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8 Beautifully Haunting Pictures of Route 66 Ghost Towns

Updated: Oct. 17, 2023

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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Kerrick James

Newkirk, New Mexico

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. These are the best haunted houses in America.

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Kerrick James

Erick, Oklahoma

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. These true ghost stories from the most haunted places in America will give you chills.

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Kerrick James

Afton, Oklahoma

An empty rocking chair and an equally empty street stand in stark contrast to the hustle of Afton a century ago. These chilling ghost stories will make you believe.

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Kerrick James

Glenrio, Texas

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.

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Kerrick James

Dillia, New Mexico

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. Here are some abandoned cities from around the world that will give you the chills.

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Kerrick 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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Kerrick James

Spencer, Missouri

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

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Kerrick James

Oatman, Arizona

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.

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Kerrick James

Ghost Towns of Route 66 Book

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.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest