10 Hauntingly Beautiful Abandoned Lakeside Towns | LakeWizard

Key Takeaways

  • Lakeside towns carry enthralling tales of the past.
  • Abandonment often stems from natural, economic, or social shifts.
  • These ghost towns offer a tranquil yet poignant window into history.

Imagine stumbling upon a ghostly town by the lake, where silence speaks volumes about its mysterious past.

Have you ever wondered about such hauntingly beautiful places?

Abandoned lakeside towns evoke a rare blend of eeriness and beauty, inviting you to uncover their stories.

Explore these serene yet deserted towns where nature has reclaimed its space.

You're probably curious about what happened to these places and why they were left to the whims of nature.

You're in for a treat because we're about to take you on a journey through some of the most fascinating abandoned lakeside towns, each with a unique history and charm that will leave you mesmerized.

Let's dive in and discover these hidden gems that time forgot.

Table of contents


St. Thomas, Nevada

Ever heard the story of St.

Thomas, Nevada?

It's quite the fascinating tale of persistence and change.

Imagine a town that once thrived beside the waters, only to find itself deep under Lake Mead.

Now, it's made a dramatic reappearance, and you can stroll through its history – no scuba gear needed!


Thomas started its life as a bustling little spot in the middle of the desert, founded by settlers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Its location made it a perfect pit stop between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.

But then came the Hoover Dam, and with it, the rising waters of Lake Mead that swallowed the town whole in the 1930s.

Things to See:

  • Old Roads: Traverse the paths that once connected lives.
  • Building Foundations: Imagine the walls as they were, with chatter and life spilling through their doors.

But let's fast-forward to today.

The town that was once submerged has been on quite the journey.

Due to dropping water levels, St.

Thomas has resurrected from its watery grave, and believe it or not, it's free for you to explore.

You can actually see the remnants of what was once home to a spirited community.

Here's what a trip down there could look like for you:

  • Start your adventure at the trailhead with a descent of 85 feet – a small workout to get you to a place frozen in time.
  • Follow the loop trail where the Muddy River meets the Colorado – where nature still hums with the echoes of the past.

As you walk amongst the remains; the old schoolhouse, the hushed homes, it's a gentle reminder of nature's relentless march.

It's not every day you get to wander through a real-life ghost town, so slip on some comfy shoes and go witness the stoic beauty of what once was St.

Thomas, Nevada!

Elbowoods, North Dakota

Hey there, have you ever heard of Elbowoods?

It's one of those places that carries a whisper of history under its waves.

Located on what was once the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, Elbowoods was founded in 1889 along the Missouri River.

Imagine a bustling little agency seat for the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, lively and vibrant.

But here's the twist: in the 1950s, the creation of Garrison Dam and the resulting Lake Sakakawea submerged Elbowoods.

The waters rose, and one by one, the town's buildings succumbed to the inevitable embrace of the lake.

Now, what once was isn't, at least not in the way anyone remembers.

You might be thinking, "Is that all that's left?" Well, not exactly.

When the lake's levels dip low, the ghost town reemerges with its tales.

It's not often, but it's enough to give those who watch a chance to peer into the past.

Here's what you might spot:

  • Foundations of former homes
  • Steps leading down into the water
  • Eerily silent streets where life once thrived

It's almost poetic, isn't it?

A town that once hosted the daily hum of life now hosts fish swimming through its submerged main street.

If you're feeling adventurous, keep an eye on the water levels and maybe, just maybe, you'll catch a glimpse of Elbowoods as the lake recedes.

Just remember, it's a peek into history that nature allows only once in a while!

Dunwich, Massachusetts

Ever heard a town's eerie echo from underneath the water?

Well, get ready to dive into the story of Dunwich, Massachusetts.

Would you believe if I told you this town is now resting underwater near the Quabbin Reservoir?

It was disincorporated and then submerged to make way for this massive water supply.

While we can't scuba down to Main Street, the area around it has plenty to offer for the curious souls among you.

Imagine walking around and stumbling upon abandoned structures, each a silent narrator of bygone times.

Here's a fun fact: the Quabbin Reservoir, now serene and instrumental, was the doom of not just Dunwich, but three other towns as well.

Isn't it a bit like Atlantis, just less mythical and more Massachusetts?

You won't find the stereotypical ghost town in Dunwich; no tumbleweeds or creaking saloon signs.

What you get instead are the echoes of history that are quite literally drowned in mystery.

And while you're not going to see underwater ruins (thanks to the strict regulations protecting our water supply), the surrounding lands are dotted with remnants.

Got a thing for ruins and forgotten places?

You'll feel right at home.

Let's be honest, it's not every day you get to talk about a town that's under a lake!

While Dunwich's story may be submerged, don't let that dampen your spirit of adventure.

Pull on your hiking boots and explore the periphery of the reservoir – you never know what secrets you'll uncover.

So, do you fancy a little mystery wrapped up in scenic views?

Dunwich awaits your visit, just bring your imagination and love for the undiscovered.

Who knows, maybe you'll even hear the faint whisper of history beneath the ripples of the Quabbin.

Kennett, California

Did you know there's a sunken treasure not far from the surface in Northern California?

It's not your typical pirate loot, but rather the remarkable remnants of Kennett, a once-thriving mining town.

This hidden gem was submerged in 1944 due to the construction of the Shasta Dam—quite the dramatic transformation from a boomtown to an underwater secret!

What's fascinating about Kennett is that it's not lost to time.

When Shasta Lake's water levels drop, whispers of the past emerge.

Imagine seeing the ghostly outlines of buildings and old mining gear—that's Kennett waving hello from history's depths.

  • 1944: Kennett was submerged
  • Shasta Lake: The body of water that conceals the town

It's almost like time travel.

As you stand by Shasta Lake today, there's a whole story lying silently below your feet—schools, saloons, even a hotel, all once alive with the hustle and bustle of the old days.

Curious about this underwater marvel?

  • Population: Bustling before submersion
  • Discovery: Remnants visible during low water levels

Just picture taking a boat out on the lake, knowing that beneath you is a slice of the Gold Rush legacy.

No need for scuba gear, sometimes a peek into the past is all you need when parts of Kennett play peek-a-boo with the present.

How cool is that?

Old Bluffton, Texas

Have you ever heard of a town that plays an epic game of hide and seek with a lake?

Well, meet Old Bluffton, Texas.

Imagine a town thriving with families, shops, and even the clatter of a stagecoach stop, but now it's all whispers underwater.

Quick Facts About Old Bluffton:

  • Founded: In the mid-1800s
  • Original Location: Near the Colorado River in Llano County, 22 miles west of Burnet.
  • Population: Home to about 50 families.

What Happened to Old Bluffton?

In the 1930s, the town was intentionally flooded to create Lake Buchanan.

But don't think it vanished without a trace.

Old Bluffton has a knack for reappearing during droughts, like the one in 1984.

When the water levels drop, it's as if the past resurfaces, with buildings, a graveyard, and even cotton gins peeking out to say "hello" once again.

It's a rare window into history that, when conditions are just right, attracts the curious and the adventurous.

Why is Old Bluffton Special?

  • Underwater Ghost Town: The remnants of the past are usually submerged under Lake Buchanan.
  • A Stagecoach Stop: Back in the day, it was a pitstop for travelers in the Texas Hill Country.
  • Tourism: During droughts, it becomes a hotspot for history buffs and the intrigued.

Isn't it fascinating how nature and history intertwine?

Secrets beneath the surface, only showing themselves when the lake decides to recede.

If you're around Austin, Texas, keep an ear to the ground for news of dropping lake levels — you might just get a peek at Old Bluffton's hidden history!

Oscarville, Georgia

Have you ever heard of a town that lies beneath the waves?

Let's talk about Oscarville, Georgia, a place that's more than meets the eye—or rather, what doesn't meet the eye.

Nestled once upon a time in Forsyth County, this town became a watery secret with the creation of Lake Lanier in 1956.

Now, occasionally, you might glimpse its ghostly outlines when the lake’s arms recede.

Imagine a bustling community, filled with life and stories, now only a whisper under the surface.

Oscarville wasn't just any town; it was a predominantly Black community, carved out of northeastern Forsyth near Hall County, thriving until it met an untimely demise.

But why talk about a town that's underwater?

Because sometimes, history refuses to stay buried.

You might have heard the murmurs: sunken graves, chilling spectres near Browns Bridge, whispers of Oscarville's past reaching out.

It's a thread in Georgia's rich tapestry that pulls at the curious and the brave—would you dare to explore its legacy?

Here's a fun fact: Oscarville isn't just a name lost in historical records.

Its story inspired the horror film "Lanier," which dives into the haunting tale of displacement faced by the Oscarville descendants.

Can you imagine the strength it takes to grapple with such a powerful, personal history?

So, when the water levels dip, it's more than just barren land that peeks through.

It's a reminder of the Oscarville that once was, and perhaps a nudge to keep its memory afloat.

Beware though, for some believe the town's unsettled history has left more than just artifacts behind.

Have you felt the chill on a warm Georgia day near the lake?

Some say it's Oscarville, whispering its story to those who listen.

Alvira, Pennsylvania

Have you ever heard the echo of history beneath your feet?

In the heart of Pennsylvania lies the remnants of Alvira, a lakeside town that has become an eerie artifact of the past.

Imagine a place where nature is reabsorbing the human footprint, leaving behind whispers of a long-lost community.

This is Alvira.

Back in World War II, the government claimed Alvira for a pressing need: a munitions plant.

The town's residents had to leave, abandoning their homes with the land seized totaling a significant 8,000-plus acres.

Makes you wonder about the power of eminent domain, right?

Now, this once-bustling locale is part of State Game Lands 252 — a treasure trove of history for the curious explorer.

What's left there to see, you ask?

Quite a lot, actually!

The bunkers, solid and stoic, punctuate the landscape with their decaying facades.

These aren't your everyday ruins either.

The Alvira bunkers—overgrown and shrouded in green—stand as solemn reminders of a turbulent time.

  • Mill Road guides you 1.4 miles inward to uncover these hidden relics.
  • Alvira Road will twist your path directly into the heart of discovery.

With each step, you can sense the stories of a community that once thrived by the lakeside.

It's a real-life chronicle, etched in stone and soil.

So next time you're in central Pennsylvania near Allenwood, why not wander through Alvira?

You might find more than just the echoes of the past reaching out to you through the rustling leaves.

Hetch Hetchy, California

Can you imagine a town tucked beneath the waves of a tranquil lake?

Though it might sound like a tale from an ancient storybook, Hetch Hetchy's tale is as real as they come.

Nestled in Yosemite National Park, this area was once a bustling valley settlement but made a sacrifice for the greater good.

Fun fact: Did you know Hetch Hetchy is now a reservoir that provides water for none other than San Francisco?

Yup, about 167 miles away!

  • How it happened: After the Raker Act was passed in 1913, the community was flooded to create the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.
  • What's left? The ghost of the town now lies beneath the clear mountain waters.

Accessibility: Getting to Hetch Hetchy is quite the adventure!

You're looking at a drive:

  • From Yosemite Valley: 38 miles (about 1 hour and 15 minutes)
  • From Highway 120: Roughly 30 minutes of drive time to the parking area near the reservoir.

Visiting hours: It's a little tricky; while Yosemite's other entrance stations might welcome you at any hour, Hetch Hetchy keeps to a schedule:

  • Open: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (Do check the latest times before planning.)

Cost: Admission into this section is included with your Yosemite entrance fee, which was $35 per vehicle (2021 rates for non-commercial rides).

So, what can you do here?

Strap on your hiking boots because trails abound, like the one to Wapama Falls, offering fabulous views—and the sense of mystery as you walk above a once-inhabited valley.

Bring your camera and your sense of wonder, but don't expect to find any sunken treasures; it's the beauty of the place that's truly precious.

Picher, Oklahoma

Ever heard of a lakeside town that literally disappeared?

Welcome to Picher, Oklahoma!

Imagine cruising near Grand Lake and stumbling upon a ghost town, where the only cheers you hear are the echoes of the past.

It’s a scene straight out of a post-apocalyptic movie, isn't it?

Once buzzing with miners dreaming of striking it rich, Picher's downfall came from the very thing that put it on the map: mining.

Lead and zinc turned the town toxic, making Picher one of those "should've quit while they were ahead" stories.

Here's the low-down:

  • Population Peak: 14,252 in 1926
  • Devastating Tornado: May 10, 2008, with winds of an EF-4 category
  • End of an Era: Incorporated status ended on September 1, 2009

So, what happened to this one-time boomtown?

Mining operations left mountains of chat, toxic waste that whispered "get out" to the residents.

In 2008, a tornado bulldozed through, and it wasn't just the breeze it brought along.

It left behind a battered ghost of a town the EPA deemed too dangerous.

Sure, there's no bustling sidewalk cafés or quirky shops to browse, but Picher still attracts the curious and the brave.

You can catch a glimpse of the dilapidated buildings, the silent remnants of a gorilla statue celebrating a 1994 football victory, and a spirit of Americana that just won’t quit.

But do remember, it's not a playground; it's a cautionary tale of human impact on nature.

So, have those cameras at the ready, keep your wits about you, and take a quiet walk through Picher.

Just don't plan on a lakeside picnic.

It's hauntingly beautiful, but the ghosts of Picher's past are the only residents left.

Portlock, Alaska

Hey there, have you ever heard of Portlock, Alaska?

Picture a picturesque lakeside village turned ghost town—pretty intriguing, right?

Tucked away on the Kenai Peninsula's southern edge, it's the kind of spot adventurers and ghost hunters dream of.

Would you believe that a whole town could get up and leave?

Well, that's exactly what happened here around the 1950s.

Portlock once throbbed with life, courtesy of its bustling canning industry.

But it seems something spooky drove the residents away.

There are legends of a monstrous creature lurking in the area—locals called it Nantiinaq.

Imagine finding mysterious 18-inch footprints on the beach; wouldn't that give you chills?

Here's a snapshot of Portlock:

  • Established: In 1787 by Captain Nathaniel Portlock
  • Industry: Canning
  • Abandoned: Circa 1950
  • Location: 16 miles south of Seldovia, along Port Chatham bay
  • Legends: Sightings of a Yeti-like monster

Walking through Portlock today, you'd see the remnants of the past, with the town seemingly ripped out from an eerie novel.

Its desolate streets and the overgrown structures accentuate its ghostly reputation.

But despite the spooky tales, the area's natural beauty is undeniable.

Do the abandoned buildings resonate with the echoes of the past, or is it just the wind?

Who knows, but it's certainly a hair-raising addition to any traveler's diary.

And if you're brave enough, you might just venture there to see the ruins, feel the history, and maybe—just maybe—catch a glimpse of that elusive creature.

Ready to add Portlock to your bucket list?