These towns, often far off the beaten path and rooted in the mining industry, couldn't survive when the gold, silver, copper, and coal were gone. Check out the stories behind these boom-towns.
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1. Goldfield, Arizona
Goldfield, Arizona, as the name suggests, was a gold town that thrived in the 1890s, but was abandoned by the late 1920s. Today, Goldfield has been reconstructed as a tourist stop, with a focus on kitsch rather than historical accuracy.
Rhyolite, Nevada was named for silica-rich volcanic rock in its corner of Death Valley, and saw significant investment from Charles M. Schwab in the early 20th century. By 1907, the town even had its own stock exchange, but its population dwindled in the years afterward.
Terlingua, Texas was built up around mercury mining in the mid-1880s, but was abandoned in the 1940s when production dwindled. Today, Terlingua is mostly a tourist destination for visitors to nearby Big Bend National Park.
The town of Bodie, California was founded in 1859 and was once California's third-largest city behind San Francisco and Sacramento. The town closed in 1962 after the local gold mine stopped producing and has since become a attraction for tourists.
Thurmond, West Virginia
During the heyday of coal mining in West Virginia, Thurmond was a prosperous town, but its population dwindled into the single digits by the 2000s. Today, much of Thurmond is owned by the U.S. National Park Service.
Calico, California was a booming silver-mining town during the 1880s, but was totally abandoned by 1907. Calico underwent extensive restoration in the 1950s under the direction of Walter Knott, of Knott’s Berry Farm fame, and became a tourist attraction for the state.
The primary industry was servicing steam trains for rail companies, and saw a decline during the switch-over to diesel engines. The real incident that killed the town, however, was a 1983 landslide that flooded the city. Much of it remains submerged today.
Virginia City, Montana
Virginia City, Montana was founded on gold mining in 1863, but the gold ran out by the end of the century and the town was abandoned. Today Virginia City is owned by the state of Montana, and serves as a tourist stop for travelers headed for Yellowstone National Park.
The copper mine in Alaska produced $200 million worth of copper ore between 1911 and 1938, but was too remote to survive when the mine ran dry in the early 40s. Kennecott became a tourist landmark by the 1980s, and was designated a historic landmark.
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