If it is abandoned by all or most of its inhabitants, a settlement becomes a ghost town. The buildings and dirt streets may remain, but the character and soul of the place change entirely. And so it was with mining camps, lumber camps, and cowboy towns scattered across America, particularly in the West: places with names like Gregory's Diggings, Deadwood, Bodie, Calico, Goldfield, and Tombstone, some of the over 30,000 deserted towns in the United States. Why did people come to these isolated places? Why did they leave? As Raymond Bial's narrative explores the history of our ghost towns, his well-composed photo-graphs silently tell their stories: of bustling, muddy streets, of large mercantile stores, and, ultimately, of short-lived dreams of gold, fertile land, or simply a good place to call home.