Most people image ghost towns being located in dusty, arid regions of the United States, however, there are a handful located in the South Bay. While some of these aren’t easily accessible, I’ve found it to be an excuse to spend a couple hours outdoors and do some other exploring. Here are some highlights:
- New Almaden – This is the only truly accessible ghost town located in the Silicon Valley. Located on Almaden Road, this was the biggest source of mercury used to extract gold from ore during the Gold Rush. A small museum located at Casa Grande will teach you more about the area, and the role New Almaden played during the Gold Rush.
- Holy City – There’s not much left of Holy City other than the Holy City Art Glass Workshop and a handful of structures and walls of old buildings. Founded by cult-leader William Riker in 1919, Holy City was situated on old 17. Today, only the old post office stands, which serves as the Holy City Art Glass Workshop. You can get there be following San Jose-Soquel Road.
- Lexington and Alma – Now located under the waters of the Lexington Reservoir, these two towns were also located along old 17. These were important rail stops when the logging industry was going strong in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Recently, Lexington was last seen when the reservoir was drained for maintenance in 2009.
- Drawbridge – Formerly the home of drawbridge operators that operated Southern Pacific Railroad’s draw bridges crossing Mud Creek Slough and Coyote Creek Slough, it later became the home of speakeasies and brothels during the prohibition. Unfortunately, to the town is now restricted, however a display about the ghost town is available at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.