Get ready for goosebumps, ghosts, gloom, doom and divine intervention. Haunted, historic and sometimes humanless, the following eight spooky small towns in Nevada could be right out of a horror movie.
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With knife fights, gun fights and vandalism, Aurora is one of the more violent towns from Nevada’s early history. Founded in 1860, the mostly male town was no stranger to armed conflict, typically ending in death. The climate was harsh, the bars and brothels plentiful, and the women and children scarce. Still, the population peaked around 10,000 with its mines producing millions until the silver and gold ran out in the 1970s.
Today, Aurora is a ghost town with a spooky history and ruins, including the town's streets and building foundations. Just think, no matter where you're standing in Aurora, some poor sap was probably knifed down and left for dead.
With a short lifespan, 1897 to 1911, Berlin’s boom was really more of a small pop. A company town with 300 residents, its Berlin Mine produced less than $1 million worth of gold and silver during its lifetime. The town is extremely well preserved, which may account for its spook-factor. For some reason, well-preserved ghost towns sometimes have more of an end of the world as we know it-vibe than the ones in ruins.
The site of Berlin ghost town belongs to the state of Nevada; it has been part of Berlin–Ichthyosaur State Park since 1970. So basically, it’s a ghost town once inhabited by enormous prehistoric fish and frustrated mine workers, though not at the same time. The horror movie script practically writes itself.
More modern day than most Nevada ghost towns, there’s something eerily zombie apocalypse about Coaldale; the mid-50s architecture of the abandoned homes, restaurant and motel; left-behind remnants like a lawn mower, mattresses and kitchen appliances. It's as if the 50 residents (at Coaldale’s peak) had to pick up and leave town quickly.
Coaldale did have a mass exodus of sorts in 1993, when EPA testing found the service station’s underground storage tanks were leaking gasoline and diesel fuel. With no money for repairs, the business closed, followed by the restaurant, bar and motel. Likewise, the residents bid this spooky small town adieu.
4. Gold Center
Wikimedia Commons / Mark Holloway
A ghost town with a brothel (which was open and operating not too long ago), Gold Center was a mining town on the stagecoach route to Rhyolite and Beatty. Founded in 1904, this town even had an underground brewery and newspaper.
All that’s left now are remains like the Frankenstein foundations of a stamp mill and sections of the water line that ran between Gold Center and Carrara. These remains are spookily located along the roadside that connects U.S. Highway 95 to Beatty's airport.
The story of Goldfield is one of doom and gloom, drama and tragedy. The ghost town has a rich history, both literally and figuratively. It’s also a little spooky.
I drove through Goldfield on my way to Gardnerville many times prior to learning any history about this former mining boomtown, which was briefly home to the infamous Wyatt Earp. It was one of those towns on my drive I would try to get through has quickly as possible. I suppose it’s because in all the years I had driven through, I never actually saw a person, living or dead. There were buildings and parked cars, but no humans! As it turns out, Goldfield is home to about 200 residents and some operating businesses, including a restaurant, bar and church. It’s worth facing your fears and stopping to explore this spooky town. Even with its historic and haunted Goldfield Hotel, you likely won’t find Goldfield spooky anymore.
Plagues of practically biblical proportions and the local climate put an end to the Superman-sounding town of Metropolis. The town rose and fell faster than a speeding bullet. Actually it was over a period of about 25 years, 1910 to 1936.
Located north of Wells in Elko County, the failed wheat farming district was founded by the Pacific Reclamation Company of New York. It was envisioned as an independent American town, able to accommodate around 7,500 people with a water system, schools, a church, saloons, a hotel, a fire house—even concrete sidewalks. In the 1930s, jackrabbits destroyed the crops, the city was invaded by millions of Mormon crickets and the hotel went up in flames. The town’s real kryptonite though was the drought. For farming you need water. For water you need … well, not a drought. All that’s left today of Metropolis are its ruins.
This former company town with a dwindling population of less than 500 was the inspiration for Stephen King’s horror novel “Desperation.” So … yeah.
8. Virginia City
Virginia City is a charming and picturesque town … which just so happens to be haunted. Ghosts have been spotted pretty much everywhere in town –the cemetery, the hotel, houses, the old opera house.
Considered the birthplace of “Mark Twain” (a ghost I would personally be stoked to meet), Virginia City was home to about 855 people as of the 2010 U.S. Census. It’s a former mining town but today its economy is based on tourism with shops, restaurants, lodgings, museums, exhibits and festivals. So while it may be spooky, there’s plenty of stuff to do!
Can you think of any other spooky small towns in Nevada that could be right out of a horror movie?