America’s ghost towns are remnants of a deep longing for prosperity and offer insight into the unfortunate realities of the 1800’s gold rush. These stoic, abandoned towns are much more than postcard backdrops. Peruse this list of the most impressive ghost towns in Idaho and Wyoming before your next trip to the Wild West.
South Pass City
This city was teeming with miners in the late 1860’s and became one of the busiest and most productive cities in the region. South Pass City’s businesses grew rapidly during this period, but as the frenzy over the gold rush dwindled down, so did the area’s prosperity. You can still visit this ghost town in Northwest Wyoming and experience 20 authentically restored structures while panning for gold in Willow Creek. The entry fee is only $4.00, and just $2.00 for residents of Wyoming!
The natural bounty of Wyoming attracted thrill-seekers from across the nation, turning Atlantic City into a bustling town of thousands. Miners heard of the mineral-rich quartz vein, spanning thousands of feet, and families left their homes to seek riches in this tiny town. The location was rather isolated—100 miles from the nearest railroad—making winters incredibly harsh, and yet the area flourished. It soon opened plenty of buildings that you can still see today, including a school, a brewery, an opera house, and many saloons.
Situated a few miles east of Atlantic City, this city’s old-world charm makes it a favorite stop among tourists. Originally dubbed Hamilton City, it was renamed after it’s incredibly productive gold mine in order to market to miners. The Miner’s Delight mine was the most lucrative of all the mines in Western Wyoming, though the town remained small and isolated. At its peak, it had just 100 inhabitants, and like most of its fellow mining towns it faded into history. Today, you can learn about this ghost town by walking the worn trails and reading the informative signs detailing its exciting past.
Chesterfield used to be a Mormon Pioneer town along the old Oregon trail in southeast Idaho. The agricultural village’s 27 standing structures are now completely unoccupied, with the place’s memory kept alive by the history savants who saunter down its roads. Lush, green scenery awaits visitors, as Chesterfield is nestled in the beautiful Portneuf Valley. It’s not difficult to see what attracted early Mormon settlers here and continues to captivate people today.
Sacajawea Historic Byway
Along the historic byways of Idaho, you can experience the early settlements of pioneers and remnants of historic towns and mills. This stretch of highway in Northeastern Idaho contains the Sacajawea Historic Byway, where visitors can learn about Native American art, cultures, and the legacy of Sacajawea herself. This stretch of road runs by charcoal kilns used to process silver in centuries past, along with the former mining community of Gilmore. You can even trace the steps Lewis and Clark took on their journey through the wilderness.