The ghost towns of Britain & Nevada: Stunning photographs capture the eerie remains of once-prosperous communities
The West was always been viewed as a new frontier for adventurers and fortune seekers who dared to leave the confines of the established East Coast colonies. Whether it was religious freedom or the prospect of striking it big with gold, there were many persuasive reasons for people to move toward the uncharted territories. The prospect of winning big was even more alive in Nevada than it's neighboring states like Utah and California as Las Vegas was synonymous with quick fortunes.
Remnants of days gone by: A moving new collection of photos show abandoned towns in Nevada
Different era: The signage harkens back to another time
Irony: The looming gate is the only thing that stands in Metropolis (left) and the gate at the left is in even worse condition (right)
Back in the day: The rusted old car seems symbolically fitting for some of these deserted surroundings
Many of the westward explorers set up frontier towns that became their home bases, but now all that remains are a few decrepit structures. A new collection of photos compiled by Buzzfeed give a glimpse into the hubs of activity that they used to be, but clearly are no longer. One of the most marked examples comes from Metropolis, Nevada, where the name seems all but ironic as the daunting city gate stands alone in the non-existent skyline.
Black and white: The stark nature of the surroundings is highlighted by this photograph lacking color
Little church on the prairie: A number of people who moved out west did so for religious reasons
Decrepit: As people moved into cities, frontier towns became less valid options
Space: One thing that the rural towns had to offer was a great amount of land
Flashback: This outpost in Pioneer, Nevada is clearly no longer in use
On the railroad: Weeds have grown over the train tracks from lack of use
Fortress: Unlike many of the wooden structures in the Nevada frontiers, this one was made of long-lasting stone
Unexpected: This window provides a spot of light in an unexpected spot
Their golden arches have become a familiar sight on Britain's high streets. But now it seems that even McDonald's is losing faith in the ability to make money from French fries and burgers in some places. The fast-food chain has closed its only store in Rochdale town centre after trading there for 28 years. The recession-hit part of Lancashire is now among the few major towns without a McDonalds.
Deprived: Rochdale town centre has seen a string of big-name stores leave the area after the credit crunch in 2009 caused revenue to fall
The move has been seen as the 'death knell' for the high street, which has struggled after the credit crunch in 2009. Just 11 months ago both Arcadia's Dorothy Perkins store and Burton pulled out of the once-thriving Yorkshire Street in the town centre. Some have seen McDonald's withdrawal as a worrying barometer for retail nationwide, with Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green announcing this week that 260 of his stores are at risk of closure. McDonalds is the latest in a string of high-profile causalities in Rochdale. TJ Hughes pulled out of the town's Whetsheaf shopping centre two months ago. While the building next to the former McDonald's store had been occupied by the Body Shop but they left last year. Clothing chain Ethel Austin and Littlewoods have also closed.
The town has been the third worst-hit town in the wake of the recession and 29 per cent of its buildings in the town centre stand empty. Charity shops, pawn brokers and discount stores such as Poundland have moved into some of the empty units. But residents still believe the area is becoming a 'ghost town'.
Iconic: The 'golden arches' of a McDonald's are recognised globally. Rochdale is the 29th most deprived authority out of 326 in England with 7,741 people - almost six per cent of its population - on jobseeker's allowance. 'When even Ronald McDonald's no longer believes there's a cat in hell's chance of making a fast buck from burgers and Coke here, know that Rochdale Town Centre is finished,' resident Abbie Hoffman wrote online. The council have made some attempts to regenerate the region with a planned tram link to Manchester and Oldham. 'That's supposed to bring people in. I'd say it makes it easier for them to leave,' former bus driver Anthony Smith, 65, told the Guardian. 'It's a dump.' Wife Liz, 59, added: 'Here it's just charity shops and pound shops.' Another pensioner agreed, saying she now goes elswhere to do her shopping. Andy Zuntz, the council's executive director, said that new libraries and retail units could encourage rejuvenation.
But it is unlikely to tempt McDonald's back to the town centre where some shopkeepers compain that footfall and turnover have plummeted over the last 12 months. A McDonald's spokesman said that it has closed three other restaurants in Hemel Hempstead, Kirkcaldy and Bridlington. They said that the chain still has two outlets in Rochdale based in out-of-town retail parks and has opened nine others nationwide. 'The high street environment continues to change and opening, closing or relocation restaurants enables us to take an integrated, focused and strategic approach to future growth.' Close to a third of shops are empty and derelict in some towns, research reveals. Though the recession is officially over, its fallout is still spreading through the high street. The proportion of stores that are empty rose from 12 to 13 per cent in the first half of the year. In some towns, particularly those in the North, the figure is approaching 30 per cent and expected to rise.
Boarded up: Blackpool is still suffering the side-effects of the recession with 30 per cent of shops on Central Drive vacant. Blackpool has the worst shop vacancy rate for a large shopping area - 29 per cent - according to research by analysts at The Local Data Company. Bradford has a vacancy rate of 25 per cent, while Wolverhampton, Doncaster and Hull have figures that are little better. Among smaller shopping areas, Altrincham, Greater Manchester, has a vacancy rate of 30.04 per cent and Margate, Kent, has a rate of 27.55 per cent. Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and Stockton-on-Tees, Co Durham, face similar levels of blight. The report warns that high streets are being squeezed on all sides by a ‘perfect storm’ of factors. As well as growing competition from out-of-town supermarkets and online shopping, they face falling demand from cash-strapped customers and plans to increase VAT to 20 per cent in the new year.
Boarded up: High Streets such as Rotherham's have been devastated. Evidence suggests that once the proportion of boarded up shops in an area reaches a critical level, vandals move in and shoppers stop visiting the remaining businesses. The report, titled The Gathering Storm?, said: ‘Overall at the half-year, there are many more centres getting worse than getting better.’ The analysts found that 21 of the 25 worst performing large shopping streets have seen a rise in shop vacancy since January. The same pattern was seen for 21 of the 25 struggling smaller retail areas.
The figures also exposed the severity of the North-South divide. Of the worst-hit large shopping areas, just three were south of Watford. These were Watford itself, Bristol and Reading.Mind the gap: Towns in the north of England are suffering from high street shop closures with up to 30 per cent of stores sitting empty in towns like Doncaster, Blackpool and Hull.
The report warned that northern shopping streets will be particularly
‘Many large and medium-sized centres in the Midlands and North are yet to see a material improvement in vacancy. ‘Given the importance of public sector employment in these areas, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that, in the face of a shrinking State, they are going to struggle to fill their high streets for some time.’
Many town centres across Britain now contain a boarded-up Woolworths. By contrast some shopping centres and high streets in the South are seeing new businesses move into derelict properties. Bath, Guildford and Henley-on-Thames are doing better, Central London continues to be strong and Wales has seen reductions in vacancy in Cardiff and Swansea. A spokesman for the Local Data Company, Matthew Hopkinson, said: ‘The impact of the VAT increase, public sector cuts and fierce competition within the "multi-channel" retail environment make it increasingly hard for shops on our high streets.’ He suggested that a switch to online shopping will kill off many bricks and mortar stores, asking: ‘Will we ever need these vacant shops again?’ More than one in ten shops in Britain lie empty, the highest level so far recorded, as shoppers' belt-tightening takes its toll on retailers. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported that 11.3 per cent of stores on the High Street and in shopping centres were vacant in October - a 0.4 per cent rise compared to a year ago. It is the highest rate since the BRC started to record rates of vacancy in July last year.
Ghost town: High Streets such as this one in Margate have been squeezed.
2012 has seen several high profile retail failures, including sportswear group JJB Sports, outdoor goods group Blacks Leisure, video games retailer Game and greetings card firm Clinton Cards. Though they all re-emerged in some form, hundreds of stores have closed. The pain has not been shared equally across the country with High Streets in some regions suffering even higher rates of empty shops.
The BRC said Northern Ireland was the worst affected with 20 per cent of shops - one in five - now empty. Wales, at 15.1 per cent, and the North and Yorkshire, with 14.6 per cent, had the next highest vacancy rates. 'This new high in empty shop numbers really sets alarm bells ringing,' said BRC Director General Stephen Robertson, adding the survey 'confirms that financial challenges for both customers and retailers are far from over.' Though about two-thirds of Britain's GDP is generated by consumer spending, retailers are mostly struggling as consumers' disposable incomes are eroded by rising prices, subdued wages growth and government austerity measures. Official data on Thursday showed British retail sales posted a surprise fall in October as shoppers cut back on food and clothing purchases, reducing the chances consumers will boost the economy in the final quarter.
Graph shows the latest fall in shopper numbers. That data came a day after the Bank of England warned that Britain faced years of meagre economic growth coupled with rising prices, adding that its ability to numb the pain was nearing its limit. And a separate report by a property expert controversially said that some town centres 'need to die' Ian Anderson, senior director at one of the country’s biggest retail property advisers CBRE, said planning rules should be relaxed to help some town centres back on their feet, but warned that others might be better off failing. Anderson said a new strategy was needed, starting with an urgent relaxation of laws that restrict the use of High Street shops. This would allow more flexible use of former retail outlets, including converting space for housing or leisure. He also said reforms were needed to encourage more parking and at cheaper rates. However, he added: ‘It might be that authorities need to judge which areas need to live and which ones need to die. But show me a politician who would vote for a death of their town centre.’
The sun sets over valley of riches: Incredible footage of California ghost town taken from a drone shows life after the gold rush. Bodie, California has definitely had some highs and lows. And now you can see it from both it's highs and it's lows - physically speaking, that is.
The Gold Rush ghost town was recently captured on camera by two Los Angeles videographers using a drone to take stunning aerial footage.
Birds-eye view: Two videographers recently took aerial footage of Bodie, California using a drone quadrocopter
From above: Bodie is one of many boom towns that became abandoned after the Gold Rush ended. Videographers Aaron Grimes and Russell Brown used a camera mounted to a quadrocopter and flew the drone around the town, taking in beautiful sunsets and sunrises, crumbling houses and even a broken down car.
The town was founded in 1859 by W.S. Body, who was making his way with others further into California to mine for gold. What he and others found was the one of the richest gold discoveries the West has ever known, according to the California Parks Department.
Bodie was founded by W.S. Body, but he never prospered from the town's gold mines. He died the first winter while returning with supplies
Lucky strike: The biggest rush came in 1875 when a mine cave-in revealed a large amount of gold
Eventually the town would produce $32million dollars in gold and around $7million in silver.
Body never got to luxuriate in his discovery as he froze to death his first winter, while out getting supplies.
Mining started slow, but in 1875 miners made a huge discover after a cave-in.
Minted: The mines around Bodie would go on to produce one of the largest hauls of gold the West saw during the rush - $32million dollars worth.
Golden years: Bodie experienced it's heydey between 1877 and 1881, when the population soared to 10,000
Mining reached it's heydey from 1877 to 1881 as the town's population grew to a massive 10,000. Sixty saloons and dance halls were built up and the town became known as the 'most lawless, wildest and toughest mining camp the far west have ever known.
It was also very dangerous with killings happened in the streets often.
But then mining slowed in 1881 and the miners moved on. in 1892 a deadly fire swept the town, destroying many homes and buildings.
Boom town: Over sixty saloons and dance halls were created to cater to the miners who toiled all day mining for their wealth
Dark side: But the town was also a bit anarchistic, with killings happening often in the streets at night
The nail in the coffin came in 1932 when a 2-year-old lit a match that started another fire which destroyed all but 5-10 per cent of the town.
Bodie was over.
The town was turned into a State Historic Park in 1962, and tourists can visit the abandoned town year-round.
End of an era: Mining slowed in 1881 and the towns population moved onto other mines or lives in other parts of the West
Fire: A fire in 1892 destroyed many of the towns homes and buildings
The footage captured by the two videographers make flying the drone look easy, but it's not as easy as it looks. On Vimeo, Mr Grimes wrote that his worst drone crash happened while filming at Bodie.
'[It] was actually just before the sunset shot at the end. i was getting too adventurous and was trying to explore a building that was too far away,' he said. 'I lost connection and the Phantom tried to fly home but went straight into a wooden beam.'
Downfall: The town was definitely over by 1932 when a second fire started by a two-year-old destroyed all but 5-10 per cent of the town
Today: The town was turned into a state park in 1962, and tourists can now visit it year round.
Shops sit in neat lines, a pool table waits for the next player and cars queue for their turn at a gas station - but there will be no customers, no patrons and no drivers here.
These haunting images reveal America's abandoned cities, the nation's once bustling communities now dilapidated, cobwebbed and eerily silent.
While they all share the same conclusion, each city has a different story leading to its demise - tales of raging fires, devastating floods or simply overspending during the copper, mercury or gold rushes.
Bleak: The once-thriving gold mining town of Bodie in California now sits abandoned, with scores of empty houses and saloons lining its streets and fields
Artifacts: The town thrived after the discovery of gold in 1859 and residents enjoyed a wealthy existence. Here, a 1937 Chevrolet coupe sits abandoned
Silent: The ghost town of Bodie, California, was once a thriving mining settlement with a wild reputation. It is preserved in a state of 'arrested decay'
Long forgotten: At its peak in 1880, the town of Brodie had 10,000 inhabitants and 65 saloons
Saved: The town's Methodist Church is just one of the buildings now protected as an historical site. What remains is a popular tourist trap for those looking to go back in time
In one handful of particularly stark images, the remnants of a Pennsylvania city are seen after all its inhabitants were chased out by a coal mine fire that still rages today, 50 years from when it first ignited.
Centralia is a former coal-mining town 100 miles northwest of Pennsylvania and one of the least populated areas in the state after the fire department set the town's landfill ablaze on May 27, 1962, in an ill-fated attempt to tidy up for Memorial Day.
The fire wound up igniting the coal outcropping and slowly spread to the massive network of mines beneath homes and businesses, threatening residents with poisonous gases and dangerous sinkholes. Only lonely streets and streams of sulfurous gases remain. The event wiped the town off the map; a $42 million federal relocation program helped 1,000 people move and demolished around 500 buildings by the end of the 1980s. By 2010, there were just 10 residents still living there, refusing to leave despite the hazards to their health. It was not the only photographed city where residents were pushed out by greater forces; throughout the 1800s, Cahawba, Alabama (pictured bottom) - once the state's capital - suffered an onslaught of massive flooding, eventually forcing the residents to move away. Many of the buildings of Cahawba, which had been built at the convergence of two rivers, were dismantled and moved away by the 1880s. Just before the turn of the century, a former slave bought the entire city for $500 - but simply dismantled some of the remaining buildings and sold the materials.
Road to nowhere: A section of Route 66 near Glenrio on the border of New Mexico and Texas - once home to a bustling community used by travellers for a gas stop
Closed for business: The once popular stopping area, which housed this now closed cafe, struggled after an interstate bypassed the town in the 1970s
Any buyers? In Rhyolite, Nevada, which experienced a boom in the early 1990s following the discovery of gold nearby, a general store sits abandoned with a 'For Sale' sign
Fall of a city: The Cook Bank Building in Rhyolite, Nevada was filled with marble staircases and imported stained glass and cost $2.3 million to build in today's money. It is pictured left in 1908 but just two years later, the town's mines were operating at a loss. It is pictured right in 2009
Shut: A caboose formerly used as a gas station in Rhyolite, Nevada which suffered a devastatingly sharp fall from wealth. The city was founded in 1905 but by 1920, it was empty
Now, nearly 200 years since it was founded, eerie streets and Southern Gothic homes remain in what has become a state historical site.
The rest of the abandoned cities were mainly plagued and destroyed by man-made problems, such as Glenrio, on the border of Texas and New Mexico.
Located on Route 66, the town (pictured above) was once a popular fuel stop until an interstate bypassed the town in the early 1970s. Today, as the images show, all that is left off the town is faded, closed cafes and long stretches of empty roads.
Then there are the former gold rush towns that boomed before they busted, such as Rhyolite (pictured above), situated 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas in Nevada.
It grew rapidly from its founding in 1905, when thousands of developers, miners and gold-seekers flocked to the area. By 1907, it had electricity, railroads, water mains, telephones, an opera house and a school - but the excitement was shortlived.
A year later, investors carried out a study and found the area and its ore had been overvalued, and by 1910 the mine was operating at a loss. A year later it closed, and the town's 1,000 inhabitants began to leave. Ten years later - and just 15 years since Rhyolite was founded - it was empty.
So close but so far: The skeletal remains of chairs lie on the floor in a small auditorium in the school and services building at North Brother Island, near Manhattan
Lost: The island, between the Bronx and Riker's Island, has been used as a hospital, a quarantine, a veterans college and a centre for drug addicts
Forgotten island: North Brother Island pictured in 1937. It housed a quarantine hospital and is famously where Typhoid Mary was kept at the time
Eerie: The centre for drug addicts closed in the 1960s after accusations of abuse and cruelty towards the patients
Overgrown: The hospital and school now house vegetation and broken furniture - and act as a bird sanctuary
Now, the crumbling remains of once grand buildings remain, including the marble and stained-glass-filled Cook Building, which would have cost $2.3 million in today's money. It once housed the post office and bank - but is now half fallen to the ground.
Bodie in California (top pictures) suffered a similar fate after the gold rush in the late 1800s. There, numerous houses, cars and saloons - including fully functional pool tables - still stand, maintained by the California State Parks System, who took over the town in 1962 to make it a State Historic Park.
After the discovery of gold in 1859, it became a thriving mining town, with 65 saloons and a population topping 10,000 in 1880. But output began to decline and businesses sprung up in nearby towns, luring inhabitants away. The mine shut in 1913 and Bodie was first labelled a 'ghost town' in 1915.
Another mining town - this time set up after the discovery of cinnabar, from which mercury is extracted - is Terlingua, Texas (pictured bottom), where scores of buildings mounted with over-sized crosses dominate the otherwise sparse landscape.
At its peak in the mid-1880s, 2,000 people lived in the town. Today, it borders Terlingua Proper, a small community of 'several dozen' which welcomes tourists and holds arts and crafts fairs, theatre performances and an annual Chili Cookoff.
Disaster zone: An abandoned home in Centralia, Pennsylvania, where a mine fire began in 1962 - and still burns to this day, forcing residents out
Ghostly: Unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide continue to make their way to the surface after the fire, forcing the exodus of Centralia's residents
Forced out: The inferno began after the fire service set the town's landfill ablaze in an ill-fated attempt to tidy up for Memorial Day
No one's home: A $42 million federal relocation program helped 1,000 people move by the end of the 1980s, and only around 10 people still remain
Another abandoned town that is just a stones throw from a bustling city - at its most extreme - is North Brother Island (pictured above), a small island near Manhattan in New York, which now functions as a bird sanctuary.
The island, between the Bronx and Riker's Island in the East River, now houses the skeletal remains of school auditoriums, where yellowed seats sit broken and empty, and hospitals now ravaged with vegetation.
North Brother - a quarantine zone, leper colony and centre for drug addicts - once housed hundreds of patients and the haunting images suggest it was a place of painful misery, which one inmate compared to the notorious black hole of Calcutta.
After World War II veterans studying under the GI Bill moved out, heroin addicts moved in and were reportedly locked in isolation until they kicked their habits. After reports of maltreatment, the place shut down in the 1960s.
Flung much further from civilisation is Thurmond in West Virginia, home to an old railway station and an abandoned downtown. In 1930, the popular town, which served as a place for trains to switch their loads, began to suffer after one of their two hotels burned to the ground. By the 1950s, it was empty.
Holding on: Just seven people live in the once busy depot town of Thurmond, West Virginia - six of which ran for office at the city's last elections
Up in smoke: The downtown of the Thurmond, pictured, suffered after one of its two large hotels burned to the ground in 1930
Frozen in time: A powerplant, machine shop and general manager's office sit among the Kennecott, Alaska landscape, years after the coppoer mining plant closed. The last train left the town in November 1938
Ruins: The Kennecott hospital (left) stood out as the town's only white-washed building. Most other town structures, including workers' bunkhouses (right), were painted red, the least expensive colour at the time
Today there are just seven inhabitants, according to the latest census data, including one married couple. In 2010, six of the seven sought office in the city's elections. Even further afield is Kennecott, Alaska, by far the hardest-to-find ghost town pictured - only accessible by air or after enduring a long, gravelled road five miles from the nearest town, McCarthy. Kennecott experienced its boom after its untouched green fields were discovered in 1900 and it turned out to be a mountain of copper ore. Its mines produced a staggering $32.4 million worth of copper ore in its peak year, 1916. But, as with all our other ghost mining towns, just a few years later, the ore was predicted to be running low, and the mines began to shut throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The last train left Kennecott on November 10, 1938, leaving it a ghost town.
Empty: Crosses dominate the otherwise sparse landscape in Terlingua, Texas
Lying low: Terlingua is pictured in 1936. It was at its most bustling in the 1880s when it had 2,000 inhabitants
Back in demand: Terlingua is now a tourist destination and holds arts and crafts and theatre performances - as well as a chili cookoff
Swamped in history: The Fambro House, built in 1841, is one of the few buildings still standing at Old Cahawba Archaeological Park in Alabama. Residents were forced to leave the city, once the state's capital, after relentless flooding
Eerie: The Old Cahawba Archaeological Park also includes a cemetery referred to on early maps as the 'Negro Burial Ground' where slaves were buried