There’s something so intriguing about abandoned places. Why were they deserted? What’s the story behind the ruin? We can’t help but wonder if the landmarks we know and love will one day meet the same fate. In honor of our fascination with these crumbling places, here are some of the most eye-catching modern ruins in America.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The Black Canyon City Greyhound Park, Arizona
This eerie spot was once a lively dog track. After closing in 1982, the park was used as a swap meet location before being completely abandoned. Today, the natural desert flora and fauna have crept into the ruins of this old sporting complex. Urban explorers be warned, however: mold and asbestos levels at this site are extremely high.
2. Two Guns Trading Post, Arizona
This funky spot began life as the Canyon Lodge trading post back in the 1920s. After the rise of Route 66, a gas station was installed, along with a a small zoo and campsite. The owner even hosted tours into local ruins. A fire eventually damaged the little trading post and today it stands abandoned, though it still retains personality though the colorful graffiti adorning the interior and exterior.
3. Old Crystal Mill, Colorado
Originally built in 1882, this old wooden power plant is perched perilously over a roaring river. After shuttering its operations in 1917, the little shack has remained abandoned on its rocky outcropping in a remote forested mountainside. Today, it is accessible only to hardy explorers. But with a view like that, it might be time to lace up those hiking boots.
4. Concrete City, Pennsylvania
Concrete City was built in 1911 and lauded as "The Garden City of the Anthracite Region." The rent on each house was $8 per month, and each had seven rooms. Unfortunately, the porous concrete walls frequently dripped with condensation and residents' clothing often froze in their closets during the cold winter months. These luxury apartments were abandoned in 1924, and the buildings are now a popular canvas for graffiti artists and paintballers.
5. Flint Hills Railroad Building, Kansas
This abandoned railroad station in the Flint Hills region of Kansas is actually hidden in an undisclosed location, in an effort to preserve the architecture against vandals. But that only makes this rural ruin more enigmatic. The gorgeous coloring and interiors make this a perfect spot for ruin photography…if you can find it.
6. Kaiser Eagle Mountain Ruins, California
The structures in the abandoned mining town of Eagle Mountain evoke Aztec geometry and industrial strength. The town is located at the entrance of the now-defunct Eagle Mountain iron mine, once owned by the Southern Pacific Railroad, then Kaiser Steel, and located on the southeastern corner of Joshua Tree National Park. This town was only abandoned in the 1980s, and there has been talk of revitalizing the area. For now, however, these eerie structures stand as a reminder of a modern boom-and-bust mining ghost town.
7. Abandoned Six Flags, Louisiana
This abandoned amusement park was left in ruins when hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005. The park was under 10 feet of water during the storm and though there were hopes that the park would be revived, today the rides and grounds are eerily silent.
8. Sea Domes, Florida
These whimsical structures may look like igloos swept out to sea, but they’re actually the experimental home designs of retired oil producer Bob Lee. The domes were constructed in 1980 and designed to be almost completely self-sustainable. Unfortunately, after being sold in 2005, the homes fell into disrepair and the county eventually demanded their demolition or the payment of a $187,000 fine. Surprisingly, the domes still stand, though they haven’t been refurbished.
9. Western State Hospital, Virginia
This abandoned mental hospital has a chilling history. Originally opened in 1828, conditions at the hospital eventually deteriorated. During the institution’s operation, it was believed that mental illness was hereditary and those who suffered needed to be sterilized. The ghastly procedures that followed stood in sharp contrast to the asylum's early days, when patients could freely roam the grounds and healing gardens. Today, the buildings are being renovated into luxury condominiums (which will definitely not be haunted).
10. Belchertown State School, Massachusetts
Belchertown State School for the Feeble-minded started out as a progressive institution for the care and treatment of mental illness. It eventually became a horrifically overcrowded and unsanitary facility full of human suffering. Today, it is one of the most striking examples of architectural decay in the state.
11. Jehu Reed House, Delaware
The main part of this house dates back to 1771, before Delaware was even a state in the union. Its owner, Jehu Reed, was considered to be a pioneer of agriculture in Delaware. It is listed on the National Register of Historic places for its place in the agricultural legacy of the state and the home’s detailed decorative ironwork, but that hasn’t kept the property from falling into extreme disrepair. Today, the building’s future is unclear.
12. Ukivok Village, Alaska.
This eerie crumbling village on the slopes of King Island is called Ukivok. It was built by the Aseuluk people, whose name means “people of the sea.” In the mid-20th century, the relocation of Ukivok’s school forced the small community of 200 Aseuluk people to relocated Nome in order to survive. Today, the village lies in ruins.
13. Ship John Shoal Light, Delaware
Marking the north side of the shipping channel of the Delaware Bay off the coast from Bombay Hook, this historic light and its keepers guided ships for countless years. In 2011, the federal government made this property available for free to any organization or person willing to restore it.
14. Fort Jefferson, Florida
Located about 70 miles west of Key West in Dry Tortugas National Park sits the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere. Fort Jefferson is visited by more than 60,000 people a year, so it hardly qualifies as abandoned, but the massive structure’s military service is far behind it.
15. Nazi Murphy Ranch, California
Built in the 1930s, this bizarre structure is a former hideout for Nazi sympathizers. Nestled in the Santa Monica mountains, Murphy Ranch was conceived of by husband and wife team Winona and Norman Stephens. The couple were part of a pro-Nazi group called The Silver Legion of America, also known as The Silver Shirts. This group believed that Germany would win WWII and establish a Nazi party headquarters on the West Coast of the US. To prepare for this event, Winona and Norman built a self-sustaining community where they could hide out until the war was over. Obviously, their investment didn’t quite pan out.
16. Salton Sea Resort, California
In the late 1950’s, Salton Sea was developed as a resort area conveniently close to Hollywood. The resort was called the “American Riviera” and “the miracle in the desert”, and the area was a favorite with stars like Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis. However, in the 1970s, agricultural runoff and increased salinity began to cause a sickening salty stench to develop and rotting fish to wash ashore. By the 1980s, the resort was completely abandoned. Today, the area has developed a definite post-apocalyptic feel.