Ghost Towns & Cemeteries

By AHW staff

February 18, 2016

In Wyoming's harsh climate and boom-and-bust economy, 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 — was either shut down or the resource tapped out, leaving nothing behind but empty buildings and a few loyal local residents who have stayed behind to support the community, like in Jeffrey City. Some towns have been abandoned entirely and only ruins remain, such as the ghost town of Carbon. 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 own lives, they open a window to 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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