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 just a few of the towns that helped shape our history or CLICK to the bottom of this page to see the full list of abandoned towns, villages, and post offices.  

 

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Established 1854

Baker Township

Bear Grove
Dale City

Established 1862

Jackson Township

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

North Branch

Established 1873

Bear Grove Township

Wichita

Established 1882

Seeley 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

 

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.

 

 

 

Abandoned Towns, Villages, and Post Offices

ADVANCE. In the northwest corner of section 22, Richland Township. Post office, 1871-82.

ALLEN.  In the southeastern part of Jackson Township. Post office, 1853-1864.

 

ALLENVILLE.  In southern part of section 3, Highland Township. Platted in 1882 but soon became a part of the present town of Bayard.

 

AVA PO.  In the western part of section 35, Orange Township. Post office, 1875-1877.

 

BEAR GROVE.  In the northeastern part of section 24, Bear Grove Township. Post office, 1854-1910.

 

BRUSHY VALLEY PO.  Perhaps also Brushy Fork.  In the western part of Orange Township, perhaps either section south 17 or north 20. Post office, 1863-1873.

 

DALE PO.  Usually listed as Dale City.  Post office, 1883-1922.

DALE CITY.  Sometimes listed as Dale.  In the northern part of section 5, Jackson Township.  Laid out in 1862.  Place of importance on the Newton Stage Line and Underground Railroad. Post office, 1865-1883.

DALMANUTHA.  In the central part of section 5, Thompson Township.  Laid out in 1855.  Place of importance on the Newton Stage Line and Underground Railroad. Post office, 1863-75.

 

DODGE.  In northwest part of section 21, Highland Township. Post office, 1859-81.

 

ERASTUS.  In the eastern part of section 26, Orange Township. Post office, 1885-1903.

 

FAIRVIEW.  On an 1864 map, the name by which the village of Morrisburg (see below) was known for the first year or two of its existence.

 

FANSLER.  Sometimes listed as Fanslers on maps.  In section 9, Victory Township.  Laid out in 1871 and known for coal mining.  Post office, 1883-1959.

 

GLENDON.  In eastern part of section 4 of Beaver Township.  Post office, 1881-1919.

 

GOPHER STATION.  See Wilmington below.

 

GRACEVILLE.  In the northeastern part of Bear Grove Township, as shown on 1888 Iowa map as “Grace V,” or southeastern part of Union Township, as shown on 1884 Iowa map. Possibly a post office.  Not listed on 1882 map.


GUTHRIE.  The third name of Menlo, established in 1869.  Also called the Guthrie Switch.

GUTHRIE SWITCH.  The second name of Menlo.  Residents eventually dropped the “Switch” and referred to town as Guthrie until the railroad connected to Guthrie Center.  Fearing mistakes would be made, the town was then named Menlo.

 

GUTHRIE.  The name of the post office at Menlo for the first few months of its existence.

 

HARBOR STATION.  In the southeastern part of Jackson Township on the overland stage route in the late 1850's and early 1860’s. 


HARRISON. In the southeast corner of section 32 of Union Township. Later became Nelson PO.  Post office, 1878-1885.

HERNDON.  In the southern part of section 9 of Richland Township.  Post office, 1882-1966.

HUDDLEVILLE.  The name by which the village of Bear Grove was first known.  See Bear Grove above.

 

LEADVILLE PO.  Possibly located in northern part of section 26 of Valley Township.  Established in 1879, but moved to Monteith in 1881.

 

MACKSVILLE PO. Approximate location of what was Pennsburg.  See Pennsburg.  Post office, 1873.


MAIDA. In the southwest part section 17 of Seeley Township. Post office, 1863-78.  Possibly later the same location as Wichita.


MOFFITT'S GROVE. In the southwest part of section 3 of Victory Township. Post office, 1858-83.


MORRISBURG. Sometimes listed as Morrisburgh.  In the north corners of sections 4 and 5, Jackson Township. Laid out in 1855. Place of importance on the Underground Railroad.  Post office, 1857-65.

MONTEITH.  In southwest part of section 23 of Baker Township.  Loid out in 1881.  Post office, 1881-1956.

 

NELSON PO. In the southeast corner of section 32 of Union Township. Post office, 1885-1903.

NORTH BRANCH.  In the southern part of section 17, Bear Grove Township.  Post Office, 1874-

 

PENNSBURG.  Slightly east of where the present town of Stuart now stands, as shown on the maps of 1855 to 1872.

RIDGEWAY.  In the southern part of section 34, Valley Township.  Post office, 1864-1865.

 

SAFESIDE PO.  In the western part of section 6, Thompson Township. Post office, 1897-1904.  **Original post office boxes on display at the Guthrie County Historical Village located in Panora, Iowa.**


SEDALIA.  The name first given the present town of .Jamaica, but on being platted later in the same year, 1882, it was named Van Nest, but shortly thereafter changed to Jamaica.

 

THE SWITCH.  First name of the town now known as Menlo.  Platted filed in 1869.

TUTTLE’S GROVE.  Also listed as Tuttle Grove.  In the northwest part of section 20, Orange Township. Post office, 1875-77.

VANNESS.  Also called Van Nest.  See Sedalia above.

VAN NEST.  Also called Vanness.  See Sedalia above.

WEST MILTON.  In the southwest part of section 10, Penn Township.  Platted in 1855 but only a few buildings were erected.  Place of importance on the Underground Railroad.  Post office, 1856-61.

WICHITA.  In section 17 of Seeley Township.  Post Office, 1884-1917.


WILKINS.  In the southwest quarter of section 23, Highland Township, near the banks of the Middle Raccoon River. A town was laid out in 1856 but proved to be only a town on paper.  Platted in 1859 but never was a house was built.


WILSON PO.  In the south section 9 of Cass Township, about two miles southeast of Panora.  Associated with Wilson’s Mill. Post office, 1856-1866.


WILMINGTON.  A village platted in 1857 on government lots 1, 2 and 8, section 4, Thompson Township. Because of the appearance of its sod houses it was jokingly called Gopher Station, and the name stuck.  Abandoned when Dalmanutha, a mile and a half southwest, grew.

Some of this information by David C. Mott, The Annals of Iowa:  Abandoned Town, Villages, and Post Offices of Iowa.  Volume 17:  Number 7 (Winter 1931).  Pgs. 528-530.  Additional information by Kristine Jorgensen using various historical Iowa Maps and the History of Guthrie and Adair Counties, 1884.