17 American Attractions That Used to Attract Millions But Are Now Facing Extinction

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By Jonathan Trent

America is abundant with exciting attractions, yet many of them risk ruin due to environmental problems, environmental changes, or dwindling interest. To guide you, here are 17 of the most threatened attractions in the U.S. that may not be around for much longer.

Route 66

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Route 66 is one of the most famous highways in America, and it’s one most tourists have on their bucket lists. However, this iconic route is now abandoned in many places or extinct altogether. It ceased to function as a highway back in 1985, but you could still visit some parts if you’re quick!

Alcatraz Island

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Alcatraz is one of the most historical (albeit defunct) prisons in the world, but due to its location, it’s suffering from saltwater damage and erosion. Dwindling visitor numbers also threaten it; while older generations appreciate its historical significance, many younger people aren’t paying a visit.

Niagara Falls

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Niagara Falls is one of the most popular natural beauty spots, yet balancing the need for tourists for income and preserving its natural stability is difficult. According to CTV News, Niagara Falls is known as “the biggest tourist trap,” which means the environmental problem is likely only to get worse.

The French Quarter in New Orleans

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New Orleans’ French Quarter is one of many historical sites that are facing concerns about how to preserve its historical integrity. Its location means that it’s up against rising water levels, with potential flooding a dire situation in the future. Crime rates around the area don’t help, either!

The Mississippi Delta Blues Trail

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The Delta Blues Trail is a must-visit for any blues-loving tourist visiting this state, but the number of tourists wanting to experience that particular slice of history is reducing. Not only that, but economic difficulties in Mississippi overall mean that the Delta Blues Trail might be at risk.

The Mojave Desert

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Climate change is one of the biggest threats to the Mojave Desert and its particular ecosystem. Due to its location and vast expanse, it’s also falling victim to energy projects being built, as well as mining. The desert, its native plants, and the animals that thrive there are all at risk.

Mount Rushmore

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Mount Rushmore is a vital symbol of American history, yet this particular piece of history is considered culturally insensitive. History.com explains that the presidents “played a part in the U.S. government’s oppression of Native American cultures.” Sadly, along with these cultural concerns, Mount Rushmore is facing threats of erosion and environmental damage.

California’s Redwoods

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California’s redwood forests are among the most beautiful in the world, yet they’re now facing a number of threats, including climate change, logging, and disease. If preservation and sustainable practices aren’t successful, these ancient redwoods may be destroyed altogether in future years.

The Oregon Trail

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The Oregon Trail is a symbol of America’s expansion, a connection to the Missouri River, and a trail emigrants could follow. However, this trail is facing increasing threats from development plans and damage from natural erosion, meaning conservation efforts will have to work long and hard to keep this place alive.

The Liberty Bell

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Since 1915, the Liberty Bell has remained a symbol of American independence in Philadelphia, but dwindling tourist numbers mean that the famous bell could be facing decline. There are further worries that this particular piece of history could be losing significance for younger generations in today’s society, too.

The Grand Canyon

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The Grand Canyon has long been an iconic tourist spot, but unfortunately, crowds of tourists taking selfies are endangering the site. The Guardian also reports that the section of the Colorado River found within the Grand Canyon is now the most endangered waterway in the U.S.

Florida Everglades

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Located on the southern tip of the state, the Everglades are threatened by climate change and increased human foot traffic, like many other entries on this list. The ecosystem has suffered habitat loss, and many species have become endangered. Water quality is also deteriorating due to agricultural impact.

Salton Sea

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The Salton Sea has been shrinking for decades and will only continue to do so, threatening fish species and birds. The reduction of the water levels has left landlocked marinas and forced homes to be abandoned. Sadly, the exposed lake bed and subsequent dust also pose a risk to human health.

Yellowstone National Park

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One of the U.S.’s most iconic national parks, Yellowstone, has long faced challenges from the increasing number of tourists. This, combined with battling issues of climate change and concerns over protecting its wildlife, is discouraging tourism in favor of conservation. We hope it can be saved!

Hearst Castle

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Once the home of American businessman William Randolph Hearst, Hearst Castle was a Californian hotspot for visitors. Now, visitor interest appears to be on the decline, and the castle is also facing preservation issues. The heavy maintenance costs include the structure itself and the extensive art collections, making it a serious challenge. 

Seattle’s Space Needle

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One of the most recognizable shapes on the Seattle skyline, the Space Needle has nonetheless seen few tourists in recent years. PR Newswire reminds us that a “$100M reinvestment and reimagining of the iconic landmark” has hoped to increase that interest, which we deeply hope pays off!

Boston’s Freedom Trail

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Last but not least, the Freedom Trail in Boston is another significant piece of American history, the path of which connects key historical sites for those interested in the American Revolution. However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain these historic sites, leading to the Freedom Trail being neglected. It’s a sad state of affairs!