 1912 and was, at the time, the only overland route to Key West. After a hurricane wreaked havoc in the area in the '30s, it was converted to an automobile highway and eventually replaced with a new four-lane bridge, leaving the Bahia without a function — except to be a unique backdrop at the beachy Bahia Honda State Park.

Related: 27 Vintage Photos of Historic American Bridges

Central State Mental Hospital Cemetery
© TripAdvisor

Central State Mental Hospital Cemetery

Many buildings at the nearly abandoned Central State Mental Hospital in Milledgeville, Georgia, have deteriorated to the point of being unsafe and aren't open to the public. But free tours (by appointment only) are available, providing visitors access to the notorious facility's three cemeteries where more than 25,000 patients are buried. In addition, a driving tour of the 1,750-acre campus is offered (a museum on the ground has been closed). A memorial made up of discarded metal grave markers can be found at Cedar Lane Cemetery. The markers were once affixed above the final resting places of thousands of former patients but were tossed aside in the 1960s by groundskeepers who considered them a nuisance.

Related: 50 Famous Gravesites Worth Seeing Around the World

Silver City, Idaho
Silver City, Idaho by Jimmy Emerson, DVM (CC BY-NC-ND)

Silver City, Idaho

This former mining town was once the home to about 2,500 people and 75 businesses. Once the gold and silver mines were depleted, residents slowly abandoned the town, leaving behind many vacant but still-standing buildings. Today, Silver City is one of the few U.S. ghost towns where visitors can spend the night — at the partially restored Idaho Hotel, which features 13 rooms, although accommodations are rustic (some rooms are unheated). The town has three other businesses but no service stations or electricity; the hotel relies on solar energy for its power.

Rodney-0927 by Michael McCarthy (CC BY-ND)

Rodney, Mississippi

Unlike many ghost towns, Rodney, Mississippi, didn't go bust after the gold or silver mines went dry. Rather, it owes its depopulation to several calamities that include the loss of its port after the Mississippi River changed course in about 1870. Today, there's only one serviceable road in and out of this once-thriving city, and while some homes remain in use, the businesses and churches that once dotted this small town have fallen into disrepair. Recent visitors to Rodney advise tourists to use paper maps or written directions to find the town  and not rely on GPS.

Bannack, Montana
Melissa Kopka/istockphoto

Bannack, Montana

The site of Montana's first gold discovery thrived for some time, then was abandoned when the mines petered out. After the population of the town dwindled to nothing, the state stepped in and helped preserve the area as Bannack State Park. More than 50 original buildings remain standing, most of which can be explored. 

Related: 18 Towns Where You Can Still Experience the Wild West

Ranch House Cafe

Ranch House Cafe

Located along old U.S. Route 66 in Tucumcari, New Mexico, the Ranch House Cafe fell to the wayside, despite a quirky slogan: "Good food always — Always good food." The old marquee and closed-up building are a bittersweet and endearing sight for those retracing the Mother Road. But other businesses along the now-named Route 66 Boulevard (including numerous hotels, gas stations, and other restaurants built during the 1930s, '40s, and '50s) have fared better and are worth checking out, too.

Related: Route 66: Then and Now

Staten Island Boat Graveyard
Staten Island Boat Graveyard by Bob Jagendorf (CC BY-NC)

Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Despite the "No Trespassing" signs, New York City's official dumping ground for seafaring vessels is still an attraction for historians and tourists, including some who prefer to make the arduous trek by kayak. Getting to the site on land requires a 13-mile bus ride and a hike across a "makeshift path of street signs and wood planks." Those obstacles didn't stop the city from advertising the spot as a destination for British tourists keen on nautical oddities.

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex, North Dakota
Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex, North Dakota by Library of Congress (None)

Stanley Mickelsen Safeguard Complex

Decommissioned within months after it opened in 1975, the Stanley Mickelsen Safeguard Complex in Nekoma, North Dakota, was the nation's only operational anti-ballistic missile complex. Today, the facility remains closed, but the unique flat-topped pyramid and other structures, eerie reminders of the Cold War, are viewable from the road.

Charleston Morris Island Lighthouse

Morris Island Lighthouse

The guiding light of the Morris Island Lighthouse off the coast of South Carolina helped ships navigate the way to safety for more than 85 years, but threatened by encroaching waters, it was decommissioned 1962, after a new lighthouse was built. Save The Light, a nonprofit organization that hopes to stabilize and restore the lighthouse, now owns it. Although it's not possible to visit the lighthouse, it can be easily viewed from Folly Beach.

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park
Lake Shawnee Amusement Park by Dustin (CC BY-NC-ND)
Garnet, Montana
Sue Smith/shutterstock

Garnet, Montana

Garnet was born during the gold rush of 1895 and home to nearly a thousand miners and homesteaders at its peak. The mines were quickly depleted and most people were gone by 1912, but two dozen wood buildings persist, making this one of the best-preserved mining towns in the U.S. It looks almost like a movie set for an Old West boomtown. Today it is owned and managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Volunteers recruited to maintain the site give tours and get free lodging in a rustic Garnet cabin, as well as a small stipend. Beware, though: They report paranormal sightings and unearthly noises in the night.

Abandoned waterslide at Dogpatch USA, in December 2014
Abandoned waterslide at Dogpatch USA, in December 2014 by kenzie campbell (CC BY)

Dogpatch, Arkansas

Fans of the Li'l Abner comic strip and cartoon may remember Dogpatch as the home of all its colorful country characters. By the mid-1980s, however, Dogpatch was no longer a moneymaker — it was sold several times before closing in 1993. It was sold again in 2014, to entrepreneur Charles "Bud" Pelsor, though he's now looking for a buyer. In 2017, an entertainment company called Heritage USA Inc. began leasing the property from Pelsor, but that arrangement has fallen apart.

Holy Land USA - Waterbury, CT
Holy Land USA - Waterbury, CT by LeanneMarie1215 (CC BY)

Holy Land USA

Holy Land USA provided a little slice of biblical history for nearly 30 years. The 18-acre attraction opened in 1955 and quickly became a popular spot for visitors to see recreations of stories from the Bible. It closed in 1984, although there have been recent attempts to resurrect it. The park temporarily re-opened in September 2014, after a lighted cross was put up on the property. More than 1,000 people gathered there for a Mass honoring the Rev. Michael McGivney, a local priest who is a candidate for sainthood.

Related: 77 Attractions to See While Driving Across the Country

Ludlow Massacre Site, Trinidad, Colorado
Ludlow Massacre Site, Trinidad, Colorado by Don Graham (CC BY-SA)

Ludlow, Colorado

Rather than ghost stories and local legends, this coal-mining town is the site of a real-life horror story. In 1913, thousands of miners went on strike to protest their living and working conditions, only to be kicked out by their employer. About 1,200 workers and their families built a makeshift tent city near the mine and continued to protest. In April 1914, when the miners were celebrating Greek Easter, militiamen surrounded the camp, peppering it with gunfire and setting the tents ablaze. Eleven children and two women huddled in a foxhole were among those who lost their lives as the camp burned to the ground. The Colorado Coal Strike has been called the deadliest in U.S. history, claiming between 69 and 199 lives. Today, those who visit the remains of the company town, near Trinidad, can see the foxhole and a monument to those killed in the massacre.

Hobbiton USA
Hobbiton USA by Brenna (CC BY)

Hobbiton USA

It's a long way to the Shire from here — and a long way from this eclectic recreation of J.R.R. Tolkien's world to the rich and textured one in the Peter Jackson films. Hobbiton USA was originally built in the 1970s when the closest Tolkien had come to the big screen was the oddly charming 1978 Ralph Bakshi animated version of "The Lord of the Rings" and a Rankin/Bass cartoon TV special in 1977. The simple sculptures of the California Hobbiton, which closed in 2009, reflect those efforts. Travelers should note that here's also the nearby Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile stretch of highway that winds through ancient redwoods.

Williams Grove Amusement Park
Williams Grove Amusement Park by dfirecop (CC BY-ND)

Williams Grove Amusement Park

Dating to 1850, Williams Grove Amusement Park in Pennsylvania remained open until 2005. Fans still post details of visits they've made to the park on Facebook, where photos depict the park in its heyday. Those eager for an in-person glimpse may want to visit sooner rather than later. The park reportedly has been the target of recent vandalism, altering its faded allure.