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5 great ghost towns

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/26/16/35/135CCj.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - HAT53 – VIRTUAL TOURIST
    The Royal Gardens subdivision on Hawaii’s Big Island was gradually abandoned in recent decades because of the approach of lava from nearby Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/26/16/35/1jBYgc.Em.138.jpeg|198
    TOM HOOD - AP
    The Douglas Mansion in Jerome, Ariz., is shown in this February 2002 file photo. The Douglas Mansion is the centerpiece of Jerome State Historic Park and prominent among the historical buildings that dot the small town’s up-and-down landscape.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/26/16/35/re5J4.Em.138.jpeg|236
    - SMIRNOFFORIGINAL – VIRTUALTOURIST
    This is an abandoned gymnasium in Prypiat, Ukraine.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/10/26/16/35/1nssAA.Em.138.jpeg|198
    - JUNEB – VIRTUAL TOURIST
    The ebb and flow of politics turned Kayakoy, Turkey, into a ghost town.

Rather than focusing on haunted destinations this Halloween, members and editors of virtualtourist.com compiled a list of five great ghost towns – places that have been abruptly abandoned, and whose emptiness makes them spooky and eerie.

Hashima Island, Japan

Hashima Island, off the port of Nagasaki, once had the highest population density in history, with more than 5,000 full-time residents, despite the island being only 18 acres. Hashima served as a coal mine and was built with housing to accommodate workers and their families, making it resemble a battleship and earning the location the nickname “Battleship Island” in Japanese. When the mine closed in 1974, residents had to leave. The island remained closed to the public until 2009, when a new dock made it possible for tour boats to land at there. The 45-minute tours of the island are becoming popular.

Prypiat, Ukraine

Is “Prypiat” unfamiliar? Think Chernobyl: Prypiat is within Ukraine’s “zone of alienation” – within 18 miles of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The city was originally founded to house workers of the power plant and was only three miles from the plant. The entire city was evacuated in 1986 due to the explosion and subsequent radiation leak at Chernobyl. Today, it requires a day pass issued by the Ukrainian government to visit Prypiat.

Kayakoy, Turkey

The village of Kayakoy is nestled in the hills of the Taurus Mountains, about 5 miles south of the larger coastal city of Fethiye. At one time, the village was inhabited by 2,000-plus Greek Orthodox citizens, but in 1923, after World War I and the Greco-Turkish War, Greece and Turkey agreed to a compulsory population exchange based on religious ideology. When citizens of Kayakoy were repatriated to Greece, their village was abandoned. Today, it serves as a museum and historical monument, illustrating fallout from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Royal Gardens subdivision, Kilauea, Hawaii

Along the Big Island’s southeastern shore and in the shadow of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the site of the former Royal Gardens subdivision can barely be made out. In the early 1980s, the land was seen as highly valuable with its beautiful view of the volcano and the ocean. Few seemed to worry that it was less than 4 miles from the Kilauea Volcano’s vent. By March of 1983, the first house in the subdivision was destroyed by a lava flow, but a few inhabitants remained until the final house was destroyed in 2012. See the site from the free county viewing area at Kalapana.

Jerome, Ariz.

The American West is scattered with abandoned mining towns, but Jerome is a quick stop from some of Arizona’s most popular tourist destinations – and it’s historically haunted. It was once a booming copper camp, the fourth largest city in the state in the late 1920s. When the mines closed in the 1950s, the population plummeted to only 42 residents, and it became well-known for its paranormal activity such as items inexplicably moving on their own and glasses sliding off tables on their own. Now, the destination is widely regarded for its great photographic setting and quaint artist studios and galleries.

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