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12 Ghost Towns In North Carolina [MAP]

    ghost towns in North Carolina

    If you’re searching for ghost towns in North Carolina, we’ve got you covered! Below are 12 different ghost towns you can explore across the great state of North Carolina along with their status and exact GPS coordinates.

    We rate ghost towns in North Carolina based on their status. Here’s how our system works:

    • Abandoned: Is abandoned with ruins and structures in a decayed state. Great for urban explorers.
    • Historic: Preservation efforts have been made and sometimes plaques installed. Great for everyone.
    • Barren: Almost nothing remains of the town. Ideal for metal detectorists.
    • Commercial: Is commercially owned with amenities, restaurants, and stores. Great for families.
    • Semi-Abandoned: Abandoned areas with a small population in the area.
    • Privately Owned: Tours might be available but not open to the general public.


    1. Lost Cove

    36.07094, -82.40235
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy – ourlocalcommunity.com

    History:

    If you’ve ever wanted to travel through a ghost town, you’ll want to take a trip to Lost Cove in Yancey County. Morgan Bailey founded the town sometime before the Civil War, and it was eventually situated in the Poplar Gorge, above the Nolichucky River.

    Lost Cove was never officially abandoned, but the town has remained largely untouched by time. The history of Lost Cove is murky, but based on the stories of local residents, the town was thriving for many years. In addition to logging, the town was supported by the local railroad.

    What’s Left?

    Be prepared to hike steep slopes and experience dramatic elevation changes. The ruins of this ghost town are definitely worth the effort. Despite the ghostly atmosphere, you can still see many of its original buildings and structures. If you love abandoned places. or simply a unique nature hike, you’ll love Lost Cove.


    2. Mortimer

    35.98528, -81.76138
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: birchgroverecordings.bandcamp.com

    History:

    In the early 1800s, Mortimer was a mill town of about 800 people. It was eventually flooded and abandoned, but much of the town is still visible today, including mill machinery and the foundations of many buildings. The area is popular for hiking and camping, and you can even stay in a historic home or cottage if you so choose. The town is located in Caldwell County, which is about 328 miles (600 kilometers) south of Washington.

    What’s Left?

    If you love hiking through old ruins, Mortimer is one of the ghost towns in North Carolina you’ll want to check out. I personally love to visit during the fall, as the autumn colors really add to any photographs of the ruins you capture.


    3. Proctor

    35.47332, -83.72638
    Status: Abandoned

    History:

    Located in Swain County, this small town was once a thriving mill town that was submerged for a dam project to generate electricity. While some structures remain underwater explorers can find numerous cabins, homes, and remnants left behind.

    What’s Left?

    The area is an aquatic haven, surrounded by trees and green slopes that keep the wind at bay and provide smoother water. You’ll find plenty of room for swimming and water sports in the lake’s main channel, but you’ll also find small creeks on the edge of the lake that offers opportunities for exploring and viewing the vestiges of a long-gone era.


    4. Henry River Mill Village

    35.69699, -81.42826
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: Ken Fager – flickr.com

    History:

    The village was once a bustling mill town. However, in 1973, the mill was shut down and its residents left. The Henry River Mill Village was the setting for the first Hunger Games movie, which captivated moviegoers and tourists alike.

    Unfortunately, many locals have been turned away by the town since it was used in the movie. The town was once owned by Wade Shepard, who sold it for $1.4 million after the movie was released. The town now offers tours and special events, and restoring some of the old buildings is an excellent way to make a trip to the historic site worthwhile.

    What’s Left?

    If you love industrial heritage, you should definitely pay a visit to Henry River Mill Village, a small textile town in Burke County, North Carolina. This village is an intact example of a pre-industrial setting. Today, the buildings are in a state of decay, but the buildings still retain traces of their past life. While the town may look like a ghost town, it actually has a lot of charm.


    5. Ceramic

    36.30666, -80.08555
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: Sheena Pate – corwnofthecontinent.net

    History:

    Ceramic was a small community in the rural area of Stoke County settled many years ago. One of the only resources they produced was ceramic, which manufactured ceramic pipe and drain tile. The area was abandoned roughly 60 years ago when a fire ripped through the factory destroying the town’s only source of income.

    What’s Left?

    Today, Ceramic is one of the least explored ghost towns in North Carolina due to its location and lack of popularity. Remnants of the factory still exist along with large clay pits scattered throughout the area. No one lives there anymore, and only wildlife inhabits the area


    6. Ghost Town in The Sky

    35.5288, -83.10155
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: Leland Kent – abandonedsoutheast.com

    History:

    While this ghost town isn’t a genuine ghost town, it’s still one of the best ghost towns in North Carolina in my opinion. When it opened in 1961, the Ghost Town in the Sky was one of the most popular amusement parks in the Southeast. Despite its name, the place was closed from 2002 to 2007. However, after a few years, it was reopened for a brief season in 2009.

    After it closed in 2009, it suffered severe mudslide damage and financial problems. Then in 2013, the park reopened for a brief season. Despite these setbacks, it is still a popular tourist destination for urban explorers and those daring to trespass on the property.

    What’s Left?

    This abandoned amusement park sits at 4,650 feet on Buck Mountain. Ghost Town Village is marketed as the state’s mile-high theme park. While the amusement park is under contract for sale, it is currently closed. The property owner has cameras and remains vigilant for trespassers.


    7. Buffalo City

    35.84221, -75.91749
    Status: Barren

    History:

    While Buffalo City was a thriving logging town, it was also home to moonshiners. During the logging era, Buffalo City had the highest population in the area with a schoolhouse, general store, and hotel. Although its lumber resources were depleted, the town’s thriving mills and moonshine industry brought life back to the town. By the 1920s, though, the town’s lumber resources had almost completely dried up.

    What’s Left?

    Buffalo City once was a bustling community in a heavily forested area, but it’s now a ghost town that lies in ruins. There are no signs of the community’s residents, but it’s still interesting to explore. The town’s road is a “road to nowhere,” overgrown with scrawny pine and gum swamp trees. The road is steep and uneven, and the town is dotted with half-buried rail beds, rusting wires, and partially-brick structures.


    8. Diamond City

    34.64571, -76.53742
    Status: Historic

    History:

    This ghost town was once a bustling settlement on the eastern end of the Shackleford Banks, in Carteret County, North Carolina. By the 1870s, the area was inhabited by 500 people.

    Then, in 1899, the worst hurricane to hit the state hit, destroying everything and leaving no trace of the community. Survivors dismantled their houses and relocated to other nearby locations. Fortunately for visitors, the town is now a national park, meaning this is one of the few ghost towns in North Carolina that anyone can explore for free.

    What’s Left?

    The only remains of this small town are the shards of pottery, old grave markers, and rusty car parts. Explorers can take in a nice view of the coast while stumbling through the buried ruins.


    9. Cataloochee

    35.6401, -83.08014
    Status: Historic

    History:

    The town of Cataloochee was settled by George Palmer in 1838. His family owned the fishing rights to Cataloochee Creek and sold daily licenses to vacationers. The family eventually built a two-room bunkhouse on the property to accommodate fishermen. This building still stands on the property across from the Palmers’ home today. Several historical landmarks can be found in and around Cataloochee.

    In the early 20th century, the town’s main cash crop was apples. Apple trees thrived in the cool climate of the valley, so Will Messer built an apple house for the community. The structure is now displayed at the Mountain Farm Museum in Oconaluftee. 

    What’s Left?

    Today, visitors can still view many original buildings. The town’s population has declined since the Civil War, though some residents still live here. The town is home to several historic structures, including the Will Messer Barn and Palmer Chapel.


    10. Portsmouth

    35.06961, -76.06379
    Status: Historic

    History:

    Portsmouth was a shipping and fishing community established on the coast in 1753. Many worked peacefully as fishermen or merchants but were displaced during the Civil War. Finally, in 1933 a massive hurricane tore through the community forcing the last residents away.

    What’s Left?

    Portsmouth is one of the best-preserved ghost towns in North Carolina with over 20 builds still standing. These structures are maintained by the Portsmouth Village Historic District to help preserve the history for future generations. Explorers can wander about and even camp on the beach overnight


    11. Fort Dobbs

    35.82175, -80.89703
    Status: Historic

    History:

    For more than two centuries, people have been eerily fascinated by Fort Dobbs, a fort located near Statesville in Iredell County, North Carolina. The fort was a relic of 18th-century military engineering and was the last remaining fort in North Carolina. It played a crucial role during the Civil and American Indian Wars.

    What’s Left?

    Today the fort has been largely restored and is open as a tourist attraction.


    12. Cape Lookout Village

    34.60681, -76.53522
    Status: Historic

    Photo Credit: Steven L Markos – npplan.com

    History:

    n 1976, the Cape Lookout National Seashore was established and the property owners entered into lease agreements for 25 years. This was to ensure that the village would remain occupied by its residents. In 2005, the National Park Service commissioned a report on the cultural landscape of Cape Lookout Village. The report included 446 pages and a Draft Cape Lookout Village Historic Structures Reuse Implementation Plan. Unfortunately, the National Park Service did not have the funding to put these recommendations into practice.

    What’s Left?

    n the Cape Lookout National Seashore, a small coastal area located off the coast of North Carolina, there are many hidden treasures. Just inland from the beaches and the Cape Lookout Lighthouse is the historic district of Cape Lookout Village. These old homes remind visitors of the island’s past as a thriving coastal community. But what is this historic district like? It’s a small town that was once a bustling community.


    Go out and explore!

    That concludes our list of ghost towns in North Carolina, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to find. Take the back roads, follow train tracks, and find some places for yourself. There are plenty of places I kept off this list so get out there and explore.

    If you’re having trouble finding ghost towns be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Finding Abandoned Places, or explore other ghost towns across the country.