Every town has its strange perks, whether it's a grumpy coffee shop owner, a stray cat who wanders from house to house, or maybe a weird local holiday everyone celebrates. But some towns have quirks that make them...well...weird. And not a fun weird. The kind of weird that makes you never want to visit them at all.
These are 10 of the strangest towns in America, which I absolutely never plan on visiting for as long as I live.
1. Centralia, PA
Centralia was a small town to begin with. In 1981, only 1000 people lived there. By 2010, that number down to under a dozen. Now? No one lives in Centralia at all. That's because the town has been on fire since 1962. Well, underneath the town has been.
A coal mine fire started 56 years ago, and it's been releasing toxic fumes into the air ever since. The highway is even hot to to the touch. It became so dangerous to live there, that in 1992 the town was condemned by the state and all the property was seized. No one is allowed to live there, save for the people who were living there at the time. Once those citizens die, the town will be abandoned.
Experts say the coal mine fire could go on for another 250 years.
2. Slab City, CA
Slab City is more or less a squatter's paradise. Currently, there are only 150 permanent residents in this off-the-grid town, but a lot of tourists frequent it with their RVs, and many other squatters from the area go and spend time there.
Slab City is considered the "last free place in America," because there's no local government. There also aren't any utilities. It's probably as close to a hippie community as you can get at this point.
Despite the lack of...well...everything, a reported 7,000 people spend the winter months in Slab City. The snowbirds bring their RVs and hang out around the town. They often visit Salvation Mountain, which is a giant rock formation covered in brightly colored paint and Bible verses.
3. Miracle Village, FL
Miracle Village may sound like an uplifting place to visit, but it's pretty much the opposite. The town is composed of 150 people, all of whom are registered sex offenders. The location was specifically chosen, as it's isolated about 40 minutes away from the nearest supermarket "where no tourist ever goes."
The town is meant as a rehabilitation and healing place for sex offenders, and it allows them to keep to their distance from schools and playgrounds as per Florida law. Offenders must apply to be a part of the community, and about 15 applications are submitted each week. Only one in 20 applications are accepted, and all residents are part of the selection process.
Miracle Village, which has been renamed "City of Refuge," does not allow violent offenders, serial offenders, or pedophiles.
4. Gibsonton, FL
The circus freaks me out, so there's no way you'll ever find me in Gibsonton, or Gibsontown...it depends on who you ask. Either way, it's where a lot of carnies and sideshow attractions choose to spend their winters.
It wasn't always like this though. The town in Florida was at one point a town of fisherman and lumber jacks, but it was slowly taken over by people who travel the country as part of circuses and carnivals.
Al and Jeanie Tomaini, who were known as the "mismatched couple" due to Al being a giant and Jeanie only having an upper body, were the first people to bring circus people to the town. They were eventually elected as leaders of the community. They created a circus guild called The Association.
At one point in Gibsonton, the local police chief who was a dwarf and the fire chief who was an eight-foot-tall giant.
5. Monowi, NE
We all love our peace and quiet, but it's a whole different ball game for Elsie Eiler, whose closest neighbors live 40 miles away. Monowi has always been a small town - the biggest the population ever got was 150 people in the 1930s - but nearly all the people in the town either died or left... All of them except Elsie and her husband Rudy. The couple were the only two residents in Monowi for a long time, until Rudy sadly passed away in 2004.
Elsie still lives in the town on her own, and her neighbors come to visit her once a week to make sure she's okay. The octogenarian is the mayor, bartender, and librarian of the town. She pays taxes to herself.
6. Whittier, AK
A complete 180 from Monowi, everyone in Whittier lives in one building. The 14-storey Begich Towers houses all 214 citizens of the town, and includes a police station, a post office, store, church, video rental shop, playground, bed and breakfast, and health center.
The town is located about 58 miles outside of Anchorage, and I'd have to imagine everyone is really close with their neighbors. I'd also have to imagine there isn't a lot of room for visitors.
7. Colma, CA
At the beginning of the 20th century, San Francisco was getting tired of keeping their dead in the city. They made the decision to send them all to the town of Colma. This never really stopped, and now the number of corpses in the town outnumber the amount of living residents, and it's not even close.
There are 1,500 living residents in Colma right now, but there are 1.5 million dead bodies (at least.) Over 73% of the land in the town has been allocated to the currently dead, and those who have picked out their grave site for the future.
The town's motto? "It's Great To Be Alive In Colma."
8. The Villages, FL
Don't mistake this with Miracle Village, it's the exact opposite. The Villages is a retirement community that's larger than Manhattan, and is full of people over the age of 55 who just love, and I mean LOVE, having sex. There's literally a black market for Viagara in The Villages.
Residents have been caught having sex on golf carts, and basically everywhere else they can find room. There aren't many rules, but the biggest one is that you cannot have kids in The Villages. If you do want your grandkids to come visit, it's all done with supervision and monitored with special passes. Residents will also be notified of the visit.
It's not all roses in The Villages though. There's been a 71% increase in cases of chlamydia and syphilis among people over 55 in that part of Florida.
9. Hell, MI
When people say "Welcome to Hell," they may be referring to this small town in Michigan. The story behind the name is pretty funny. Apparently when one of the founders was asked to name the town, "You can name it Hell for all I care," and it stuck.
The town has embraced its namesake, with many of the local businesses using it in their names. For example, there's the Hell Hole Bar, or you can get a Gravedigger Sundae at The Creamatory at Screams, or you can even attend the (sadly fake) Damnation University, Dam U for short.
Even though there's nothing really wrong with this town, it would still be super creepy to vacation in Hell.
10. Hildale, UT
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints found a home in Hildale for a long time. It ended up becoming the polygamy capital of America, as their leader Warren Jeffs was a big supporter of multiple spouses.
However, Jeffs was ultimately sentenced to life in prison when it was discovered he was marrying kids. Yikes. The town was still full of loyal followers, though, whose radical beliefs were ingrained in their brains.
In 2017, the town elected it's first woman-mayor Donia Jessop, whose goal was to stop the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from having so much control over the town. The issue, however, was that almost all of the municipal employees resigned after Jessop's election. Their radical beliefs prevented them from working under a woman.
Doesn't sound like a town I want to ever go to, at least not until they fix up their beliefs.