This remote area of Arizona is known as the painted desert because of the stunning colors of its cliffs and the sparseness of its land. Some might find it hard to believe that about 225 million years ago these deserts and cliffs were once dominated by a dense, mighty forest with trees almost too big for modern man to comprehend. And yet, the evidence of this ancient forest and the plants and animals that lived there are scattered all over this area. Dinosaurs, large amphibians, giant reptiles and ancient ferns, cycads and ginkgoes have been found here. More recent pre-history is told in the petroglyphs, pithouses and pueblos have also become an integral place of this park as well. However, the most famous feature of this park are the massive, fossilized trees. This is Petrified Forest National Park.
Amid the remains of ancient forests and ancient peoples are more modern ruins - towns, cars and railroads abandoned by those who attempted to make their life out in this unforgiving but beautiful landscape. While the desert and fossils here date back hundreds of millions of years, this area only became a national park in the 1960s. It took several attempts by various presidents to turn this area into a national park. It took more than 65 years of campaigning for Petrified Forest to attain national park status and was the only national park created under the presidency of John F. Kennedy. The second of the three national parks in Arizona, every new discovery here proves that Petrified Forest National Park is a national treasure.
Whether one is in the state’s wild woodlands, mountainous coal region, rolling lowlands or along its coastal plains, there are areas that Marylanders have left behind as their state has moved forward. Abandoned towns still lie in the hills and woods while major cities are now located atop what were once ancient and colonial settlements. The change in the state’s economy forced the end of some communities whose residents left for other areas as their main sources of income no longer became viable. The changes from wagons to steamships to railroads and highway systems contributed to the decline of other communities, literally taking them off the map.
Applegarth - Oyster Town
As the makeup and landscape of the state has changed, so too have the towns and cities that Maine’s residents call home. Lost into the past of the Pine Tree State are former colonial forts, a small community inundated by a local lake, a city settled by former slaves, and a wildlife reserve that was once the state’s largest shipbuilding community. The rise and fall the state’s of industry, culture and societies can be charged through the cities lost in the wilds of Maine.
Askwith - On Misery Knob
While many communities have survived the state’s tumultuous history, not all have been so lucky. As Louisiana’s lands changed hands, so did the culture and center of its population. Cities rose and fell based on who was in power, some disappearing completely off the map when their residents were forced elsewhere. Changes in nature ranging from the flowing waters of mighty rivers to the merciless winds of hurricanes destroyed others while some fell victim to more man-made disasters. The story of Louisiana’s lost cities are the story of the state itself, showing changes in society, economics and even the very nature of the Bayou State.
Alberta - The Sawmill City
Much of Kentucky’s past can be uncovered through the places that no longer appear on the map. The decline of the state’s profitable coal industry is seen in the remnants of old company towns in the eastern mountains while the change from river travel to overland traffic can be seen along the state’s rivers. The changes in religion and from Native settlers to European ones can also be seen in once-thriving communities throughout the state.
The Coal Camps
Not all of the communities that began life in Kansas made it out of the state’s bloody history for various reasons. Some towns saw themselves the victims of the homegrown terrorism that marked the state’s founding. One Wild West outpost was destroyed by members of a rival community who wanted to become the county’s seat. While some communities disappeared when residents fell on hard economic times others were just the tool of charlatans, hoping to get rich quick by exploiting others.
Coronado - The Wichita County War
As native tribes were pushed out by European settlers and American settlers pushed out European ones, tensions rose in this state. Bordering the bloody fights over slavery in Kansas and Missouri, much of the infighting spilled over into Iowa. It was into this climate that the state of Iowa was born, and here that many communities rose and fell. Some of Iowa's cities were lost as their inhabitants were forced to move onto reservations while others became ghost when the new religion they were founded on became unpopular with neighboring communities. Some were forced off the map by invading forces and one even by friendly fire.
The Amana Colonies - The Seven Villages
The changes Indiana has undergone throughout its history can be evidenced by the places that its residents have chosen to abandon. Whether discarded because a newer form of transportation became available, a disease ravaged a community or because a group of people was forced out, the ghost towns of Indiana reveal how the times here have changed. Learning more about these lost places not only highlights mistakes of the past but can bring to light some of the more interesting aspects of local history.
Baltimore - On the Banks of the Wabash
However, not every settlement on the frontier that was Illinois made it big. Some disappeared as new settlers pushed out older civilizations. Others were done in by the rise and fall of industry, the violent outbursts of nature or changes in transportation. Though they may no longer be represented on the map, these lost cities helped build the state we know today as Illinois.
Apple River Fort - Bane of the Black Hawks
Just about every type of rare gem or jewel has been found in the state, including a star garnet that is only found in Idaho and India. The search for gems, gold and silver helped push Idaho to statehood, but there were plenty of other industries that have kept the state running from agriculture to timber. Though it has only been a state for a little over a century, Idaho has storied history that can be explored through the places Idahoans have left behind. From mining and minerals to fur trapping to the immigration of Mormons westward, there is a lot to gain by seeing what has been lost in the Idaho backwoods.
The Yankee Fork Towns
Dedicated to all things travel, places I have been and places I want to go.