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View Full Version : Lets us define what a ghost town is.



Vulture
08-25-2009, 06:18 PM
This keeps coming up, everyone gots an opinion or relies on some former authority, but still we disagree.

What defines "ghost town"?

I dont expect to arrive at a universal agreement. But for purposes of this forum do we regular posters feel that a simple definition would be usefull as a standard?

We might not reach an agreement, but the exercise might be fun & informative, & we might actually reach an agreement after all.

I don't know how to set up a poll, if anybody that can do that & wants to help...help!

Maybe this will start thing off,,,


Defining a ghost town;

1)Population changes.

2)Building condition, complete ruin, still under roof...only foundations left?

3) Original economic base vs current economic base, if any.

4) If a still existing town is it based on the original economic boom or has it changed?

So I propose we work up a definition of "Ghost Town"...

Who better to do so?

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dwinslow
08-25-2009, 06:36 PM
This keeps coming up, everyone gots an opinion or relies on some former authority, but still we disagree.

<

This is gonna be a tough one Vulture. So many towns that were true "ghost" are now starting to get populated again. For that reason, when I started my web page I included "Historic" in the title of the Ghost Town page. In the true sense of the word, I suppose that the town should be entirely empty of people but in this day, that's gonna be somewhat hard to find. Of course, states like Colorado still have some great ones but even those are starting to turn around if there's any standing buildings left. This is gonna be an interesting project.

Joel
08-25-2009, 08:15 PM
Doh! I just did my "Yadda yadda" spiel on another thread!

Such a mess and I'm going to muddy the waters even more. As far as I am concerned, if folks are still living there, it is not a ghost. It's a site.

My parents were married in Lowell, Arizona. It's not a ghost even these days by any standard, yet it's listed on the ghost page. I ain't that d*** old yet! And both of my parents are still breathing as well! It has history galore, but so does Tucson and NYC and neither are ghosts. If Lowell makes it as a ghost, then why not Tin-Town, Galena or Saginaw? Someone knew a bit of Bisbee history, I can kick that up a few notches myself.

So, what is a ghost town? A place that you came across on the web or a book perhaps? Some place that may or may not have had a post office one? Maybe somewhere that man lived and left ruins that can still be found? I hate finding a ghost with no foundations myself. Ruins, structure and history are always nice. But I will take 2 out of the three above any day of the week!

I really don't know if there is any right answer or wrong answer except by a case by case basis.

http://i298.photobucket.com/albums/mm255/Nightly_Knight/Tombstone/082309088.jpg

http://i298.photobucket.com/albums/mm255/Nightly_Knight/Tombstone/082309111.jpg

http://i298.photobucket.com/albums/mm255/Nightly_Knight/Tombstone/0822209301.jpg

http://i298.photobucket.com/albums/mm255/Nightly_Knight/Tombstone/0822209109.jpg

I think it's one of those things that you know when it bites you in the butt! Over the years, I have learned that Mother Nature and history pulls no punches!


You get to read it twice now! Hope that it doesn't put everyone to sleep!

Joel
08-25-2009, 08:17 PM
Man! I think the Big Muddy is going over the eye brows on this one! :)

David A. Wright
08-26-2009, 06:53 AM
My personal scale of a ghost town is:

* No inhabitants.

* Remains can run the gammut: they be extensive, moderate, scant or completely erased (even if at first glance there appears to be "nothing," you can usally find cans, nails, rotted bits of wood, depressions, signs of earth movement, mine adits, metalic bric-a-brac).

* Must have once had some form of functioning government - either local or by persons hired by the county; and had a post office during its history.

Now for historic site:

* Any current habitation would thus put it into historic site status in my scale. This would include such sites as Bodie. Though not populated by civilians, it is still populated - even in winter - by a few government employees. But even by my standards, Bodie is sort of stretching historic site vs. ghost town ... sort of like saying "tomAto" vs. "tomAHto." :rolleyes:

* Virginia City, Nevada would be an even better descriptive of historic site. Though nowhere the population figures of former times, it's still populated enough for local commerce, has a heavy tourism base, still a functioning seat of government.

* There are many historic sites that were pretty extensive and populated. But they were not governed, nor had a post office. They were generally a large mining camp owned and operated by a company.

* And in very rural areas, a ranch often served as the local post office. But a ranch isn't a town, so thus it goes on my historic site list.

JoeZona
08-26-2009, 04:32 PM
ghost town: a once-flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted usually as a result of the exhaustion of some natural resource.

Norman Johnson
08-26-2009, 05:03 PM
Actually, while some mines ran out of ore, there were many that never had good ore in the first place and yet a town sprang up. There were many mines that never ran out of ore and still have ore to this day, but were over-capitalized and ran through the money before they even started producing.

The history of mining in the west is a history of greed. The discoverers of the mines and the miners, themselves, were a hard working lot, however, the people who bought out the claims and then used those claims to swindle their way to wealth, they were as numerous as the hard working folk.

Or they weren't swindlers but just foolish dreamers who sunk small fortunes into worthless claims in the hopes of striking it rich.

The west has a million stories to tell, few the same, but most have a theme that hinges on the get rich quick formula. Surprisingly, many of the Mormon settlements in Utah were cooperative societies and succeeded in a place where no other form of settlement would.

Which is why I love history. Never a dull moment, always something new even though it is old.

NJ

Davidw
08-26-2009, 10:40 PM
ghost town: a once-flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted usually as a result of the exhaustion of some natural resource.

The coal mining towns here still have plenty of coal left, but it's not economical to mine it, and when the town only existed to mine the coal, it became a ghost town when the industry pretty much died out, particularly the Company Towns. The towns that survived incorporated before the coal business died. (Roslyn, Black Diamond, Carbonado, and Wilkeson are good examples. Ronald isn't incorporated.)

Coal mining at Franklin continued well after the town itself died. The easy access to Black Diamond killed the town once cars became common place and people could commute the three miles or so to Black Diamond. (It didn't help that much of the town burned a few years before the town was abandoned.)

Bob
08-27-2009, 07:23 AM
Ghost town is a nice inclusive name for one of many historic sites that interest me. To be accurate I collect locales, I have almost 4,000 documented locales within the state of Nevada with as much history as I can garner on each. Some have literally moved miles for one reason or another. Some have disappeared and reappeared almost in the same spot with a new name. How do you distinguish between railroad siding that never had more than half dozen residents, none of which were permanent but had a post office and served an area of a fifty miles for 40 years, similarly a ranch house, at most, with perhaps a half dozen hired hands not related to the owners, living in a bunk house or a tent town that sprung up, lasted a year at most, never had a permanent building but at one time had over 800 residents, ten plotted streets. We call them all ghost towns. Many of these are Class A and Class B now. Some like Goldfield and Virginia City in Nevada still function as the county seats of their respective counties, hardly what I would call a ghost towns. Where do you draw the line? We come to this internet site called ghosttowns.com because we have an interest in the history of stuff and we may suffer the fools who seek the paranormal, not all of us enjoy the same thing. I am much more excited when I discover the speck of a foundation that makes what was a Class A site a Class B rubble, when I can GPS a location of a cabin by finding that square nails from the 1870s. Some of you love to explore mines and some love to find structures, I’m wary of structures, I do find them, I always fear hantavirus when me and the dog root through an old structure and yes, we get back place where old structures still have stuff on the floor or stuffed in the walls that date to turn of the last century. No, I don't usually share the location of those sites with anyone except the area BLM or USFS Archeologist.

The point is I don’t think we will every agree on what an exclusive or inclusive definition of a ghost town is. We do seek ghost towns, locales, historic sites, and in finding our pasts, I guess we find a bit of ourselves. That, not defining what is a ghost town is, is what it is all about!

GaryB
08-27-2009, 11:10 AM
Well if don't have at least one haunted house and a gravity hill, then it ain't a ghost town :rolleyes:


I'm along the lines with David. A true "ghost town" would be virtually uninhabited. I say virtually, as many have caretakers of some sort. Anything else, be it a mine, a pump house or a spot where some kind of historical issue happened is a "site".

I'm not as eager to look for the minuscule stuff as Bob is, as I like to see some sort of remains. But I have been known to find a site on my GPS that was nearby, hike to it, figure out where what was and be happy to have seen what I saw, no matter how little was left.


BTW, in my opinion, a GPS was the best tool I ever got in finding stuff. I drove by debris all the time wondering what it all was at one time. Naturally, I could have researched it the hard way, but 9 times out of 10 the GPS says what it was named and I come home, do a search and I usually get the info I was wondering about. That is if the name the GPS has doesn't tell me first.

Also, I find stuff that has never been mapped, that's sometimes an incredible find, and the GPS helps me to remember where it was.

Now if I can just remember where I put the GPS......

David A. Wright
08-27-2009, 11:22 AM
I enjoy visiting both ghost towns and historic sites. Even those who at first glance have "nothing", a sharp eye will pick out things.

I also enjoy having historic photos along with me. I attempt to find the point the historic photographer stood and take "after" photos with the historic shots being the "before" photos.

And I always carry my basic Garmin eTrex with me. No maps, but I get coordinates of items I find of interest. Such as intact arrastras, ruins that aren't apparent until you stumble upon them, other items. Then plot on a topo map. And sometimes it helps me find my truck when I get lost in that 12 foot tall Great Basin sage ... :rolleyes: :confused: :D

JoeZona
08-27-2009, 12:59 PM
Check this (http://www.panoramio.com/photo/22525948) out, David. :)
The full-sized version has a lot of detail, but it's also got a lot of Mb's...

bad bob
08-27-2009, 01:17 PM
Ghost town is a nice inclusive name for one of many historic sites that interest me. To be accurate I collect locales, I have almost 4,000 documented locales within the state of Nevada with as much history as I can garner on each. Some have literally moved miles for one reason or another. Some have disappeared and reappeared almost in the same spot with a new name. How do you distinguish between railroad siding that never had more than half dozen residents, none of which were permanent but had a post office and served an area of a fifty miles for 40 years, similarly a ranch house, at most, with perhaps a half dozen hired hands not related to the owners, living in a bunk house or a tent town that sprung up, lasted a year at most, never had a permanent building but at one time had over 800 residents, ten plotted streets. We call them all ghost towns. Many of these are Class A and Class B now. Some like Goldfield and Virginia City in Nevada still function as the county seats of their respective counties, hardly what I would call a ghost towns. Where do you draw the line? We come to this internet site called ghosttowns.com because we have an interest in the history of stuff and we may suffer the fools who seek the paranormal, not all of us enjoy the same thing. I am much more excited when I discover the speck of a foundation that makes what was a Class A site a Class B rubble, when I can GPS a location of a cabin by finding that square nails from the 1870s. Some of you love to explore mines and some love to find structures, Iím wary of structures, I do find them, I always fear hantavirus when me and the dog root through an old structure and yes, we get back place where old structures still have stuff on the floor or stuffed in the walls that date to turn of the last century. No, I don't usually share the location of those sites with anyone except the area BLM or USFS Archeologist.

The point is I donít think we will every agree on what an exclusive or inclusive definition of a ghost town is. We do seek ghost towns, locales, historic sites, and in finding our pasts, I guess we find a bit of ourselves. That, not defining what is a ghost town is, is what it is all about!






I've already weighed in on this on the other thread and can't see any need to repeat. But I WILL say that this msg speaks for me perfectly. Thank you Bob. :)

David A. Wright
08-27-2009, 07:02 PM
http://www.gbr.4wdtrips.net/trips/t_images/gw005.jpg
My version of Skidoo then and now.

Norman Johnson
08-27-2009, 07:19 PM
Nice! A famous town where not much exists today---just a sign.

NJ

David A. Wright
08-27-2009, 08:38 PM
Nice! A famous town where not much exists today---just a sign.

NJ
Don't forget the stamp mill. It's hidden out of sight in a canyon not far from the sign. No signs on how to get there, but it's easy to find if you know where to look. All stamp batteries still in place, but the outter shell is gone.

Up until the early 1990s you could still see the street grid of Skidoo in the sagebrush from high points. Last time I was there, I could not see them. Might have been the lighting. In the past, I've taken my historical photo in hand and went to each and every visible structure and found remains. Cans, rotted bits of lumber, nails, glass, wire, etcetera. To the casual observer, there is nothing left to Skidoo. But spend a day and you'll find the above and far more.

Sunrise
08-29-2009, 06:41 PM
"then why not Tin-Town, Galena or Saginaw?"

Why not? you asks:


'CAUSE I LIVES IN GALENA!

But what about Warren or South Bisbee? Not yet! But my mom tells me there was a place north of the pit called The Johnson Addition(?), it's long gone!

Sunrise
08-29-2009, 06:49 PM
Bisbee is actually divided into many parts that were actually little seperate towns a long time ago.

Bakerville
Briggs
Cochise
Don Luis
Galena
Huachuca Terrace
Jiggerville
Johnson Addition
Lowell
Ragtown
Saginaw
South Bisbee
Tin Town
Third Addition
Warren
Winwood Addition

shirohniichan
09-02-2009, 09:50 AM
http://www.gbr.4wdtrips.net/trips/t_images/gw005.jpg
My version of Skidoo then and now.

I love these photos. Every time I see a historic site, I wonder what it looked like "in the day." Unfortunately, many of the sites that interest me (i.e. Japanese castles) were destroyed long before the photograph was invented. I found to my chagrin that many of the paintings of the castles were made hundreds of years after they were destroyed.

But having a photo in hand takes out the guess work. :)

Fairlane500
09-03-2009, 09:22 AM
Personally, I feel that the "ghost" in ghost town is not as much a refernce to the fact that everyone is gone, but that there is a lingering feel of "something" that was there, but is now gone. For example, take Virgina City, Nevada. To me, it gives off the same vibes as a much more derelict locale such as Bodie. That eerie feeling while you visit that once there were people who's lives depended on what was there. That dependency is long gone, whether replaced by tourism, or nothing at all, but you just know that once there was something else, something that still drifts on the breeze and haunts the very air around the location.

In my personal opinion, even such places as New London, CT, where I live now, have a little bit of ghost town in them. While the city still lives on, its notoriety and sucess have long disappeared, giving you the feel while you're there that once this place was something more, something impressive, something unique, not just another declining New England city.

Norman Johnson
09-03-2009, 09:39 AM
That is dam* poetic, man.

NJ

bad bob
09-03-2009, 11:51 AM
Personally, I feel that the "ghost" in ghost town is not as much a refernce to the fact that everyone is gone, but that there is a lingering feel of "something" that was there, but is now gone. For example, take Virgina City, Nevada. To me, it gives off the same vibes as a much more derelict locale such as Bodie. That eerie feeling while you visit that once there were people who's lives depended on what was there. That dependency is long gone, whether replaced by tourism, or nothing at all, but you just know that once there was something else, something that still drifts on the breeze and haunts the very air around the location.

In my personal opinion, even such places as New London, CT, where I live now, have a little bit of ghost town in them. While the city still lives on, its notoriety and sucess have long disappeared, giving you the feel while you're there that once this place was something more, something impressive, something unique, not just another declining New England city.





Very well said, 500. :)

Odd ya mention VC, Nevada. visiting there in '92, I was getting similar strange vibes whilst standing alone in the huge VC Cemetery. It was kind of a sense of not being welcome, or being urged to leave, but to leave just the cemetery, rather than the town itself.

I had been to VC b4, but never went to the cemetery. Had planned to walk around, to see what some of the oldest dates on the markers were, but decided to leave as "requested". :eek:

oxford resort
09-03-2009, 12:29 PM
Well put Fairlane 500 Eureka utah is like that pitcures of 1910 and 2006.

David A. Wright
09-04-2009, 09:17 AM
Very well said, 500. :)

Odd ya mention VC, Nevada. visiting there in '92, I was getting similar strange vibes whilst standing alone in the huge VC Cemetery. It was kind of a sense of not being welcome, or being urged to leave, but to leave just the cemetery, rather than the town itself. ... Had planned to walk around, to see what some of the oldest dates on the markers were, but decided to leave as "requested". :eek:

Never felt that at the VC cemetery. I spent a few hours on a quiet winter day enjoying photographing the cemetery and individual markers and scenics looking back over at VC from the cemetery. I guess the ghosts liked me ... :D

bad bob
09-04-2009, 04:31 PM
Never felt that at the VC cemetery. I spent a few hours on a quiet winter day enjoying photographing the cemetery and individual markers and scenics looking back over at VC from the cemetery. I guess the ghosts liked me ... :D




No question about it. And I've also spoken to several others including my brother, who've NEVER had any negative feelings while out walking around that cemetery.

In '92 the skies were overcast dark gray/some black clouds, but it didn't rain one drop. After entering, it's not far to the base of a rise which has a semi-elaborate arched gateway into another section of the cemetery. IIRC, there were 1 or 2 other similar gateways in the general area above.

But I heard no voices or rattling chains while I stood there at the base. It was only a strong "inner sense" that urged my departure. I complied. If I get a chance, I'll go back up there and try again. And if I'm struck down, at least it'll be a very short journey. :)

GaryB
09-04-2009, 06:21 PM
For some reason I always find a calming feeling when in an old GT cemetery. Maybe like David I'm welcomed as I tend to have a sincere respect for the dead and what they went through back then to survive.

Vulture
09-04-2009, 07:31 PM
For some reason I always find a calming feeling when in an old GT cemetery. Maybe like David I'm welcomed as I tend to have a sincere respect for the dead and what they went through back then to survive.

Me too, never get a weird feeling, just peacefull, serene. Churchyards were the first places I would seek out when traveling around Germany in the early 70's. Every city or little berg had at least one.

Now when I ghost town here it's still the same, if anything at all can be found.

Patagonia, Arizona...

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Vulture
09-04-2009, 07:34 PM
Personally, I feel that the "ghost" in ghost town is not as much a refernce to the fact that everyone is gone, but that there is a lingering feel of "something" that was there, but is now gone. For example, take Virgina City, Nevada. To me, it gives off the same vibes as a much more derelict locale such as Bodie. That eerie feeling while you visit that once there were people who's lives depended on what was there. That dependency is long gone, whether replaced by tourism, or nothing at all, but you just know that once there was something else, something that still drifts on the breeze and haunts the very air around the location.

In my personal opinion, even such places as New London, CT, where I live now, have a little bit of ghost town in them. While the city still lives on, its notoriety and sucess have long disappeared, giving you the feel while you're there that once this place was something more, something impressive, something unique, not just another declining New England city.

...&F500, I think you may be among the last of the great medieval poets. Nicely expressed.

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