Thursday, January 23, 2014

Oklahoma Ghost Towns

Can decay be beautiful?

I love to walk through abandoned places, old cemeteries, and the like. I find myself wondering about the people who once lived there. I wonder how a town that once thrived with businesses, schools, hospitals, and all the trappings of human life only to fade away slowly over time. How does that happen?

I was poking around on Youtube and came across a gentleman who travels all around Oklahoma to document some of the 2,000 "Ghost Towns" scattered near and far. Often he will co-mingle photos of buildings and people from the height of the towns occupancy with photos of the decay decades of abandonment and neglect bring upon man-made structures.

In his About section on his Youtube channel, D.W. Taylor describes his collection of ghost town videos:

I've always had a fascination with things abandoned and a love of history. I found it sad that so many of these places were forgotten..
The definition of a ghost town has always been controversial, and people often take offense having their town classified as such. I decided to use the definition of a ghost town as defined by Oklahoma University professor John Wesley Morris in his 1979 book, Ghost Towns of Oklahoma. According to John, a ghost town is defined as:
1) Hamlets, villages, towns, and cities that are no longer in existence, all buildings and indications of existence have been either destroyed or covered by water; 2) where the remains of business and/or residential structures still stand but are largely unused; 3) where the population has decreased at least 80 percent from its maximum.
Based on his definition, Oklahoma contains over 2,000 ghost towns. I decided to start posting short collections of these towns in an effort to preserve a small piece of history.

History is the best reminder of what works and what does not. Detroit is rapidly becoming one of our largest ghost towns in history. Thousands and thousands of houses and buildings that hold memories and secrets of lives gone past are rapidly falling to decay. I picture Detroit the way New York City was portrayed and as Will Smith's character found it in I Am Legend. Nature will eventually take back what man thought would stand forever. Soon a collection of foundations and crumbling walls will be over-run by trees, brush, and plants of every conceivable form. Only whispers of the greatness that once was will remain.

When we get to the end of our lives we are told material goods hold no value. We can't take it with us when we die is the mantra. Experiences and memories are all we really get to take on that final journey. If we don't share those memories and experiences with others, they will be lost with us. 

I adore watching these videos and taking a tour of the lives of proud people from long ago. I love the energy that still remains regardless of the condition of the houses and buildings. I get an amazing feeling when I try to imagine the pride that the homeowner felt upon taking occupancy of a newly built home so long ago. The feeling they must have had, that this home they labored to build would stand the test of time long after they had moved into the great unknown. I think it a good thing in many ways that enough time has passed that those who would have lived and worked in these great small towns would be long gone as well. What would they say if they could see that the foundation of their dream remains, but little else. 

Go check out some of these fascinating videos at Mr. Taylor's Youtube channel:  and take a fascinating glimpse into the land rushes of the 1890's through the Great Depression of the 1930's. Take a virtual tour down the streets of towns calling softly to you to remember that they once existed too. 


  1. Here's a comment. Mr. Taylor listed my home on his utube video for the world to see. We work out of state and have had our home broken into on several occasions and our neighbor s have kept an eye in it and now the world sees it as abandoned and forgotten. We have been busting our butts to save to fix our home and now its been out at more risk for people to break into it. I didn't need this and this is so wrong. Its now 2:45 am and I can't sleep because now my worry for my home is greater than it was before. My home needs a new foundation St the cost of 50 grand so we took higher paying jobs to get it and now the world thinks my home is forgotten and abandoned. Well, it s not! My children plead to go home and until we get the money we can't. Now, I have greater fear thanks to this video by Mr. Taylor. Its not right and we didn't need the extra worry. Thanks for causing us more worry, stress, and sickness Mr. Taylor. You should have more decency before you label someone's home. We are working for ours and you ve opened it to the world as abandoned and forgotten. I promise you, sir, its far from either of those statements!
    Sherry Smith
    Boynton, Ok

    1. My suggestion would be to contact Mr. Taylor and ask him to remove it. Perhaps he will. Best of luck with your home repairs and getting back into your home.