Friday, May 11, 2012

Ghost Towns

Back in the summer of 1969, I spent a month hiking in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of southwestern Colorado as a student at the Colorado Outward Bound School. The scenery was beautiful beyond description, and one of the fascinating parts of the scenery was the relative profusion of "ghost towns" - communities that had been abandoned when game moved on, mines played out, or the population just got itchy feet.  This is a typical ghost town ...

Ghost towns aren't just found in the West. There are smaller ghost towns dotting the mountains of rural Pennsylvania ... relics of the oil drilling era that were abandoned when the wells ran dry. It was fun, if a little dangerous, to explore old ghost towns and imagine adventures taking place there.

I hadn't thought about ghost towns for a long time, and then yesterday I ran across this fascinating article: Hobbs, NM, Picked As Site of Scientific Ghost Town.

It seems that scientists interested in how various technologies and infrastructure elements of a city interact with each other are creating a completely-equipped, fully-operational city to help researchers test "everything from intelligent traffic systems and next-generation wireless networks to automated washing machines and self-flushing toilets."

The mayor of Hobbs is excited about the new $1 billion ghost town going up on 15 square miles of land west of the town, hoping it will diversify the local economy. A spokesman for Pegasus Holdings, which is developing the scientific ghost town, said it will be modeled after the real city of Rock Hill, SC, complete with highways, houses, commercial buildings, old and new. No one will live there, although the buildings of the town will include all the normal appliances and plumbing found in a real town.

The purpose of building the scientific ghost town is to let scientists test the impact of new technologies on the  infrastructure of an existing city without disrupting the day-to-day life of the inhabitants. One potential study might look at how new wireless networks might interfere with other, existing networks, or with other electronic devices (whether your neighbor's home wireless network will open your garage door, for instance). The possibilities are endless.

If you are a scientific ghost in need of work, head for Hobbs, where the new ghost town is estimated to eventually create more than 300 permanent and about 3500 temporary jobs. Who knows? Someday, you might be able to include "Mayor of a Ghost Town" on your resume.

It would position you well to move on to bigger things ... like mayor of Detroit.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



eViL pOp TaRt said...

Bilbo, this is an intriguing idea -- food for thought. And I loved your punch line!

Those western ghost towns often had the odds against their lasting. Their inhabitants were often drifters, and their economies were limited, often mining.

The Bastard King of England said...

A ghost town that never had inhabitants? To some degree this sounds like some of those subdivisions that were built before the recession/depression but never sold.

Mike said...

Consultants can come up with some interesting ways to make money. Now all Pegasus has to do is convince companies they need to test products in their town. For a price. You know the government wouldn't get sucked into this, right?

Banana Oil said...

What a concept! Now get some artificial plants and robot animals to fill things out.

allenwoodhaven said...

A billion dollars sounds like a lot of money, but I guess they couldn't think of anything better to do with it. Scientific research is important and this idea is interesting, but couldn't they let some people live there to use all that infrastructure? I guess they would just get in the way...