The Ghost Town of Elberton

Once Elberton was a booming town with a population of 500 people. How did the town go from a population of 500 to not even a town at all with a population of less than 15 (Benoit, 2013)?

Elberton is one out of two towns in Washington to dissolve in the past 50 years. Elberton is located 60 miles south of Spokane. In 1870 Elberton railroads helped the town grow (Benoit, 2013.) The trains brought people and business to the area. Business started an economic growth for the town of Elberton. The town had a sawmill, a flour mill, prune orchards, and four-furnace fruit dryers, which at the time were the largest in the world. William Jennings Bryan, a former candidate for president, gave a speech at a three day fair the town hosted (Benoit, 2013).

Suddenly things changed for the worse, and the town went downhill fast. In 1908 there had been a fire and then two years later in 1910 there was a flood (Benoit, 2013, “Elberton,” 2012.) These two events destroyed much of the town. Eventually the flour mill closed and moved to a larger town. After the flour mill left, so did the other business and people from the town. By 1966 the population went from 500 to 70 people (Benoit, 2013).

Today, even though it is now a ghost town, a few people still live there. John Elwood has been mayor of Elberton since 1982. He lives in a house with no TV, no computer, and only has a rotary phone (Benoit, 2013.) He knows that when everyone in the town has passed on, the town will be done.