American Ghost Towns Of The 21st Century

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1. Lake County, Michigan

Number of Homes: 14,966
Vacancy Rate: 66%
Population: 11,014

Lake County is located in central Michigan, a few hour’s drive from the industrial cities of Flint, Pontiac and Detroit. It is in the heart of the state’s fishing district and has been a vacation destination since the early years of the car industry. Many of those second home owners are now gone. This has helped drive nearly 20% of the residents below the poverty level and the median household income to under $27,000 a year.

2. Vilas County, Wisconsin

Number of homes: 25,116
Vacancy Rate: 62%
Population: 21,919

Vilas County is located at the uppermost part of Wisconsin, near the border of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan. The county is plagued by two things. The first is that it has been a tourist area for Wisconsin residents. The second is that a significant part of the county’s economy depends on the logging, forestry and construction industries, each of which struggled during the recession.

3. Summit County, Colorado

Number of homes: 29,842
Vacancy rate: 61%
Population: 26,843

Summit County sits northwest of the Pike National Forest and due west of Denver. The area is near to several major ski resorts.  The local paper reports on revenue “The decrease isn’t linked to the dramatic dip in assessed property values in Summit County, expected to be near 20 percent lower than in the previous valuation period. Those changes will show up in property tax bills starting in 2011.”

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4. Worcester County, Maryland

Number of homes: 55,749
Vacancy rate: 60%
Population: 49,274

The Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation recently estimated that the county would have a sharp drop in its tax base in fiscal year 2012 and “another, more drastic, revenue decrease” for the fiscal year that follows. The twin engines of county’s economy are tourism and agriculture.  Experts believe the tourism business in Maryland’s Eastern Shore could stay crippled for years.

5. Mono County, California

Number of homes: 13,912
Vacancy rate: 59%
Population: 12,774

Mono County sits near the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite National Parks. Ironically, Bodie, the official state gold rush ghost town, is in Mono County. Finance Director Brian Muir recently said he expected another property drop in property tax receipts. Like most of the other counties on this list, tourism is a major source of revenue for its economy.