Keeler, California was once an attractive lakeside resort on the shores of Owens Lake. But as waters from the lake were diverted to Los Angeles, the shoreline receded, triggering a small, quiet apocalypse in Keeler.

Owens was once a vast lake, but in 1913, an aquaduct was constructed to feed its waters into the growing City of Los Angeles. As the lake dried up, towns like Keeler, which attracted revenue from both its mines and its lakeside location, transformed into hot, marshy patches of land. And Keeler didn't just lose tourist revenue from the disappearance of the lake. Once Owens vanished, Keeler was plagued by pervasive dust storms, including old mining chemicals kicked up from the now dry lake bed.

A lawsuit forced the Los Angeles Water Department to build pools in an attempt to restore Keeler's ecosystem, and continued mining encouraged some residents to stay through the 1960s and 1970s, but continued dust storms and lung cancer deaths eventually pushed even the hardiest souls out of town. Today, Keeler ranks as the second dustiest place on Earth, after Kazakhstan's Aral Sea, and only a ghost town remains.

Strange Geographies: the Little Town That Los Angeles Killed [Mental Floss]