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American mining towns of the 19th century that were abandoned after the mines near them were closed are known as ghost towns.
Most of the towns are in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Utah, and other Western states that have deposits of gold, silver, lead, or copper. Only a few ghost towns are still recorded on highway maps. In hundreds of the towns there remain the crumbling walls and fallen roofs of shops, hotels, and saloons, and some towns still contain the ruins of what were once magnificent mansions and often elaborately ornamented opera houses.
Probably the largest and best-preserved ghost town is Jerome, Ariz. It was once a copper-mining camp with a population of 15,000. Large and stately buildings still line the streets, but only 150 people now live in the town. One of the most famous silver-mining centers was Tombstone, Ariz., which has been commemorated in stories, songs, and motion pictures. The site of Ashcroft, Colo., has often been used as a setting for Hollywood and television films. Like all of Colorado's ghost towns, it is protected by law against vandalism and theft.
The building of mining towns ended in about the 1890's, when most of the larger mines had been exhausted. As workmen and prospectors moved away, the mining centers became ghost towns, either entirely deserted or inhabited by only a few people. Those now living in ghost towns often depend on tourists for their livelihood. For example, in Silver King, Ariz., one of the few remaining inhabitants charges a small fee for a guided tour of the town's ruins. Ghost towns are now considered monuments to America's pioneer spirit and to the mineral wealth that has helped to build the country.