Ghost Town. The very title given to these places lends itself to horror movies and things that go bump in the night. The imagination tends to picture a creepy desolate city where stupid teenagers decide go one night with handheld cameras in order to disprove the local legend of some sort of horrific monster which still inhabits the ruins preying on unsuspecting travelers. They are, of course, horribly and gruesomely murdered. Now it is true that occasionally these abandoned places have reached this state due to a catastrophic event and (since I’m the type of person who gets completely freaked out by horror movies, you wont ever catch me wandering through one of them at night) I have absolutely no evidence that they aren’t inhabited by serial killers or haunted by the vengeful spirits of people who met grisly ends.
However, the actual truth about most ghost towns tend to lean towards the far less dramatic end of the spectrum. Essentially, a ghost town is defined as an abandoned village, town, or city which usually contains some form of substantial visible remains. There are even some locations which have obtained the title of being a ghost town even though they are still inhabited; in these situations the population has to have been decreased by a significant amount over a short period of time. And, while the abandonment is typically related to a natural or human disaster such as flooding, government actions, ‘uncontrolled lawlessness’ (as per Wikipedia-that’s my favorite cause), war, and/or nuclear disaster it is actual most often the failure of economic support due to these causes that actually destroys the ability for people to continue inhabiting the site.
Bringing this all back around to the focus of this blog, British Columbia itself has between 150-200 ghost towns within the boarders of the province and the larger of these will be covered in post of their very own in the future. It is not likely to be a surprise that the majority of these towns in this region of North America were originally mining towns, followed by a number with direct ties to the Canadian Pacific Railway, towns that were sustained on the logging and forestry industries, religious colonies, and finally centers of the fur trade.
Now, while the economic activities which originally sustained these towns, both in B.C. as well as their counterparts around the rest of the country and the world, have ended these locations still play an important role today. Firstly, these locations often preserve attributes, architecture, and even specific items which are specific to the period in which the town was abandoned and which have remained in their unaltered state. The second possibility for these towns, which is directly related to the previous comment, is that they have the potential to become tourist attractions. Finally, very occasionally when this second occurrence happens, the town generates enough of a new economy to support residents and a revival can be seen years after the location was given up for good by its original inhabitants.
Image from http://www.oddee.com/item_96462.aspx