Our National Ranking Shows Where The Action Was

Hazen Memorial Library, Shirley, MA
The American Revolution that started in 1775 wasn't the only one. The industrial revolution began a few years later in cotton-ginning towns like Shirley, MA. Revolutionary changes in health and fitness emerged from the spas of Hot Springs, AR. And the environmental revolution began when John Muir passed through El Portal, CA. These are a few of America's most historic small towns, as revealed in our new national ranking.

The ePodunk Historic Small Towns Index uses four statistics to rank the historic character of small counties and places in the United States. The Index is based on:

  • the number of buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places in a county
  • the size of National Register Historic Districts in a county,
  • the age of a county's housing, and
  • the number of county projects awarded a federal preservation tax credit.

Brad Edmondson, ePodunk's Vice President for content, and Laurie Bennett, CEO of the company, ran these numbers for counties and places that are nonmetropolitan or have fewer than 100,000 residents. We chose towns in the highest-ranking areas based on the greatest number of listed historic buildings. The result is a list of great out of the way destinations for historic travelers.

Market Street, south of 12th Street, Wheeling, WV

Number one on the Index is Shirley, MA (population 7,400), a rural enclave north of Boston that has preserved both its 1797 Shaker village and its 19th Century textile mills. Number three is Wheeling, WV (pop. 34,700), site of the first bridge across the Ohio River. Number six is Natchez, MS (pop. 18,000), the oldest settlement on the Big Muddy. The Index also names the top three places in each state except Hawaii, Alaska, and North Dakota. Every stop begs visitors to experience a unique sense of place.

More on statistical sources


  1. Shirley, Massachusetts (Middlesex County): 90 of 100
  2. Woonsocket, Rhode Island (Providence County): 84
  3. Wheeling, West Virginia (Ohio County): 83
  4. Bristol, Connecticut (Hartford County): 83
  5. Montpelier, Vermont (Washington County): 77
  6. Natchez, Mississippi (Adams County): 76
  7. Deadwood, South Dakota (Lawrence County): 76
  8. Hudson, New York (Columbia County): 74
  9. Newport, Kentucky (Campbell County): 72
  10. Quincy, Illinois (Adams County): 71


Los Angeles, CA

Pros: climate; entertainment-media capital; geographic diversity; beaches.

Cons: Traffic; bad schools; gangs; too spread out.

This is a good place to Enjoy nightlife, including restaurants, bars, clubs.

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