With all the chatter about British Columbia's current housing bubble, it's easy to forget about the abundance of abandoned real estate in the province's ghost towns.

B.C. is home to the highest number of ghost towns -- an estimated 1,500 -- in North America, according to "Ghost Towns Of British Columbia." It's a little known fact attributed to the boom and bust of the province's mining industry at the turn of the century.

From the mid-1800s to the turn of the century, mining towns swelled with booming populations and bustling saloons. Barkerville, on the edge of the Cariboo Mountains, is one of the most famous examples. It was once the largest city north of San Francisco and west of Chicago.

Prospectors flocked to towns like Barkerville, Britannia Beach and Sandon to grab their stake in gold rush riches.

Today, with the old time mines abandoned, these towns have transformed into modern-day tourist traps. By day, happy costumed actors host visitors. By night, the ghost towns sit eerily quiet, waiting for the next visit by the living.

Take a tour of some of B.C.'s ghost towns:

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  • Bridesville, B.C.

    Old abandoned farmhouse west of Bridesville (east of Osoyoos).

  • Greenwood, B.C.

    Not necessarily abandoned, this small mountain town was fated to become a ghost town when the town's copper industry took a downturn in 1918. Old copper mines sit abandoned and eerily accessible today.

  • Rock Creek, B.C.

    An abandoned home originally featured in an Eaton's catalogue sits in Meyers Creek .

  • Rock Creek, B.C.

  • Carmi, B.C.

    Once the site of a bustling silver mine east of Penticton, the mining camp was closed after 30 years.

  • Bridesville, B.C.

    Located near another ghost town, the country surrounding Bridesville is peppered with creepy abandoned farms and homesteads.

  • Rock Valley, B.C.

    In a forested area named Christian Valley sits a series of abandoned buildings that a once fledgling community of gold rush believers called home.

  • Ainsworth, B.C.

    Founded in 1883, Ainsworth has come a long way from being a bustling centre of prospectors to a modern day town of 50, boasting the best <a href="http://www.gobc.ca/ainsworth-hot-springs-travel/#information">commercial hot springs</a> in B.C.

  • Barkerville, B.C.

    Chinese miners set up their own Chinatown in Barkerville with associations responsible for settling disputes without involving B.C. courts.

  • Barkerville, B.C.

  • Britannia Beach, B.C.

    The step-case mine museum is a familiar site for those travelling on the Sea-to-Sky highway. Not necessarily a ghost town yet, the town suffered a series of bad luck with avalanches, low copper prices and the eventual shutdown of the main mine.

  • Sandon, B.C.

    The birthplace of Hockey Hall of Fame member Cecil "Tiny" Thompson, Sandon is a ghost town in the province's southeast. The discovery of a natural mineral called galena attracted prospectors to the town. Today, hiking trails that attract visitors.

  • Ghost Towns Of British Columbia by Bruce Ramsey

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