While not the largest or more populous state in the U.S., New Hampshire can claim to be the first that broke with Great Britain in 1776. This independent spirit lives on it's the state’s motto “Live Free or Die,” a spirit that has long encapsulated its people. Once home to the Abenaki people, New Hampshire’s post colonial period welcomed French-Canadian, Irish, and Polish immigrants to work is industrial mills, granite quarries, railroads and farms.
Like many New England states, New Hampshire is a mix of highly populated urban centers and wild, rural landscapes. Those searching for lost cities in this state will find a mix of abandoned ruins located in far off wildernesses and former towns hiding in plain sight. A post-Revolutionary War land dispute led to the creation of a community claiming to be independent of both the U.S. and Britain. A former major mill site shows the fading legacy of the Industrial Revolution in the state. Old towns hide within the boundaries of modern cities and residents of a modern community seem to have all but forgotten their town was once located elsewhere before the building of a local dam.
Nevada has always attracted those wanting to get rich quick, whether that be from mining the ore found throughout the state, banking on the need for water in its dry climate or tricking others out of their hard earned cash. Many of the ghost towns and lost cities found ruined throughout the state are testaments to those who came here in the hopes of finding their fortunes, and, despite the ruins they left behind, occasionally succeeding. From native peoples to religious hopefuls to cowboys to day laborers to prospectors,profiteers, shysters, hucksters, charlatans and thieves, ghost towns set the stage for some of the Silver State’s most colorful characters.
Much of what made Montana what it is today can be found in its forgotten places, in the abandoned communities that thrived and then died in this rough and tumble state. Old mining towns and stagecoach stops harken back to the days when going west was synonymous with getting rich - and occasionally dying trying. Cowboys, calamities and sinners converged on outposts each in the running for the title of the west’s wickedest city. Soldiers worked to both keep the peace at home and abroad at towns that became their camps. Bootleg booze and fresh water made communities that came out of and disappeared back into nothingness.
By tracking down the old and forgotten places of Missouri, we can learn much more about the history of the state that served as a crossroads between east and west. A once-thriving railroad town is now known as the location of a violent typhoid outbreak. An ingredient used to make Agent Orange leads to the evacuation of an entire community. Flood waters wash away prominent transportation hubs on the state’s major rivers while healing waters attract visitors from around the country to a former resort.
One way to learn about the history of the Magnolia State is to study its lost places. From the port towns that highlight the heyday of steamship travel on the Mighty Mississippi River to the communities King Cotton helped build, these lost towns show not only the economic rise and fall of the state but how changing times and technologies affect everyday lives. Efforts to Americanize a Choctaw settlement led to the beginning of the Trail of Tears while a naval skirmish outside a small steamship port may have changed the course of the Civil War. A former mill town provided invaluable information in the fight against malaria and a farming community helped make new discoveries about yellow fever. The grounds of a NASA testing facility hide the remains of three once great logging towns, and a notorious highwayman haunts a Natchez Trace ghost town.
From a frontier outpost named after a type of wild turnip to one named after a shipwreck to a village famed for its missing postmaster, the former communities that once helped make up Minnesota help tell the story of this state. Cities gave way from Native American settlements to military towns and even county seats. River crossings, iron mines, and the lumber industry provided early and sometimes periodic economic engines for the state's cities and towns, though some were unable to survive with the changing times. Ojibwe, Dakota Sioux, French Canadian, British, and other European settlers worked together to build these Minnesota communities as well as those that still survive, proving that even a state as seemingly white bread as Minnesota can have a multicultural history.
Michigan in the present has seen the depopulation of its major cities as its reputation as a manufacturing mecca wanes. However, this is not the first time economic and cultural changes have erased communities from the state’s historical record. Towns centered around once-profitable mines and logging mills saw their populations tumble along with the surrounding industry. Disease, religious mistrust, and fire destroyed others. Some remain buried under the dunes of Michigan beaches while others have retreated into rivers and farm fields. Uncovering each also uncovers a piece of Michigan’s past.
Strange stones began appearing near a former town site on Cape Ann. Not far from where the pilgrims landed also lie the remnants of one of the first settlements established by free African-Americans in the country. Under the waves of several local lakes lie the remnants of dozens of once prominent communities. The disappearance former fishing village and military outpost on Cape Cod has been blamed on everything from sharks to hurricane to to a lack of fresh water. Villages established by Native American converts to Christianity played an important role in the early days of the state, yet this tribe is nearly forgotten. Some of the best secrets Massachusetts has can be found in its forgotten places.
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
Dedicated to all things travel, places I have been and places I want to go.