Forgotten Landscapes: Exploring Hauntingly Beautiful Ghost Towns

By Jack Ripley | May 7, 2024

Centralia, Pennsylvania

test article image
(getty images)

A common thread of many of the ghost towns on this list is a connection to coal mining. Centralia is no exception. A fire in the local dump that started in 1962 spread underground until it eventually covered the entire valley by 1979. While many in the town of 1,500 likely feared losing loved ones underground in the mines, a fire underground spreading toxic waste and gas was totally unexpected. After 17 years of the hidden underground fire, sinkholes began to threaten people and houses. Poisonous emissions continued to rise as the population rapidly fell, and by 1990 only 63 people remained. In 2012 10 residents were still making a home in an environmental disaster. 

Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong

test article image
(atlas obscura)

The last ghost town on this list went from being the most densely populated city on earth to being totally abandoned. At the height of its population Kowloon had 50,000 inhabitants on a mere 6.5 acres of land. Kowloon was a twisting, multilayered, disorganized, homegrown settlement that arose from refugees seeking governmental protection after World War II. By staying in the bounds of the ancient Walled City, inhabitants felt more secure and had access to protection. In spite of efforts to tear it down, residents continued to return. Finally, in 1994, Hong Kong officials demolished the city.