Best of America

The Town with a Population of 1—and 13 More of the Smallest Towns in America

Each state has its own quaint towns only populated by a few hundred people. Maybe you live in one. But those cities are metropolises compared to these single-digit populations.

Bonanza, Utah: 1

utahJohnny Adolphson/ShutterstockAmerica is full of fascinating facts you never knew before, but one of the most surprising may be that there are at least five towns in the U.S. that have a population of one. Bonanza was founded in 1888 after miners discovered extensive deposits of gilsonite, a natural asphalt, there. Its name was inspired by the Spanish word for prosperity, suggesting that miners could potentially make a profit from the mineral. At the time of the 2010 U.S. Census, there was exactly one resident.

Brewster, Florida: 3

FloridaRomrodphoto/ShutterstockWhen Brewster was originally built to house miners working in a nearby phosphate mine, it had every amenity a town could ask for: schools, a medical clinic, a post office, a movie theater, and even a swimming pool. Then in the 1960s, American Cyanamid, the company operating the town, closed it down. The manufacturing giant eventually lost the deed to its own town as partial payment of a judgment against the company for environmental damages. Now owned by the state of Florida, Brewster is supposed to be abandoned but according to the 2010 census, three people lived there.

Buford, Wyoming: 1

WyomingOomka/ShutterstockIf you thought Wyoming was only unique because it only has two escalators, then you haven’t heard about Buford. It may just be more famous in Vietnam than in America, thanks to Pham Dinh Nguyen, the Vietnamese investor who actually owns the town. Nguyen bought it in an auction for $900,000 and turned it into the only place in America where people can buy his Vietnamese specialty coffee, PhinDeli Coffee, NPR reported. But Nguyen isn’t Buford’s resident. (He lives in Vietnam and reportedly wears a cowboy hat around town.) That would be Brandon Hoover, who runs the Buford Trading Post and exclusively sells the gourmet coffee.

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Elkhorn, Montana: 10

Montana4Karma/ShutterstockElkhorn was a jackpot for miners during the 19th century. It’s said that its principal mine, the Elkhorn, produced $14 million worth of silver when it was active. Now it’s a ghost town with only a few buildings still standing to house its 10 residents. Two of those, Fraternity Hall and Gillian Hall, have been preserved as examples of authentic frontier architecture. Though there’s little evidence that Elkhorn is a literal ghost town, these cities are the most haunted in America.

Freeport, Kansas: 5

KansasMelanie Hobson/ShutterstockUntil 2009, Freeport was the smallest incorporated place in America that had a bank. Then, the bank moved. Now, according to Mother Nature Network, all the town’s five residents have to brag about is their grain elevator and a Presbyterian church that’s listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Fulford, Colorado: 2

ColoradoGary K Gray/ShutterstockThough the 2010 census listed Fulford’s population as two, the town’s website claims its population is “odd.” Their newsletter, also found on the website, suggests that the community has since grown, reminding residents that the “burn pile” is for wood only; the town weed trimmer “can now be found in the small fire house supply building;” and at least five moose have been spotted in town.

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Hobart Bay, Alaska: 1

AlaskaEvenfh/ShutterstockOnce a logging camp, the bay’s population has drastically declined in the past few decades from 187 residents in 1990 to three in 2000, and finally to only one person at the time of the last census. Alaska is home to another mind-blowing rarity: a cluster of Blockbuster stores.

Laurier, Washington: 1

WashingtonMaks Ershov/ShutterstockEven though Laurier is in Washington, it seems more Canadian than American. It’s named for Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the prime minister of Canada from 1896-1911. It sits on the boarder of Washington and Canada. Of its three buildings, one is a border station and the other two are border station residences. There’s even an airport whose runway is partly in Washington, partly in British Columbia. Its one resident is definitely American, though. By the way, you’ve been pronouncing these town names all wrong.

Lotsee, Oklahoma: 2

OklahomaAngie Oxley/ShutterstockThis township started as just a ranch. George Campbell incorporated it in 1963 as a place where Boy Scouts and church groups could have campouts. He named the place after his daughter, Lotsee, who now runs a pecan business and tends to the ranch’s cattle and horses. At the time of the 2010 census, there were two residents, but NewsOK reported in 2014 that the population has risen to six.

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Monowi, Nebraska: 1

NebraskaGerald A. DeBoer/ShutterstockElsie Eiler may be the only resident in Monowi, but she rarely feels alone. (She must be a pro at these science-backed ways to not feel lonely.) According to Country Living, travelers go out of their way to visit the 83-year-old’s town and the tavern she runs. She also pays taxes to herself and serves as mayor and librarian.

Newkirk, New Mexico: 7

New-MexicoJon Manjeot/ShutterstockOne of the most hauntingly beautiful ghost towns on Route 66, Newkirk was originally called Conant. It was later renamed after a town in Oklahoma with the same name. Since it opened in 1901, the town never had more than 300 residents at a time and is now down to seven. Its most famous “resident” was Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert, an educator and nutritionist who invented the U-shaped hard taco shell. Though she never lived in Newkirk, she was buried near the town.

Tavistock, New Jersey: 5

New-JerseyMFS Photography/ShutterstockThe founders of Tavistock must have really wanted to work on their backswings. A group of golfers who lived in the neighboring Haddonfield wanted to play on Sundays, but a local law prohibiting sporting activities on Sundays prevented them from doing so at the Haddon Country Club. Their solution: Buy land next to and around the country club, start a new town, and allow golf on Sundays. Another factor may have been that Haddonfield was—and still is—a dry borough that prohibited alcohol.

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Thurmond, West Virginia: 5

VirginiaSteve Heap/ShutterstockAround the turn of the 20th century, Thurmond was an active town that saw many successful businesses, thanks to its position on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. Now, the population has dwindled to five. The National Parks Service owns most of the town because it sits on the New River Gorge National River. Check out these stunning photos of America’s national parks.

Warm River, Idaho: 3

IdahoPung/ShutterstockThough Warm River is home to three residents, most of the people in the town are only there to go camping in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Visitors can hike or ride horseback to nearby waterfalls and scope out old railroad lines. It’s also a popular spot for water sports like tubing and fishing. Think Warm River is a quirky name for a city? Wait until you read the 50 funniest town names from each state.
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