Lifestyle

The 14 Most Insane Abandoned Places in California

Grant Marek Published On 08/26/2015 Published On 08/26/2015

If you've ever seen I Am Legend or 28 Days Later you know that 1) there's something eerily fascinating about abandoned places, and 2) zombies are assholes. Providing you with all the eerie fascination you can handle, but none of the "zombie dogs killing your German Shepherd," here are the 14 most insane abandoned places in California.
 

1. Cosson Hall

San Francisco
Opened in 1969 on sadly treasure-less Treasure Island, Cosson Hall was an asterisk-shaped barracks that featured six wings and a central, circular ramp (see above), all of which were occupied by male sailors stationed on the island. The building was in use up until the naval base was decommissioned in the 1990s, and has since fallen into serious graffiti-stricken disrepair.

Flickr/.freeside.

2. Airplane boneyard

Mojave Desert
Located just outside of Edwards Air Force Base (ya know, where Chuck Yeager became the first person to pilot an aircraft faster than the speed of sound), this airplane boneyard features a vast inventory of kinda mind-blowing Cold War relics, including what's left of the above badass-ly named Boeing B-52B Stratofortress Bomber.

Flickr/Shawn Clover

3. J's Amusement Park

Guerneville
Tucked away in the Guerneville woods, this abandoned family-run operation sounds like it has the makings of a great Hardy Boys book backdrop nowadays. Opened in the 1960s and closed in 2003 due to rising costs, they essentially left  the entire operation behind, including the Mad Mouse roller coaster, an old scrambler ride, a Tilt-A-Whirl, bumper cars, and a suspicious groundskeeper who's super weirdly the exact same height and weight of the ghost who was seen terrorizing the grounds.

Flickr/Miles Sabin

4. Chemung Mine

Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
Mystery abounds when it comes to the Chemung Mine's sordid past; what we do know: 1) it served the town of Masonic (basically as far East as you can go from the Bay Area before you hit Nevada), 2) its owner was allegedly thrown into a mine shaft for cheating his employees, and 3) his ghost is not super happy about it.

Flickr/Orin Zebest

5. The Point Reyes abandoned boat

Inverness
One of the most Instagrammable things you'll find on the Point Reyes National Seashore (really guys, it has its own Flickr group), this abandoned fishing boat -- aptly named the "Point Reyes" -- mysteriously ended up in Inverness and when the property it was resting on was sold, the new owners left it for fear of upsetting local photographers.

Evan Thompson/Thrillist

6. The Bayshore Roundhouse

San Francisco
Built in 1910, Bayshore's brick roundhouse was used to park and service locomotives on their way into SF. As the Southern Pacific line grew, so did the Bayshore facilities -- at one point there were 25 outbound tracks, 39 inbound tracks, and even a hospital for the 3,000 employees. The rise of diesel engines meant steam facilities became obsolete and the roundhouse was abandoned in 1982. A fire in 2001 demolished half of what was left of the roof of the roundhouse, but the bones of the structure are still intact/super-cool looking. While there were once over 200 roundhouses in California, Bayshore's is the last standing brick roundhouse in the state.

Flickr/Samantha Stott

7. Griffith Park Zoo

Los Angeles
Opened in 1912 and closed in 1966 with the opening of the Los Angeles Zoo, the abandoned site of the Griffith Park Zoo still features the ruins of animal enclosures, which double as both a picnic area (uh, that doesn't sound creepy at all) and the sometimes-home of the Great Horror Campout.

Flickr/Michael Estigoy

8. Año Nuevo Island

Año Nuevo Island
Located off the California coast between SF and Santa Cruz, the nine-acre Año Nuevo Island -- which was abandoned as a light station in 1948 -- is still home to the old lighthouse keeper's quarters. The original lighthouse, however, was purposely toppled in the aughts as it began to deteriorate and become a possible hazard to hundreds of Northern elephant seals/endangered sea lions that now call the island home. Oh, and before you think about urban exploring this thing, you should know that 1) it's closed to the public, and 2) because of all the seals/sea lions, great white sharks are frequently spotted patrolling the waters surrounding it.

Flickr/Indecent Exposure

9. The Cement Ship

Aptos
Launched in 1919 (too late to see service in WWI) and retired just 10 years later, the SS Palo Alto was a concrete ship that was supposed to serve as a tanker, but after being mothballed was instead towed to Aptos where the Seacliff Amusement Corporation built a pier leading out to her and refitted her as an amusement ship, with amenities including a dance floor, a swimming pool, and a café. In 1931 they went bankrupt, the ship cracked in its midsection, and she was stripped of all the fun stuff and left as the weirdest fishing pier in the state.

Grant Marek/Thrillist

10. The Fannette Island tea house

Lake Tahoe
The only island in Lake Tahoe, Fannette still houses the stone shell of a one-time tea house built in the late 1920s by Lora Knight, the clearly super-rich lady who owned Vikingsholm -- a 38-room castle along the Emerald Bay shore. According to the California Department of Parks and Rec, "after being transported to the island by motorboat, Mrs. Knight and her guests would occasionally be served tea there. A small fireplace in the corner and a large oak table and four oak chairs in the center of the 16 by 16 foot room gave it a very rustic appearance."

Flickr/Alex Weimer

11. The Bodie ghost town

Bodie
In 1880, Bodie was California's third most populous city. Third guys, third. Today, it has a population of zero -- the one-time mining town turned ghost town was mostly deserted in the 1920s due to terrible weather (100mph winds and every-month-of-the-year frost) and totally deserted in 1932 following a massive fire. One hundred structures still remain including the old general store, the Methodist church, a saloon, a bank vault, and the cemetery. It’s now a National Historic Landmark and state park and you can pay $5 to check out the town, preserved in a state of arrested decay.

Flickr/.freeside.

12. The Ghost Fleet

Benicia
After World War II, there were thousands of surplus ships in the US' naval fleet, and hundreds of them were once parked in Suisun Bay (clearly, to guard against a Walnut Creek invasion). Today though, fewer than 55 ships from the reserve fleet of ghost warships and freighters remain, all of which are supposed to be removed by the fall of 2017.

Flickr/Kamil Dziedzina

13. Nazi compound

Los Angeles
One of the seven best secret hikes in LA will lead you to Murphy Ranch, an abandoned nazi compound built in the middle of the mountains by some super-smart dudes who thought Germany would win WWII and come take over America. Fifty caretakers were arrested by local police in 1941 the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and as of 1990 it was completely abandoned, leaving your inner Indiana Jones to geek out over engine parts, crumbled huts, and even an overturned '40s VW Bus.

Flickr/ChiefRanger

14. The Donner Pass Summit Tunnel

Truckee
The first railroad line to traverse the Sierra Nevada range, this nearly 1,700ft tunnel was completed in 1867 by Chinese workers and the first train passed through it in 1868. The last train passed through in 1993 when the route was changed to a new location that looked nowhere near as cool as this.

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Grant Marek is Thrillist's senior cities director and he totally wants to kayak out to the tea house the next time he's in Tahoe. Follow him on Twitter to more cool abandoned stuff at @grant_marek.

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1. Cosson Hall 601 Ave A, San Francisco, CA 94130

This Treasure Island site was once the barracks of male sailors stationed here, but has fallen into disrepair since it was decommissioned in the 1990s.

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2. Airplane boneyard Intersection of Hwy 58 and Hwy 14, , CA

Located at the intersections of California state highways 58 and 14, the airplane boneyard is home to tons of old planes, including mind-blowing Cold War relics and what's left of the Boeing B-52B Stratofortress Bomber.

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3. J's Amusement Park 16101 Neeley Rd, Guerneville, CA 95446

This defunct amusement park opened in the 1960s but closed in 2003 due to rising maintenance costs. Now reduced to bones, it's still a sight worth seeing.

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4. Chemung Mine Chemung Mine, , CA 93517

This ghost town in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest on the Nevada border once served as a miners town until its owner was allegedly thrown into a mine shaft for cheating his employees... his ghost is not super happy about it.

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5. Point Reyes Shipwreck 12781 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Inverness, CA 94937

Located on the Point Reyes National Seashore, this abandoned ship is one of the most Instagrammable things you'll ever see -- and no one really knows how it got there.

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6. The Bayshore Roundhouse 2800 Bayshore Blvd, Brisbane, CA 94005 (Bayshore)

Built in 1910, Bayshore's brick roundhouse was used to park and service locomotives on their way into SF. As the Southern Pacific line grew, so did the Bayshore facilities -- at one point there were 25 outbound tracks, 39 inbound tracks, and even a hospital for the 3,000 employees. The rise of diesel engines meant steam facilities became obsolete and the roundhouse was abandoned in 1982. A fire in 2001 demolished half of what was left of the roof of the roundhouse, but the bones of the structure are still intact/super-cool looking. While there were once over 200 roundhouses in California, Bayshore's is the last standing brick roundhouse in the state.

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7. Griffith Park Zoo Old L.A. Zoo, , CA 90027 (West La)

With the opening of the Los Angeles Zoo in 1966, the Griffith Park Zoo became obsolete, but the ruins of the old animal enclosures are still standing.

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8. Año Nuevo Island Año Nuevo Island, , CA

Off the California coast between SF and Santa Cruz, the nine-acre Año Nuevo Island once served as a light station, but was abandoned in 1948. It's closed to the public, but has become home to hundreds of Northern elephant seals/endangered sea lions.

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9. The Cement Ship 201 State Park Dr, Aptos, CA 95003

The S.S. Palo Alto (a.k.a The Cement Ship) was launched a year too late to serve in WWI and was retired after only a decade. It was then brought to Aptos where it was outfitted as an amusement ship, complete with a dance floor, swimming pool, and café. Then, in 1931, the company went bankrupt, the ship cracked, and then it was deemed unsafe to be used even just as a fishing pier. But you can still look at it.

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10. The Fannette Island Tea House Fannette Island, Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Located on the only island in Lake Tahoe, The Fanette Island tea house was built in the 1920s by Lora Knight, the clearly super-rich lady who owned Vikingsholm -- a 38-room castle along the Emerald Bay shore. The stone shell of the building still remains today and is fairly easy to reach for any willing to swim out to the island.

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11. The Bodie ghost town , Bodie, CA

In 1880, Bodie was California's thirst most populous city. In the 1920s, terrible weather (100mph winds, monthly frost) turned the mining town into a near-ghost town. In 1932, a massive fire left it totally deserted. The people left but more than 100 buildings remained, including the general store, Methodist church, saloon, bank vault, and cemetery. Now, Bodie is a National Historic Landmark and state park, where for $5 you can explore its state of arrested decay.

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12. The Ghost Fleet Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, Benicia, CA 94510

After World War II, there were thousands of surplus ships in the US' naval fleet, and hundreds of them were once parked in Suisun Bay (clearly, to guard against a Walnut Creek invasion). 30 miles northeast of the city, you can still find most of these corroded ships decorating the water. Today, fewer than 55 ships from the reserve fleet of ghost warships and freighters remain, all of which are supposed to be removed by 2020.

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13. Nazi Compound at Murphy Ranch Sullivan Fire Rd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272 (Pacific Palisades)

Murphy Ranch was designed to be a haven for nazi sympathizers during WWII, but was raided by police the day after Pearl Harbor and all 50 caretakers were arrested. It was completely abandoned in 1990, but you can still hike up to this Pacific Palisades compound.

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14. The Donner Pass Summit Tunnel Summit Tunnel, Truckee, CA 96161

The almost 1,700ft tunnel was completed in 1867, and was the first railroad line to traverse the Sierra Nevadas. In 1993, the last train passed through, as the route was changed to an entirely less-cool location.

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