by: Peter J. Gallagher
You can now count Empire, Nevada as one of the unintended victims of the housing crisis. Yes, that's right, the whole town is gone. Unlike cities like Youngstown, Ohio ("Sweet Jenny I'm Sinking Down . . . Here Darlin' In Youngstown"), however, Empire is not shutting down because of mass migration of residents or a wave of foreclosures. Rather, Empire was populated by 350 US Gypsum employees who worked at the company's nearby gypsum mine. As reported recently on NPR ("Shuttered Plant Marks The End Of A Nevada Town"), the drop in home construction led to a corresponding drop in demand for U.S. Gypsum's Sheet Rock and the gypsum used to make it. As a result, the company closed the mine. Because everyone in Empire worked at the mine, when it closed, the town went with it. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the end of Empire is that its former zip code (89405) disappeared, along with the town, when the post office closed up shop a few weeks back.
If you are curious, click here for a view of the town from Google Maps.