If you have a bucket list of travel destinations you really want to visit, it’s probably a good idea to do it as soon as possible. Quite a few natural and cultural tourist spots from history are now permanently lost to time, thanks to factors like wars, natural disasters, and economic recessions.
10. Wawona Tree, USA
Estimated to be over 2,100 years old at the time it fell, the Wawona Tree was a giant sequoia tree in California’s Yosemite National Park. It was perhaps the most famous tree in the region, thanks to a tunnel cut through its trunk back in 1881, turning it into a popular tourist destination.
The Wawona Tree fell during a winter storm in 1969, after years of being weakened by reasons like heavy snow, wet soil, and disease. Despite standing for 88 years, the tree was eventually no longer able to support its own weight due to the heavy snowfall and strong winds of the winters. The tunnel didn’t help, either, as trees generally don’t do well with gaping holes in their trunks. When it fell, the Wawona tree was reportedly 234 feet tall, with a total base diameter of about 26 feet.
9. Guaira Falls, Brazil And Paraguay
The Saltos del Guairá, also known as Guairá Falls, was often called one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. Located on the Paraná River along the border of Brazil and Paraguay, it was also one of the largest waterfalls in the world, with a drop height of about 375 feet and twice the flow rate of Niagara falls.
Guairá Falls were destroyed in 1982, when the Itaipu Dam was built on the river and the falls had to be flooded to make way for a reservoir. The rock face of the falls was later destroyed with dynamite to make navigation easier on the new river. A joint project between Brazil and Paraguay, the construction of the dam caused environmental damage and mass relocation of people living near the shore. On the other hand, the Itaipu Dam is now one of the largest dams in the world, producing about 75% of Paraguay’s electricity and about 20% of Brazil’s.
8. Sutro Baths, USA
Sutro Baths was a large saltwater swimming pool complex in San Francisco, California. Built in 1894 by a former mayor of the city – Adolph Sutro – it was opened to the public in 1896, and soon became a landmark destination for the residents of the city. At its peak, the Sutro complex could hold up to 10,000 people, with a number of popular features like natural rock formations, slides, springboards, an ice rink, and other water-based attractions.
Like a lot of businesses around the world, Sutro Baths fell into disuse some time during the economic depression of the 1920s and ’30s. It was hit by a number of factors, like the sudden rise of new entertainment options like cinema, changing public tastes, and the high cost of maintaining such a large facility. A 1966 fire destroyed what was left of the abandoned complex, though one can still visit some of its ruins at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the San Francisco Bay.
7. Pink And White Terraces, New Zealand
The pink and white terraces of New Zealand were natural wonders that existed until the late 19th century. They were a series of hot springs and geysers with various layers of silica deposited over time, creating large, multi-colored terraces on the shores of Lake Rotomahana in northern New Zealand. The terraces were first discovered by the native Maori people, who used them for bathing and healing purposes. They were estimated to be over 1,000 years old, and were a particularly popular tourist attraction around the world in the early 1800s.
Often considered one of the natural wonders of the world, the pink and white terraces remained popular until 1886, when the eruption of Mount Tarawera nearby dumped a huge amount of ash and debris on top of the terraces, permanently burying them underneath. While the region is still dotted with interesting features like geysers and fumaroles, the famous pink and white terraces of Lake Rotomahana now only exist in photographs and old travel accounts.
6. The Mausoleum At Halicarnassus, Turkey
The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was a grand tomb in Halicarnassus – an ancient Greek city in modern-day Bodrum, Turkey. It was one of the most famous buildings of antiquity, built in the fourth century BC in the honor of Mausolus, the ruler of Caria, and his wife, Artemisia. It was designed by Greek architects Satyros and Pythius of Priene, and was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world due to its impressive architecture and design.
The mausoleum stood for many centuries, until a series of earthquakes presumably destroyed it some time between the 12th and 15th centuries. Today, only a few fragments and ruins of the structure remain, like the four famous horse statues that once stood at the corners of the structure’s roof. Even after its destruction, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus remained a symbol of ancient-Greek artistic and architectural excellence, as its design has since inspired many buildings and other structures around the world.
5. Original Penn Station, USA
The original Penn Station in midtown Manhattan was opened to the public in 1910. Designed by architect Charles McKim, it was an imposing Beaux-Arts structure with a 150-feet vaulted ceiling, a sweeping marble staircase, and ancient-Greek Doric columns. The station also housed a vast waiting room, a ticketing hall, and a vast network of underground tunnels and platforms that served more than 100 million passengers each year at its peak in 1945.
While its grandeur and beauty made it an important architectural symbol of New York City, the original Penn Station was eventually demolished in 1963 due to financial problems. A new station was built in its place, along with a new complex called the Madison Square Garden, which is still used as a high-rise office and sports complex today. The new station still uses many of the features of the old one, including old tracks, tunnels, and platforms.
4. Disney’s River Country Water Park, USA
River Country was a water park in the Walt Disney World Resort, Florida. Opened in 1976, it was one of the first few parks themed around old-fashioned swimming holes, along with a slew of other attractions that soon turned it into a popular tourist spot. Some of the more popular rides at the park included the Whoop ‘n’ Holler water slide, the Barrel Bridge rope swing, and the Bay Cove swimming area.
That would last until 2001, when the Disney River Country water park permanently shut its doors for visitors after about 25 years in operation. The reasons for the closure were never officially disclosed, but it’s widely believed to have been due to declining attendance and safety concerns. A slew of accidents during its last few years didn’t help, either. Today, the park sits abandoned and overgrown, with most of its rides and attractions left to decay and rust.
3. The New York Hippodrome, USA
The Hippodrome was a massive theater on Sixth Avenue in New York City. Designed by architects Frederick Thompson and J. H. Morgan, it opened to the public in 1905, and quickly turned into an iconic cultural and tourist landmark of the city. Apart from its famous dome, the theater was known for its massive, 100-feet-wide stage, with a total seating capacity of about 5,200 people, as well as its state-of-the-art lighting and sound effects. At its peak, the Hippodrome hosted a variety of entertainment shows, including circuses, operas, vaudeville shows, and theatrical productions.
Despite its importance as a cultural landmark, however, the New York Hippodrome was ultimately demolished in 1939, largely due to the economic slowdown caused by the Great Depression. The site remained vacant until 1952, when an office building and parking garage called the Hippodrome Center were built in its place.
2. Love Locks Bridge, France
Pont des Arts, also called the ‘love locks’ bridge back when it existed, was a pedestrian bridge over the Seine River in Paris, France. It was famous for the thousands of padlocks attached to its railings by couples from around the world, turning it into a symbol of everlasting love for visiting tourists.
As one would expect, the locks soon became a safety hazard for the residents of the city and tourists alike, as their ever-increasing weight caused lasting damage to the structural integrity of the bridge. The local movement to remove the locks gained traction in 2014, when a section of the railing collapsed due to the weight of the locks, resulting in widespread protests and demands to restore the bridge to its original condition. The locks were finally removed by the authorities in 2015, replacing them with glass panels for unobstructed views of the Seine and other Parisian landmarks.
1. Jonah’s Tomb, Iraq
Jonah’s tomb, also known as Nebi Yunis, was a holy site located in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq. Believed to be the final resting place of the biblical prophet Jonah, who is revered in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the tomb was believed to have been built in the eighth century BC. Apart from being an important pilgrimage site for tourists from around the world for centuries, Jonah’s Tomb was also a symbol of the region’s cultural and religious diversity.
Sadly, the tomb was destroyed in July 2014, when ISIS captured Mosul and destroyed much of the cultural heritage of the city, as a part of its larger campaign to remove all traces of religious and historical diversity in the areas under its control. The destruction caused global outrage, and while many efforts have been made to rebuild the tomb in the years since, progress has been slow due to the ongoing conflict in the region.