Ghost Town Classifications

Ghost Town Classifications

The problem with Ghost Town hunting is that some sights are more interesting then others due to the amount of buildings and artifacts that are left. I’m not sure who came up with the original Ghost Town Classification system, but it is used by the United States Government to track Ghost Towns that are one Federal Property such as BLM Land and National Forests.

Ghost Town Classifications

General Store at Fort Rock, Oregon

In my explorations I found that many towns actually still existed! The problem was they were rarely more then a name on a map with one or two modern buildings. Yet going back in history the town could have had dozens of buildings and a population of hundreds or even thousands. So I added Class H to account for these types of towns to better track them.

I also added a single digit code category that defines what the town’s main purpose was. For instance, hundreds of Ghost Towns across the Western US originally sprung up around gold mines or other minerals. But just as many towns sprung up specifically to serve as supply depots for a number of other towns. Other towns were originally stage coach stops, steam boat landings, or train stations meant to serve local populations of farmers and the travelers who came through.

Class A: barren site (Examples, Palmer, Oregon, Kingsley Oregon)

Class B: rubble and/or roofless building ruins

Class C: standing abandoned buildings (with roofs), no population, except maybe a caretaker. (Examples, Cabell City, Oregon)

Class D: semi/near ghost towns. A small resident population, many abandoned buildings. (Example, Hamilton, Oregon)

Class E: busy historic community, yet still much smaller than in its boom years. (Example, Granite Oregon)

Class F: Not a stand-alone class, but an addition to any of the above. This class usually designates a restored town, state park, or indicates some other “additional” status. (Example, Golden, Oregon, Ritter Oregon)

Class G: the town joined or was absorbed by a neighboring thriving city. (Example, Cutler City)

Class H: Same as Class D, with no or very few original building. (Example, Idanha, Oregon)

Originating Purpose:

1.) Mineral Exploitation (Example, Greenhorn, Oregon)

2.) Agricultural, includes Live Stock, Farming and Fishing (Example, Clifton, Oregon)

3.) Timber, includes Company Built Towns (Example, Bridal Veil, Oregon)

4.) Shipping or Travel Depot, Stage Coach Station, Train Station (Example, Friend, Oregon)

5.) Religious or Idelogical

6.) Recreation and Service, includes Saloon Towns, Mining Supplies, Mill Town, Supply Depots, Tourism. (Example, Whitney, Oregon)

7.) Manufacturing

8.) Military

These classifications are subjective. I try to be as accurate as possible based on Internet searches, when possible, visiting in person, and research into the history of each town. I will be the first to admit that these are not 100% accurate. If you have additional information (news paper scans, passages in history books, etc,) that will change the classification I would be interested in seeing copies of those.

If you know who came up with the original classification system, I would be grateful for that information also so that I can credit it properly.

Leave a Reply