Recently, while deep down some Internet-research rabbit hole, I stumbled upon mention of a place called Goffs, California. No doubt most people would think nothing of that, but since my last name is Goff, I was instantly intrigued and decided to take a Googling detour. Turns out, this little town of Goffs is an abandoned mining and railroad town in San Bernardino County, at the high point of the Mojave desert. It used to be a common stop along Route 66 until the 1930s when the highway was rerouted to bypass Goffs for a more direct path between the larger nearby towns of Needles and Amboy. Today, it’s little more than an old schoolhouse-turned-museum. Even I, as a Goff, couldn’t find much bait to visit.
But it got me thinking about all the other “ghost towns” of the West—and which are worthy of a road trip. When I was 10, my family took a day trip from our Grand Canyon vacation to visit Goldfield Ghost Town in Arizona. Admittedly, I was enamored with the history of this place as a kid, but looking back this “ghost town” was a bit of a farce: a Disney-like restoration of an Old West town, rebuilt for tourism dollars. I still have the old-timey photo of my siblings and me dressed as cowboys and saloon harlots to prove it. (By the way, Mom, what was that about?)
So, I ask you, Westphorians, where are the truly authentic ghost towns of the West—complete with haunted brothels, abandoned cemeteries, and spotty cell phone service? Surely there must still be some vestiges of our Wild West past that are mostly untouched by modern commercialism and still have something interesting to see. Please share your favorites in the comments!