Best of America

8 Beautifully Haunting Pictures of Route 66 Ghost Towns

Along the 2,291 mile highway that is Route 66, you'll find territorial-era mining towns, quiet farming villages—and an American history long abandoned.

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Newkirk, New Mexico

Newkirk, New MexicoKerrick James
For Newkirk, a ranching and railroad town-turned-service center, the bypass of Route 66 proved to be the town's obituary. In the 1930s, it had flourished with four service stations, restaurants, De Baca's Trading Post, and a few cabins.

Erick, Oklahoma

Erick, OklahomaKerrick James
In Erick Oklahoma, towering buildings that predate legendary Route 66 cast long shadows over one of the most famous highways in the world. With the arrival of Route 66, coffee shops and truck stops replaced the saloons and cattle yards of boisterous cow towns, and motels and service stations replaced the hotels and blacksmith shops of territorial-era farm towns.

Afton, Oklahoma

Afton, OklahomaKerrick James
An empty rocking chair and an equally empty street stand in stark contrast to the hustle of Afton a century ago.

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Glenrio, Texas

Glenrio, TexasKerrick James
With the patience that carved the Grand Canyon over eons, nature reclaims Glenrio, where the clock stopped with the bypass of Route 66. The replacement of Route 66 with a four-lane superhighway that allowed motorists to zip past rather than wander through ultimately allowed Glenrio to decline.

Dillia, New Mexico

Dillia, New MexicoKerrick James
Dillia survived the realignment of Route 66 in 1937 and the subsequent bypass just as it weathered and survived the century before the designation of that highway.


KansasKerrick James
Just one mile from the Missouri state line lies the site of the Eagle-Picher Smelter, once a leading producer of lead and the location of yet another bloody chapter in the history of the U.S. 66. It was here in 1935 that a strike was led by John L. Lewis, the union boss of the United Mine Workers.

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Spencer, Missouri

Spencer, MissouriKerrick James
Dating to the 1920s, the roadside remnants in Spencer are relatively recent additions in a town where the post office opened in 1868.

Oatman, Arizona

Oatman, Arizona Kerrick James
Mining is the cornerstone of Oatman, a town that now lives on its association with the legendary highway and the fascination of tourists who come to see the burros roam free.

Ghost Towns of Route 66 Book

Ghost Towns of Route 66 BookKerrick James
For more on the haunting towns of Route 66, pick up the book Ghost Towns of Route 66, which is available at Voyageur Press and Amazon.

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