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Western & Eastern Treasures

Ghost Town USA Column Index for Iowa

Like many other states in America’s Heartland, Iowa is exceptionally rich in ghost towns.  What caused so many towns to die?  In general, the number one ghost town creator is failure of the town’s economy.  That failure can be caused by many factors, but the three major triggers were: agriculture, mining and railroads.


AGRICULTURE – As transportation methods improved in the mid-1900s, it was easy to hop in the family car or truck and drive to a larger town where shopping choices were better.  This led to a gradual slowdown in business in the local communities.  When major discount department stores expanded nationwide beginning in the 1960s, the mom & pop stores couldn’t compete, and began to fold.  Also many farm families would sell out at retirement, and the farms would be taken over by major agricultural conglomerates, which because of mechanized farming, had no need for the little towns, which would then fade into oblivion.


MINING – Coal mining throughout Iowa contributed hundreds of small coal mining camps and larger company towns.  As mining declined in the post-WW II years, these mining camps either had to transform their economies or perish.  Most took the later route and disappeared.


RAILROADS – There were three categories of ghosts created by the railroads. 

·        Temporary construction camps that would move as tracks progressed across the countryside.  They often had large transient populations of workers and others who tried to provide diversions to liberate money from the workers. 

·        Railroad stations.  When trains switched from coal to diesel fuel the need for water stops and coal refilling stations declined.  Also, as agricultural communities began fading in the mid 20th Century, the need for many railroad shipping centers in rural also faded.  The need for stations also declined as other transportation methods carried people.

·        Relocation of towns occurred when railroads would come through the area, but miss an established town by a mile or more.  Often the townsfolk would pack up the town and relocate it to the railroad, leaving the old site abandoned.


The vignettes below are just a sampling of the more that 1000 ghost towns residing in Ghost Town USA’s  Iowa files.  If you know of any ghost towns in the Hawkeye State that are not listed here, or know the current status of towns listed with little information, please contact us.  If it isn’t in our files, OR you have any photographs of these towns from the past or present, we would be happy to add it, AND feature it on this page with the appropriate credit to you.


A number of Central Central Iowa’s ghost towns were featured as our Ghost Town of the Month for April 2002


PLEASE NOTE: Where photos are indicated thusly (PHOTO!), please use your browser’s “BACK” button to return to this page.  Additional photos will be added over time.





Warren Co.

See our GTs of Central Iowa page for details.


Marion Co.

Also known as the Anderson Mine, this class A-coal mining camp was located three miles northwest of Pershing.  The site is on 165th Ave “where the huge gas pipeline crosses the road.”  On GNIS, the pipeline is no longer shown on the aerial photos, but it appears that it would have been near the junction of 165th Ave/Oregon Drive, or possibly near where the “gas plant” is on the east side of the road 0.3 miles north of the junction.  The mines were off to the northwest near the section junction of Sections 15, 16, 21, & 22.  It appears to have been active 1914-1923.



·        Center (Ctr) Sec 22, T75N, R19W, 5PM (Fifth Principal Meridian)

·        Latitude: 41.2846735 / 41° 17' 05" N

·        Longitude: -93.0333999 / 93° 02' 00" W


Union Co.

This class D-agricultural community had a 2000 population of 89, but that increased slightly to 100 in the 2010 census, with 42 of the 49 available housing units occupied.  The post office (50831) was established December 28, 1887 and was still open in 2012.  It had a peak population of 156 in 1920.  This tiny incorporated city is located on the east side of US 169, six miles south of Afton.  It was established in 1870s, and in November 1897 a Methodist Church held services in the local schoolhouse.  In October 1898, a church building was built, but it burned April 01, 1915.  It was rebuilt, and opened in December of that year.  It was re-sided in 1976, and continues to be used today.  In 1999 the Arispe Bar & Grill opened, and is still active (2012).  A Longbranch Lounge was also listed in 2012.


·        S½ of the NW¼ Sec 17, T71N, R29W, 5PM, Sand Creek Twp.

·        Latitude: 40.9494354 / 40° 56' 58" N

·        Longitude: -94.2191198 / 94° 13' 09" W


Marion Co.

See our GTs of Central Iowa page for details.


Palo Alto Co.

This tiny, class D, incorporated agricultural city has faded greatly from the days when it was a bustling little farm town with a full complement of businesses.  It was founded in October 1882 and named after the town of the same name in Scotland.  It incorporated September 20, 1893 and by 1900 the population hit 329.  The population peaked at 391 in 1940, and since then, the town has been in a slow decline.  By 2010, only 143 folks called it home. 

See our Ayrshire page for additional details.

This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.


1st site

Jasper Co.

First called Independence Center, this old agricultural community was located a mile and as half southwest of "Modern" Baxter (2010 pop 1101), which is located on State Highway (SH) 223, five miles west of the junction with SH 14, at a point nine miles north of Newton.  The first settlement began around 1842, and by 1870 it was a busy little town.  When the post office was to be established, the name Independence Center was proposed, but rejected as was Sidney.  Finally the middle name of Sidney Baxter Higgens, a local settler, was chosen and accepted. It opened on January 20, 1871, and on February 16, 1872, the Baxter name became official.  Erastus O. Seeley was the first postmaster.  By the time the railroad came through, the town had several stores and a schoolhouse.  However, the railroad missed the town by 1.5 miles, so in July 1883, the entire town, except the schoolhouse relocated to the new tracks where the new city of Baxter was platted October 24, 1883.  In 2000 the old schoolhouse was being used as a residence.  This class A site is somewhere near the junction of C(County) R (Road) S52/CR F17W


APPROX – (Center of Intersection)

·        NEC Sec 21, NWC Sec 22, T81N, R20W, 5PM, Independence Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.8200676 / 41° 49' 12" N

·        Longitude: -93.1738662 / 93° 10' 26" W


Monroe Co.

Named for J. E. Buxton, the mine manager at the nearby company-owned Muchakinock Mines, this coal mining camp was established as a company town for the Consolidation Coal Company around 1900/1901.  It was located right up against the northern county line, on the southeast side of Bluff Creek, and the railroad, about two miles north of the mine and nine miles north of Albia.  The United Mine Workers Union Local 1799 at Buxton had 1508 members, 80% of which were African-American men and 20% of whom were white.  By 1908, the company-owned town had 1000, 5-6 room houses in a one-mile square grid.   At this time the mines employed over 1200 miners at an average salary of $3.63/day.  There was a bank (Bank of Buxton), barber shops, butcher shop, churches, company store (Monroe Mercantile Company), a doctor, a hotel, a newspaper (The Buxton Eagle – active only 1903-1905), a school, tailor shop and a YMCA building which had a large hall for union meetings, a gym, library, baths, and dining facilities.  An opera house is mentioned, but whether it was part of the YMCA complex or not, I couldn’t determine.  That same year the population peaked at around 5000 people.  (It may have reached as many as 9000 according to some sources).  Because the mines were located a little distance to the south, the company provided commuter trains for the miners.  A post office was in operation March 02, 1901 through November 20, 1923.  By 1938, the site had been abandoned. 

     The site is at the south end of 102nd Lane, about 200 yards south of its junction with CR T31 (340th St) and just east of that latter road’s crossing of Bluff Creek.  The cemetery is located about a half mile northwest on the west side of the creek and along the south side of the section line, which does NOT have a road.  Access to the cemetery is via a dirt road off 340th Street, a quarter mile north of the county line in Mahaska County.


·        SE¼ of the NW¼ Sec 4, T73N, R17W, 5PM, Bluff Creek Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.1583384 / 41° 09' 30" N (Post Office)

·        Longitude: -92.8213083 / 92° 49' 17" W (Post Office)


Ringgold Co.

On County Route (CR) J55, three miles east of CR P46, at a point six miles south of Mt. Ayr.  A cemetery 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.

See our CALEDONIA page for additional details.

Caledonia was our Ghost Town of the Month for September 2003.


Harrison Co.

This historic ghost town site was originally settled when a cabin was built here in 1847.  The town itself was platted in 1853 on the lower slopes of a low hill west of the Willow River in the crotch of the “Y” junction of SH 183/CR L23/CR F50, about six miles north of Missouri Valley. It was the first town platted in the county and the plat recorded August 19, 1853.  The post office was first established January 07, 1854 and sicontinued on November 21, 1871.  It reopened briefly from July 25, 1898 until December 15, 1900, when it closed for good.  Calhoun flourished as a major trading center until about 1900 and boasted a population of about 200.  By 2003, only ruins of several buildings, a brick silo, eight occupied houses and a cemetery high on the hill overlooking the townsite remained.


This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.


·        S½ Sec 19, N-Ctr Sec 30, T79N, R43W, 5PM, Calhoun Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.6316573 / 41° 37' 54" N

·        Longitude: -95.8952879 / 95° 53' 44" W


Shelby Co.

This old town was once a viable little agricultural town with its own collection of businesses, but is now just another faceless, faded farm town; one of the countless thousands scattered across America’s Heartland.  In 2002, it was just a hollow shell of the former town.  Corley is just another anonymous cluster of roofs and trees sitting east of a road intersection and west of the river in the midst of Iowa’s expansive corn fields. 


See our CORLEY page for additional details.

This was our Ghost Town of the Month for February 2011.

This is one of the towns which had a photograph of it featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.


Ringgold Co.

This class D agricultural community had 25 folks in 2010, and is located on CR P32, three miles east of Benton, seven miles southwest of Mt. Ayr.   It was originally established in 1880, and the post office opened September 23, 1880 as Borneo.  On November 13, 1880, the name was changed to Delphos.  It (50830) was still open in 2012.  Delphos peaked in 1940 with 90 people.  Some of the businesses that were operating in 1938 include a blacksmith shop operated by Ari Austin Agee, the Seaton Store and a pair of churches, one of which was a Baptist Church that is said to be a part-time museum. The other is now vacant, as is the store.


·        SE¼ of the NE¼ Sec 30, SW¼ of the NW¼ Sec 29, T68N, R30W, Rice Twp.

·        Latitude: 40.6630471 / 40° 39' 47" N

·        Longitude: -94.3391237 / 94° 20' 21" W


Keokuk Co.

See our GTs of Central Iowa page for details.


Marion Co.

This 1880s-early 1900s coal-mining center was along the Wabash Railroad three miles northwest of Red Rock, on the north side of the Des Moines River, 13 miles west of Red Rock Dam.  Drowned by the Red Rock Reservoir in 1969.  Some of the mines included the Black Diamond, Findley and Success mines.  The post office was in operation February 20, 1882 – September 30, 1907.  It only closed for a short time, reopening on December 06, 1907, and remaining open until January 16, 1909.  It is located on the tip of the peninsula just shy of a mile southeast of the large, well-marked Dunreath Cemetery.  The town was platted November 17, 1881, and consisted of 228 lots along three main east-west trending streets.  It is shown on an historic 1901 county plat map, in the same location the PO is shown on GNIS (NOTE: The town site they show is in error)  In 1914, there were 200 people, express office with telegraph, a general store and a school. An August 1956 photo shows the Wabash Railroad depot as a little clapboard structure about 15 x 20’.


·        N½ of the NW¼ Sec 27, T77N, R20W, 5PM, Redrock Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.4499929 / 41° 27' 00" N

·        Longitude: -93.1571485 / 93° 09' 26" W


Marion Co.

A coal mining camp three miles southeast of Attica, four miles west of Bussey and two miles north of Marysville, in the southeastern corner of the county.   It was located at the junction of SH 5/202nd Pl., a half mile southeast of the junction of SH 5/SH 156.  A post office was established May 20, 1905 and discontinued October 15, 1918.  The camp was never platted, but in 194 had 300 people and the Everist Mercantile Company (general store), the post office, a 5-teacher school and a telephone exchange.  The GNIS aerial photo shows what appears to be a couple farms at the location.


·        N-Ctr of the SW¼ Sec 17, T74N, R18W, 5PM, Liberty Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.2097234 / 41° 12' 35" N

·        Longitude: -92.9613122 / 92° 57' 41" W



…SEE Metz (below)



Marion Co.

This 1877-early 1900s era coal mining camp had a maximum population that is said to have reached 1000.  In 1990 it had 50.  Located five miles east of Knoxville, just off CR T15.  Mines include the Clarke and Fortner Mine.  The first post office opened January 24, 1876 as Flagers and in May 1877 the town was laid out by the Union Coal and Mining Company.  Several additions were made to the original plat, and it had a station along the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.  The post office was renamed Flager (Flagler?) on June 20, 1892.  In 1914, the town had 200 people, a “well-stocked” general store, express office, the post office, a three-teacher school, a Methodist-Episcopal Church and a telephone exchange.  The post office was discontinued January 30, 1915. 


·        SW¼ Sec 2, T75N, R19W, 5PM, Knoxville Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.3247198 / 41° 19' 29" N

·        Longitude: -93.0218685 / 93° 01' 19" W


Winneshiek Co.

A class B/F – reconstructed pioneer military post on SH 24, 16 miles southwest of Decorah on the northwestern side of the town of Fort Atkinson.  It was established in 1840 to protect the Winnebagos other tribes and encroachment of white settlers and had 24 buildings inside the rectangular wooden stockade and 14 outside.  Those buildings were built from dressed limestone blocks or logs. The fort was abandoned February 24, 1849 and the state purchased the property in 1921.  Reconstruction began in 1958 and the fort reopened in 1968 as Fort Atkinson State Preserve.


·        NW¼ of the SW¼ Sec 8, T96N, R9W, 5PM, Washington Twp.

·        Latitude: 43.1455556 / 43° 08' 44" N

·        Longitude: -91.9391667 / 91° 56' 21" W


Jasper Co.

Galesburg is a fading class D rural agricultural community on CR T14, one mile south of the junction of CR T14 and CR F62, at a point 4.3 miles east of Reasoner, in the southeast part of the county.  It was originally platted by William Burton and his wife on August 22, 1855, who called it Galesburgh. The post office was established a short time later, opening September 14, 1857.  The Masons organized a lodge here in 1872 (Monumental Lodge 311) and built their lodge building in 1884.  In 1912, there were 42 members. 

     The name was shortened to Galesburg (NO “h”) October 06, 1892 and the post office was discontinued October 15, 1904 in favor of a rural delivery service.  In 1912, it had two stores.  One was operated by A. A. Alloway, and the other by William C. DeBruyns & A. Grafts.  C. Breen served as the village’s blacksmith.  The Christian Reformed Church of Galesburg was established in 1898 with about 20 members and around 1900 they purchased the old Christian Church.  By 1912, the congregation had grown to 102 members, while services were held in Dutch.


·        W-Ctr Sec 16, T78N, R18W, 5PM, Elk Creek Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.5588831 / 41° 33' 32" N

·        Longitude: -92.9463078 / 92° 56' 47" W


Keokuk Co.

See our GTs of Central Iowa page for details.


Mahaska Co.

See our GTs of Central Iowa page for details.


Jasper Co.

This tiny agricultural community was at its zenith in the 1870s through the first couple years of the 1880s when it had the full complement of needed businesses and recreational activities for its many citizens.  By 2000 the population had faded to only 30 and it wasn’t much more than a small cluster of farm houses.


See our Greencastle page for additional details.

Greencastle was our Ghost Town of the Month for March 2005.


Harrison Co.

…SEE Reeder Mills (below)


Marion Co.

See our GTs of Central Iowa page for details.


Mills Co.

This old town established originally around 1870, is located along a now-abandoned section of the Burlington Northern Railroad, four miles due west of Malvern, on the east side of US 275 at the junction with CR H38.  At one time 300 people lived here, but now it is just a rural community consisting of a cluster of farm homes and the 1957 Hillsdale United Methodist Church (built in 1957).  At its peak in 1900, there was a church, grain elevator, hotel, IOOF Hall, jail, newspaper, post office (June 07, 1870 – June 30, 1909), railroad facilities, school, stores and other businesses.  When the railroad line relocated to Balfour around 1910, the town died.


·        W-Ctr Sec 27, T72N, R42W 5PM, Center Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.0074989 / 41° 00’ 27” N

·        Longitude: -95.6708363 / 95° 40’ 15” W


Appanoose Co.

This old unincorporated town is located on SH 142, at the junction with 175th Ave., between the north county line and Rathbun Lake.  A post office operated here from April 18, 1853 until January 02, 1907.  The GNIS aerial photo shows a large cemetery on the north end of town that has way more graves in it than there are buildings (or people) in town.  In 2000, the tiny town had 40 of the township’s 156 people.


·        Ctr Sec 5, T70N, R18W, 5PM, Chariton Twp.

·        Latitude: 40.8913969 / 40° 53' 29" N

·        Longitude: -92.9552004 / 92° 57' 19" W


Fremont Co.

Imogene is a sleepy, class D, incorporated city with 72 people (2010 Census) and is located in the northeastern corner of the county, between 397 and 400 Avenues, a half-mile north of SH 184.  It was incorporated in March 1879 and the townsite platted in November by a Captain Anderson, who named it after his daughter.  In June of 1880, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church was started, and soon it had 120 members.  By 1892 the church and town had grown, and a new brick church was built. A large, three-story brick academy (school) was added to the facility in 1907, but it closed in May 1969, and in November 1972 was demolished.   The church burned in February, 1912, and an even larger sanctuary was built to replace it in 1915-1916.  That still-active church with 120 members (10 of which are residents of Imogene) watches over the tiny town tucked into a copse of trees overlooking the remains of the downtown core with its two unused brick buildings (2003). A number of more recent and well-used buildings round out the town.  According to the 2010 Census, 25 of the available 28 housing units were occupied.  The post office here (51645) opened November 24, 1879 and was still operating in 2012.  At its peak in 1910, the town had 341 people and a full selection of businesses to serve them.


This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.


·        E-Ctr Sec 10, T70N, R40W, 5PM, Monroe Twp.

·        Latitude: 40.8794417 / 40° 52’ 46” N

·        Longitude: -95.4269371 / 95° 25’ 37” W


Wayne Co.

The spelling of this site seems to vary, although GNIS lists it as KNIFFIN, with KNIFFEN as the variant name.  In a 1935 newspaper article about the ghost towns in Wayne County, it is spelled with the “E”.  In any case, this old townsite/rural post office is located north of CR J46, along the former Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, four miles west of Seymour.  A country (rural) post office was established here in June 17, 1858.  When the railroad came through in 1871, a station was also established.  The post office operated until November 30, 1903.  GNIS aerial photos show the railroad gone and no buildings located in a group of trees south of a plowed field.  It is about 0.4 miles west of CR S50 (200th) and 0.6 miles east of 190th.  In 1884 the white, gable-roofed, clapboard-sided Kniffin Methodist (Methodist-Episcopal) Church was located in the southeast corner of the section (nothing on GNIS aerial photo). In 1935, all that remained of the old town was the church and a school.  There was also a store, but it was gone by 1935.  The church operated until 1936, when it was purchased for use as part of a feed store.  This location was named after an Ohio settler, David Kniffen (Kniffin).  It is shown as described on an 1897 Plat Book of Wayne County Iowa.  The church was on the NW corner of the junction, while the school was located directly catercorner on what would be the southeast corner if 200th continued across the county road.    The post office is shown on the map just where the old railroad made a slight bend, about a quarter mile west of where GNIS shows it.  That would place it just north of the center of the little grove of trees, about where the driveway/dirt road meets the railroad grade as shown on the GNIS aerial photo.


CHURCH SITE (per 1897 plat map)

·        SEC Sec 18, T68N, R20W, 5PM, Walnut Twp.

·        Latitude: 40.6815330

·        Longitude: -93.1926441


SCHOOL SITE (per 1897 plat map)

·        NWC Sec 20, T68N, R20W, 5PM, Walnut Twp.

·        Latitude: 40.6812076

·        Longitude: -93.19211613


POST OFFICE & RR STATION SITE (per 1897 plat map)

·        SE¼ of the SW¼ Sec 18, T68N, R20W, 5PM, Walnut Twp.

·        Latitude: 40.6825907

·        Longitude: -93.2044458



·        SW¼ of the SE¼ Sec 18, T68N, R20W, 5PM, Walnut Twp.

·        Latitude: 40.6833412 / 40° 41' 00" N

·        Longitude: -93.2002095 / 93° 12' 01" W


Wayne Co.

The exact site of this old community is not known.  In a 1935 article in the Corydon Times-Republican, it states this: 

              “…Some (ghost towns) have a building or two still standing; while with others, the name of (the) settlement, as well as the site

          where it has stood, has been forgotten.

             “For instance, the case of the little settlement of ‘Lickskillet.’  It once flourished on the banks of the South Chariton Creek,

          where former Highway 14 crosses it.  Possibly a few of the old settlers remember it, but most of us never knew it….”


The article goes on to say that it was one of the first settlements in the county and the only trading post located between Chariton and Centerville.  There were also a large grist mill, blacksmith shop, general store, hotel and saloon located here.  Along with houses, it was a thriving community.  It is NOT shown on the 1897 county plat map.

     This is the only reference I have found to this little place.  As it is not listed in GNIS, the actual location is up in the air.  By looking at the topo map, SH 14 crosses the South ForK of the Chariton River, at a point about 3.8 miles due north of Corydon, about 14 miles south of Chariton (Lucas Co) and about 16 miles northwest of Centerville (Appanoose Co.).  A 1938 roadmap shows the highway in the same location.  The locations below are for that river crossing, which today is a bridge.



·        (south bank) N-Ctr line Sec 6, T71N, R29W, 5PM, Corydon Twp. / (north bank) S-Ctr line Sec 31, T72N, R29W, 5PM, Union Twp.

·        Latitude: 40.8116087 / 40° 48' 42" N

·        Longitude: -93.3216798 / 93° 19' 18" W


Jasper Co.

This little, class D, agricultural community was originally settled around 1854 when William Hitchler and his wife homesteaded the land here.  By the 1870s, other farmers had settled in and Hitchler sold land for a new community called Farmersville.  It was supplied via stage line from Newton.  The post office was established March 04, 1875 as Farmersville, but on December 07, 1877, the name was changed to Metz, after the German/French town.  The Metz school was built in 1879, and the town of Metz was platted July 23, 1883 by William Hitchler.  At this time there was the railroad depot, barber shop, blacksmith shop, a cooperative creamery, a doctor, general store, grain elevator, schoolhouse, a variety store, railroad section houses and a number of other homes. Nearby coal mines supplied the coal used for fuel. In 1900 the population reached 50, which was likely its peak.  Metz is shown on a 1901 plat map at the junction of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific RR (running northwest-southeast) with an unnamed main road in Mound Prairie Township.  The Mound Prairie School 1 (Metz) School was used for Sunday School and church services on Sundays until 1911 when the Metz Baptist Church was built on a knoll northwest of town adjacent to the little schoolhouse for a little under $2500.  Construction began in February and the dedication ceremonies occurred Saturday June 3 and Sunday June 4, 1911.  The schoolhouse burned in the summer of 1912, and was replaced by a new structure in the same location.  It served as a school until June 1958.

     The church has undergone several remodels, including the addition of a basement in 1951, and a major remodeling in 1972 when the facility was expanded and a new front entry, classrooms and bathrooms were added.  By the late 1940s both the town’s population and church attendance had dwindled, so in 1962 the church changed from a Baptist (only) Church to a non-denominational protestant, Community Church.  In July 1960, the schoolhouse was relocated and repurposed into a dwelling.  By 1963 Metz had no remaining business buildings and was just another anonymous farming community surrounding a country church.     

     Today’s Metz is located on the flats east of the South Skunk River at the junction of W 60th St S/S 36th Ave W, on the northeast side of the railroad, midway between the Newton Municipal Airport and Colfax a little over a mile south of I-80, about five AIR miles southwest of Newton.   The Metz Community Church is located about a half mile northwest of the community on W 62nd St S.  The GNIS aerial photo shows what appears to just be a cluster of farms/homes with no commercial buildings or grain elevators along the railroad.

     Barbara Lane Hug has a wonderful website devoted to its history.  Much of the information presented here was gleaned from that source.


·        SE¼ of the NE¼ Sec 11, W-Ctr Sec 12, T79N, R20W 5PM, Mound Prairie Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.6663791 / 41° 39’ 59” N

·        Longitude: -93.1357569 / 93° 08’ 09” W


Mills Co.

This little class D town is located on CR H12/CR L45 on the south side of Snake Creek and the former Wabash Railroad, along the west side of a low hill that is crowned by trees, a blond-brick Lutheran church and the town cemetery, all overlooking Keg Creek. The “Downtown” core of Mineola is a handful of white buildings running up the hill a block or so east of the county highway.  Various structures remaining include: an unidentified store; the ca.1916 tin-clad, brick, Mineola Community Center; a two-story house; a modern post office (51554); a restored “jail” and “hotel,” and a modern steakhouse.  Just two blocks over to the north at the corner of the CR and Elm Street is a low, cut-rock, brick-trimmed building that looks like it may have been some type of repair garage. Across the street from it are a brick garage and a rusty tractor semi-hidden in the greenery.

     Mineola was originally called Lewis City when it was founded.  The post office was established February 24, 1880 and is still operating (2012).  In 1883, St. John’s Lutheran Church (ELCA) was established to serve the largely German community.  As the town was the first stop on the Wabash (Council Bluffs, Pacific & St. Louis) Railroad east of Council Bluffs, it had some incentive to grow and became a busy shipping center.  By the early 1900s it had come into its own and boasted the Mills County German Bank, a hotel, an opera house and other associated commercial establishments.  In 1916, a pool hall was built, and in 1934 it became a ballroom.  Today it serves as the community center. A popular steak restaurant still operates here.  The “well-populated” cemetery is located along the south side of town and has more graves than the town does living residents (about 200 in 2000).  Some of the graves date into the 1870s, the earliest appears to be 1871.


This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.


·        NE¼ Sec 8, T73N, R42W 5PM, Oak Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.1430538 / 41° 08’ 35” N

·        Longitude: -95.6952837 / 95° 41’ 43” W

1st site

Muscatine Co.

This pioneering town site is located along the Mississippi River, three miles west of the present site of Montpelier.  It was at the mouth of Pine Creek, and in the vicinity of the junction of SH 22/Wildcat Den Road.  The site was originally settled by Vermont cousins Benjamin and Stephen Nye in the spring of 1834.  Benjamin built his cabin on the east side of the creek, while Stephen built his on the west.  Shortly after, Benjamin set up a store to trade with the local Native Americans.  Both men brought their families and soon a small settlement called Montpelier had developed.  On the 4th of July, 1837, a ball was held in celebration of Independence Day in a large double cabin with a wood floor.  Two violins, a banjo and triangle provided the music.  A sawmill owned by John Knapp was also located nearby.  In early 1838, Major William Gordon apparently partnered with Nye but they had a falling out that precipitated into a feud, in which Major Gordon was injured and eventually died.

     When the post office was established on April 19, 1839 it was at first called the Iowa Post Office.  Letters were addressed: Iowa Post-office, Black Hawk Purchase, Wisconsin Territory.   On January 04, 1839, the name was changed to Montpelier and it continued in operation until February 11, 1846, at which time it was discontinued.  In addition to the post office, the tiny community also had a sawmill and a small store, but little else developed.  It is said that Nye also built two other mills in the area.  One called Pine Mill, was a grist mill built around 1848-50 and is located about a mile upstream on Pine Creek.  It is shown on the GNIS topo map.  In the 1850s, it was located on the stage line between Davenport and Muscatine, and an inn had been established.  It appears the settlement faded away around this time because when the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad came through in 1881, they established a station about three miles east of the site of Montpelier.  It adopted that name and on February 28, 1882, the Montpelier Post Office was reestablished at the new site, which is the current site of town.  It was discontinued in 1986.  The present town is located along SH 22, about 1.5 miles west of the county line, along the Mississippi River midway between Davenport and Muscatine. 



·        SW¼ Sec 21, T77N, R1W, 5PM, Montpelier Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.4556635 / 41° 27' 33" N

·        Longitude: -90.8615993 / 90° 48' 26" W



·        E-Ctr Sec 23, T77N, R1W, 5PM, Montpelier Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.4591974 / 41° 27' 33" N

·        Longitude: -90.8080883 / 90° 48' 26" W


Cass Co.

The Nishnabotna River ferry was a major stopping point/river crossing along the Mormon Trail, and was located on the east bank of the East Nishnabotna River, west of present-day Lewis.  The ferry keeper’s house is still standing, and been converted into a historic site.  The river was channelized and moved further to the west in the 1920s.  The house is located at 705 Minnesota Street, on the north side of the road, a couple hundred yards east of the bridge over the river.  The old river bed is visible in aerial photos.  It was established as a ferry crossing in the 1840s by Samuel H Tefft and also served as a station on the Underground Railroad.  It was on the Oregon Trail, Mormon Trail and other actively used trails to the west, so was probably a very busy crossing in its day.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places as well as the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. A good photo of it is shown in Wikipedia.


·        N-Ctr of the SW¼ Sec 10, T75N, R37W, 5PM, Cass Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.3082994

·        Longitude: -95.0938864



Mills Co.

PACIFIC JUNCTION is a stereotypical, rural agricultural community spread across the flat farmland along the Missouri River bottoms.  It is not even close to being a ghost town, but is a clean, quiet little burg of 471 residents that has seen better days.  Its tree-shaded, gap-toothed main street is lined with colorful brick buildings and trees making it a worthwhile stop. It was established in 1871, and peaked in 1890 with 744 citizens.  It is still a major junction on the transcontinental Burlington Northern-Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad line, and is located a little over a mile northeast of the junction of I-29/US 34 (EXIT 32).  Its importance as a railroad town has diminished.

     Two miles north of Pacific Junction is the remains of another town known as PACIFIC CITY.  It is located just east of the railroad, on the northeast corner of the junction of US 34/275 with 195th St., a mile east of I-29 at Exit 35 and three miles west of Glenwood. Not much remains except a cluster of farms and a sign along the north side of the highway.

     At one time Pacific City was a thriving little community, and made pretensions of usurping Glenwood for importance as it would be on the railroad.  It was established in 1857 and grew rapidly though 1859. The Pacific City Enterprise, a weekly newspaper began publication with its June 18, 1857 issue, but shut down about a year later.  Filling the gap, Alfred Thomson began another weekly newspaper, the Pacific City Herald, in 1858, but it ceased publication in 1860. (A July 1, 1858 issue was recently for sale on eBay.) During the 1860s Pacific City remained a bustling town with many stores, a school, brickyard, lumberyard, churches and other needed amenities.  In 1871, the railroad was built, meeting the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (now the BNSF) at a junction two miles south.  Pacific Junction quickly grew up there and Pacific City died, slowly fading away. 

      A post office/town called Florence was established along the Missouri River a couple miles to the west in 1851, but on September 03, 1857 the post office was moved to the new railroad town and renamed Pacific City. H. J. Graham served as the postmaster.  The office closed for about a month in early 1864.  When it reopened, it had a new postmaster.  It was finally discontinued August 31, 1903.  The school remained open until after WW II.


PACIFIC JUNCTION is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.



·        SW¼ Sec 9, T72N, R43W 5PM, Plattville Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.0477771 / 41° 02’ 52” N

·        Longitude: -95.8002850 / 95° 48’ 01” W



·        SW¼ Sec 21, T72N, R43W 5PM, Plattville Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.0186105 / 41° 01’ 07” N

·        Longitude: -95.7991734 / 95° 47’ 57” W


Ringgold Co.

A class D – fading agricultural community with a 2010 population of 82 people.  It is located on US 169, 2.5 miles north of the state line, 12 miles southwest of Mt. Ayr.  It still had an active post office (50860) in 2012.  This old town had 85 people in 1880, incorporated in 1882, then jumped to 214 people in 1890, est 450 in 1896 and 311 in 1900.  It maintained a population over 200 until 1950, and has been in decline since. 

     It was originally established around 1855, and the post office opened August 30 of that year.  The town was platted and laid out and development began.  In 1880, the Leon, Mount Ayr and Southwestern Railroad came through and established a station just to the south.  New Redding was platted and the folks in Old Redding relocated a bit to the south.  Two passenger trains per day served the run to Mt. Ayr, and the little town bustled.  The railroad was bought out by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, which continued to operate the line until June 1945 when the tracks were pulled.

     In the 1880s there was even a newspaper, The Redding Independent, a livery barn, a Methodist Church (built in 1884), a blacksmith, Gustin Hotel, numerous stores, a doctor’s office, the Redding Opera House and the railroad depot among others.  A major fire in April 1884 burned five buildings on the northwest corner of the town square, and in July another fire wiped out another line of businesses along the north side of the square.  In 1922, the Union Savings Bank (built in 1904) and the McClanahan Drug Store succumbed to another fire.  The bank moved over to the Redding Garage and continued in business until its new building was completed.  There was also another bank, but it was consolidated with the union Savings bank, and that bank failed in 1931.

      In 1898, a newspaper article credited the town with a population of 450, two-story wood frame school, three churches (Methodist Episcopal – 200 seats, Presbyterian Church – 300 seats, Disciples.  The United Brethren congregation met in the town hall.), two doctors, two real estate offices, four general stores, harness/saddle shop, drug store, restaurant, confectionary store, meat market, three blacksmith shops, a lumber yard, furniture store, notion/jewelry store, millinery/dressmaker, hotel, implement house, barber shop, two livery stables, grist mill, creamery, carpenter shop, tin shop, town hall, telephone exchange, and a central square park.  The article goes on to say that a bank, brick & tile factory, tenement houses, a hardware store and a newspaper would “improve the present condition of Redding.”

     In 1902 a telephone exchange opened, and remained active until a new system was installed in 1968.

     In 2009, the two-story, brick opera house still stood solid, and appears to be unused.  The Methodist Church is also still active.  union Savings bank, and that bank ne until  town bustled. National Register of Historic Places as


·        N½ Sec 14, T67N, R31W, 5PM, Clinton Twp.

·        Latitude: 40.6040033 / 40° 36' 14" N

·        Longitude: -94.3882817 / 94° 23' 18" W



Harrison Co.

Also known as Hardscratch, this ghost town in Harrison County, Iowa was located southeast of Logan.  There is a sign commemorating the town, which was commonly known as Hardscratch.  Its official name was Reeders Mill. 

Information from an E-mail from Elizabeth Callaghan (9/14/2002)


A post office and tiny town known as REEDER'S MILLS was located around the mill of the same name.  It was located at the junction of CHwy F52 (270th St)/CR F52 (Reading Trail) where the road crosses Harris Grove Creek, 4.5 AIR miles southeast of Logan.  The GNIS topo map shows it as Hardscratch, and the aerial photo shows a handful of farms around the junction.  An 1884 township map shows the post office and main part of “town” on the northeast side of the confluence of the little creek with Harris Grove Creek on the south side of the present road junction.  An aerial photo shows a farm at that location now.

      A sawmill was brought here in 1857 by Jasen Whitinger and Norman Squires.  After they set it up and began cutting lumber they continued for several years after which they sold it to Thomas and William Reeder.  The Reeders added grist milling machinery, increasing the capability of the mill.  It went through a chain of owners until it was closed in 1879 and the machinery removed.  In 1866 a general store was operated, until 1868 when the entire store and stock was relocated to a nearby town.  However, the tiny community wasn’t left without as in the fall of 1867 another store had been opened by the McCoid brothers.  It operated until 1872 until it also moved to Logan.  Another store was started, and operated at least through 1891 (at the time the county history book was written).  A wagon shop operated here from 1867-1873, and another one from 1879 through at least 1891.  The post office was established in 1858 with Jasen Whitinger as the first postmaster.  It too was still operating in 1891.  GNIS gives the dates of operation from March 12, 1863 – April 30, 1902.


·        E-Ctr of the NE¼ Sec 34, T79N, R42W 5PM, Jefferson Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.6138795 / 41° 36’ 50” N

·        Longitude: -95.7141742 / 95° 42’ 51” W


Mahaska Co.

See our GTs of Central Iowa page for details.


Warren Co.

See our GTs of Central Iowa page for details.


Union/Ringgold Co.

This tiny, fading city had 380 people at its peak in 1900, but could only muster 71 for the 2010 Census, at which time only 35 of the 41 housing units were occupied. At the time of our visit in August 1997, the gap-toothed main street was full of abandoned brick buildings.  It is located mostly to the north of the county line, just west of US 169, several miles south of Arispe.  In early 2012, the post office (50861) was still in operation.

      It was originally platted June 05, 1888 straddling the Ringgold/Union county line.  Most of the business district was located south of the line, in Ringgold County, but the post office (50861) - which was originally established August 31, 1887 and was still open in 2012 - was north in Union. Just a few years later around 1890, a major fire wiped out the entire southern portion of the town.  It rebuilt, but mostly on the Union County side of the line.  Some of the brick buildings included the post office and the First National Bank.  An early 1900s era photo shows a two story brick building with a shoe store on the first floor.  Another photo shows a white, two-story, wood-framed school building.


·        SE¼ Sec 35, T71N, R30W, 5PM, Grant Twp.

·        Latitude: 40.9016575 / 40° 54' 06" N

·        Longitude: -94.2632877 / 94° 15' 48" W


Union Co.

On US 34/169, 5.3 miles east of Afton, just east of the junction with Talmage Road, where the former railroad grade crosses the highway, at a point 1.7 miles west of the junction of US 34 /US 169 where 169 turns north.  By 1997, nothing remained at this class A site. 

     Talmage was originally established in 1887 when the Great Western Railroad came through. It was established about a quarter mile north of the junction of the GW/Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. The town was laid out on land belonging to Dr. J. C. Beebe, who named the town and opened the first store here. A post office opened November 01, 1888, and lumbering was a major economic boost.  However, other nearby towns created competition, which Talmadge took head on.  By 1913 Talmage had a large creamery, livery stable, three grocery stores, hotel, lumberyard, post office, railroad depot, two-room school (remodeled that year from the original 1888 one-room school), stockyard, and a coal chute for the railroad. There was no church, but Sunday services were held in the schoolhouse.  The post office was also robbed that year.   The town faded and by 1940 only Kilgore’s Store and the post office were still open, but the post office closed May 31, 1940.  The school closed in 1960 and was torn down when the road was widened in 1970.  By 1997, nothing of the town remained.

     At the railroad junction a quarter-mile to the south, was a depot, hotel and park with swings.  It is located where Valley Drive crosses the railroad line, about a quarter mile southwest of the site of Talmage. 



·        Ctr of the S line of the SE¼ Sec 18, Ctr of the N line of the NE¼ Sec 19, T72N, R28W, 5PM, Jones Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.0269360 / 41° 01' 37" N

·        Longitude: -94.1118953 / 94° 06' 43" W



·        SW¼ of the NE¼ Sec 19, T72N, R28W, 5PM, Jones Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.0224916 / 41° 01' 21" N

·        Longitude: -94.1168954 / 94° 07' 01" W


Union Co.

With 394 people here at its peak in 1900, and only 59 folks here in 2010, this fading agricultural community is still an incorporated city.  It is located just north of US 34, 1.6 miles east of the junction of US 34/US 169, at a point 6.6 miles south of Lorimor. 

      The site of Thayer was selected in June of 1867, along the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (BNSF RR today).  The town site itself was platted and laid out in October 1868.  On February 19, 1869 the nearby rural post office called Alaska (opened May 28, 1868) was relocated to the budding railroad town.  The town quickly grew, and quickly had several stores, the post office, hotel and other amenities.  In 1894, the town incorporated and growth began in earnest.  By 1900 it had nearly 400 people, a large school, two churches (Catholic & Evangelical), a cemetery, doctor, several general stores, the post office, four-line telephone exchange and a telegraph station.  There was also a Masonic Hall and an IOOF Hall.  Other businesses that operated here during the boom (1893 directory), included a blacksmith/wagonmaker, butcher, creamery, drug store, hardware store/farm implement store and two hotels (Grand Hotel, Ohio House).

     In 1927, the city directory noted a population of 250, and the following businesses:  Concordia Lodge of the F&AM (Masons), Order of Eastern Star (Masonic women), Armour Co. creamery, school (Thayer Consolidated Schools), restaurant, railroad station/stockyards, Spahn & Rose Lumber Company, lawyer, Thayer Savings Bank,  H.T. Hall Grocery, harness maker, barber, post office, Methodist-Episcopal Church,  filling station, Western Union Telegraph Co., American Railway Express Co., and the Zahller Brothers Garage.


·        SW¼ Sec 14, T72N, R28W, 5PM, Jones Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.0280479 / 41° 01' 41" N

·        Longitude: -94.0507828 / 94° 03' 03" W


Keokuk Co.

See our GTs of Central Iowa page for details.


Marion Co.

See our GTs of Central Iowa page for details.


Allamakee Co.

A small class D - agricultural community with a 2000 population of 30.  It is located on CR X26 (Volney Road) just east of where it crosses the Yellow River, midway between McGregor and Waukon. 

      It was originally laid out on February 12, 1856 by Samuel and Margaret Biggs.  A post office operated here from January 15, 1853 through November 30, 1905.  In 1880 the population was 93, and the Volney Flouring Mills was the big industry in town.  An 1886 county map shows the town four blocks high by five blocks long. 


·        NE¼ of the SE¼ Sec 13, T96N, R5W, 5PM, Franklin Twp.

·        Latitude: 43.1305364 / 43° 07' 50" N

·        Longitude: -91.3737474 / 91° 22' 25" W


Poweshiek Co.

It is located on 410th Avenue a quarter mile east of the junction with E 156th St. N/county line, a mile west of the Grinnell Airport, several miles southwest of Grinnell and just north of I-80. Today it is just a rural cluster of farms.


·        SW¼ Sec 30, T80N, R16W, 5PM, Grant Twp.

·        Latitude: 41.7041608 / 41° 42' 15" N

·        Longitude: -92.7607469 / 92° 45' 39" W


Keokuk Co.

See our GTs of Central Iowa page for details.




Additional information about Iowa Ghost Towns can be found at Mel Hill’s great website: Iowa Ghost




Historians estimate that there may be as many as 50,000 ghost towns scattered across the United States of America.

Gary B. Speck Publications is in process of publishing unique state, regional, and county guides called

The Ghost Town Guru's Guide to the Ghost Towns of “STATE”

These original guides are designed for anybody interested in ghost towns. Whether you are a casual tourist looking for a new and different place to visit, or a hard-core ghost town researcher, these guides will be just right for you. With over 30 years of research behind them, they will be a welcome addition to any ghost towner's library.

Thank you, and we'll see you out on the Ghost Town Trail!


For more information on the ghost towns of IOWA, contact us at

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These listings and historical vignettes of ghost towns, near-ghost towns and other historical sites in IOWA above are for informational purposes only, and should NOT be construed to grant permission to trespass, metal detect, relic or treasure hunt at any of the listed sites.


If the reader of this guide is a metal detector user and plans to use this guide to locate sites for metal detecting or relic hunting, it is the READER'S responsibility to obtain written permission from the legal property owners. Please be advised, that any state or nationally owned sites will probably be off-limits to metal detector use. Also be aware of any federal, state or local laws restricting the same.

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FIRST POSTED:  April 06, 2001

LAST UPDATED: November 03, 2012




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