Friday, September 24, 2010
What makes a ghost town? A friend bought a book about ghost towns at a thrift store and gave it to me knowing I like to use ghost towns in my books. But I had to laugh. The book was first printed in 1971 and it stated that a town my school (Jr. High and High School) played in sports was a tourist ghost town. I can attest they had enough people in the town and area to have a school as large as the one I attended. So why did they classify it as a tourist ghost town?
This set me on a quest to find out what the requirements are to be ranked a ghost town.
Merriam Webster definition- ghost town: a once-flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted usually as a result of the exhaustion of some natural resource.
This I understand knowing how many towns sprouted up where gold and silver were found and then came to ruin when the ores played out.
Another ghost town in Oregon was Shaniko. A thriving town when wool and grain were shipped from there by train in the late 1800's and early 1900's. More railroad lines popped up across the state and people didn't have to bring their goods to Shaniko to be shipped and the town slowly died.
If towns had more than one resource to keep them prosperous they were lucky and thrived.
My thoughts on the "tourist" ghost town would be the fact when the lumber industry started deteriorating the community began in earnest to make the town appear older, more western and held staged bank robberies to gain revenue from tourists. While the town isn't really what you think of when you go looking for a ghost town with dilapidated buildings and old mine shafts, it is catering to the people who want a glimpse of what the rugged and lively west once was.
Do you have a "tourist" ghost town near you? What about a real ghost town?