Jeffrey City, Wyoming

An apartment building sits abandoned as a thunderstorm builds on the horizon

An apartment building sits abandoned as a thunderstorm builds on the horizon

Luke Anderson: My favorite Wyoming place is Jeffrey City. I am fascinated with abandoned places, mesmerized by humanity’s ability to spend incredible amounts of time and resources building up a place only to walk away from it overnight. There are many ghost towns in the west that were abandoned and deserted in a very short period of time. Many were boomtowns. Jeffrey City was too, but the story of this particular town is different than other ghost towns of the West. First of all, Jeffrey City is embedded in a much larger narrative of world history. Where many ghost towns were former gold or silver mine boomtowns, Jeffrey City was a uranium boomtown, expanding rapidly in the 1950s during the Cold War and the global arms race. It shows how geographically, even a small town in a small state like Wyoming is not immune to global events. Second, the aesthetics of Jeffrey City as a ghost town are much different than others. Where many western ghost towns exhibit romanticized wood board sidewalks and false front buildings, Jeffrey City has modern, utilitarian structures, the kind that are still in wide usage today. It is this feature that makes Jeffrey City feel truly to me like a ‘ghost’ town, seeing the kinds of modern structures we’re used to seeing in thriving cities sitting completely empty and neglected now for over three decades.

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