This blog post was updated on August 6, 2019.
Some people’s idea of a holiday is to fly to a vibrant big city, while others prefer a bit of seclusion on a deserted island or a 5-star beach resort. However, there’s still some of you (much like myself) who swing toward the spooky and out of the ordinary, and would gladly make a holiday out of experiencing an interestingly eerie destination. Check out these seven haunting and abandoned places on earth that you can actually see for yourself now.
Andersonville National Historic Site, Georgia
About 130 miles south of Atlanta is the Anderson National Historic Site, which during the Civil War was known as Camp Sumter, one of the Confederacy’s biggest military prisons. According to its National Park Service website, “more than 45,000 Union soliders were confined” at Camp Sumter with close to 13,000 of them dying there during the 14 months that the prison existed. Today, Andersonville stands as a memorial to all American prisoners of war and as a reminder of this painful chapter of American history.
The prospects for a fun day out are high at this former 1800s gold mining camp near California’s Mammoth Lakes. At one time, Bodie boasted a bustling saloon, church, gymnasium and population of several thousand. Now this ghost town is full of silence, excellent photo opportunities, and goosebumps of those who visit.
This remote speck of an isle in the South Pacific (about a five-hour flight westward from Santiago, Chile or the same time eastward from Tahiti) welcomes visitors with full Polynesian warmth and an air of mystery with its biggest attraction being, of course, its giant moai. Across the island, many of the hundreds of these massive stone heads are accessible for up-close viewing. The why and how behind these huge carvings perplex archaeologists and other scientists to this day. Perhaps most mind-boggling and mind-blowing are the ones of varying size and states of completion inside the island’s quarry dug out of a volcanic crater.
Easter Island is one of the most isolated islands in the world. The nearest inhabited island is Pitcairn Island – about 2,075km away.
If you’re traveling to Chile to visit Easter Island – and you really are into experiencing depopulated desolation – make time to go to northern Chile as well for a look around Humberstone. About a 45-minute drive inland from the seaside town of Iquique, Humberstone was once home to the Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works mine where potassium nitrate was excavated for commercial and industrial use. But business went bust at the onset of the First World War. Set in the Atacama Desert – one of the world’s most arid and inhospitable environments – it’s an eerie and memorable destination.
Maunsell Sea Forts, UK
Hardly 100 miles from London, the Maunsell Sea Forts off England’s Essex coast are armed towers built to protect Britain during World War II. The rusting hunks of metal resting on large iron tripods atop the water look like something from a sci-fi movie or the wildest dreams of a steampunk enthusiast. Boat tours can be arranged from Whitstable Harbour in Kent.
During the 1960s, a number of the Maunsell Sea Forts were used to broadcast pirate radio.
Thurmond, West Virginia
Once a thriving coal town and rail stop, this Appalachian town’s population is comprised only of curious sightseers. Despite the lack of human life in the area, Thurmond is a dream destination for lovers of wildlife with plenty to encounter while hiking, boating, climbing, or enjoying any number of outdoor activities in and around the New River Gorge.
Virginia City, Montana
Smack dab in the middle of Montana, with a population of 190 recorded in the 2010 census, this Wild West ghost town 90 miles from Yellowstone National Park is designated a National Historic Landmark District. A boomtown founded in the 1860s, folks from across America and the world came to Virginia City to make a fortune. Among its most infamous residents was the frontierswoman Calamity Jane.
Have you ever visited a ghost town or some other sort of abandoned community? We’d love to read about it in the comments section below.