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Strange Argentina Ghost Town That Was Underwater For 25 Years Re-emerges As Tourist Attraction

Buildings lay in ruins in Epecuen, a village that was once submerged by water in Argentina a quarter century ago. But as the lake recedes, a strange ghost village is seen emerging in the tides.
Buildings lay in ruins in Epecuen, a village that was once submerged by water in Argentina a quarter century ago. But as the lake recedes, a strange ghost village is seen emerging in the tides.

A strange ghost town that spent a quarter century under water is coming up for air again in the Argentine farmlands southwest of Buenos Aires.

Epecuen was once a bustling little lakeside resort, where 1,500 people served 20,000 tourists a season. During Argentina's golden age, the same trains that carried grain to the outside world brought visitors from the capital to relax in Epecuen's saltwater baths and spas.

Former resident and tourist guide Norma Berg walks by a street in Epecuen. People come to see the rusted hulks of automobiles and furniture, crumbled homes and broken appliances.
Former resident and tourist guide Norma Berg walks by a street in Epecuen. People come to see the rusted hulks of automobiles and furniture, crumbled homes and broken appliances. 

The saltwater lake was particularly attractive because it has 10 times more salt than the ocean, making the water buoyant. Tourists, especially people from Buenos Aires' large Jewish community, enjoyed floating in water that reminded them of the Dead Sea in the Middle East.

Then a particularly heavy rainstorm followed a series of wet winters, and the lake overflowed its banks on Nov. 10, 1985. Water burst through a retaining wall and spilled into the lakeside streets. People fled with what they could, and within days their homes were submerged under nearly 10 meters (33 feet) of corrosive saltwater.

It only took 20 days for the town to submerge beneath almost 10 metres of water forcing everybody to leave. As the years passed, slowly the water started to recede.
It only took 20 days for the town to submerge beneath almost 10 metres of water forcing everybody to leave. As the years passed, slowly the water started to recede.

Now the water has mostly receded, exposing what looks like a scene from a movie about the end of the world. The town hasn't been rebuilt, but it has become a tourist destination again, for people willing to drive at least six hours from Buenos Aires to get here, along 340 miles (550 kilometers) of narrow country roads.

People come to see the rusted hulks of automobiles and furniture, crumbled homes and broken appliances. They climb staircases that lead nowhere, and wander through a graveyard where the water toppled headstones and exposed tombs to the elements.

Trees are reflected in water in Epecuen. Many residents of Epecuen fled to nearby Carhue, another lakeside town, and set up new hotels and spas, promising relaxing getaways featuring saltwater and mud facials.
Trees are reflected in water in Epecuen. Many residents of Epecuen fled to nearby Carhue, another lakeside town, and set up new hotels and spas, promising relaxing getaways featuring saltwater and mud facials.

It's a bizarre, post-apocalyptic landscape that captures a traumatic moment in time.
One man refused to leave. Pablo Novak, now 82, still lives on the edge of the town, welcoming people who wander into the wrecked streets.

Tombs lay in the ruins of Epecuen, 25 years after the lake overflowed. Water burst through a retaining wall and submerged the lakeside streets in 10 meters of water.
Tombs lay in the ruins of Epecuen, 25 years after the lake overflowed. Water burst through a retaining wall and submerged the lakeside streets in 10 meters of water. 

"Whoever passes nearby cannot go without coming to visit here," Novak said while showing The Associated Press around. "It's getting more people to the area, as they come to see the ruins."

Many residents of Epecuen fled to nearby Carhue, another lakeside town, and built new hotels and spas, promising relaxing getaways featuring saltwater and mud facials.

Buildings lay in ruins of the town that once served as a bastion for luxury-minded tourists.
Buildings lay in ruins of the town that once served as a bastion for luxury-minded tourists.

NY DAILY NEWS
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