Most of us have been on a road trip before and passed through a town that had a ridiculously low population. “How could just 200 people live here?” you ask yourself as you drive away and almost immediately forget the town ever existed.
If you think 200 is low, however, you might be amazed to hear that there are actually multiple towns in the United States in which the population could be counted on two hands (and a foot) or less.
This small town has been deemed as the most toxic city in America by the Environmental Protection Agency, but that doesn’t stop six people from calling it home.
Picher was one of the most productive areas in the world when it came to mining zinc and lead, but that all changed in 1967 when residents noticed one of their local creeks had turned red. Water from the mining plants had run into the creek and residents later found out that it had been contaminated with lead, among other things—shortly after this, cancer rates in Picher went through the roof.
Surprisingly, most residents stayed until around 2006, and they only left because the town could’ve collapsed into the mines below at any second. The town was later deemed so toxic that the government actually started paying residents to leave. As if it wasn’t bad enough, a tornado swept through the town in 2008 and destroyed much of what remained.
Until recently, the sign leading into Monowi, Nebraska, read “Population: 2.” Now, there’s only one.
Monowi has always had quite the small population, with its peak of 150 citizens in the 1930s. However, even the small number of people that lived there began to dwindle as the search for jobs took people out of their small town and into the bigger cities.
The town’s sole resident is now a woman by the name of Elsie Eiler, who lived with her husband in Monowi before he passed away.
She’s now the only resident there and is also its mayor, bartender, and librarian—she built the 5,000-book library as an ode to her husband.
Ever heard of the movie Silent Hill? If you’re a fan then you’re in luck, because it’s based on a real place that you can go visit—any takers?
Centralia was once a thriving town due to its coal mines; approximately 3,000 people called it home. Unfortunately, tragedy struck in 1962 when an underground fire started by the miners ended up setting an open vein of anthracite coal on fire.
The single fire ended up spreading throughout all of the mines, keeping the ground underneath Centralia burning for 20 for 55 years—yes, that coal is actually still on fire to this day, and could burn for 250 years more.
The town was officially condemned in 1981 when a 12-year-old boy passed away after the ground crumbled beneath his feet. Just 10 people still live there today.
Weeki Wachee, Florida
Weeki Wachee is home to the deepest naturally formed spring in the entire country, one so deep that its bottom hasn’t even been found yet. However, what you will find in this small town is mermaids, and there are apparently more of them then there are regular people.
Of course they’re not real—in 1946, a former Navy SEAL trainer named Newton Perry decided to carve out a stage of sorts into the limestone under the spring water. He then taught several women how to act like mermaids and turned the town into a tourist attraction—Elvis Presley even went there once.
The mermaid women became experts at dancing and performing below the surface of the spring and made the town so popular that it actually became incorporated in 1966, which made it one of the nation’s tiniest cities out there, home to just 12 people.
The mayor of the town is a woman named Robyn Anderson who was once a mermaid herself. She now oversees the entire town, both regular folks and merpeople alike.
Lost Springs, Wyoming
It’s just one person if you pay attention to the sign on your way in, but the four people who remain in Lost Springs claim there has always been more than one person living there.
Though the town gives a new meaning to the phrase “small town”—it’s not even an entire square mile big—it does have quite a bit going for it. There’s an antique store, a general shop, a post office, and even a saloon called the Lost Bar.
The town of Gross (what a name!) is home to just two people, but it wasn’t always so lonely.
The town came to be in in 1893 when a man named Ben Gross and his wife decided to set up a general store there. Apparently, they heard that a railroad was set to run through the town, and the area was thriving by 1904—there were around 600 people, factories, churches, and tons of businesses. However, plans changed and the railroad never did end up making Gross one of its stops.
People started to leave almost immediately, and matters were made way worse when two massive fires destroyed much of the town just a few years later. In 1970, there were only eight people who had chosen to stay in the town.
Today, its sole inhabitants are Mike and Mary Finnegan, who own a restaurant with around 1,600 fans online—more people than either of them have actually seen in quite some time.
For a place with a fun word like “bonanza” as its name, it really doesn’t sound like much of one to live there. The most recent census data for the former silver-mining town says that a mere seven people live there, though we’re not quite sure what they do—it doesn’t have a post office and not even a single business.
One of the town’s main residents, a writer named Antonya Nelson, said she doesn’t even have cell phone service or a street address because her home is actually considered to be “off the grid.” She’s not even sure herself if there are actually seven people in the town at all, and once said she never sees more than two people at once. She even said, “For all I know, it’s one guy with a lot of costumes.
PhinDeli Town Buford, Wyoming
PhinDeli Town Buford was once just Buford, the site of a bustling military outpost home to approximately 2,000 residents—today, just a single person remains.
For years, that one person was a man named Don Sammons, who moved to the town from Los Angeles in 1980 to find a simpler life for himself and his family. In fact, he simply bought the entire town when they got there, which only housed seven buildings and six people at the time.
Sadly, his wife passed away approximately 25 years ago and his son later moved away. In 2012, Sammons auctioned off his town to Vietnamese coffee salesman Pham Dinh Nguyen. Nguyen then renamed the town Phindeli Town Buford in honor of his coffee brand, PhinDeli.
The town gets plenty of visitors—Sammons, who has since moved out of town, still runs the Buford Trading Post that, surprisingly, brings in about 1,000 people each day. The trading post, not surprisingly, sells PhinDeli coffee.
While Sammons nor Nguyen have a permanent residence in PhinDeli Town Buford, an onsite caretaker keep Buf… ahem, PhinDeli Town Buford’s population at one.