10/27/2012 12:22 EDT | Updated 10/28/2012 03:11 EDT

BC Ghost Towns Dominate North America (PHOTOS)


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:

Photo gallery B.C. Ghost Towns See Gallery