(Image: Nick Brooks, cc-nc-sa-3.0; See blog – Sand & Dust)

Our exploration of ghost towns and abandoned cities of the world has taken us to a diverse group of settlements deserted for a variety of reasons, from war and conflict to crime and failing economies.  North America delivers further fascinating abandoned places, from familiar former mining towns and a city consumed by a modern day volcano, to an underground mine fire and a community usurped through localised environmental catastrophe.

Times Beach, Missouri, USA

(Image: Google Earth)

Founded in 1925, Times Beach, Missouri was evacuated less than 60 years later when it became the scene of the worst civilian exposure to dioxin in the United States.  Plagued by dust problems, the city of Times Beach employed a local contractor to spray waste oil on unpaved roads to reduce dust levels.  Unbeknownst to them, some of the waste came from a facility producing Agent Orange for the Vietnam War and contained high levels of the toxic environmental pollutant dioxin.  Panic gripped the town by 1982 with illness and animal deaths attributed to the toxin.  The disaster was exacerbated by major flooding the same year, and the town was evacuated in 1985.  The site of Times Beach is now Route 66 State Park.


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