Ghost Towns of the American West by Raymond Bial
(Historical and Old West)

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Synopsis

If it is abandoned by all or most of its inhabitants, a settlement becomes a ghost town. The buildings and dirt streets may remain, but the character and soul of the place change entirely. And so it was with mining camps, lumber camps, and cowboy towns scattered across America, particularly in the West: places with names like Gregory’s Diggings, Deadwood, Bodie, Calico, Goldfield, and Tombstone, some of the over 30,000 deserted towns in the United States.
Why did people come to these isolated places? Why did they leave? As Raymond Bial’s narrative explores the history of our ghost towns, his well-composed photo-graphs silently tell their stories: of bustling, muddy streets, of large mercantile stores, and, ultimately, of short-lived dreams of gold, fertile land, or simply a good place to call home.
 

About Raymond Bial

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Raymond Bial is an acclaimed photoessayist for children. Four of his books were chosen as Notable Books in the Field of Social Studies by the NCSS. He lives in Urbana, Illinois, with his wife and children.
 
Published February 26, 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages
Genres: History, Children's Books.

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Tracing the life cycle of the estimated 30,000 ghost towns (nearly 1300 in Utah alone), he captures some echo of their bustling, rough-and-tumble past with passages from contemporary observers like Mark Twain: “If a man wanted a fight on his hands without any annoying delay, all he had to do was ...

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(Fans of these dark heroes would do better with Andrew Glass's recent Bad Guys.) The best of Bial's photographs zoom in on telling details: a metal sculpture of a prospector, aged to a gray that blends with a cloudy sky;

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