Time travel has fascinated humanity for many years. While travelling through time has only been done in outer space (and they can only travel in the future, sadly), abandoned places could make you feel like you’re actually in the past. These are some locations around the world that seems frozen in time.
1. Salton Riviera, California
Once a booming tourist attraction, the Salton Riviera in California now looks like a post-apocalyptic beach. It lies on the shore of a lake amazingly created by accident named the Salton Sea, which was formed when a flood poured into the Colorado River and breached its levees in 1905. The place was once an uninhabitable desert before the lake existed.
Many people thought that the floodwater would dry out, but decades went by and people did not notice signs of evaporation. Developers soon considered the place as a business opportunity and built a resort upon it, advertised as the “miracle in the desert.” It has been named as the Salton Sea and became the French Riviera of California. In 1950s to 1960s, tourists flocked the resort from all over the country. Many chose the place to build their homes.
However, the ecosystem of this lake began to collapse by the late 1970s as the water became increasingly saltier, depleted in oxygen and polluted with pesticides. Multitudes of fishes began to die and float in the surface of the lake. Its white sandy beaches were soon covered in fish bones and the place become overpowered with stench. Residents and tourists quickly got out of the town, abandoned the place, and left it to become a toxic wasteland.
2. Hashima Island, Japan
Located nine miles off the coast of Japan, the Hashima Island, also known as Gunkanjima or the Battleship Island, was a coal mining town during 1887 to 1974. Being an aid before in the industrialization of Japan, it is now an abandoned ghost town surrounded by tall concrete sea walls. It is known as the inspiration for the villain’s home in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall.
The Hashima Island was once one of the most densely populated place in the world. Back then, the 16-acre industrial land was home to more than 5,000 miners. Eventually, living conditions in the area declined. Plus, the demand for coal eventually ran out as it was being replaced by petroleum in the 1960s. By 1974, the mining business was eventually shut down and workers deserted the once populated place. The island was left alone with its cement buildings and equipment deteriorating.
People have planned to make the island as a rubbish dump, but some advocates prevented it from happening. Because it was preserved, it became one of Nagasaki’s major tourist attractions.
3. Kitsault, Canada
The town of Kitsault can be found in the province of British Columbia, Canada. It has more than a hundred homes, 200 apartments, a bank, a shopping mall, a movie theater, a sports center and a hospital. But the thing is, no one lives here.
The town was formed in 1979 when Amax Canada claimed the 350-acre land to extract molybdenum for steel production. It was four-hour drive away from the nearest town, so the mining company spent $50 million to build the town for its 1,200 miners and their families. Unfortunately, the price of molybdenum easily plummeted in 1982 and the mine was closed down. Everybody packed up and left.
However, in 2004, an entrepreneur bought the place for $7 million, hoping to resurrect the town from its slumber. It was deserted because there was no economic activity left, and the businessman planned to bring a source of income for the site – a liquified natural gas terminal. But only time will tell if the plan was to be successful.
4. Pripyat, Ukraine
The ghost town left by the worst nuclear disasters of all time, Pripyat was founded in 1970 to house its workers from Chernobyl Nuclear Station. It was a thriving community with 50,000 people, with 15 schools, 25 stores, a hospital, 10 gyms, parks, cinemas and an amusement park that was never opened.
When the Chernobyl exploded during a testing in 1986, it released extremely dangerous amounts of radioactive chemicals in the air, killing 30 people and several thousand others due to higher cancer incidence. For two days, the townspeople were forced to evacuate. People never came back to live there again because radiation levels still remained too high for permanent habitation, even after decades since the incident.
Pripyat became a freeze-frame of the Soviet Union in 1986. Tourists and photographers come to visit the spot regularly.
5. Two Guns, Arizona
Two Guns was another old tourist attraction. When white settlers began to live in the area, they found out that it was an ideal place to cross Canyon Diablo. It was originally called Canyon Lodge, which was a trading post owned by Earle and Louise Cundiff. An entrepreneur Harry “Two Gun” Miller became interested with the town and convinced the Cundiffs to lease him the site for 10 years and rename it. Later on, when the nearby National Trail highway was renamed as Route 66, town of Two Guns was created to serve travelers. Miller transformed the town into a full-blown tourist spot, complete with attractions like zoos.
The town began to decline when it became a victim to a major robbery, creating an intense conflict between Miller and the Cundiffs. During a heated argument, Miller shot Earle Cundiff dead. He was acquitted from the killing, but he was attacked by lions and monsters shortly thereafter. Eventually, Miller left the town after losing in a court battle with Loise Cundiff.
The Cundiffs never enjoyed the success of two guns, however. Route 66 was rerouted to the opposite canyon and was bypassed by the Interstate-40.
6. Oradour-sur-Glane, France
The Oradour-sur-Glane was a witness to the brutality of the Nazi massacre in 1944. Four days after the D-Day invasion of Normandy, the Nazi Waffen-SS armored division rounded up and killed 642 people in the village, which included women and children. The site was located in the German-occupied zone of France during World War II. Only six people survived the attack and according to one survivor, the Nazis’ shots targeted the legs of the villagers so that they cannot escape, and then they covered them with fuel and burned the barns on fire.
After the attack, President Charles de Gaulle ordered to maintain the ruins of the original town as a permanent memorial and museum. The burnt-out village was preserved as a testimony to the cruelty of the Nazi occupation.
7. Kolmanskop, Namibia
A boom to bust ghost town, Kolmanskop stands in the Namib Desert, Namibia, abandoned and frozen in time. It was founded in 1908 as a diamond mining town and a home to hundreds of German miners. Before World War I, more than 2,000 pounds of diamonds were dug from the desert. The town contained many familiar niceties like grand stately homes, hospitals, casino, theater and sports hall, ballroom, school, bowling alley and ice factory.
After the war, unfortunately, the price of diamonds continued to drop. Villagers eventually moved out because they didn’t want to endure a life in the scorching desert – during an era before air conditioning – without enough money.
Nowadays, the buildings still remain, but ravaged by wind and dunes. It is now a popular tourist destination giving a glimpse of life before the first World War. The place was also used as the main setting for the 2000 film The King is Alive.
8. Bodie, California
Visiting Bodie is a fantastic way to see the real-life setting of the California gold rush. It’s a historic gold mining town located northeast of Yosemite National Park.
In 1859, two prospectors discovered gold in Bodie Hills. It started with around 20 miners and quickly mushroomed into life. Twenty years after, the place became home to an estimated 10,000 people and more than 2,000 buildings. The town bustled with houses, schools, church, as well as entertainment outlets like brothels, gambling halls and opium dens. It also gained a fearsome reputation as one of the wildest, most lawless and toughest mining camps as killings just became an everyday happening.
By 1881, the mines began to decline and the population started to shrink. Fires also attacked the town, one in 1892 and another in 1932, reducing the remains to just 10 percent of the original. Bodie is now coined as a village frozen in time in a “state of arrested decay.”