Droves of treasure hunters raided the deserts and crags of the American West during the mid-19th century hoping to make a fortune in gold, silver, and copper. Of the thousands of mining towns that sprang up, most have disappeared from the map, but a scant few remain as spooky reminders of dreams that failed. Commissioned by Smithsonian Magazine, award-winning photographer Berthold Steinhilber sought out these phantom towns throughout the West. He probed into the mysteries of deserted places like Bodie, California; Gold Point, Nevada; and Steins, New Mexico, in order to reveal the region's boom-and-bust legacy. Shooting at dusk, using long exposures and a powerful headlamp, he created an eerie ambiance in his photographs of 19 of the most intriguing ghost towns, capturing their lost secrets for all to see.

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