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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - A Ghost Town

A Ghost Town

Well, I had no idea how many ghost towns exist in the U.S. 
If you ever want to visit one with your family, it's pretty easy!  Especially since they exist in all 50 states. 
I found several to choose from on our trip out west.  Visit http://www.ghosttowns.com/ and choose the state (or province if you're in Canada) and start looking. 

We "visited" two - and I say that because the second one was quite an experience.

But first, Calico, California.

On our way east towards the Mojave Desert, we took a detour to visit a Ghost Town that has been preserved, and serves as a way to see what a silver mining town was like.  It was founded in 1881, and was deserted in the 1920s. 

Walter Knott, of Knotts Berry Farm fame, worked in the silver mind in 1910.
In the 1950s he purchased Calico and restored all but 5 of the original buildings to mirror what they looked like in the 1880s.

Governor Schwarzenegger proclaimed the State Historical Landmark as "California's Silver Rush Ghost Town" in 2005.

On the drive to Calico off the interstate

The landscape around Calico is absolutely beautiful, and varied.

Calico was named for its multi-colored mountain peaks surrounding the town.

We walked through Calico, toured a silver mine, and rode a train to view the mine and adobe homes still standing.

It's a pretty little ghost town, and worth a stop if you're ever in San Bernadino County!

The Ghost Town I had planned on us seeing is Cerbat, Arizona. 
I knew we'd be just a few miles from it on our way to the Grand Canyon a couple of days later and thought we should see an unpreserved Ghost Town, since we had experienced a touristy Ghost Town.  Little did I know.

We followed my phone's GPS onto a dusty little road, with absolutely nothing but cactus and scrub for as far as we could see. 

Here's David - playing along but not at all sure this is a side-trip we need to be making.
I'll never live down our Cerbat adventure.

We turned off a couple more times in pursuit of Cerbat, which apparently has a couple of original 1860s buildings and a boat! (Why in the world?  I really wanted to see the boat.)

Cerbat was actually the county seat in the 1870s, a thriving little mining community with a school, post office, and other public buildings.  Surely we could find it.

And then we did.
After what seemed like an interminable drive on scary little roads in the middle of nowhere Arizona, we stumbled upon some dilapidated metal sheds (???), and what we believe is a man living in Cerbat, who didn't look at all happy to see us.

And here's the difference between David and me. 

I wanted to stop and tell him that we were interested in seeing the ghost town (really, I wanted to see this huge boat!) so we'd just be a few minutes and then on our way.

David did not stop but turned around, waved a little wave to the scary looking squatter, and off we went back to the Interstate.

So, we got to see two very different kinds of Ghost Towns out west.
I think I prefer Calico.

From the Book:
#13 - A Ghost Town
The mill shut down.  The train stopped coming.  There was a big flood.  There are lots of reasons a town can become a ghost town - left with nothing but empty, abandoned houses, stores, and churches.  Gold rush towns in the West are some of the best-known, but there are ghost towns in every state and province.  Although some are falling to pieces, some remain much the way they were when the last residents moved away.  Visiting a ghost town gives you a strange feeling - not really scary, but eerie and a little unsettling, and kind of exciting.  Go see one and find out for yourself.

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