If a ghost town is "living" then is it really considered a ghost town? Whatever you choose to call it, you have to admit that Randsburg Ghost Town is one of California's quirkiest attractions. The town is about two square miles big with a population of 69, and a few functioning business tucked among abandoned storefronts and other buildings, which add charm and character to the town.
Originally a small gold mining operation called "Rand Camp", it was founded in 1895, and by 1896, it had a post office and a bustling population. At various points in time, the town had a soda bottling plant, a bowling alley, dance halls, pool halls, even a resident psychic and taxidermist! But, like most gold mining towns, things began to empty out-- the extreme heat of the high desert, the remote location, legal issues plaguing the mines, and the fleeting nature of mining all contributed to the slow death of Randsburg. Somehow, in 2000, the population was still hovering around 77, although it's shrunk since then.
That doesn't mean the town is abandoned, though: there's usually groups of tourists stopping by to check out what's left of Randsburg, and unlike most ghost towns, there's plenty to see and do here. There's the Randsburg Desert Museum, some antique shops, and a general store with a 1904 soda fountain inside. There are also two bars in town, which is pretty impressive. On the weekends, you can throw back some whiskey (or whatever it was that old-timey miners drank) with the locals. The town is also especially popular with off-roaders and desert tortoises (which are an endangered species!)
Can't get enough abandoned beauty and history? Here are some other unique ghost towns!
Header via Flickr/Don Graham