Road Trip: The Strangest Abandoned Places In Every US State

Road Trip: The Strangest Abandoned Places In Every US State

Nothing lasts forever. Someone founds a town because it’s close to a rail line. A hundred years later, the rail line closes down, and the town empties out. All that’s left is one of the strangest abandoned places in America.

Abandoned places pepper the landscape. From shuttered buildings to entire ghost towns, they inspire the imagination. We can walk the windswept streets and dusty halls and imagine… what was it like to live here, long ago? How many lives played out where we’re standing? What have we lost?

In that spirit of exploration, let’s take a look at the strangest abandoned places in each US state.

Road Trip: The Strangest Abandoned Places In Every US StateImage by Free-Photos from Pixabay

50. Alabama

The Jemison Center

The Jemison Center has lived a couple different lives. It began as a plantation. Later, it became a retirement home. It closed in 2003. Now, it stands as one of the strangest abandoned places in Alabama.

49. Alaska

Kennecott Mines

The Kennecott Mines once pumped out copper by the ton. However, the mine ran dry in 1938. All that remained were some abandoned structures. Happily, the state has taken ownership of the site. The result has been a major boost in tourism.

48. Arizona

Yuma Territorial Prison

The Yuma Prison filled evil-doers with dread between 1879 and 1909. If you visit, you’ll see why. The cells are hardly comfortable, and the worst offenders were chained up in the dark. Small wonder it’s said to be one of the most haunted places in Arizona.

47. Arkansas

Dogpatch USA

Dogpatch USA is an abandoned theme park that closed in 1986. Well… maybe ‘abandoned’ isn’t quite the right word. The former owner still lives on site. We’re told he’ll give you a tour of his decrepit park if you ask nicely.

46. California

Preston Castle Reform School

This was once one of America’s most infamous repositories of misbehaving children. Today, it’s one of California’s strangest abandoned places. It’s locate in the city of Ione.

45. Colorado

Titan 1 Missile Silo

The Titan 1 was America’s primitive intercontinental missile. Many launch silos were built across the country in the early ’60s. However, the Titan 1 was obsolete by 1965. The program was abandoned, as were the silos.

You’ll find one of these silos near Deer Trail, Colorado. While there shouldn’t be any soil contaminants, we can’t recommend you visit. In fact, it’s illegal to do so.

44. Connecticut

The Seaside Sanitorium

The Seaside sanitorium looks like the setting of a Stephen King novel. Standing on the shores of Waterford, this abandoned tuberculosis hospital casts an eerie shadow. There have been rumors about developing the site for years, but so far nothing has materialized. It remains one of America’s strangest abandoned places.

43. Delaware

Fort Delaware

The imposing Fort Delaware was built in 1859. It saw service in the Civil War, mainly as a prison for Confederate Soldiers. It’s said 2,400 people died here. That makes it one of the creepiest as well as one of the strangest abandoned places in America.

42. Florida

Cape Romano Dome House

These unusual dome huts were built in the ’80s just off the coast of Cape Romano. They were the property of a certain Lee family, who resided there until the 1990s. Unfortunately, erosion and instability forced the family to abandon their dome houses. However, they remain as a local curiosity.

41. Georgia

Georgia Nuclear Aircraft Laboratory

This spooky lab dates to the 1950s. It was a joint project between the US Air Force and the weapons manufacturer Lockheed. Apparently, scientists here were trying to design a nuclear-powered airplane. It doesn’t seem they succeeded as the lab was shuttered in 1971.

40. Hawaii

Old Sugar Mill of Kōloa

These remains are particularly significant. They mark the first successful sugar plantation in Hawaii. That industry would go on to become critical to the islands’ success. However, the mill itself would soon fall into disrepair.

39. Idaho

The Old Idaho State Penitentiary

You’ll find the old state penitentiary in Boise. It operated from 1872 until 1973. Today, you can take a tour. But be forewarned: there’s something extra creepy about abandoned prisons.

38. Illinois

Chanute Air Force Base

This former airforce base was the lifeblood of the nearby city of  Rantoul. Sadly, it was closed in 1993. Bad news for the city. Good news for urban explorers who aren’t afraid of the words ‘no trespassing.’

37. Indiana

City Methodist Church

America’s most impressive ruined church is in Gary, Indiana. It opened in 1925, but had to close in 1975 due to low attendance. Today, it’s one of Indiana’s strangest abandoned places.

36. Iowa

Buckhorn, Jackson County

Buckhorn was once a farmer’s co-op community. However, in the 1960s, the co-op was bought out by a larger conglomerate. The population fled. The result is a ghost town where tourists sometimes come to take selfies.

35. Kansas

Joyland Amusement Park

Joyland was once among Kasnas’ biggest theme parks. Unfortunately it closed in 2004. Now it stands in ruins. If you’re interested in seeing disused amusement parks (and some people are), you should check it out.

34. Kentucky

Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Waverly Hills Sanitorium is one of America’s creepiest abandoned buildings. Its gothic design alone makes it an object of fascination. Waverly Hills was opened in 1910 to treat tuberculosis, but closed in 1961.

33. Louisiana

Six Flags New Orleans

Here’s another prime candidate if you’re in the market for an abandoned theme park. Six Flags New Orleans was tragically closed by Hurricane Katrina. It never reopened.

32. Maine

Perkins Township, Swan Island

Swan Island is home to a ghost town. Or, more specifically, a ghost township. Perkins was incorporated in the 1850s. Its small population worked in shipping and fishing. However, when the Great Depression hit, the ferry from the mainland was discontinued. The island was subsequently abandoned.

31. Maryland

Curtis Creek

Curtis Creek, near Baltimore, is a ship graveyard. Dozens of ships, mostly from the WWI era, were simply abandoned here and left to rot. If you rent a boat of your own, you can visit them in their ruin. Just don’t try to board them.

30. Massachusetts

Lowell Mills

The city of Lowell, MA isn’t abandoned. However, it’s home to many large 19th century factories. These have been abandoned, and make tempting targets for urban explorers.

29. Michigan

Packard Automotive Plant

This huge complex was once the home of the Packard car company. For decades, luxury cars were produced here. However, Packard is gone, and its factory has fallen into disrepair. Actually, part of the complex was still in use by a chemical company until 2010.

28. Minnesota

Tanner’s Hospital

Tanner’s Hospital was opened in 1901. It was built in an attempt to make money off widespread disease and poor sanitation in the area. Evidently, that attempt failed. The hospital was abandoned. However, it was added to the Register of Historic Places in 1980.

27. Mississippi

Rodney, Jefferson County

Rodney is one of America’s strangest abandoned places — but also one of the prettiest. It came very close to being named the capital of the state in the 1800s. However, the Mississippi River later changed its course. This deprived Rodney of its life blood, and left it as a ghost town.

26. Missouri

Lemp Brewery

The Lemp family built their brewery atop a natural cave system in St. Louis. They discovered that cool caves were perfect for storing beer. The factory, however, was sold off and abandoned in 1980. Urban explorers love to visit this massive ruin.

25. Montana

Garnet

Road Trip: The Strangest Abandoned Places In Every US StateImage by Mike Goad from Pixabay

Garnet is one of America’s best-preserved ghost towns. It was a boom town in the 19th century. Industrious people came to Garnet hoping to make their fortune in mining. However, WW2 destroyed their time. Mining became less important, and the residents abandoned Garnet to its fate.

24. Nebraska

Roscoe

Roscoe isn’t quite a ghost town. A handful of people still call the town home. However, it’s clearly in the process of becoming a ghost town. It’s sort of like visiting Garnet just before the last residents split town.

23. Nevada

Rhyolite

You’ll find the ghost town of Rhyolite about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas. It was a classic gold rush town. The people came, they dug, they ran the mines dry, and they left.

22. New Hampshire

Madame Sherri’s Castle

Madame Sherri was a crazy vaudeville costume designer. In the 1920s, she decided to build a castle-like country manor in the New Hampshire woods. Sadly, she blew through all her money throwing outrageous parties here. Madame abandoned her castle in the 1940s.

Now it’s one of America’s strangest abandoned places.

21. New Jersey

Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital

Ellis Island was the first stop for countless immigrants to the United States. Those who were sick when they arrived had to spend time convalescing at the Immigrant Hospital. It was closed in 1954, but it remains pregnant with memory.

20. New Mexico

Cuervo

 

19. New York

Rolling Hills Asylum

This former asylum and debtors’ prison in New York was open until 1974. Since then, it has reopened as a tourist attraction. To hear visitors tell it, Rolling Hills is among the most haunted places in America.

18. North Carolina

Castle Mont Rouge

Robert Mihaly began building this castle in 2000. A somewhat eccentric sculptor, he intended this to be his country retreat and workshop. For reasons unknown, Mihaly gave up construction in 2005. The result is one of the strangest abandoned places in North Carolina.

17. North Dakota

Ambrose

Ambrose is another semi-abandoned town. Though some folks still live here, you’ll find plenty of abandoned homes. Nature is even starting to reclaim some of them.

16. Ohio

Ohio State Reformatory

The state of Ohio closed this infamous prison in 1990. The movie Shawshank Redemption was partly filmed here.

15. Oklahoma

Picher

Picher was once the heart of American zinc and lead mining industry. Too much so, in fact. Excessive mining led to geologic instability. They literally mined the ground out from beneath their feet. Also, the process left huge piles of dangerous waste all around the town.

As a result, the residents abandoned Picher.

14. Oregon

Tillamook Rock Light

The Tillamook lighthouse has a terrible reputation. Before it was even completed, a ship was wrecked on the rocks below it. Storms ravaged it mercilessly, inflicting considerable damage. Perhaps that’s why the state decommissioned it in 1957.

13. Pennsylvania

Centralia

Centralia is a bit like Picher. A mining accident destroyed this town. Coal mines extend far beneath the town. Unfortunately, these caught fire in 1962. The fire has been raging ever since.

As a result, this town of 1,000 has dwindled to just 5 residents as of 2017.

12. Rhode Island

Fort Wetherill

Fort Wetherill was once an artillery battery. It protected the entrance to Narragansett Bay. However, it was turned over to the state in 1945. These days, it’s a state park.

11. South Carolina

South Carolina Mental Asylum

The Babcock building was built under that name in 1821. However, it was abandoned in 1990. If you’re looking for a scary derelict building to visit… this is it.

10. South Dakota

Capa

The town of Capa first came into existence in 1908. It owed everything to a newly built railroad. However, by the 1970s, residents had left the town practically abandoned. These days, it’s a fully fledged ghost town.

9. Tennessee

Tennessee State Prison

Like many old prisons in America, the Tennessee State Prison was done in by overcrowding. It was closed for that reason in 1992. It was subsequently damaged by tornadoes in March 2020.

8. Texas

The Astrodome

The Astrodome, once called the Eighth Wonder of the World as the world’s first domed, air-conditioned stadium, opened in 1964

The Astrodome was once the marvel of the sporting world. It was the first domed sports arena in the world. It was largely abandoned by 2000, with both the NFL and MLB moving elsewhere. However, it was used to shelter displaced people after Hurricane Katrina.

7. Utah

Home of Truth

This ghost town has one of the most interesting histories on this list. It was founded as a religious commune in 1933. The leader’s attempt to raise a woman from the dead shut things down. The cult was chased out of the area by 1937.

6. Vermont

Hyde Manor

This manor house began its life as a resort in 1865. All that ended in the 1940s, when the property was gutted by fire. It briefly reopened in the ’60s, but the estate has been abandoned since 1970. As a result, it now resembles the Shrieking Shack.

5. Virginia

DeJarnette Sanitarium

You’ll find this strange abandoned place in Staunton, Virginia. It was founded by Dr. DeJarnette in the 1930s and abandoned in 1996. The building is now infamous 1) because it’s old and creepy, and 2) because Dr. DeJarnette was a eugenicist.

4. Washington

Northern State Mental Hospital

This former asylum sits on a 700-acre lot. While the hospital building itself is strictly off-limits, there are plenty of abandoned out-buildings to explore.

3. West Virginia

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park

This may be the best abandoned park on the list. Lake Shawnee closed in 1966. One reason, perhaps, was than 6 people died on the rides here. That history continues to fuel speculation that the park is haunted.

2. Wisconsin

Mirabel Caves Hotel

The Mirabel Caves Hotel was once quite a draw. Celebrities who were passing through would stay here. Even famous gangsters like Al Capone stopped for the night. However, a fire destroyed the hotel in 1985. It was simply never rebuilt.

1. Wyoming

Fort Laramie

This former trading post and fortress was once a highlight of the Oregon trail. Today, it’s a national historic site.