The Gift of Experience

| June 01, 2005

Englishman Thomas Hughes, a social reformer, came to eastern Tennessee in 1880 and founded the town of Rugby. It was designed to be a cooperative, a class-free farming community for the sons of English gentry. Today it is a restored Victorian village ( ).

According to, Buckskin Joe is an authentically restored gold mining town from 1860, which opened to the public in 1958. It has been used by Hollywood as the setting for many Westerns. The town is a living history museum that also offers live entertainment. All of the authentic buildings were relocated from the original town of Buckskin Joe as well as other authentic Colorado ghost towns. This website also recommends Cass, W.Va., a turn-of-the-century company logging community whose restored remains have been converted into the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. During its boom period it boasted the world’s largest company store. Cass is unique because many of its houses now accommodate overnight park visitors, and its historic railroad provides a variety of scenic tours. You can find out more about it as

Fayette, Mich., was a prosperous town from 1867 until 1891, its fortune based on iron mines. Today, the town has been restored as the Fayette Historic Townsite.

A word of caution here. I always try to find places that truckers all over the country will have a chance not only to get to, but to enjoy. Some of America’s ghost towns are little more than dust in the wind, some so converted to tourist traps that virtually nothing of the original town remains and the feel of it disappeared with the reconstruction. So before you head out, browse the Internet or the local library and perhaps check out these two books:

Dust in the Wind by Graham Speck, a guidebook to ghost towns from socialistic communes to military outposts, and from pre-Revolutionary War colonial settlements to 20th century mining towns.

Stampede to Timberline: The Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of Colorado by Muriel Wolle.

Follow the Links
Ghost Towns
Tip: Search for ghost towns in the United States and Canada by state or province. The site also features a forum for discussion of ghost towns.

Ghost Towns of America
Tip: Visit this site for mini histories of several ghost towns around the country.

Ghost Town Gallery
Tip: Check out the more than 1,300 photographs here to get a feel for the ghost towns lying out there.

Legends of America
Tip: This site lists ghost towns by state and, for a little extra mystery, “treasure tales” of lost and buried treasure.

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