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Monday, March 7, 2016

5 Ghost Towns of the Wild West Worth the Visit

The Gold Rush sparked a mad dash for riches, sending thousands of men crisscrossing across the Wild West in search of the big score. As rumors of wealth in new places came about, whole towns were deserted and alas, the Wild West ghost town was born.

Today, hundreds of ghost towns lie scattered throughout the Old West, here are 5 worth a visit:

1. Bodie, California

Saloon in Bodie

Head East of the Sierra Nevada, about 75 miles South-East of Lake Tahoe, and you'll stumble upon the abandoned ghost town of Bodie, California.

A former Wild West boomtown propelled by the discovery of gold, Bodie at one time boasted over 2000 buildings and a population of 7000.

With 65 Saloons once lining its one-mile strip, it's no wonder shootouts, bar room brawls and stagecoach holdups were the order of the day.

Today, the shootouts and holdups are gone, but many of the historic buildings remain. There is real feeling of Wild West authenticity here as many of the structures have been left as they were, stocked full of supplies.

Just take care not to drink the moonshine partner.

2. Tombstone, AZ

Tombstone, Arizona

The state of Arizona boasts an incredible 275 ghost towns, but Tombstone is undoubtedly its most revered.

Legend has it that the town took its name from a passing soldier who warned the towns founder: The only rocks he was likely to collect amongst this godforsaken land was that of his own tombstone.

While the discovery of silver soon brought Tombstone great fortune, the soldier was right about one thing; this was one godforsaken place. Lawlessness and violence raged, culminating with the infamous Showdown at the OK Coral.

Today, you can relive the classic showdown in its original location and still live to tell about it. Come during October's Helldorado Festival, and you'll be treated to Wild West shows, street entertainment, and even a carnival for the kids.

Believe it or not, Tombstone is now a safe place to bring the family.

3. Jerome, AZ

Another of Arizonas great living ghost towns, Jerome once had a reputation more infamous than Tombstone itself. Rife with prostitution, gambling and murder, the New York Sun, once labeled it The wickedest town in the West.

While riches of silver, copper and gold, brought the population to a peak of 15,000, raging fires and plummeting copper prices eventually sealed its fate as a ghost town. By 1950, just 50 brave souls dared call Jerome home.

Named a designated historic district in 1967, Jerome has since regained some of its former greatness (minus the murder and prostitution). Todays tamer, more civilized, Jerome is frequented by visitors stopping to enjoy its museums, bed & breakfasts, live music, and even fine dining.

Jerome even has a bustling art scene, with over 30 galleries displaying their wares. You'll find it hard to believe that this was once considered the Wild West.

4. Austin, Nevada



Smack in the middle of Nevada along U.S Highway 50, you'll find the dusty ghost town of Austin.

Discovered by accident after a horse kicked over a rock revealing silver, the town quickly grew to host some 10,000 souls in search of a quick fortune. As was often the case, however, there was more hype to be found than riches, and Austin soon met a rapid decline.

As evidenced by the three churches that grace the town (all of which still stand), Austin can certainly claim to be one of the more civilized towns of the Wild West. In fact, Austins Episcopal Church is widely considered to be the most beautiful of all the frontier churches.

Today you'll find a well-preserved ghost town, still surviving to this day on the mining and production of turquoise jewelry.

We recommend you try kicking over a rock or two while in town, who knows what riches you might find.

5. Bannack, Montana

Bannack Masonic Lodge/Public School

  Due South of Dilon in Montana's Beaver Head County, lies the well-preserved ghost town of Bannack. Taking its name from the natives who once roamed the land, its one time prosperity vaulted it the temporary capital of the Montana.

Bannack is most famous for its renegade sheriff Henry Plummer, who along with his gang of cronies murdered over 100 miners in the goldfields. As frontier justice would have it however, Plummer was eventually stopped and later hung without trial. Twenty-two of his fellow gang members met similar fates.

Hey, they don't call it the Wild West for nothing.

Present day Bannack is a nostalgic journey to the past, featuring over 60 original log structures, most of which can be freely explored at your leisure.

After you've had a look about town, you'll feel like mounting up, and heading off into the sunset.

Related Article: Old Tucson Studios: A Must Visit Attraction when in Tucson, Arizona

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