By Luke Anderson
February 18, 2016
Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish some of Wyoming’s small settlements from “ghost towns.” In our harsh climate, many towns that once boasted healthy populations and big dreams have been deserted. In many cases this happened because the town’s lifeblood — often a mine — either tapped out or was shut down and there is nothing left but the dedication of a few loyal local residents to support the community. Many people may leave the town when this happens, but the buildings remain to be slowly consumed by the elements and reclaimed by nature. The best historical record of what the town used to be is often found in the town’s abandoned cemetery. These sites can be tremendously evocative. In addition to offering vivid reminders of the temporal nature of our lives, they open a window on long-gone chapters of Wyoming’s history. No matter how few the remainders of the town, or what condition those remnants are in, they reach out and grab us, demanding that we consider those who have gone before. Ghost towns don't stand out against the landscape like towns that are still in use do. Instead, ghost towns have become a part of the historical landscape as a whole, as one element of the grand space that has shown its experience with time. Ghost towns and cemeteries remind us that time has a way of changing things, and that change occurs at different scales. Ultimately, our anthropomorphic scale changes much quicker than our geological companions. The remainders of abandoned towns truly are "ghosts" of civilization, where the power of nature shows its resilience.
One of the important caveats when exploring these seemingly abandoned sites is to remember always to respect private property rights. While it may appear as though no one has any interest in these sites, an owner may still exist. Before exploring, ask some questions to make sure you are not trespassing. The Wyoming Tales and Trails website can help you find some of our state’s wonderful and semi-forgotten locations.
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