Ghost Towns Offer Unlimited Creative Opportunities For The Artist and Photographer
VISITING A GHOST TOWN CAN INSPIRE YET YOU MUST SHOW RESPECT
I have always had a fascination with ghost towns. I have a deep desire to know their story. How was the town born? What was it like in it’s prime? What caused it to die? And why does it’s ghost linger on long after the town is gone?
As an artist my eye sees beyond the decay. I see the remaining color, the shapes and the textures. Oh those textures! I smell the scents of the town; secret deep scents that still linger long after the last barber gave his last shave. Long after the last Thanksgiving Turkey was cooked. Those scents linger within the rotting wood and crumbling stone. But most importantly I hear the stories the town has to tell and as I listen I reach out my hand and capture those stories.
Sometimes I do it with photography, sometimes with the written word and sometimes with paint but always with the respect that the town earned and deserves. I love ghost towns and I really can’t say why beyond the artistic opportunity that they afford me. Maybe there is something deeper in my psyche that knows that long after I have become a ghost these “Villages of the Lost”, though ghosts themselves, will still be visible to generations to come.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT GHOST TOWNS
If you are artistically drawn to visit and capture the stories of ghost towns there are a few important things and rules that should be observed. First and foremost is remember; though it may be a ghost town there may still be living people that call it home. Also though a property may be abandoned does not mean that it is unowned. Do not intrude or trespass! Let’s examine Ghost Towns and how you can show proper respect.
VILLAGES OF THE LOST
A “Ghost Town” is any community that is either abandoned, whose main industry that kept the town vital has ceased to exist or whose population and community infrastructure has declined to a level that recovery into a thriving community is highly improbable. There are three types of Ghost Towns: completely deserted ghost towns; towns with a minimal population; and still-thriving towns.
Philip Varney, the author of several popular Ghost Town books defines what to look for in Ghost Town:
- Scattered rubble or site where nature has reclaimed the land
- Roofless buildings or partially demolished buildings
- Boarded up or abandoned buildings, no population
- A community with many abandoned buildings and a small population of residents
- Historic community or town, functional, but much smaller than in its boom years
- A restored town, state park, or replica of an old town, community or fort
GHOST TOWN CODE OF ETHICS:
The following partially taken and modified by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America from Gary Speck’s Ghost Town Ethics, Ghost Town USA
I WILL NOT
1. Destroy, damage or deface any buildings or other structures.
2. Disturb any structures that are locked or appear to be occupied.
3. Remove anything from the site other than obvious trash such as candy wrappers, soft drink cans, etc.
4. Enter a site that is posted as “No Trespassing” without permission.
5. Take in a metal detector without the permission of the owner. These are often the badge of a vandal to local residents.
1. Observe all rules and regulations be they local, state, or national.
2. Camp and make fires only in designated safe locations.
3. Leave the land and vegetation as it is.
4. Fill all holes or excavations I make.
5. Remove and properly dispose of any trash I find, and will not litter.
6. Respect the rights and property of landowners, leave gates as found, and obey all posted signs.
7. Appreciate and protect this nation’s ghost towns and the heritage they represent.
8. Always conduct myself in a manner that is courteous and polite, and always show consideration for others.
Visiting Ghost Towns can always be fun and educational as long as they and the people that have called and may still call them home are respected.
I hope this has given you some inspiration to explore and artistically capture a ghost town or abandoned structure near you. I would love to see your creations. Please join our Facebook Group The Artist Life Creations and share your art and stories.