Ringgold Co., IOWA
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
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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UPDATED: September 20, 2009
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