Cultura y Literatura
LIFE Ghost Towns

LIFE Ghost Towns

LIFE Ghost Towns

The world is full of once-populated places that were suddenly, and often mysteriously, abandoned. This special edition, full of powerful images, reveals more than 30 of the most intriguing locales and explores how and why they were left behind. You’ll visit eerie destinations like the Gold Rush town of Bodie, California, with its silent red-light district and opium dens; abandoned amusement parks like Dreamland in Nara, Japan, and a Santa-themed town in the Mojave Desert; and various places nearly wiped from the map by natural disasters. Consider, too, places of profound human error like the radioactive wastelands of Wittenoom, Australia, places of hubris like Henry Ford’s Brazilian folly Fordlandia, and even places of evil like Hitler’s hidden Austrian homeland and haunted battlegrounds of Spain, both left psychologically uninhabitable by the toxins of war. From Alaska to Alabama and across the globe, you’ll be stirred by the stillness of these places: ruins that remind us no place lasts forever.

País:
United States
Idioma:
English
Editor:
Meredith Corporation
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1 min.
lost in time

ON THE SURFACE, THE GHOST TOWNS IN THE FOLLOWING pages have almost nothing in common—other than the fact that they were abandoned, of course. Some were once royal residences in the Far East, while others were rustic mining camps in the American West. Some were deserted over the course of many years; others died out virtually overnight. A handful were destroyed due to all-too-human calamities (asbestos poisoning, nuclear meltdowns, civil war); still more were obliterated by natural disasters (earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions). Though most have well-documented pasts, a few remain shrouded in mystery, their ancient secrets replaced with modern lore. One fort in India was supposedly cursed by a tantric magician, while an Italian castle was allegedly the site of a mass murder spurred by one man’s obsessive love. Despite their…

2 min.
bannack montana

On July 28, 1862, prospector John White discovered gold in Grasshopper Creek in what is now southwestern Montana. The find attracted a flood of prospectors to the unincorporated area, which soon became Bannack—Montana’s first boomtown and the territory’s first capital. By spring 1863, the town had a population of 3,000 and a growing reputation for the lawlessness that came to epitomize the Wild West. Bannack’s sheriff, Henry Plummer, was an ex-con who’d recently spent time in California’s San Quentin State Prison. According to local lore, he was the leader of a gang known as the Innocents, who had hijacked gold shipments on the stagecoach route between Bannack and Virginia City, reportedly killing 100 people in the process. Though Plummer’s guilt was never proved, a group of locals called the Montana…

2 min.
kayaköy turkey

Beginning in the 14th century, Anatolian Muslims and Greek Orthodox Christians cohabited peacefully in the mountainside town of Livissi, now known as Kayaköy. Located in the Taurus Mountains of southern Turkey’s Kaya Valley, the area comprised two settlements: The Christians, who made up most of the population, lived on the hillside, while Muslims inhabited the valley. Over time, the population grew to 20,000, but the relative harmony ended in 1914, when the outbreak of World War I led to widespread Turkish persecution of the Greeks. “Hundreds of Greeks were murdered during these offensives,” according to the Greek Genocide Resource Center. “Women were raped and their clothes and shoes taken from them.” By 1918, Kayaköy was almost entirely deserted. In 1923, after the Greco-Turkish War ended with the defeat of Greece, the…

2 min.
bokor hill station cambodia

In the early 1900s, construction began on Bokor Hill Station, a luxury resort perched atop Bokor Mountain in southern Cambodia’s Phnum Bokor National Park. Built for French colonialists as a respite from the sweltering jungle, the “Cité du Bokor” included a Catholic church, a post office, and the lavish Bokor Palace Hotel, a 38-room establishment that opened with a dance and a six-course meal on Valentine’s Day, 1925. (Foie gras, Chantilly cream, and strawberries were on the menu.) “By the moonlight, during one of those starry nights which Cambodia is so famous for, the poetic enchantment here seems to belong to things truly out of this world,” one visitor wrote. After the First Indochina War broke out in the mid-1940s, the French left the area and the Bokor Palace Hotel became…

2 min.
deception island antarctica

In the 1800s, Antarctic seals were prized for their thick, sleek fur—particularly by the Chinese, whose demand for the pelts sparked a killing frenzy in the polar seas. One of the most important sealing stations was a desolate place in the remote South Shetland Islands known as Deception, a sunken but still active volcano whose 10-mile crater served as a natural harbor. Dubbed Port Foster, the harbor was an ideal anchorage—and shelter from brutal storms—for sealers. Thanks to its narrow entrance, which led into a passage known as Neptune’s Bellows, the caldera was virtually invisible from the ocean. “The island appears solid from the outside, until that opening is found and it is discovered to be a flooded caldera,” according to photographer Acacia Johnson. “It’s an amazing passage to sail…

2 min.
craco italy

Built on a cliff overlooking the Cavone River in southern Italy’s Basilicata region, the village of Craco was founded in A.D. 1000 as a lookout post by the Normans, who erected the striking tower that still crowns the town as a defense against Saracen invaders. Over the centuries, the place known as the Golden Mountain became an important military, monastic, and educational center, but it weathered—often literally—its share of hardships. In 1656, the black death decimated the city’s population, while Italian Unification in the early 19th century led to social upheavals: Brigands ravaged the city until the mid-1860s, and lack of economic opportunity forced many residents to leave for America. In the end, however, Craco was undone by the elements. In the mid 20th century, frequent earthquakes, floods, and landslides began…