Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Niland - Another Modern Day Ghost Town

Niland is another example of a modern day, desert ghost town. In it's day, it was a thriving agricultural town in the Imperial Valley. In fact, the name "Niland" came from combining the words Nile and Land (because it was so fertile). The population in the area is less than 1,000 people today and declining. I think that the only thing it has going for it now, is that it is the "gateway to Slab City and Salvation Mountain."   How do I copyright that phrase? There really isn't much left there these days, but off course, I can always find plenty to do and see. If you want to visit Mexico, it is very close by.  Most of the photos are drive-by.

Believe it or not, this is still the nicest building in town, and it's hollow and fenced off.

Here's the back side of the same building.

Not that we were going to eat there, but this looked like the only place to eat in town. When we got closer, we saw that it was closed up.

This was my favorite photo from Niland. I even got out of the car to take it! If the moon had been a little lower in the sky (and therefore larger), I would love it! Please embiggen to get the true effect.

Your average Niland business. Closed and fenced off.

This seemed to be the only real viable business in town. A HUGE "fattening up" complex for cattle. I like beef just as well as the next carnivore, but I still found it to be kind of sad.

There is a for sale sign in the lower right hand corner of the photo. You can finally own your dream home!   But wait! If you act today, we'll include all the junk on the property!  All joking aside, there are MANY properties like this for sale around Niland.  Kind of sad...

Another business (or former business) on the main drag.

The Latin-American Club. This might have been the last "watering hole" in town. If there was an open bar there, we didn't see it.

Yet another closed business. As you can tell by looking at these photos, these places didn't close recently. This decline has been going on for quite a while. We were camped somewhere on the ridge line of those distant mountains for the last two weeks. We're home for a while right now though.

The other shut down bar/cafe.

At one time, folks must have had the time and/or resources for some leisure time.

I hope you don't mind seeing these towns. We've been to quite a few and there are many more out there to visit. Not until the summer is over though. Much too hot there already.



  1. I agree, that "fattening up" place for cattle, is kind of sad.

    That looks like a huge road in front of that closed up eating place.

  2. It is sad to see so many deserted old towns. I had no idea there were so many towns like the ones you have posted, Pat.
    Thank for sharing.

  3. Black and white really captures the isolation and emptiness of the place.

  4. Interesting and sad, Pat. I feel the desolation. I'm glad you didn't attempt a bite to eat in the cow pastures or fenced up eatery.


  5. really sad. and i hate those feedlots, too.

  6. Very interesting to see how rapidly a place like that can get run down. Such atmosphere though... it's as if the spirits of those who lived there still linger.

  7. Ghost towns are fascinating. Thanks for sharing your tour with us!

  8. i love ghost towns but at the same time it's so sad to see people abandon their home like this

  9. Wow! I love all your photos in this post and the last. My husband and I have always wanted to explore the west. We got sidetracked and ended up here down south somehow?!? Hopefully someday we'll make it over that way and see some of this stuff in person. Thanks for sharing it!

  10. I am enjoying the photos! I had no idea ghosts lived in so many places!

  11. I love these images. They really conjure lots of ideas for my stories. Thanks for sharing them!

  12. Even though there isn't a single person in any of these photos, they really are about people and their "footprints" in the landscape. People lived here once. They're gone now, but their "footprints" remain.

    By the way Pat, Hong Kong has a few places like this, including my wife's and my favourite place in the territory.

  13. I agree with the others, Pat, it is so sad to see old towns deserted like this -- particularly at my age!! One tends to see oneself!! I do hate the feedlots!! Marvelous captures!! Hope your week is going well!


  14. It is really sad to watch all this decline.

  15. love love love- I'm so into ghost towns- the peacefulness and bareness get me.

  16. There's a town down the road from Niland (toward El Centro) I think it starts with a B, anyway we went into a restaurant that didn't look too bad and realized as we got in there that one of those cattle pen things was right across the ditch -- smell and all -- I became a vegetarian right on the spot (for about a day and a half ;>)....but it really did make me think about it.....

    I really enjoy your thoughtful look at this area -- the country around there is so poor, I don't think most people have any idea .....it is a real experience to be there and really does make you think.

  17. these are great shots, While I always take your advice to imbiggen, I sometimes imbiggen ones that you didn't suggest as well.

  18. I do like seeing ghost towns, but you are right - this one is fairly recent which seems sadder than the old ones.

  19. Your photos do illustrate the desolation so well. I love that train shot! And talking about hot ... it was 93 here today ... in Philly in May. Unreal!

  20. Just so I understand...this a ghost town and there are 1000 people who live there?? That has the makings of a good movie of some kind. The train picture was really good...like a train with no place to go. At least from the vantage point of your pictures the place looks kept up and clean...like a modern day Andromeda Strain city. Your trips are interesting for sure.

  21. It IS sad. Sad to think the town once thrived & people went about their everyday lives. Third from the last photo..."another closed business " is my favorite shot. The feed pen reminds me of scenes from the movie "Food Inc".

  22. Hi Pat, Isn't it sad to see little communities just DIE???? Is this one on Route 66 also????

    You are right... It's getting too darn hot now to hike/travel much... After our big trip last June to Utah, we have decided not to EVER travel on big trips during the summer. We may go to Yellowstone in September.

    Have a great week.

  23. I agree the moon over the train monochrome is the best in this ghost town series. And please, Pat, don't get me started on my feelings about how the food industry treats animals raised to feed us. And yes, I am (still) a carnivore. :-(

  24. Wonderful photos of the recent past, but has suddenly fallen into oblivion. I love them.

  25. Ms. A - You are right, it's a pretty good sized road. A lot of cars pass by there, but not too many stop unless they live in the area.

    Pam - I agree! It's kind of an odd thing anyway. The town was built on agriculture. The water comes all the way from the Colorado River. During the summer, it is deadly hot there. My pleasure Pam!

    Alex - Thanks Alex, I agree with that. Some things have to be in black and white.

    Robyn - Sure is! Nah, I wasn't hungry, I had an apple on the train! jk...

    TexWisGirl - I hate them also. Part of the thing we don't really want to know about. Or at least we don't want to see them.

    Nat - Yeah! It's pretty much empty, but it doesn't feel abandoned. Yet it is.

    Karen - Hi there! I agree with that. I'm fascinated by them. You are welcome!

    becca - I'm right there with you. It makes me wonder about their individual stories. I'm pretty sure most of the people who moved away, didn't go far. There is a fairly large town not too far away.

  26. Jenn June - Thanks so much! I appreciate that! I hope you do get a chance to get over here. There is much too much to see here.

    Brian - HA! They are everywhere Brian!

    SA Larsen - My pleasure! If you need any of them just let me know. For every one I post, I probably have a hundred that I don't.

    dennis hodgson - Hi Dennis! I totally agree with you. You can feel their essence everywhere! When I see these places, it feels me with questions about the people who were there before. Thanks for the link!

    Sylvia - Thanks so much Sylvia! They are sad, but certainly part of our history. My week is going great thanks!

    Costas - I agree with you Costas. One town's decline is another town's gain.

    Ren - Thanks! I appreciate that. Although I can "feel" the essence of those who have left, I like the desolate and lonely feeling of these places.

    Sallie - That "S" town would be Brawley! Most of the folks from Niland moved to Brawley. It's not my idea of a nice place. Not at all. Thanks Sylvia!

  27. Budd - Hey! Thanks for embiggening any of them! I appreciate it. If I wasn't such an idiot, I'd learn how to adjust how big the photos show up in the post.

    Belle - Yep! The recently vacated places still have items in and around them.

    missing moments - Thanks for saying that! It was mid 70s here today. It can just stay that way as far as I'm concerned.

    Chuck - The people that live there are kind of scattered around. The part that is a "ghost town" is mostly the actual town area. Thanks about the train photo, I really liked it as well. It is surprising how little graffiti there is in places like this.

    California Girl - I'd say that overall, it's a pretty sad state of affairs. thanks for nice words.

    Betsy - Hi Betsy! It is pretty sad! No, this isn't on route 66. But another old time highway. We pretty much stick to the coastal areas during the summer.

    Francisca - Thanks! That photo is my also my favorite of the group. I'll be sure not to get you started!!! I'm a recovering vegetarian and still have some strong feelings about that subject also.

    Leovi - thanks Leovi! Here today, gone tomorrow!


  28. Interesting that the whole town is gone. We don't have many of those around here. I love old abandoned buildings.

  29. I'm with you - I love the train monochrome, never mind what the moon isn't doing. it's a fantastic shot and shows the desolation of the place. I don't like cattle yards either. great photos Pat. thanks for sharing, I like seeing the abandoned towns. happy day to you.

  30. As a writer, I would love to visit and sit and imagine what sort of people lived in the houses and shopped at the stores. Love your train and moon photo.

  31. So sad but interesting at the same time. Once people lived and worked and partied and now they have gone.
    We have many towns like this too is our country areas. Sometimes all that is left is a few piles of stone and chimney or perhaps a little graveyard.
    You can't help wondering why the people left

  32. Wow. You always hear about these kind of towns, but somehow I thought they were mythical. Sad to see they're real.

  33. Wow. I definitely want to go here! This looks like such a neat place!

  34. It's so odd to see these shut down places... I can't help but sense all the life that was there once... so many stories seem to linger...

  35. such an interesting post! and beautiful photos.

    that first one caught my eye.

    really sad, but i totally enjoyed your pictorial tour.

  36. That goes in the Coffee Table Book! Think of all the dreams and aspirations of the early people- before it went bust!

    Great one my friend.


  37. The monochromes really add to the ghost town imagery! Nice!

  38. I find it both interesting and sad. It's amazing how many towns are out there like that. And those poor cows...they don't have anyone to keep them company!!

  39. Sad but great for photography.

    We were close to there a couple of months ago when we went to visit my wife's parents farmland in El Centro. Now I wish I could have stopped in Niland and taken a few shots.

  40. Wayne - There are bits and pieces of it left, but those are mostly house trailers and some houses.

    Ms. Becky - Thanks for saying that. I really like that photo also. There are plenty more towns like this around, I'll be trying to get to them also. Thanks again!

    Clarissa - That is exactly what I do. I ask a bunch of questions, usually to myself. Thanks Clarissa!

    Mynx - That's how I see it also. We have a lot of places that are almost totally gone. Sometimes there are people around to talk to, sometimes not.

    Talli - Yep, they are no myth! There are some myths associated with them though.

    Jenny - I'm sure it will still be there when you are in the area!

  41. Sarah - Yep! It's very odd, but very real also. There really is an essence remaining of the people who used to be there.

    Betty - Thanks Betty! You get to go, where I go!

    John - Thanks John! Maybe someday...
    I always hope, that some of the former residents of these places have moved on to better lives. Who knows?

    Blue Wave - Thanks! I agree and think that this kind of shot needs to be black and white.

    Baby Sister - I agree with you. There are a ton of towns like that. Some of them aren't tragic at all, but some sure are.

    James - Yep! I'm sure some of the Niland folks ended up in El Centro. There is more work there for sure.

  42. I find your photos fantastic and history interesting. I new there were some ghost towns in the west but surprised there are so many.

    I knew we had one in my area created by the Russell Bliss dioxan contamination scandal in the 1980's. But, just yesterday learned there are actually thirteen others scattered around the state with some as old as the early 1900's. I didn't want to believe it until I did some research. Heck, I even learned my high school was named after the founder of one of these ghost towns.

    I for one will not get tired of your travel reports, ghost town or not.

    Thanks for all your visits to my humble site.

  43. those pictures are breathtakingly haunting

  44. i'd buy a house there. i bet no-one would ever bother me. ^_^

  45. That is really sad ... dilapidated houses, cows in the heat getting fat, empty businesses ... but interesting too. Thanks for taking me along. :)

  46. The fences in Ghost Towns are tacky but do at least help discourage those who would take away the town till there would be nothing left. I haven't been to this town.

  47. Rita - Thanks Rita! I appreciate that. There is a lot of interesting history around us, that we many times, know nothing about. I'll try to keep them coming... My visits to your site are a pleasure!

    baygirl32 - Thanks so much! There are a bit haunting.

    Vencora - Hey there! Long time my friend. Well, if you wanted to, I"m sure you could pick one up pretty darn cheaply. I'll be over to see if you've posted lately.

    Laura - I agree, it's sad, but interesting...

    Sage - I know what you mean about the fences, whoever owns these places wants to keep them as intact as possible, in case someone might want to buy them.

  48. Niland. Nil. Looks like an appropriate name. :)
    God bless you!

  49. Have you ever seen those videos/pictures of what could become of our cities if nature were allowed to take over? Everything gets covered in vines, crumbles, falls and disappears. I guess in the dessert things just dry up and stay there.

  50. Starkly beautiful.
    And, oh, so sad.

  51. I love this shit! Inspiring stuff... More More!

  52. Pat, you never sit still.

  53. I like how the cafe posted two closed signs on the gate. They did not want to leave any "sign" of doubt!

  54. Makes me count my blessings and be thankful for what I have.


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