Top 10 Creepiest Small Towns in America

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Top 10 Creepiest Small Towns in America

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
You will NOT find us here at night. For this list, we'll be looking at towns and areas in the United States that are the most eerie, whether due to historical events, rumors of paranormal activity, or the ravages of time. Our countdown includes Thibodaux, Louisiana, Wailuku, Hawaii, Rhyolite, Nevada, and more!
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Top 10 Creepiest Small Towns in America


You will NOT find us here at night. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Creepiest Small Towns in America.

For this list, we’ll be looking at towns and areas in the United States that are the most eerie, whether due to historical events, rumors of paranormal activity, or the ravages of time. Some of these places may lean into their reputations, while others may recoil from them.

#10: Thibodaux, Louisiana

New Orleans has a storied history of hauntings, but a town nearby has a history that makes many believe it’s cursed. Thibodaux is located on the Bayou Lafourche and over the years has been the home of numerous violent moments. The most notable is the racially motivated Thibodaux Massacre, which took place in 1887 after a labor strike among sugarcane workers. The strike lasted three weeks, but ended in devastation when white paramilitary forces struck out against the overwhelmingly Black striking workers. It’s unknown how many people were killed, but it is possible it was hundreds. With a history like that, you’d expect multiple areas here, like the Laurel Valley Plantation, to have very bad vibes.

#9: East Bethany, New York

There isn't a whole lot to see or do in East Bethany, a tiny hamlet in New York state. Many of the tourists who visit, though, are ghost hunters who come for the supposed paranormal draw of the building now known as the Rolling Hills Asylum. Originally created as the Genesee County Poor farm, the location was used in “American Horror Story: Asylum” and once you see it you’ll understand why. The Asylum has leaned into its creepy history and now offers ghost tours and other spooky activities for visitors.

#8: Wailuku, Hawaii

When you think of Hawaii you probably picture swaying palm trees, surfers and sunny beaches - not ghosts and ghouls. But Wailuku, Hawaii is home to the ʻĪao Theater which has a history dating back to the 1920s. There have long been rumors of a female ghost who has taken up residence in the theater, and it doesn’t help that the locals use this knowledge to scare visitors by messing with the lights. It was potentially going to be demolished in the ‘80s but was luckily preserved so you can still stop in for a scare today.

#7: Thurmond, West Virginia

Today, the town of Thurmond, West VA is about as isolated as you can get without being completely cut off from civilization: connected to the outside world by one road and one train track. As of 2018, the population of Thurmond, West Virginia was just five people. But Thurmond was once a thriving coal mining hub, and much of the town is now preserved as it looked decades ago, with little evidence of modernity. It was once a stopping point for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway but the old depot has been transformed into a visitor center. Taking a trip here is a reminder of how quickly a place can fall from success to become a ghost town.

#6: Centralia, Pennsylvania

Another town that has very, very few permanent residents is Centralia, Pennsylvania. The population of the town left for good reason: a fire’s been burning under the city since 1962. No, we don’t mean metaphorically. The fire started in an abandoned coal mine and causes toxic gases to leak out. To make matters worse, the fire is expected to burn for many more years. Considering that there’s a sign around town reading “Ground is prone to sudden collapse” and “Walking or driving in this area could result in serious injury or death,” you can imagine the creepy vibe. We don’t imagine this town will see a revival any time soon.

#5: Kennecott, Alaska

It’s likely that you picture abandoned towns existing largely in the South or Midwest of the United States so it’s easy to forget about the last frontier. Back at the turn of the 20th century, a pair of prospectors came across a wealth of copper in Kennecott, Alaska, and soon enough several mines were set up to extract it, ushering in an era of prosperity. By November of 1938 however, the copper had dried up and the last train left Kennecott, with the town left abandoned. Now tourists are able to visit the old mines and see what’s left of a once-wealthy town.

#4: Bodie, California

Located in Mono County, California, Bodie is one of America’s best known ghost towns because of its compelling history. In 1859, a team of prospectors discovered gold in Bodie, and by 1876 locals had a boom town on their hands after they started making serious profits from their discovery. Just a couple of years later, the population of Bodie had ballooned to between seven and ten thousand. By 1915 however, after years of falling profits, it had become a ghost town. What makes Bodie so remarkable is how well preserved the buildings are, and how many relics remain within them, seemingly untouched for over a century. But you definitely get an eerie feeling walking around a place that looks frozen in time.

#3: Virginia City & Nevada City, Montana

Located about a mile apart in Madison County, Montana, Virginia City and Nevada City each have their own interesting histories. Both were part of the gold rush, with Nevada City known for one of the "Richest Gold Strikes in the Rocky Mountain West". Virginia City, on the other hand, was once home to the notorious frontierswoman Calamity Jane. Both towns have buildings standing from the 1800s, and living history shows give visitors a glimpse at the towns’ past. It’s easy to let your imagination run free picturing the drama of the Wild West, and when you walk around town legend has it you can feel the ghosts of those who came before.

#2: Rhyolite, Nevada

Near the border of Death Valley National Park lies Rhyolite, Nevada, another once-prosperous town that’s taken a turn for the creepy. The gold rush brought a significant population to the area, which at one point was home to a bustling community that included an opera house and even a stock exchange. But in 1907 financial panic set in, and by 1911 the Montgomery Shoshone Mine was closed. The town has now been essentially abandoned for more than a century, with many of the remaining buildings lying in ruin and all of them empty. Like some of the others on our list, Rhyolite is inevitably haunted by the many who left their fortunes behind here.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Deadwood, South Dakota
The HBO Series Was Set Here for a Reason

Crescent City, California
Battery Point Lighthouse Is Supposedly Haunted

Goldfield, Arizona
Abandoned Not Once, But Twice!

St. Elmo, Colorado
Claims to Be One of the Most Haunted Ghost Towns in the State

Alton, Illinois
McPike Mansion Draws Ghost Hunters

#1: Old Cahawba, Alabama

Cahaba (or Cahawba) was once Alabama’s state capital, but over the years it has become better-known for its ghostly activity than its political history. The town has taken on the moniker of “Alabama’s most famous ghost town” and there have long been legends of paranormal activity taking place there. One tells of a mysterious orb seen in the garden maze on the property of C. C. Pegues, which no longer exists. Digital Alabama’s Guide to Ghosts and Haunted Places lists many more instances of purported hauntings and creepiness, not merely in Old Cahawba Archaeological Park, but all across the state of Alabama. But the abandoned and haunted Old Cahawba takes the cake.
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