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New York Ghost Towns – 5 Historic Places to Explore

New York Ghost towns

Many people don’t really associate the state of New York with ghost towns. It certainly gets more attention as the financial capital of the world than for its early history, but like all other states, New York has its fair of both interesting and creepy ghost towns.

A majority of the ghost towns are in Upstate New York and began as small mining camps that grew into major towns then died out because of the exhaustion of the minerals. Others were great lumber towns that could not survive the closure of mills or forest fires.

Here are 5 interesting New York ghost towns that are worth a visit:

 

1. Tahawus, New York

 

Iron was first discovered in Essex County at the site of Tahawus in 1826 by David Henderson and Archibald McIntyre. A company named Adirondack Iron Works extracted the iron from 1827 to 1857 but the titanium dioxide in the ore made it difficult for the company to successfully mine the iron using the technology of the time.

During its mining years, Adirondack Iron Works also operated other business including a blast furnace, brick and charcoal kilns, an iron forge, a grist mill, a saw mill, trip hammers and a puddling furnace. All these operations required a lot of labor and this brought in more workers creating a town around the area.

At the time of the closure of the mining operations in 1857, the town had a school, an assembly hall, a church and several businesses. In 1876 an agent of the Adirondack Iron Works formed the Preston Ponds Club which later changed its name to Tahawus Club. The club was responsible for managing the Tagawus tracts of land.

In 1940 the National Lead Industries reopened the mines with aim of extracting the titanium dioxide in the ore. This brought in a lot of job seekers creating a town known as the Tahawus. Tahawus flourished and had hundreds of residents and numerous business. When the titanium mining was closed in 1989 the town was abandoned for the last time.

Today the site of the Tahawus ghost town is being conserved by the Open Space institute. The site has about 10 buildings mostly constructed by the Tahawus Club between 1890 and 1930. There is also a building from the first mining period (1827 to 1857) and the original McIntyre Furnace that was constructed in 1854.


 

2. Doodletown, New York

 

Doodletown is a ghost town in the Rockland County. The remnants of this town are now conserved as part of the Bear Mountain State Park just north of Jones Point.

The town began in the 1760s as a settlement area with a majority of the first settlers working as either loggers or miners. The area had a lot of lumber and a number of smaller sawmills were set up around the town making it an important trading center.

The soils were also rich in iron and several small operations sprung up to bring more people to the town. An attempt to establish a large-scale iron mining operation came in the 1890s when Thomas Edison purchased an old iron mine in the area but nothing came out of the project.

The construction of an ammunition depot in nearby Iona in the early 1900s and the creation of the Palisades interstate Park Commission offered employment to the residents of the town and thus helped the town grow further. The town reached its peak in the 1920s and had a school, a post office, a church, two cemeteries, over hundred homes and several hundred residents.

The town began its decline following the great depression of early 1930s which forced most of the residents to move to other areas in search of employment. By 1950 most of the early resident had left. Bear Mountain State Park then began purchasing the properties in town as part of its expansion plan.

By 1970 all of the town areas was under the park and the structures were destroyed to allow nature to reclaim the area. Today only foundations and staircases of the early buildings can be seen at the site of the town which is now within Bear Mountain State Park.

 

3. Jayville, New York

 

Jayville was established in 1854 when investor Z.H. Benton opened an Iron ore mine at the site. The mine brought in a lot of miners who established the town just next to the mine. The ore proved to be very small and by 1886 when the Adirondack and Carthage linking to the town of Jayville was completed the mining had already been closed down. Other industries such as the saw mills and the railroad traffic helped keep the town afloat.

Jayville hit its peak in the 1880s and had several businesses including Iron smelting furnaces, brick kilns, churches, a school, a post office, a rail station, a telegrapher, general stores and a host of other business. The population peaked at a population of several hundred, mostly miners and loggers.

In the 1900s most of the miners moved to Benson Mine just a few miles away marking the start of the town’s decline. There were several attempts to reopen the mining around the town but that too did not bear any fruits.

Today all that remains of Jayville are the abandoned railroad station and a few foundation at the site of the town along the Jayville Road. The land is now owned by the state of New York.

Also Read: Rockhounding in New York – Herkimer Diamonds & Much More!

And: Gold Prospecting in New York State

 

4. Trapps Mountain, New York

 

The Trapps Mountain ghost town is located in Gardiner near Shawangunk Ridge. The Trapps Mountain settlement was started after the revolution war by Dutch settlers who named it Trapps after the Dutch word that means a cleft.

Most of the early settlers in the area practiced farming, logging, and blacksmithing. In fact, as the town grew there were several sawmills in the area that create employment for the settlers. In the 1840s the settlement’s population had grown to several hundred inhabitants and had their own school house. A mountain resort was constructed in the village in 1859 adding to the growing profile of the little town.

The town began to decline in the 1900s following the development of technology such as steel that killed mountain industries. In addition, the Spanish flu of 1918 and other pandemics contributed to the reduction of the population of the town. The last resident died in 1956, officially making Trapps Mountain into another New York ghost town.

Today the town and all the surrounding land is managed by the Mohonk Preserve and has been marked as a historic district in both the National and the New York State Registers of Historic Places. The major structure at the site of the former town is the Eli Van Leuven Cabin which was initially built in 1889 as the home of one resident and was later renovated and named after the last resident of the area.

Also Read: 6 West Virginia Ghost Towns – Left in the Coal Dust

 

5. Letchworth Village, New York

 

Letchworth Village was constructed in 1911 in Rockland County, New York, to house both the physically and the mentally disabled patients. The institution is a gigantic complex made up of over 130 buildings that sit on 159-acre track of land. The site was closed in 1996.

Besides the village, there is a graveyard with a large sign that reads “THOSE WHO SHALL NOT BE FORGOTTEN” and a list of names of those buried there. in the graveyard the graves are only marked with numbers because family members did not want the dead to be identified by name. There have been plans to redevelop the village but nothing has been done yet. Because of this towns spooky past, it is a popular place for ghost hunters to visit and explore.


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