When we imagine ghost towns we usually think of the wild west and gun battles in a dusty street, but there are much more recent ghost towns you can visit (or at least look at from a distance).  The result of wars, economic problems, natural disasters or political decisions, here are some of the strangest empty places on earth.

70's Ghost Town of Kitsault, British Columbia

Kitsault, British Columbia is a remote ghost town found very close to the bottom end of the Alaska Panhandle.  Visiting Kitsault is like walking into  a Northern version of "That 70's Show" minus the people!

And we are not talking about just a few houses, we are talking about an entire community designed for 1,200 residents with homes, apartments, a shopping center, police and fire halls, recreation center and even a bowling alley to provide amusement on long winter nights.  The entire town was built in 1979 to support a molybdenum mine and than abandoned by 1982 when the market price of the mineral collapsed with the 1982 recession.  

The mine owners kicked everyone out and shut down the entire community, but they kept the power on and left a caretaker in place in case the economic situation changed. 

In 2005, the entire ghost town was bought by Indian-American businessman Krishnan Suthanthiran sight unseen for $7 million with the (so far unrealized) idea of turning it into a retreat center for intellectuals and inventors. 

Kitsault's deep water port on Alice Inlet may yet bring the ghost town a new lease on life as Kitsault is the proposed location for a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal project. 

Tour Kitsault right now by watching the following video. 

Location of Kirsault, British Columbia

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Kitsault, BC V0J, Canada

Kitsault, BC Tour: Throwback to the 1970's

Ghost City of War: Agdam, Azerbaijan


 Agdam (also spelled Aghdam) was a city of 40,000 and a regional capital in the southwestern part of Azerbaijan, until the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict turned the whole place into a modern ghost town during the Soviet Union break up. 

Agdam was captured by the forces of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in July 1993 during heavy fighting. As the town fell, its entire population fled eastwards into the balance of Azerbaijan. To discourage recapture of the ethnic Azarbaijani city, Armenian forces decided to destroy much of Agdam. Today the city remains a military buffer zone. Many former Agdam residents reportedly still live within sight of their former homes across the new border, but can not return, making this a particularly sad situation. 

Abandoned city of AgdamCredit: wikipedia commons

The deserted town has also been looted for building materials, but bullet riddled buildings including the town's large mosque survive intact. 

It is possible to visit the modern ghost town of Agdam by taxi fairly safely from within Nagorno Karabakh , though due to proximity to the border the Armenian military stationed in the thinly recognized Republic discourage tourists.

Varisha: City on an Empty Beach

Varosha (Greek: ΒαρÏŽσια; Turkish: MaraÅŸ or Turkish: Kapalı MaraÅŸ) is a ghost quarter in the Cypriot city of Famagusta, located on the border between Northern Cyprus and Cyprus.

Varosha was formerly inhabited by Greek Cypriots who fled the sGreek section of the Famagusta during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.  Until it was completely abandoned and fenced off the Varosha was not only the number one tourist area in Cyprus but one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Wealthy, rich and famous stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Raquel Welch and Brigitte Bardot all hung out in the beach resorts.  As a result of the war, the highrise hotels,  fashionable restaurants, night life venues all fell silent. 

UN Security Council Resolution 550 (taken in 11 May 1984), states that: “attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible”. Since the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not allowed to resettle the area, but the area is under TRNC control, the Varosha district remains a modern ghost city. 

With no one to keep them up, the buildings are slowly falling apart. Nature is reclaiming the city and sea turtles have been spotted nesting on the deserted beaches. The population left on very short notice, so someday when the district opens again early visitors will be able to see bizarre sights like car dealerships stocked with vintage 1974 models. 


Modern Ghost Town of Varosha, Cyprus

Nature Swallows Paradise, a Modern Ghost Town

Beginning in July 1995, a series of huge eruptions at the Soufrière Hills volcano sent pyroclastic flows and ash falls across a wide area of southern Montserrat, including the capital Plymouth. In December 1995 after additional eruptions, residents were evacuated as a precaution. Residents were allowed back a few months later, but on 25 June 1997, a massive eruption produced pyroclastic surges that killed 19 people and reached nearly to the island's airport on the eastern side of the island. Plymouth was permanently evacuated this time and an exclusion zone covering the southern portion of the island was established.

Between 4–8 August 1997 a further series of eruptions destroyed approximately 80% of the city, burying it under 1.4 metres (4.6 ft) of ash. This hot material burned many of the buildings, making inhabitation nearly impossible for a sizable portion of the residents.

Plymouth used to host about 4000 residents, was the only port of entry in the British possession and was home to most of the commercial activity on the island. As a result of the evacuation as much as 2/3rds of the population has left the colony (granted UK citizenship), while the remaining population is rebuilding on the safe portion of the island.

Plymouth, Montserrat view from the sea

Ghost Town of Smoke: Centralia, Pennsylvania

In 1962 a fire in the town dump of Centralia, Pennsylvania got into a coal vein and spread.  The town citizens first realized they had a big problem wIn 1979, locals became aware of the scale of the problem when gas-station owner and then mayor, John Coddington, inserted a stick into one of his underground tanks to check the fuel level. When he withdrew it, it seemed hot, so he lowered a thermometer down on a string and was shocked to discover that the temperature of the gasoline in the tank was 172 °F (77.8 °C).  

In  1984 the US Congress allocated more than $42 million to assist in buying out properties and relocating residents.  The state imposed eminent domain on all properties in 1992, ending private ownership of buildings.  

There is no easy answer for the smoking town. Experts estimate that hundreds of years of fuel exist under the town and the fire keeps spreading toward nearby towns. From over 1200 residents, today ony a handful of die-hards refuse to leave. Outside of less than a dozen homes all that remains of the town are streets that serve no one and memories. 

News Story About Centralia

A Different Kind of Ghost Town in China

City's for a Million People Sit Empty

Ghost towns usually grow until some event causes the people to leave. But there is a different  kind of ghost town, actually entire ghost cities, where the people never came.  

In the West, the perception of China is that it is wall to wall mass of humanity.  Anyone visiting Beijing or trying to navigate Shanghai traffic will agree completely with this stereotype. 

However, China has built a few significant cities and some towns where the people have just never moved in. Some blame poor planning, government manipulation to drive GDP, or an unbridged gap between the ability of the people to buy and the cost of new homes, but whatever the reason is, these are real ghost cities.

The ghost cities include the world's largest shopping center-with about 10 stores open and already decaying buildings. Equally empty is a recreated English village outside Shanghai, that apparently sold out to investors but features an empty pub and empty public squares.  Or consider heading to Ordos in Inner Mongolia where you can see a city built for a million people with about 30,000 actual residents.

Watch the video because you have to see this China to believe it.

Unbelievable Empty Cities in China

Lonely Planet China (Travel Guide)
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Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China

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Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China
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