Some of the most wretched and caustic ghost towns are discussed, including “blue sky mine” Wittenoom, Picher’s chat piles, Oradour-sur-Glane’s nazi massacre legacy, the dioxin-tainted roads of Times Beach, Centralia’s ongoing coal fire, and more. All this and pop culture too! PS – Don’t worry Soda Jerks, we didn’t forget Chernobyl – it will get its own episode at some point!

Music: “G’Bye Now” by Martha Tilton




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Showing 30 comments
  • Gavin Pitts

    Ace episode!

    Had to drive through Wittenoom a few years ago to get to a population of Wanderer/Monarch Butterflies. Took a few minutes, and everyone in the car had the windows rolled up, air con off and hankies over our faces.

    Peter Garrett (lead singer of Midnight Oil) totally sold out when he became a minister in the Labor Party here in 2004- the former environmentalist okay-ed a pulp mill in Tasmanian heritage forest!

    Must agree with Kevin about John Wayne- the drawly machismo makes me switch off immediately.

    My own favourite Pop culture ghost towns include THE OMEGA MAN (though I think the definitive version of I AM LEGEND is yet to be made) and DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS- especially the Eighties miniseries.

    The SILENT HILL film is amazingly accurate to the look of the town in the games. Love it!

  • Fred

    Here’s another beautiful Detroit theatre that got turned into a parking garage:

  • Tom

    What’s with the weird cell-phone-esque noise at the beginning of each town?

    Love the show!

  • MikeOD

    You left out one the greatest examples of a ghost town – the atomgrad (atom city) of Pripyat in the shadow of the Chernobyl nuclear powerplant.

  • Pai

    Video of China’s ghost cities:

  • Jon Paynter

    Another great show guys!

    Just so you know, I was driving around with the CSP playing in the background with my 2 year old daughter in my car. When she heard your little song at the end of the podcast, she fell in love with it. She calls it the “soo soo” song and asks me to play it every time she gets into my car. I also have to sing it to her at night, which rarely goes well because I am a terrible singer and rarely remember the lyrics to any song. To quote my daughter, “want soo soo song, want soo soo song!” or “sing soo soo, sing soo soo!” I need a longer version of the song to put on a CD for her!!!

  • Derek

    Best faux Aussie accent I’ve heard for a while (not very Kiwi, either). Well done, Toren. It almost sounded like our Prime Minister. 🙂

  • castewar

    A bit of clarification about Eminent Domain – its specifically the right of the government to seize private property and compensate the occupants. It’s not limited to condemning towns, but setting up military bases, etc.

    I’m also disappointed that for all the Detroit talk, no one mentioned the prescient Robocop.

    And no mention of any number of zombie films, which are almost always nothing but ghost towns. Booo.

    Regardless, loved it! Should have a second episode later. There are so many notable examples.

    • Toren

      We’ll save the zombie talk for the zombie episode.

      • castewar

        (eyebrows slooooowly rising)

  • SynStalker

    Joe! You’re killing me with the Season 03 tag! It’s Season03 on this post… But I love you guys so much I’m willing to download it manually. Can’t wait to listen, thanks guys!

    • Joe

      The main podcast feed is and always has been /feed/podcast/

      Season feeds are set up for people to grab seasons after they’ve fallen off that main feed (which is only 60 episodes long due to Feedburner limitations).

      Subscribe to the main feed. It will always have the latest podcasts in it, tagged properly or not.

      • SynStalker

        Oh, I know that, I’m not trying to give you a hard time. The thing is that I have most of the episodes downloaded and want to keep it that way, without copies… I’m not trying to be difficult, I swear. I’m just a rabid fan.

  • cr0m

    That accent is more Kiwi, less Ozzie. Or Aussie.

    • Toren

      Hey, not according to Derek from Australia (above)! Of course, he could be crazy.

      • Derek

        Hmm, it’s possible.
        It’s definitely not Kiwi in my opinion, but quite clearly a put-on accent and not a real one. Even Paul Hogan doesn’t sound like that (or Bob Katter, for that matter). Inspired by Steve Irwin, perhaps?
        Perhaps I don’t hang around with enough Kiwis. I’m an Adelaidian, after all, not a Sydneyite, who would have more experience. 🙂
        Entertaining, if nothing else. And I’m very pleased to hear you know of Midnight Oil – it’s always a bit hard to know what people overseas know of Australia and what they don’t. 🙂

        • Toren

          My previous employer at Ye Olde Embroidery Shoppe mentioned to me that back in the day Midnight Oil was his favourite band.

    • banks!

      Get Toren to say Fish & Chips or Sixty six. That is the quickest way to tell if it’s a Kiwi accent or not.

  • She Fights Like A Girl

    Particularly enjoyed this episode. I am a lifelong Detroiter, and everything they said is dead-on. The thing is, like most metropolises, “Detroit” doesn’t usually mean Detroit… except when you’re talking about the Great Ruins. That’s the city. The suburbs are an awesome place to live: I am .5 miles from the Detroit border, and I live on a pleasant acre of land with many trees, a creek, small swamp, herds of deer, and even a few coyotes. Detroit has been criminally (literally: See Kwame Kilpatrick) mismanaged, and in my native opinion, will never be revived.

    Not that there isn’t anything good going on here… see for just SOME of our arts and entertainment goings-on.

  • Phav Nosnibor

    There are a lot of songs about Centralia out there, and oddly enough, a lot of them are collected and/or linked to on a 4×4 offroading site:

    Athens (GA) duo Jucifer were also inspired to record a pretty good “I’m not goin’ nowhere!” dirge on their third album:

  • Phav Nosnibor

    Oh, I do have to be a mega-dork and call you out on the dragon thing, though: blue dragons breathe lightning… it’s white dragons that do the cold thing. Shame on every last d20-owning one of you. (Partially mitigated by Toren’s memories of the Marvel Super Heroes scale, though I’m pretty sure there was a Class 1000 rank beyond Shift X even in the first edition of the game.)

    I’m going to stick my head in an oven now.

    • Generaleesimo

      (sarcastic golf clap)

  • G A McKnight

    I was just amazed that you missed an entire song on the subject, the cunningly title “Ghost Town” by The Specials.

  • zuzu

    AWESOME, the bootleg coal bit almost made me fall down a hill, I was laughing so hard. Shhhhhhhh…..

  • Ray W

    Anyone want to buy your very own ghost town?

    • Generaleesimo

      Who doesn’t ?