GHOST TOWNS OF GUTHRIE COUNTY

Over the years, many towns have emerged in Guthrie County only to become a mere memory of the past.  This unfortunate ending was usually due to either location and/or circumstance.  Below is a list of the towns (and post offices) that helped shape our history.  

 

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Established 1854

Baker Township

Bear Grove

Bear Grove, established in 1854,  received its name from the numerous bear that lived in the adjoining woods.  The town was located in a beautiful portion of Bear Grove township, known for its abundance of timber and fine prairie at hand, and was also a stop on the stage coach.  At one time, the town was also known as “Huddleville” because of the numerous families that had arrived but were destitute in means so they had “huddled” together.  Eventually, the stage coach was replaced by train and no tracks went to Bear Grove leading to the eventual end. 

 

Must see:  Bear Grove Cemetery

 

How to get there:

Hwy 44—7 mi W of Guthrie Center

Turn S on N54

Turn L on 260th to 250th

 

 

 

Dalmanutha

Established 1855

Thompson Township

Dalmanutha, laid out in 1855, became a business place of importance along the Western Coach stage line.  The Porter Hotel, owned by John Porter, was a well-known stop along the Underground Railroad and it is believed that the famous abolitionist, John Brown, stopped there on his way to Harper’s Ferry.  Once the railroad lines were laid out in the southern portion of the county and the town was bypassed, Dalmanutha’s importance soon faded as did its population.  Today, nothing remains of the town except for the cemetery.

 

Must see:  Dalmanutha Cemetery

 

How to get there:

4 mi. N of Adair on N54

R on F63, L on Koala, and L on Lost Trail

 

 

Glendon

Established 1880

Beaver Township

In the late part of 1880, Glendon was laid out in northeastern Beaver Township by H. N. Ross and J. Early.  The following year, the town added a post office to the growing number of mercantiles, trades, such as hardware and blacksmith, and even a hotel-restaurant.  The railroad “switch” from Menlo passed through Glendon.  As time passed, the population of this small community began to dwindle, as did most of the buildings and houses.  The charming Glendon Church, which was built in the 1890’s, is the only original town building still standing.

 

Must see:  Restored Glendon Church, Glendon Cemetery

 

How to get there:

Take Redwood Road just W of Menlo

R on River Trail

 

 

Monteith

Established 1881

Valley Township

In 1881, H.T. Reed laid out the town of Monteith on his land and the railroad built a depot.  The Rock Island passed through Monteith several times a week.  The schoolhouse was built in 1881 and the Christian church was built in 1897.  Interestingly, several of the businesses that sprung up in the town were actually moved from Leadville, a small-but-quickly-fading community that was located just a quarter of a mile south of Monteith. 

 

Must see:  Monteith Town Park, Monteith Cemetery

 

How to get there:

Hwy 25 S from Guthrie Ctr.

Turn E on Monteith Road

 

 

 

North Branch

Established 1873

Bear Grove Township

North Branch, not far from Bear Grove, was established in 1873.  Its name, which was taken from the “north branch” of Troublesome Creek, was proposed by Stephen Shoesmith and voted upon and accepted at Sunday-school.  The post office was established in 1874 and the town also had several stores.  Up until 2014, Bear Grove #4, or the North Branch school which closed in 1956, stood majestically in a field just to the west of where the town was once located.  Now that location is a field with no signs that any school ever existed.

 

How to get there:

Hwy 44—7 mi W of Guthrie Center

Turn S on N54

R on 260th, R on Cherry

 

Dale City

Established 1862

Jackson Township

In 1862, the town of Dale City was laid out.  That same year, Lonsdale & Kenworthy started a store at the Lonsdale Woolen Mills.  This establishment was the beginning of the decline for Morrisburg, a small town just up the road.  Dale’s woolen mill was in operation for many years but finally closed in 1917, when dyes from Germany could not be obtained due to WWI, and thus, the population of Dale city began to decline.  Dale City was an important stop along the Underground Railroad that passed through southern Guthrie County.

 

Must see:  Smoke stack remnant from mill still laying by river.

 

How to get there:

P28  mi. N of Stuart

Turn L on 285th Street

 

Fansler

Established 1871

Victory Township

Fansler was established as a stage coach stop and post office in 1871 but rapidly became an important mining town in Guthrie County.  The first mine was opened in 1874 and by the 1910’s, there were 10 mines operating.  Due to stricter regulations of mines by the government in the 20’s, the mines of Fansler eventually closed.  The final blow was the 1959 Mother’s Day Tornado that all but destroyed the little mining town by taking with it the dancehall, roller skating rink, and general store.

 

Must see:  Raccoon River (North tip of Lake Panorama), "Stringtown"

 

How to get there:

Hwy 4—3 mi. N of Panora

L on 180th Street

Stay on 180th

 

 

Herndon

Established 1880

Richland Township

In 1880, Herndon was laid out along the Milwaukee lines and was an important railroad juncture. The town was named for Mrs. Harry Polk by Mr. Polk, one of the financiers/developers of the area. Natural gas was discovered in 1884 and several wells were dug.  However, in 1900, a twister destroyed many buildings in the area and after losing several gas wells due to a 1906 blizzard, what was thought to be a boom ended up being a bust and the town never prospered as had been hoped. Herndon is now the intersection where the current Raccoon River Valley Trail will be crossed by the east-west American Discovery Trail in years to come. That intersection is also where the new “North Loop” of the RRVT comes in from the east.

 

Must see:  Raccoon River Valley Trail

 

How to get there:  

Hwy 141—2 mi. W of Jamaica

Turn N on Herndon Road

 

Morrisburg

Established 1855

Jackson Township

In 1855, James Moore and Jonathan Morris laid out a town with the name of Fairview. After realizing the name was already used for another town in Iowa, the name was changed to Morrisburg in 1856. By 1870, saloons were plentiful and business of all kinds was excellent but the first stroke of bad luck was made when the railroad superseded the stage lines and did not go through Morrisburg.  After the disastrous tornado of 1871, the town rapidly went to pieces. Some moved to Dale City while others tore down their buildings and moved on. Thus was the sad end of Morrisburg.

 

Must see:  Morrisburg Church and Cemetery

 

How to get there:

P28—6 mi. N of Stuart

P28—8 mi. S of Panora

 

 

Wichita

Established 1882

Seeley Township

Wichita was a pioneer town long before 1882, complete with a post office, general store, blacksmith shop, and schoolhouse.  In 1898, the church was built, along with the parsonage.  As was the case with many small, rural towns, their populations declined as times changed.  The free rural delivery services from Guthrie Center and Coon Rapids meant that the post office in Wichita was no longer needed.  Likewise, the blacksmith shop disappeared with the coming of the automobile.  The beautiful country church, though no longer holding services, still stands in its original place.

 

Must see:  Wichita Church (no longer used), Seeley Township Cemetery

 

How to get there:

N70—N out of Guthrie Ctr.

R on F32/190th about 6 mi.

 

 

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