Friday, August 22, 2014

Times Beach, Missouri: Abandoned City Demolished due to Dioxin Exposure
At over 2,000 miles from coast to coast, it’s no wonder that the United States is a repository of abandoned cities and settlements, from Wild West ghost towns like Bodie in California to modern ruins such as Centralia, Pennsylvania. And just as Centralia became a ghost town after suffering a strange underground mine fire which still burns today, the city of Times Beach, Missouri was abandoned just 60 years after its founding in 1925 due to the worst case of civilian exposure to dioxin in U.S. history.

Located just 17 miles southwest of St. Louis, Times Beach was a thriving resort town during the Roaring Twenties, an easy escape for urbanites looking for a break from the big city. But when summer homes became less practical following the Great Depression and post-World War Two petrol rationing, the city declined into a low income community supported by a small store and gas station serving travellers along Route 66, the historic highway connecting Chicago to Los Angeles.

Though the first several decades since its founding brought economic woes to Times Beach, the ailing city’s final death knell was dealt in the 1970s due to an environmental disaster of epic, if local, proportions. Plagued by dust problems due to miles of unpaved roads, a contractor was hired to spray waste oil onto the area’s highways to contain the spread of dust. And thus came the beginning of the end.


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