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15 Towns with a Population of 15 (Or Less)

Does your town feel too congested? Wish you had more alone time? Like having the road, air, land, and post office all to yourself? You could buy a private island for around $100,000, but then you’d have to rely on submarine cables for power. Or, you could head to one of the not-so-bustling metropolises around the globe that feature occupations so slight a family moving in could possibly double the population. Check out 15 areas that fewer than 15 people call home.

1. MONOWI, NE (POP: 1)

Before automation cut farming jobs, the small Nebraskan hamlet of Monowi was home to roughly 300 residents. That was slowly curbed to a couple: the Eilers, who had lived there since they were children. When Elsie Eiler’s husband, Rudy, passed away in 2004, she became the town’s sole occupant. Eiler, 82, runs the bar, the Monowi Tavern, and acts as the village’s sole librarian in a building dedicated to her late husband. Every year, Eiler collects taxes from herself to keep the area’s four street lights on.

2. TORTILLA FLAT, AZ (POP: 6)

An Old West relic tucked in Tonto National Forest, the tiny town of Tortilla Flat whose center of business is the Superstition Saloon and Restaurant, owned and operated by the town’s population of six. A biker contingent runs up neighboring Old Highway 88 and briefly raises the populace to 500 or so every year, and the town also has a post office, should any of them get the urge to send a postcard.

3. PICHER, OK (POP: 10)

When the Environmental Protection Agency declares your town a biohazard, you're probably not going to be left with much of a city council. Picher was originally at a hearty 20,000 residents before toxic sludge from heavy metal mining contaminated the area in the early 1980s. While federal grants funding continued the clean-up work, most of Picher’s locals took home buy-outs; those that didn’t were hit by a tornado in 2008 that injured 150 and killed eight. Roughly 10 have stayed behind, including a pharmacist who didn’t think the government offer was that great and doesn’t mind sourcing water from tested wells.

4. VILLA EPECUÉN, ARGENTINA (POP: 1)

South of Buenos Aires, the 1500 residents of the spa town Villa Epecuén felt protected from rising waters by a manmade flood wall. But in 1985, the wall collapsed and the nearby salt lake virtually submerged the town, drowning it in 33 feet of water. It took nearly 30 years for the water to recede, revealing the town’s decrepit buildings. One former occupant, Pablo Novak, decided to inhabit the ruins, moving into an abandoned house to tend to cattle. As of 2015, Novak was still there, running into the occasional tourist with questions about his experiences in the Argentinian Atlantis.

5. CASS, NEW ZEALAND (POP: 1)

KiwiRail employee Barrie Drummond was dispatched to Cass in 1987 to oversee a section of rail line connecting nearby Christchurch to Greymouth. While he initially felt he'd be too isolated in the zero-population town, locals from nearby made him feel welcome. The rent was cheap, traffic was non-existent, and a KFC was still within driving distance; in his spare time, he built a mini-golf course and a bowling green. As of 2014, Drummond was still the town’s sole resident and organizer of Cass Bash, a music festival that draws crowds from neighboring areas.

6. BUFORD, WY (POP: 1)

Mark Brennan via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A 10-acre stopover, Buford was purchased in 1992 by Dan Sammons, who used money from his moving business to become the land’s only resident. He built a log cabin and opened a trading post while publicizing Buford as a single-entity population, turning it into a tourist attraction for visitors en route to Yellowstone National Park. In 2013, Nguyen Dinh Pham purchased the town for $900,000 with plans to host a Vietnamese coffee business, PhinDeli, on the land. Pham, realizing the perks of owning your own town, renamed it PhinDeli Town Buford. Sammons moved to Colorado; a property caretaker has taken his place to keep the sign accurate.

7. HIBBERTS GORE, ME (POP: 1)

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An errant map survey has carved out a small slice of Palermo as an unincorporated, 640-acre piece of land. The U.S. Census has recorded just one resident: Karen Keller, who embraced Hibberts Gore after the dissolution of her marriage. A 2001 Boston Globe article on the anomaly brought Keller a bunch of unwanted attention: she unsuccessfully petitioned the Census to count her as part of nearby Lincoln County. As of 2012, Keller was in the process of renovating her house and avoiding a stream full of unfriendly turtles and snakes.

8. GROSS, NE (POP: 2)

Multiple fires and limited access to a railroad shut down Gross’s chances to be much of an entity. Today, just two residents remain: Mike and Mary Finnegan, who operate the Nebrask (no "A") Inn within the town’s limits. The couple arrived in 1985 and promptly made their 5-year-old son the unofficial mayor. A law on the books prohibiting serving wine on Sundays was repealed because they said so; the eatery has gotten rave reviews on its Facebook page.

9. FUNKLEY, MN (POP: 5)

When you’re both the mayor and barkeep in a tiny town, there’s not much stopping you from printing your own currency. That’s what Emil Erickson does, though the cash—which bears his likeness—is only good at the tavern. Funkley’s population also doubles as its city council. Without much else to appeal to residents, it’s always been a sparsely populated spot: just 26 people called it home in 1940.

10. CENTRALIA, PA (POP: >12)

Douglas Muth via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Although a dozen people refused to take government buyouts to evacuate Centralia in 1992, there’s a good reason everyone else did: the town has been on fire for over 50 years. It’s believed coal mining precipitated a large-scale blaze that’s been fed for decades thanks to the mining shafts. Streets are prone to cracking open, creating sinkholes and releasing an eerie smoke. Officials believe the fires could rage another 250 years; the properties of residents who pass away will be subject to eminent domain.

11. LOST SPRINGS, WY (POP: 4)

While the sign says "Pop: 1," the four residents of Lost Springs say that’s a Census error. The town was once home to 280 in the mining days of the 1920s. As work dissolved, so did the community. Currently, there’s a town hall, a post office, a park, a general store, and a few public bathrooms.

12. BONANZA, CO (POP: 3)

Mark Perkovich retired to Bonanza in 1994 to find solitude. He got it: Bonanza, a former mining town in the Rockies, is completely desolate with the exception of its lone resident. Aside from chatting with the mailman, Perkovich occupies his time by clearing snow and tending to his property. In 2014, Colorado considered dissolving Bonanza due to its lack of a pulse: Perkovich opposed the change, but disliked the fact that his property taxes to the county didn’t actually buy him anything. In 2015, a couple was rumored to have moved in, tripling the population.

13. WEEKI WACHEE, FL (POP: 4)

Beautiful, sun-kissed, and largely absent of any humans, Weeki Wachee has just three citizens but plenty of mermaids. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is home to a submerged theater carved into the limestone of a spring where tourists can watch ocean sirens swim around. The attraction has been around since 1947, when ex-Navy officer Newton Perry opened for business. In 2001, mayor Robyn Anderson declared herself a "mer-mayor" due to her past as a performer.

14. SWETT, SD (POP: 2)

Originally stuffed to the brim with a population of 40 in the 1940s, Swett’s lack of economic impact—it has one tavern—has whittled the population down to just two: Lance Benson and his wife. A traveling concessions salesman, Benson bought Swett in 1998 to oversee the bar and catch customers from nearby towns. (He lived in the lone house.) In 2014, he decided he wanted to move on and put the town up for sale. It was recently listed at $199,000: the cheery description from Exit Realty noted that "locals believe the residence to be haunted."

15. NOTHING, AZ (POP: O)

You won’t find much more than a general store and part of a gas station in Nothing, a desert villa 120 miles from Phoenix. Nothing was incorporated in 1977 as a way of injecting some humanity into a stretch of US 93, but its residents didn’t find it too hospitable: the last of them moved out after a pizza parlor failed to attract passing truckers. The name became prescient, and there are currently no known occupants. In June 2016, Nothing was subject to a Century 21 publicity stunt in which free patches of land could be given out to dads on Father’s Day. Approximate value? Nothing.

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8 of the Weirdest Gallup Polls
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Born in Jefferson, Iowa on November 18, 1901, George Gallup studied journalism and psychology, focusing on how to measure readers’ interest in newspaper and magazine content. In 1935, he founded the American Institute of Public Opinion to scientifically measure public opinions on topics such as government spending, criminal justice, and presidential candidates. Although he died in 1984, The Gallup Poll continues his legacy of trying to determine and report the will of the people in an unbiased, independent way. To celebrate his day of birth, we compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest Gallup polls over the years.

1. THREE IN FOUR AMERICANS BELIEVE IN THE PARANORMAL (2005)

According to this Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief. Specifically, 41 percent believe in extrasensory perception (ESP), 37 percent believe in haunted houses, and 21 percent believe in witches. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9 percent of Americans believe that it’s possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one's body. Interestingly, believing in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.

2. ONE IN FIVE AMERICANS THINK THE SUN REVOLVES AROUND THE EARTH (1999)

In this poll, Gallup tried to determine the popularity of heliocentric versus geocentric views. While 79 percent of Americans correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth. Three percent chose to remain indifferent, saying they had no opinion either way.

3. 22 PERCENT OF AMERICANS ARE HESITANT TO SUPPORT A MORMON (2011)

Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiment back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011, a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president. Approximately 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party. Strangely, Americans’ bias against Mormons has remained stable since the 1960s, despite decreasing bias against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and women.

4. MISSISSIPPIANS GO TO CHURCH THE MOST; VERMONTERS THE LEAST (2010)

This 2010 poll amusingly confirms the stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the country. Although 42 percent of all Americans attend church regularly (which Gallup defines as weekly or almost weekly), there are large variations based on geography. For example, 63 percent of people in Mississippi attend church regularly, followed by 58 percent in Alabama and 56 percent in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Rounding out the lowest levels of church attendance, on the other hand, were Vermont, where 23 percent of residents attend church regularly, New Hampshire, at 26 percent, and Maine at 27 percent.

5. ONE IN FOUR AMERICANS DON’T KNOW WHICH COUNTRY AMERICA GAINED INDEPENDENCE FROM (1999)

Although 76 percent of Americans knew that the United States gained independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War, 24 percent weren’t so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France, 3 percent said a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19 percent had no opinion. Certain groups of people who consider themselves patriotic, including men, older people, and white people (according to Gallup polls), were more likely to know that America gained its independence from Great Britain.

6. ONE THIRD OF AMERICANS BELIEVE IN GHOSTS (2000)

This Halloween-themed Gallup poll asked Americans about their habits and behavior on the last day of October. Predictably, two-thirds of Americans reported that someone in their house planned to give candy to trick-or-treaters and more than three-quarters of parents with kids reported that their kids would wear a costume. More surprisingly, 31 percent of American adults claimed to believe in ghosts, an increase from 1978, when only 11 percent of American adults admitted to a belief in ghosts.

7. 5 PERCENT OF WORKING MILLENNIALS THRIVE IN ALL FIVE ELEMENTS OF WELL-BEING (2016)

This recent Gallup poll is funny in a sad way, as it sheds light on the tragicomic life of a millennial. In this poll, well-being is defined as having purpose, social support, manageable finances, a strong community, and good physical health. Sadly, only 5 percent of working millennials—defined as people born between 1980 and 1996—were thriving in these five indicators of well-being. To counter this lack of well-being, Gallup’s report recommends that managers promote work-life balance and improve their communication with millennial employees.

8. THE WORLD IS BECOMING SLIGHTLY MORE NEGATIVE (2014)

If you seem to feel more stress, sadness, anxiety, and pain than ever before, Gallup has the proof that it’s not all in your head. According to the company’s worldwide negative experience index, negative feelings such as stress, sadness, and anger have increased since 2007. Unsurprisingly, people living in war-torn, dangerous parts of the word—Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Sierra Leone—reported the highest levels of negative emotions.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”

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