Kitsault: The Ghost Town Where Lights Are Still On But No One’s Home

Jan 18, 2017 17 comments

Think ghost town and you’ll probably imagine ruins —roofless houses, dirty broken windows, rotting floors, but at Kitsault, on the North Coast of British Columbia, Canada, you’ll find rows upon rows of immaculately kept houses, shopping centers, restaurants, banks, pubs and theaters, all abandoned and sitting empty but untouched and spotless. The town’s lights are always on, the streets are lined with neatly trimmed trees and there are freshly mowed lawns, yet no one has called Kitsault home since 1982.

The town of Kitsault, near the Alaskan border, situated about 115 kilometers down the gravel road from Terrace, had a very brief existence. It began in 1979 as a community of workers of the molybdenum mines. Molybdenum forms hard, stable carbides in alloys, and is often used to provide hardness and corrosion resistance properties to steel. But just as life was getting started in this pristine mountain utopia, the market for molybdenum crashed and the entire town of some 1,200 residents abandoned it.

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Photo credit: Bob Steventon/Flickr

This area of British Columbia, at the end of the Observatory Inlet, had been mined for precious and semi-precious metals such as silver, lead, zinc, and copper for nearly a century, leading to the establishment of many boom towns such as Alice Arm and Anyox. Molybdenum was first mined here from the late sixties until the early seventies, but was stopped when profits started to dip. But by the end of the decade prices were back up again as many of the known molybdenum deposits in Alaska, British Columbia and the western United States began to deplete. The American mining company Phelps Dodge jumped in at the opportunity.

A large swath of land several hundred acres in size was prepared for the town of Kitsault, and a massive construction project, on a scale that had never been seen in Northern British Columbia, began. Ships arrived with building supplies into Kitsault’s deep water fiord. A gravel road from Terrace was hastily built through the mountains. Engineers and construction workers poured in from all over North America, drawn by high-paying construction jobs.

More than a hundred single-family homes and duplexes were built, and seven apartment buildings with over two hundred suites. There was a modern hospital and a shopping center, restaurants, banks, a post office, a pub, a pool, a library, and two recreation centers with Jacuzzis, saunas and a theater. Cable television and phone lines were laid underground. There was a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant and the cleanest running water in the province.

Barely 18 months after the first families had settled in, the molybdenum market crashed caused by a badly timed recession and the arrival of molybdenum by-products. The mines closed and people started moving out and Kitsault was forgotten.

In 2005, India-born American entrepreneur, Krishnan Suthanthiran, bought the town for $7 million and began charting its revival. Since then, the millionaire has poured an estimated $25 million on upgrades and upkeep. More than a dozen caretakers make rounds of the houses and other structures, checking on their conditions and making repairs. They mow the lawns, trim the trees and sweep the streets.

Suthanthiran plans to recoup his investments by turning Kitsault into a hub of British Columbia’s Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) industry. The future of the town depends on the success of this LNG project.

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Photo credit: Bob Steventon/Flickr

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Photo credit: Bob Steventon/Flickr

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Photo credit: Chad Graham/Flickr

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June 29 Drive-2 Kitsault

Photo credit: Chad Graham/Flickr

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Photo credit: Bob Steventon/Flickr

Source: www.kitsault.com / The Globe And Mail / National Post

Comments

  1. On another site where this was featured, someone suggested having homeless people move into the town. So to prevent any similar comments here, let's go over why that's a dumb idea. The town is surrounded by wilderness and other abandoned towns/sites. It's over 50 miles and 2 hours by car to the nearest living town. Kitsault has no infrastructure. There's water and power, but no goods or services. The hospitals, fire station, and so on, are empty. And I doubt anyone would want to live there as a full-time caretaker, alone in the middle of nowhere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would go in a heartbeat....... Sounds like heaven..

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    2. id bring people with me and try to turn it into a fully functioning settlement first because i don't think it would be hard to find other people who want to live in an idyllic 1980s town.

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  2. Their Sears looks like my sears

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  3. oh I would love to live there as a caretaker, it would truly be heaven on earth.....

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  4. How is that possible I mean they just left their homes? Was everyone related to the market? i first thought that was the result of some sort of chemical radioactive incident.

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    Replies
    1. When the price crashed for molybdenum the miners were told to leave right away they weren't given an option to stay they had to leave.

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  5. By products? Are you sure? Bit of a disgrace if they leave the lights on but I doubt they do. Fascinating though.

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    Replies
    1. What they mean is that the power is still on. Not all the lights.

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  6. There won't be anyany LNG

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  7. I thank this is really cool it's a pice of history people should hear about you wouldn't thank that you could loose everything that fast but there it is

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  8. On the surface it sounds cool, but over time it would quickly be a bad idea. As someone else said you would have to drive at least 2 hours to the nearest town. If you had an emergency, there is no one coming to help you. your on your own. You need something fixed...figure it out yourself.

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  9. I would move there tomorrow if I could. I would run a coffee shop and take on some caretaking with my husband

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  10. I lived there for a summer. It is a beautiful place that had an amazing amount of bears and wolves and was filled with song birds. The crabbing, prawning and fishing is great for a seafood dinner and there are a few beautiful abandoned mines down the bay, but the really cool thing about it is all the wild fruit trees, berries, and edible plants left behind by the past residences. I found chives, onions, garlic, strawberries and apple trees, cherry trees, plum trees and even a MAPLE TREE! I was also able to grow radishes there and was able to catch a couple of salmon over the summer as well. The downside to the place is all the bears, I had a run in with a male grizzly and also a black bear. Had more trouble with the black bear than the grizzly as the dang bear kept stalking me and a few others that had stayed there as well. It eventually got to the point where I launched a bear banger at it. The bear banger was older (Passed expiry date but I was desperate at the time) and it shot quite shorter than I expected and it blew up on its butt! its had a patch of fur missing that looked like the bear from the great out doors. All in all, it was a great place to spend the first wave of Covid. Just make sure you get permission to stay or visit the town or any neighboring places. 10/10 spot, and I am purchasing a nearby cabin.

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  11. Forgot to add that it is really hard to get medical attention as mountain roads can collapse and fill with snow. some of the people here almost didn't make it a few times. Luckily there seemed to always be a traveling boat that could take them.

    ReplyDelete

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