Old School Americana & Nostalgia


These Are The Scariest Small Towns In America

These Are The Scariest Small Towns In America

Shutterstock / matthieu Gallet

Colorado City, AZ if you are not known there, you will be followed by several white SUVs. It’s basically run by a cult. A sect of Mormonism that broke off from the main church because they were excommunicated for refusing to renounce polygamy (apparently mainstream Mormons abandoned the practice). They do a lot of horrible stuff. Men are not allowed to have sex with their wives, and the only people allowed to do so are “seed bearers” who essentially rape women. People have been kicked out and made homeless simply for disagreeing with the church leader. They’ve been accused of child sex trafficking in the US and Canada. They view black people as the world’s greatest evil sent by the devil. There’s also incest, and cases of illegal child labor. Pretty messed up group of people and they’ve basically taken over the town.


Cairo, Illinois.

Protected by levies. Mostly abandoned.

We stopped for gas here once (technically just north of it in Mounds), and the place was so weird. The gas pumps were absolutely vintage, we weren’t sure where to pay (all buildings on the property were closed, and didn’t look inviting either), the place doubled as a salvage yard so there were tons of junked out cars and the only sign of life was an angry dog on a chain.

Not even knowing where to pay (I guess it was closed?) we ended up just moving on without getting gas. Not great vibes.


Shutterstock / matthieu Gallet

Rulo, Nebraska. The town has a real haunted vibe to it. Lots of abandoned buildings with no one around. Plus it was home to a Christian Identity cult lead by Michael Ryan in the early 1980’s that tortured and murdered several members. Ryan was sentenced to death for the murders but ended up dying in prison before the sentence was carried out. Rod Colvin wrote a book about this cult called “Evil Harvest”.


Newtown, MO. Part of St Charles I’m pretty sure. Place is eerie. The trees line up too perfectly. No noise. No dogs barking. No kids playing. Nobody just waking around. The houses are all less than 10 years old but nearly identical and made to look like 1910s-20s bungalows. Landscaping is pristine. Then “downtown” there are frikkin massive animal statues and the buildings all look like the Parthenon. It feels like those videos demonstrating the effects of a nuke, if a place could feel like that.


Shutterstock / Sue Leonard Photography

The area around Manly, Lousiana. The town was nice, great Mexican food. But once you’re out of town…it’s 30 min on bad roads to the highway. I was sent out there for a job. Nothing is paved, “county roads” are gravel or dead end into gully’s, wild dogs roaming, and random houses are just abandoned in the woods. Locals from town won’t go into some of the areas like Coushetta. Nothing matches the map, and there was no cell service. I passed an abandoned hospital? Or something, it was a sign and then foundations in the woods.

The creepiest part was I was talking to some locals and a guy tells me out of no where “oh yeah, I saw you by the lake, figured you weren’t from here” I hadn’t seen him there at all. It was a one lane dirt road. He kept talking and it turned he knew where I’d been all day. He and his friends had kept tabs on me. And his smile scared the hell out of me. I’ve never left a town so fast.

I feel like this comment doesn’t fully explain the weirdness and creepiness of the abandoned houses, wild dogs and locals keeping tabs on me all day.


Yellowdog, PA.

I guess it’s not super scary, but one of my elementary school friends grew up there and I probably stayed there every other week for like ten years. They eventually moved out. It took maybe five years later and the whole place was abandoned.

We went to visit not that long ago and it’s fucking creepy. There are still toys and stuffed animals just lying around. The houses are in bad shape but they’re all still standing, and you can absolutely just go in and have a look around.

I believe technically the name of the town is Shadyside Village–probably because “Yellowdog” is a terrible name. No one except the person who painted the sign you see when you enter has ever called it Shadyside Village. And as others have pointed out, it was abandoned before Google Maps so it’s not showing up there.


Shutterstock / Tania Steyn

Yeah dude. I drive through Gary when I make the road trip home. Every time, I gas up in eastern Indiana and I don’t fuckin stop until I hit Wisconsin.

I understand that Gary, Indiana, is perhaps not as bad as the online reputation may have you believe.

But I’ve been wrong before.


Orange Cove, California. A few years back, my wife and I were traveling up to the sequoias, and we took a new shortcut route as we had a new baby and were looking for a park to stop off at so she could nurse him and we could give him a change. Google showed us this park at the end of a culdesac. We drive in and we’re chatting and not really paying attention, because we’ve gone to the sequoias for years and it just seemed like business as usual. But little things on the street are starting to register with me almost subconsciously…there are like 10 or 20 dogs just roaming free on the street, every house is barred and chain-linked, and a few people are starting to come out of their houses to watch as we drive. We get to the park, and it’s completely broken down and overgrown, but we’re still talking and we get out to go sit on a bench so she can feed the kid.

As we get out, I notice there’s a large dumpster sitting wide-ways in the street next to the park that looks out of place and purposeful. Then as we sit and start to lay out the changing pad to change his diaper, I look at the graffiti on the picnic benches. There’s the normal inscrutable writings and various forms of penises, but then I notice these incredibly brutal depictions of like dismembered cops. It just felt like they were warnings, and not just drawings. Right then this truck pulls up, past the dumpster that was in the road, and then backs up until it’s almost touching the dumpster and I immediately realize why the dumpster is positioned like that…so that no one can see that truck from the main street. The men just stay in the truck, looking at us. My wife is still talking, and I say, “Let’s go. We need to get back to the car.” Normally she’d question me or say some banter about me telling her what to do, but something about my tone and she immediately got up and said, “What’s wrong?!” I said, “Let’s just get in the car. No car seat. Keep him in your lap.” I open the door and get both of them in, move as quickly as I can to the drivers side, get in, and make a quick u-turn back down the road.

As we’re driving out, the truck starts following us, and almost every house now has people standing at the front of their chain link fences, watching us. We get back to the main road, turn off, and the truck stops following us. We pull over at a few blocks down and take stock of the almost ghost town this “main road” goes down. We put our kid back in his carseat, do a quick google search for Orange Cove and find that at the time it had one of the densest gang populations in California, and vow never to go back there again.


Shutterstock / Hannes Vos

Samoa, California. I’ve been in some weird places. Nowhere has ever creeped me out like that little village of the damned.

Imagine Stephen King and David Lynch fell asleep playing Silent Hill, and shared a fever dream directed by John Carpenter.

Anyone who’s been there feel free to back me up. There’s a straight up evil energy there.



I was driving back from out east a few years back with the family when our trip through Louisiana was diverted north and then west. So, not only did we have to add a few hours to our trip, but we had to pass through several sundown towns. Past sundown. I had my wife and daughter with me and we had to stop for gas. Had to. I pull into a gas station, the whole area was eerily quiet, one streetlight down the road. I get out, knowing the towns reputation, and move as quickly and carefully as I can (family is Arab/Mexican mix) to pump gas. As I am finishing, I see something moving in the shadows off to the side of the street light about 300-500 yards away: three men walking toward our general direction. Now, it could be nothing, but it was around 10:45 PM on a weekday and I wasn’t going to find out. I close out the purchase, put the cap back on, get in the car, and start moving out of there. As I pass the street light on my way out, the men try and wave me down… forget that.