Ringgold Co., IOWA




Gary B. Speck




CALEDONIA is one of those ghost towns few people have ever heard of.  It is located at the junction of 290th St/260th Ave., on the section line (section line road is 260th Ave.) between Sections 10 & 11, Lotts (Lots) Creek Township (T67N, R29W), Ringgold County, Iowa about three miles north of the state line and south-southeast of Mt. Ayr.  The site is north of County Route  (CR) J55, three miles east of CR P46, at a point six miles south of Mt. Ayr.  A cemetery still marks the site.  


This old agricultural community is typical of the thousands of small towns that once dotted the great American Heartland.  They were born, lived, died, and have nearly disappeared from the American landscape.  Most were unheralded and their stories have faded with the passing of the pioneers.


Caledonia grew up in southern Iowa, just north of the Missouri border.  The 1894 Ringgold County Plat Book shows 14 buildings scattered along Main and Summit Streets, both of which extend north from a main east-west road.  A 1915 atlas also shows the town, sitting north of the main road (CR J55).


The story of Caledonia is not well documented, but we do know that it began around 1870.  In 1872, the Caledonia Church was built (but the source does not explain whether it was the Baptist or the Methodist-Episcopal  -- ME – church.)  Also in 1872, the general store was operated by A. Foster, while his brother L. Foster ran a harness shop and hotel.  The hotel was still standing as late as the late 1970s, but was in poor condition.


In 1899 the following businesses were part of the town:  Broom shop, two churches (Baptist and M.E.), doctor’s office, drug store, two general stores (Foster’s and Smith Brother’s), harness shop, hotel, IOOF hall, post office (inside Foster’s Store), school.  Other businesses that operated in Caledonia over the years of its life included a blacksmith, three dressmakers, furniture store and a millinery store.  A sawmill was located west of town, supplying all the lumber needed to build up the town.


It appears the town’s fortunes fluctuated, as the Odd Fellows lodge (IOOF Lodge # 293) re-chartered in February 1893.  Then the post office closed in Jun 15, 1908.  I have not determined the date it started, but A. Foster was appointed postmaster in February 1882.  He then located the post office in the rear of his general store on the west side of Main Street.  The source is not clear whether Foster was the first (and only) postmaster, or if he took the reigns from an earlier one.  Foster relocated his store and post office to the east side of Main Street at a later date, moving into what was once the Broom Shop.  The store remained open long after the post office was closed.  In 1915, Foster sold out to John White.  I have not been able to determine when the store finally shut its doors.


In a 1970 Mt. Ayr newspaper article it states that Caledonia once had 250 people, and was the largest town in the county (year?).  An aerial photo taken in 1966 shows the school, church and hotel remaining, along with homes and farm buildings.  The post office was operational Jun 27, 2856-Jun 15, 1908.


This was our GHOST TOWN OF THE MONTH for November 2003.



·        NW¼ Sec 10, T67N, R29W, Fifth Principal Meridian, Lotts (Lots) Creek Township

·        Latitude: 40.6172168 / 40° 37' 02" N

·        Longitude: -94.1668979 / 94° 10' 01" W





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FIRST POSTED:  November 01, 2003

LAST UPDATED: September 20, 2009





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