The Witching Season is here! Time to dust off that broom, rip up some sheets and get that cauldron bubbling! As children across the country are anxiously preparing their scary costumes (and the basic co-oed costume of "sexy [noun]"), I'd like to take this moment to point out that though America is full of scary places to visit, there are a few places I wouldn't recommend ever taking little Timmy and cute Sally trick or treating...unless they're like really, really bad.
So, without further ado, here are America's WORST places to go trick-or-treating:
Centralia is your standard Northeast borough. Just off Highway-61, it's a town with quite a history, dating back to when it was occupied by Native American tribes, and then sold in the 1700s to a Revolutionary War hero. When coal deposits were discovered, the area became a veritable boomtown. That all changed in the 1960s when an underground mine fire erupted and has continued burning under the town ever since. There were 1,000 residents in the town in 1981, and by 2010, only 10 remained. The town is the inspiration behind the horror game, "Silent Hill." Though it's still unknown exactly how the fire started, the town is now a ghost town. Personally, I'm inclined to be of the "This-Town-Was-Obviously-Built-On-A-Hellmouth" persuasion, especially considering that in 1981 a massive sinkhole tried to swallow a 12-year old boy.
The town of Picher, Oklahoma was once a a booming mining town that was "a major national center of lead and zinc mining at the heart of the Tri-State Mining District," which resulted in over 100 years of "unrestricted subsurface excavation" that resulted in the abandonment of "giant piles of toxic metal-contaminated mine tailings." Ugh. After blood tests showed that over 63% of the children in Picher had lead poisoning in the mid-90's, the EPA replaced the topsoil on thousands of plots of land, at the tune of $140 million. Less than a decade later the town was evacuated and declared unlivable.
Love Canal, New York
Considered “one of the most appalling environmental tragedies in American history”, Love Canal began as a dream community. William T. Love was the man with the plan. He thought it’d be swell to dig a canal between the upper and lower Niagara Rivers, which would generate power to cheaply fuel his community. Due to economic problems, Love had to abandon his dream. So, in the 1920s some genius decided the abandoned canal would make a great place to dump industrial chemical waste! The Hooker Chemical Company filled in the dump and sold the piece of crap land to the city for the whopping sum of $1. Here’s the problem though, 25 years after the chemical company dumped their hazardous toxins, “82 different compounds, 11 of them suspected carcinogens, have been percolating upward through the soil, their drum containers rotting and leaching their contents into the backyards and basements of 100 homes and a public school built on the banks of the canal.” There have been a “disturbingly high rate of miscarriages”, birth defects, chemical burns from children playing outside, as well as high levels of carcinogens.
New Idria, California
The New Idria Mercury Mine in San Benito County, California was a quicksilver mine that was established in the 1850s. A town grew up around it to support mining operations. Today, the town is abandoned…and highly toxic, due to unchecked mercury run-off, which led to mass-contamination.
This small, mostly African-American community is located just outside Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. Nearby are polyvinyl chloride factories which contaminated the groundwater and forced most of the people who lived near the refinery to leave their homes. There’s a 2002 documentary about the tragedy called Blue Vinyl.
Salton Riviera, California
Less than an hour from Palm Springs lies a postapocalyptic wasteland. Once a glamorous resort paradise for the wealthy, the Salton Riviera is now an abandoned, ghost town with ruins, acres fo dead fish, and a smell that emanates for miles. Basically what happened is this: The resort developers used a ton of fertilizers that all flowed into the Salton Sea, which led to the growth of loads of algae. When the algae died it sunk and the bottom of the sea was covered in a blanket of the dead algae that didn't allow any oxygen. Thus, bacteria starts to eat all that dead crap and from this you get hydrogen sulfide gas. Real nasty shit. The toxic gas is responsible for the acres of dead fish, as in like millions of dead fish. So, that was the end of the Salton Riviera.
Congress passed the "Superfund" bill in 1980, AKA the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. It's purpose is to provide the EPA with funds to clean up toxic leaks and contain exposure of hazardous materials. Unfortunately, some towns are beyond saving.