Hunting for abandoned places in Kansas? You’re in the right place. Below are 13 of my favorite abandoned places across the state.
Abandoned Places In Kansas
1. Coronado Heights
Coronado is thought to have visited, what is now Kansas, on its search for the mythical “Seven Cities of Gold,” also known as the “Seven Cities of Cibola,” in the 1540s. The first road up the hill, Swensson Drive, was completed in 1920, alongside a trail known as Olsson Trail.
As part of the Works Progress Administration’s project, a stone shelter resembling a castle was built on top of the hill in 1936. In 1988, a sculpture by John Whitfield with the inscription “Coronado Heights – A Place to Share'” was constructed half-way up the slope. Coronado Heights is a significant, isolated peak with a spectacular view of the Smoky Hill river basin.
The Smoky Valley Historical Association owns Coronado Heights Park, which is situated on the hill where Coronado’s ill-fated adventure ended and he returned to Mexico dissatisfied. The park is a combination of prairie with a lot of wildflowers. Some of the plants that may be found there are yucca, spiderwort, and butterfly milkweed, to name a few.
Coronado is one of the more unique abandoned places in Kansas. I’d definitely recommend checking this out if you’re in the area.
2. The Brookville Hotel
The Brookville Hotel in Abilene, Kansas was founded in 1894 and has been in the same family since then. It is a finalist for the 8 Wonders of Kansas because of its renowned family-style chicken cuisine, which has been feeding customers since 1915.
They relocated the restaurant near the interstate in Abilene about 2000, replicating the old hotel’s architecture and relocating all of the furnishings. Each of the seven dining areas has a different theme. This eatery has been a feature of many Kansans’ family road vacations for decades and generations. We’ve been grieving since the restaurant was officially revealed to close on October 1, 2020.
The Brookville Hotel was permanently shuttered as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Closing its doors after more than 125 years seems like the end of an era. Nothing is left as of now.
3. Barnard Ghost Town
Barnard is a tiny town in Lincoln County, Kansas, located on the county’s northern boundary approximately 12 miles from Lincoln, the state capital. Barnard was founded in 1888 when the Chicago, Kansas & Western Railroad Company built a rail line through the town, and it was established as a city in 1904. It had a population of 425 people in 1910, two banks, a weekly newspaper named the Barnard Bee, many churches, a telegraph and express office, and several churches.
For many years, the little farming village prospered in the lush Salt Creek Valley, but it, like many other Kansas communities, has seen its population decrease substantially.
According to the 2010 census, the city had a population of 70 people in total. 22.2 percent of households and 14.7 percent of the population were poor, with 25.0 percent of those under the age of eighteen and 18.5 percent of those over 64 falling into this category.
4. White Lakes Mall
On a plot of property 3.1 miles south of the Kansas State House, Topeka’s first mall-style shopping complex was built. In 1963, work on a 500,000-square-foot, fully-enclosed retail mall began. White Lakes Mall, designed by Keith Meyers of Topeka, was officially opened on October 15, 1964.
A blazing fire broke out at the White Lakes Mall on December 29, 2020. The structure was damaged by the fire causing $100,000 damage. Parts of the roof had fallen, and Topeka Fire Chief Alan Stahl estimated that the fire had spread to nearly one-third of the mall before it was put out.
The order was issued by the city, which declared that the structure was so damaged, hazardous, unhealthy, and unclean that the expense of repair would be prohibitive just like a totaled automobile. The structure was condemned by the city of Topeka in August of 2020.
Like many dead malls across the country, the White Lakes mall is one of the more popular abandoned places in Kansas.
5. Sumner Elementary School
The original Sumner School was established in 1875 or 1880, but it barely lasted until 1888 before being destroyed by fire. Originally a black school, it was transformed to a white school in 1885, with black pupils being educated in a smaller structure on the grounds.
The burned-out school was rebuilt by a one-story frame school with courses held in surrounding residences. In the spring of 1898, a powerful windstorm severely destroyed the structure. The school closed in 1996, and the city auctioned it off in 2009 to the California-based W.R. Portee Evangelistic World Church.
It was one of eight schools that were shuttered as part of a local desegregation plan to satisfy the original Brown case, which was reopened in the 1980s and didn’t get resolved until 1999. In January 2009, the city decided to auction the building to the general public. It was controlled by several public agencies until 2009, when it was bought by a private owner.
6. Sauer Castle
Sauer’s Castle is a three-story, German Gothic-inspired brick home constructed by a German merchant Anthony Sauer in the 18th century. It has a lofty watchtower and a roof walkway. The twin front doors are massive, measuring 10 feet wide, 10 feet high and 6 inches thick as a unit.
In the year 1872, Sauer’s Castle was completed and the family moved in. In 1930, the spouse of one of Sauer’s daughters committed suicide, and there were reports that the house was haunted throughout the years. Sauer’s Castle is one of the more unique abandoned places in Kansas.
Various websites have presented increasingly extended ghost stories about the vacant property in recent years, which may have prompted break-ins and vandalism. Carl Lopp, Anthony Sauer’s great, great grandson, acquired the house in 1988 with the idea of fixing it up and living there to maintain it in the family.
Mr. Lopp advertised the home for $10 million in January 2022, considerably over its genuine market worth.Only from the street, beyond a high fence, one can see the Castle.
7. St John’s Hospital
Six Sisters of Charity from Leavenworth, Kansas, came in Helena in 1869 and began their work of educating children, nursing the ill, and caring for orphans. The initial St. John’s Hospital, completed in 1870, was a timber frame construction.
Saint John Hospital, Kansas’ first civilian hospital has a long history of helping the community. The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth welcomed their first patients on March 15, 1864, a family of Civil War refugees fleeing Sherman’s army.
The St. John’s Hospital building, which was built in 1939, is still intact, although the hospital was closed in 1973. It is presently used as an office and a nursing home.
The hospital is currently part of Prime Healthcare Services, which is dedicated to providing high-quality health care services to local people, allowing them to remain close to home when they require professional medical treatment.
The hospital is developing a new, state-of-the-art Emergency Room at the Saint John Medical Plaza as part of its ongoing efforts to address the needs of the community.
8. Bavaria Ghost Town
Bavaria, Kansas, is a ghost town and unincorporated settlement about nine miles southwest of Salina. A post office was founded on July 8, 1867.
The village had around 150 residents in the early 1880s, including a pharmacy store, a wagon shop, a blacksmith shop, a school, a syrup plant, and many dwellings. The lone general store, as well as a coal and lumber yard, were owned by John Geissler. Mrs. S. Terry ran a boarding home in the absence of a hotel.
Bavaria, which is on the Union Pacific Railroad’s mainline, did not grow. Its population had decreased to 110 by 1910. As residents migrated to neighboring Salina, the town’s population continued to decline.
Only a few people now reside in the old town, which has some abandoned structures that are deteriorating in the elements.
9. Diamond Springs Ghost Town
Diamond Springs, which was found in the early 1820s and earned the title “Diamond of the Plains” because of its big and plentiful spring, was a favorite destination for early travellers on the Santa Fe Trail. Because of the numerous Indian raids and limited water sources, the trail was named as “Journey of the Dead” in the 1850s.
A post office was established in August 1868 at a station on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad’s Strong City & Superior Division. The post office was abandoned in 1930, and the land was sold and turned into a big ranch, which it is being used as of today.
Despite the fact that Diamond Springs is no longer a thriving town, there are some still-standing structures in the vicinity that quietly convey the narrative of a once-thriving community. On the Diamond Spring Ranch, the spring now rises in a concrete cistern and is piped to an adjacent concrete stock tank.
10. Kalida Castle
Hale Chellis called the town Chellis when he created it on July 14, 1869. The nationally acclaimed “Kalida” a historic site, which is best known for its distinctive “castle cave,” is possibly the most imaginative spot in the county.
The structure was built as a farm utility cave to keep milk in the summer and fruits and vegetables in the winter. The east and west facades are 14 inches thick and 76 feet long, with 22-foot-high columns in the front and back. The cave is 30 feet in length from front to back.
Grass and wildflowers grow in the middle of the exterior. With a ceiling height of more than nine feet and sturdy three-foot-thick walls, the inside room is domed.
The town site has since been turned into private property. On your right, you’ll notice several beautiful old stone entrances. Off to the right, as you face the home, you’ll notice a castle-like edifice. This is where the cellar is.
The cave beneath this castle structure makes Kalida Castle one of the more interesting abandoned places in Kansas, especially for those who love underground exploration.
11. Bushong Ghost Town
Bushong is located in northwest Lyon County. The Missouri Pacific Railroad built its tracks across Northern Lyon County in 1886, giving birth to the town. With sights set on a line to the Pacific Ocean, many train depots sprouted up along the railway line.
Bushong was one of them. It’s often said these rail towns were named after championship baseball teams based on their batting average. Bushong is thought to be named after A.J. ‘Doc’ Bushong, one of baseball’s finest catchers.
The community of Bushong, which was formerly known as Weeks, reached its zenith in the mid-1920s, with 150 residents, two grocery stores, a hardware store, post office, garage, bank, and a two-story high school.
Unfortunately, in the 1920s, a fire destroyed much of the downtown area. Residents departed, and the buildings were left to deteriorate. The railroad closed the depot in 1957, and the structure was later demolished. Because more direct routes now bypass this town, very few visitors stop by.
Today, Bushong is commonly referred to as a ghost town, but its 34 residents continue to enjoy their quiet little town. Of all the abandoned places in Kansas, Bushong is one of my personal favorite ghost towns.
12. Elmdale Ghost Town
Elmdale is a rapidly vanishing Kansas ghost town located about six miles west of Cottonwood Falls in Chase County. It was founded in 1859, and was formerly a major hub for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, receiving a relocated station from Middle Creek. The town underwent several significant developments in the early twentieth century, including its official incorporation in 1904 and the establishment of the much-anticipated Camp Wood YMCA in 1916.
Unfortunately, with all of the good that came to town (including the establishment of businesses, churches, and schools), there was also some bad, beginning with the Great Flood of 1951, which damaged several of the town’s homes and buildings, followed by the closing of the town’s schools in 1967. After these events, Elmdale was unable to recover and continued to decline over the next many decades.
The settlement, which is now a ghost town with abandoned century-old houses, still has roughly 50 residents. Clover Cliff Ranch, a magnificent and historic Clover Cliff Ranch about 5 minutes’ drive from the ghost town, is still functioning as a luxury bed and breakfast.
13. Cedar Point Ghost Town
Cedar Point, Kansas, was founded in 1862 and is located in Chase County. A log dam was built across the Cottonwood River in 1867, along with a wooden-frame mill for sawing lumber. It was renovated to grind flour the next year (1868) and given the name Cedar Point Mill. The name of the mill was changed to Drinkwater & Schriver Mill in 1870.
The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway established a major line east-west in 1871, and a neighbouring station called Cedar Grove was built in the valley north of Cedar Point.
A total of 113 persons were recorded in the 1880 Census. That number grew to 190 in 1920 before dropping to its current value of 28.
14. Atlas E 548-5 Missile Silo
A missile launch facility, also known as an underground missile silo, launch facility (LF), or nuclear silo, is an underground vertical cylindrical structure used to store and launch intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs), and medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs).
The Atlas missile silo is one of a series of Atlas-class missile silos built across the Midwest during the Cold War in the 1960s. There is a handful within a few hundred miles of Fort Riley, but this one is the best because it is immediately across the street from Bushong. You may get there by taking route 350 (route 56) and driving a mile up to Road D. Latitude: 38.686403, Longitude: -96.302414 are the GPS coordinates to follow.
The Atlas-E series of silos contain an underground complex that houses the launch control devices as well as tunnels leading to older structures on the silo grounds.
Go out and explore!
That concludes our list of abandoned places in Kansas, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to find. Take the back roads, follow train tracks, and find some places for yourself. There are plenty of places I kept off this list so get out there and explore.