California’s various mining booms created tons of new little towns that later turned into ghost towns after the mines went bust. Visit these 8 towns to see some California history. Some are hauntingly beautiful, but some are just downright creepy. You decide.
During its boom in 1877, Darwin was home to 3,000 people, but by 1880 most miners and their families had moved on and the population had dwindled to less than 100 people. There was a brief resurgence in the town in the early 1900s, but a fire destroyed the mine in 1917.
Ballarat is very remote, situated between the Panamint Valley and the mountains that separate it from Death Valley. It was established as a resupply post and had as many as 500 residents. The town included seven saloons, three hotels, a school, a post office and a jail (shown here). As the surrounding mines went bust, Ballarat suffered. It was all but empty from 1917 until the 1960s, when the Manson Family briefly made their home here.
When gold was discovered at the Rand Mine in 1895, a town quickly popped up. Around 70 people still live here, and Randsburg is considered a "living ghost town." Visitors come from all over the state to see the Main Street. You can even get an ice cream at the General Store.
Just three miles from Barstow, you'll find the little ghost town of Calico, dubbed "California's Silver Rush Gold Town." The town got its start as a silver mining town in 1881. In its heyday between 1883 and 1885, Calico had 500 mines and was home to 1,200 people. The town is now owned by the county and is operated as a county park. Buildings have been restored or replaced and are available for tourists to see up close.
5. Willow Springs
Willow Springs was a resort town near the Tropico mine. Built by the mine's owner, it boasted a swimming pool, hotel, restaurant, post office and five reservoirs that held spring water. The springs here were long popular with Native Americans, traders and trappers, as a place to get water in the desert. These buildings were built around 1900; the site is a California Historical Landmark.
Ezra Hamilton originally bought this land for the high quality pottery clay here. In 1896, he found gold, and the rest is history. The gold mine produced until around 1956, when the mining camp closed for good. Some of these buildings were part of the original camp; others were brought in from an entrepreneur who purchased the land and had hoped to make a tourist attraction.
7. Red Mountain
Red Mountain was a mining town in the 1920s, and gained quite a reputation during Prohibition. The town was one of three in the Yellow Aster Mine area.
8. Bombay Beach
Bombay Beach was a popular resort town in the 1950s and 1960s. The Salton Sea was created here when the area flooded in the early 1900s. However, by the 1970s, the lake had dried up so much that it was mostly just dead fish,and the tourists stopped visiting. A few people still live here today, but it's mostly abandoned.