Discover Some Eerie Ghost Towns On This Spooky Road Trip In Southern America

Forget the ruins of Rome and Greece, the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, and all the other ancient places of the world. Well, don't actually forget them. They're awesome. However, if you want to see ruins and abandoned places, you can find many of them closer to home. The United States of America has a ton of ghost towns and mines that were once inhabited. Some of them have been reconstructed, others have ruins, and one even has a song written about it.

If you plan a visit to Kentucky or happen to live in the area, there are a bunch of places that were once hopping and now empty of people ... well, outside of tourists. Some of them might even have a few actual ghosts floating around, though whether you believe that or not is up to you. Let's take a tour through the once populated places of Kentucky, discover what they were, why they ended up empty, and see if there are any haunted happenings in the area.

If you're near Lexington, it's worth a stop at Boonesborough, a town built by the famous Daniel Boone and others around 1775. It was abandoned after an attack by the Shawnee people in 1778. It's now part of Fort Boonesborough State Park (pictured above), and has been reconstructed with cabins, a working fort, and living history actors who demonstrate crafts. While you're not looking at actual ruins here, it's pretty fun to see what it would have been like when this place was in operation.

Ghostly towns and mines in Kentucky

One town that you actually may have heard of is Paradise, which was shut down in 1967 after the pollution from the nearby coal plant started causing ash to fall from the sky. You may know it from the absolutely haunting 1971 song "Paradise" by John Prine. The only thing still standing there is the cemetery at the top of the hill, but it's worth a visit just to see what that song was talking about.

In Marion County, you can find the remains of Bells Mine, a town of miners, farmers, and loggers between Sturgis and Marion. It was settled in the early 19th century, but was largely deserted once the Civil War began. The place has been empty for so long that it's been taken over by wildlife. It's open to the public and you can still see some town ruins, and the graveyard. You cannot enter the remnants of the mine for safety reasons.

Abandoned mines may seem like something out of a "Scooby-Doo" cartoon, but many still exist. Lawton Mushroom Mine near Olive Hill and Lawton is one such place. It was once a limestone mine that became a mushroom farm from the 1960s through the 1980s. You can walk through it but please take care. Two people were found dead there in 2004. There are ghost stories galore in the form of voices, moving water, and ghostly figures. The town of Lawton is also abandoned and you can even see some of the items that were left behind in the homes.

More ghosts towns and an abandoned sanatorium

Many more abandoned mining towns are found throughout this region of southern Kentucky and worth a stop to ponder what life must have been like in these once-thriving communities before they were deserted. In Leslie County, the bygone farming, trapping, and mining town known as Dryfork was home to more than 500 people. All that remains today is the Dryfork Cemetery. Continuing east from there in McCreary County, you'll come upon the old coal mining community of Barthell. In the early 1900s, a devastating coal fire destroyed the mine which led the miners and their families to abandon the town.

While not technically a ghost town, if you drive west for less than two hours from Lexington, you can stop at the abandoned Waverly Hills Sanatorium. This hospital was built in 1883 and was the site of a massive tuberculosis outbreak during a time when medical knowledge was pretty barbaric by our current standards. More than 8,000 people died there, so if you're doing a spooky roadtrip, it's worth a tour.