1. Centralia, Pennsylvania
This town has been on fire for 53 years. Centralia was once a thriving mining community, but a fire started in the coal mines beneath the city and quickly spread throughout the winding tunnels. Without a way to put it out it has slowly been consuming the town, which only has 8 remaining residents. Once they move or pass away, the lands will be seized via eminent domain. Officials expect the fire to rage on underground for at least 250 more years.
2. Wittenoom, Australia
In April, 1943, Colonial Sugar Refinery commenced mining blue asbestos at Wittenoom Gorge. Due to local supply, a company town was built in 1947 and thousands of workers were moved in. Wittenoom continued to grow through the 1950s and early 1960s, as it was Australia’s only supplier of blue asbestos. However, the whole place was essentially shuttered when residents started to get sick. The town was deserted, and while 3 residents still live in the area, the official town status has been revoked. To date more than 2000 of the workers and residents of Wittenoom have died from asbestos-related diseases.
3. Ordos, China
Ordos is a city that is “too big for its britches”. Investors and planners had big plans when they developed this city, which was built to accommodate over a million residents. It rose quickly, shiny and gleaming, full of high-rise apartments, offices, parks, monuments, and everything else you could expect in a large city. Well, except for the people. It turns out that Ordos didn’t have the draw that was expected, and it sat virtually empty for years. In an effort to draw residents, the Chinese government offered incentives to anyone who would move there. They have been able to bring the population up to around 100,000, but the city remains relatively quiet and empty.
4. Hashima Island, Japan
Hashima Island was surrounded by undersea coal mines, and mining feverishly commenced there in 1887. By 1959, the 16-acre island boasted a population of 5,259. But the mine closed in 1974, and all of the residents left the island soon after. Nature has taken its toll, and several buildings have completely collapsed. However, many others still stand in ruin. The island has become a tourist attraction of sorts.
5. Shi Cheng, China
Known as the “Atlantis of the East”, a visit to Shi Cheng would require some scuba gear. The city was purposely flooded in 1959 to make way for the Xin’an Dam and its adjoining hydroelectric station. It was then forgotten until 2001, when the Chinese government organised an expedition to see what might remain of the lost metropolis. Those willing to travel under the sea are rewarded with incredible stone architecture dating to the Ming and Qing dynasties (which ruled from 1368 to 1912). The city remains amazingly well preserved.
6. Ross Island, India
During Britain’s rule, this island served as the headquarters of the Indian Penal Settlement. In 1941, residents were forced to flee and never return after an earthquake. Infrastructure from the British regime remains, and visitors can see into the opulent past in the ruins of the church, swimming pool and the chief commissioner’s residence with its huge gardens and grand ballrooms.
7. Pripyat, Ukraine
Pripyat, location of the infamous Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, was once home to nearly 50,000 residents. It was abandoned in a hurry, and many pieces of former residents lives remain. It is estimated that people will not be able to move back in safely for 25,000 years, although a few hundred people have elected to live within the exclusion zone.
8. Craco, Italy
Craco was once a bustling population center that thrived over many centuries. Tombs have been found dating from the 8th century, suggesting the original settlement dates back to then. After landslides and an earthquake in 1980, the town was abandoned. However, because of the incredible appearance of the remaining infrastructure in Craco, the town has become a popular filming location. It has hosted movies such as The Passion Of The Christ and Quantum of Solace.
9. Garnet, Montana
Garnet is an abandoned mining town that dates back to the 1860s. The land was rich with gold, and in 1898 as many as 1,000 people called Garnet home. 20 years later the gold ran out and the town was abandoned. Several buildings from its hey-day remain, including the Wells hotels, Kelly Saloon, and Daveys Store.
10. Simacem, Indonesia
Simacem village in North Sumatra Indonesia was left behind after its people were evacuated following the eruption of the volcano seen in the picture.
11. San Juan Parangaricutiro, Mexico
Another town claimed by a volcano, San Juan Parangaricutiro was abandoned after the Parícutin volcano erupted in 1942, destroying much of the town.
12. Renaissance Island, Uzbekistan
In 1954, a biological weapons test site called Aralsk-7 was built on the island. It was was one of the main laboratories and testing sites for the Soviet Union’s Microbiological Warfare Group. They tested a variety of agents, including anthrax, smallpox, plague, brucellosis, and tularemia. In 1971, a release of weaponized smallpox from the island infected ten people, of whom 3 died. The location was abandoned by the staff in 1992, and in their rush to leave they did not properly seal and store containers containing spores. Several have developed leaks, making this place extremely dangerous.
13. Bodie, California
Another gold rush town, Bodie’s mines dried up in the early part of the 20th century. By 1915, it was considered a ghost town.
14. Humberstone, Chile
Once the home of a flourishing saltpeter refinery, Humberstone’s product was no longer needed once scientists discovered how to synthesize ammonia. The island was abandoned shortly thereafter.
15. Villa Epecuén, Argentina
Villa Epecuen was once a popular tourist destination on the bank of a salt lake in Buenos Aires. Initially constructed in 1920’s, this town was host to thousands of vacationers as well as home to over 5,000 full-time residents. In 1985, a dam burst and buried the town in 33 feet of salt water. Initially, people waited on their roofs, hoping for the water to recede. They slowly realized that the water wasn’t going anywhere, and within days Villa Epecuen was empty. It would spend more than a quarter of a century underwater before the waters started to recede.
Still considered a sacred Hindu site, this seaside town was destroyed in 1964 by a cyclone that killed over 1,800 people. All dwellings and other structures in Dhanushkodi town were ruined in the storm. Only ruins remain standing in the sand.