Times Beach – The Contaminated Ghost Town

Times Beach is located near St Louis, Missouri and it’s abandonment is one of the most interesting stories of any ghost town. Over 2000 people lived in the town until 1983 when it was evacuated as result of dioxin contamination. The scandal made headlines around the world.

The town was originally founded in 1925, the result of a promotion by the St Louis Star-Times newspaper in which the purchase of a lot included a six month subscription to the newspaper, a strange enough birth for any town.
It served mainly as a summer residence for the wealthy of Missouri and beyond but as time went on became a lower-middle class town and stop off point on Highway 66.

The dioxin contamination that lead to the evacuation of the town began in 1971 when Russell Bliss was hired to oil the notoriously dusty roads around the town. From 1971 to 1976 he sprayed waste oil on the roads however IPC began paying him to dispose of toxic waste which it had been charged with disposing by Northeastern Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company, Inc. The waste in question contained a large amount of dioxin. Bliss began mixing it with the oil and an investigation eventually unearthed the scandal. The government sued the company in 1980.

The investigation found large levels of dioxin around Times Beach and soon, the press got hold of the story. A flood in December 1982 caused the evacuation of the town and later that month, it was decided to move everyone away due to the high dioxin levels. By 1985, everyone was gone except one elderly couple who refused to leave. It was quarantined and was demolished in 1992. The clean-up operation cost $110 million.

The site where Times Beach once stood is a state park that celebrates the famous Route 66 and recent tests show no evidence of danger to visitors or workers.

Location: Times Beach, Missouri, USA

Category: Ghost Town

Abandoned: 1983

No entry sign in Times Beach

Warning sign in Times Beach

Workers cleaning up in Times Beach

A safety sign in Times Beach


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