Monday, October 6, 2014

Ghost Towns Offer Glimpse into the Past

About a mile up an unnamed gravel road inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the back way into an abandoned neighborhood and hotel, some of which was originally constructed more than 100 years ago.

In the fully edited film below, "Tennessee Wonderland", hiker Jordan Liles explores the houses and the remains of what was once referred to as the Wonderland Club.


A piece in the Huffington Post Roadtrippers blog documents the abandoned town Liles spotted during his hike.

Ghost towns dot the landscape all across the southwestern United States, once-thriving cultural hubs abandoned and left in shambles.

In an Associated Press article that appeared Sunday, writer John Marshall highlights a handful of other popular ghost towns in the Southwest, many of which are still fairly well preserved and offer visitors a chance to see a piece of history -- even if, as Marshall writes, it is in pieces.

Among the towns he features are Death Valley Junction; California, Bodie California (located near the Nevada state line east of Yosemite National Park); Gleeson, Arizona (near the famous Wild West town of Tombstone); Rhyolite, Nevada (established in 1905 during the Gold Rush); and Goldfield, Arizona (featuring Old West gunfights, gold panning and rides on Arizona's only narrow-gauge train).

Can't get enough? Check out Thurber, Texas -- former home to coal miners and brick plant workers from Italy, Poland, and as many as 14 European nations, not to mention the many Mexican immigrants who came to the area.

Located 75 miles west of Fort Worth, Thurber was -- between 1888 and 1921 -- one of the largest producers of bituminous coal in Texas and the largest company town in the state with a population of over 10,000.

The city still boasts several landmarks, including the Thurber Cemetery -- which has more than 1,000 graves, the restored St. Barbara's Catholic Church, a restored and furnished coal miner's house, New York Hill, and more. A historic Thurber smokestack can clearly be seen from Interstate 20 near Thurber.[4] Also at Thurber is the W. K. Gordon Center for Industrial History of Texas, a museum containing information on historical Thurber (operated by nearby Tarleton State University),[3] as well as the historic Smokestack Restaurant, and the New York Hill Restaurant built on what was once the site of the town's Episcopal Church at the top of New York Hill.

Read more of on Thurber in Mary Jane Gentry's lively history of the city's rise and decline The Birth of a Texas Ghost Town: Thurber, 1886-1933.

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