December 13, 2004
Old MapsBy Lee Prosser
I was recently examining some old road maps. They were published during the 1940s. The three maps were of Missouri, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. I found them at a garage sale.
Old maps are like an open-minded treasure chest of the unusual, and it is always a delight to come across names at locations which no longer exist on contemporary maps. Sometimes, even the old railroad lines have been deleted. Yet, along those old railroad lines are sites which once held a thriving community. This is a fine way to look for ghost towns.
There may not be much left of the ghost town. Again, there may be! Find the old structures, and search through them if they are safe to enter. Coins, artifacts, items from the past could turn up in the oddest places as you search.
If you find an area that was once a small town or hamlet, check out the feel you receive from the site. See if you can visualize the activity going on there at the height of the site's prosperity. You may even contact a friendly ghost or two in your exploration.
Looking at the map of Missouri, I came across two listings: Odin, Salem, and a few other names came into view. Odin and Salem are on the new Missouri map, but the others were not. I glanced over the Oklahoma maps and discovered the same thing. The old New Mexico map yielded its ghost towns and lost railroad tracks, and the new map shows they have vanished. An amazing adventure, just looking!
This is a way to discover old ghost towns. And maybe a way to meet a few ghosts.
Something to think about. The next time you are at a garage sale, gift and antique shop, or an auction, stop and give that old map a study. Linger over it, don't pass it by. You may well be surprised at what a journey the old map can take you on.
Lee Prosser is Ghostvillage.com's book reviewer and a regular contributor.