A world away from New York City and Los Angeles are America’s forgotten towns, fractured remnants of their Gold Rush heyday when railroads and gems offered hope and wealth, as Leon McCarron finds.

The town was built around a dusty T-junction, with a well on the left and a battered, somewhat wishful-thinking General Store ‘Buy, Sell, Trade’ sign on the right.

In painted red letters hanging above a rusted wagon wheel, the shop’s motto adorned the awning: ‘Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, if we don’t have it, it isn’t a must.’Wooden steps led to two large, handmade saloon doors, firmly bolted shut. The windows had been boarded up, and gravel and dust layered everything. Further along was what at one time must have been the center point of the town—the Longhorn Saloon. The sign was written in the slanted font we now associate with the ‘Wild West’ era and dated the wooden building to 1906. Two rows of animal skulls completed the decoration.

I’d arrived in Scenic, South Dakota, on my way across the USA on bike. I’d picked it out on a map in the hope of picking up some supplies and filling my water bottles. Sadly, neither were possible.