The Bizarre, Sometimes Real Stories of Towns That Totally Disappeared

RealClear Contributor


It's stuff right out of a scary sci-fi book: a small town in the middle of nowhere, filled with normal people going about their everyday lives. Then one day, it all just disappears. If you think this just doesn't happen, you're only partially right...because it has, just maybe not as many times as urban legend says it has.

Lake Anjikuni, Nunavut, Canada

According to the story, the little village next to Lake Anjikuni existed in the year 1930. A fur trapper discovered it, an Inuit village settled near the rocks and the water. It was a fishing village full of tents and activity. 

The Disappearance

One day, the little fishing village was gone. The tents and possessions were still in place, but there was no trace of the people who once inhabited the village. The fur trapper, a now-frequent visitor, was so disturbed he reported the disappearance to the Mounties (the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) but they found nothing to explain what happened. 

Truth and Legend

The story grew over time, and soon legend said that thousands disappeared. In the original version of the tale, it was only about 25 men and their families. Skeptics now believe the entire story was falsified, as there is no solid proof that the small fishing village ever existed.

Urkhammer, Iowa

The story of Urkhammer is the story of many small towns. If you blinked, you could pass it up without even knowing. It was a little farming village in Iowa in the 1920s...until the day it disappeared. People driving past and flying above it noticed that it had been abandoned. The fields went untilled, the streets were still, the homes silent. 

The Legend

After a tourist stopped to buy gas and stumbled upon the empty town, he was so freaked out he had to recover in a sanitarium. A local newspaper reported on the mystery town in 1929, but the day's news pretty much obliterated the story: the stock market crashed the same day. By 1932, when people displaced by the Dust Bowl began to move through the area, the abandoned town had already begun to deteriorate. Today, it no longer exists. 

The Truth?

Urkhammer's story is chilling, to be sure, but also unconfirmed. There are no legitimate news reports of the strange tale, only second- and third-hand accounts that have grown to epic Internet rumor proportions. There is no evidence, in fact, that there ever was a town called Urkhammer, Iowa.

Hoer Verde, Brazil

Around 600 people lived in Hoer Verde, Brazil before 1923. According to the story, a group of visitors came to the village this year and found it totally silent and empty. They called in authorities, who could find no reason for the bizarre mass disappearance of the entire town's population. 

Campfire Tale

The only evidence, the story goes, was a single gun. It had been recently fired, and was found near a note that read "there is no salvation" when translated. This creepy story is enough to give anyone nightmares, and maybe that's where it came from. The town is so obscure and the story so unreliable, it hasn't even got a Wikipedia page.

Roanoke Colony, North Carolina

In the 1590, an entire colony did literally vanish off the face of the Earth. The Roanoke colony, settled on North Carolina's Roanoke Island, was one of the first British colonies in the U.S. and home to about 100 hardy colonists. Virginia Dare, the first English child born in America, was born here and loaned her name to Dare County as a result.

The Vanishing

The governor of Roanoke, John White, went to England to fetch more supplies for the fledgling colony. When he returned, it was gone. Every single colonist had vanished, and there were no signs of violence. The only clue left behind was cryptic at best: the word "Croatoan" carved onto the wooden fence surrounding the colony. A search of nearby Croatoan Island, about 50 miles away, yielded no clues whatsoever of the colonists. No bodies were found, and no concrete trace of where the colonists went has ever been discovered in the 400 years since.



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