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13 Ghost Towns In Illinois [MAP]

    If you’re searching for ghost towns in Illinois, we’ve got you covered! Below are 13 different ghost towns you can explore across Illinois along with their status and exact GPS coordinates.

    We rate ghost towns in Illinois based on their status. Here’s how our system works:

    • Abandoned: Is abandoned with ruins and structures in a decayed state. Great for urban explorers.
    • Historic: Preservation efforts have been made and sometimes plaques installed. Great for everyone.
    • Barren: Almost nothing remains of the town. Ideal for metal detectorists.
    • Commercial: Is commercially owned with amenities, restaurants, and stores. Great for families.
    • Semi-Abandoned: Abandoned areas with a small population in the area.
    • Privately Owned: Tours might be available but not open to the general public.


    1. Appleton

    40.93959, -90.16085
    Status: Abandoned

    History:

    This small town lies approximately a mile north of Interstate 74 and U.S. Highway 150. While the town was once the county seat of Jackson County, it was abandoned after the courthouse burned down in 1843.

    What’s Left?

    The town has a number of interesting historical sites to visit, and you can also tour the abandoned buildings and hear ghost stories about its residents.


    2. Cayuga

    40.94111, -88.58361
    Status: Abandoned

    History:

    Located northeast of Pontiac, Illinois, the Cayuga ghost town was never incorporated and is now a sprawling, abandoned landscape. The population of Cayuga maxed out at 160, but never surpassed that. As the international highway system gained traction more people bypassed this small town. By 1955 the town’s population was only 60.

    What’s Left?

    Its most recognizable remnants are an abandoned grain elevator and railroad depot along the Union Pacific. Its residents may remember when the town was still thriving, but it has been largely forgotten. If you’re road tripping down Route 66 we sure to check out the town as it’s a short stop off the road.


    3. Griggsville Landing

    39.69694, -90.6475
    Status: Barren

    History:

    Known as Griggsville Landing, this small Illinois town once served as a ferry to cross the Illinois River. In the early nineteenth century, the area was surveyed by the United States government. In 1822, a man named Garrett Van Dusen established a ferry service, transporting footmen across the river. Later, it was developed as a steamboat stop, with its name changing to Phillipsburg and Phillips’ Landing. By the late 1870s, the community was completely abandoned.

    What’s Left?

    A large mound is located near the site. Joseph Smith, the Mormon leader, claimed to have seen a vision while visiting the town. The bones he found there were supposedly those of a great warrior named Zelph. The bones later led to a mythical battle between “Lamanites” and “Nephites.” A nearby camp was known as Zion’s Camp.

    Today, a few abandoned buildings and the mound are all that are left behind. Despite this, Griggsville Landing is still a unique ghost town in Illinois that should definitely be explored.


    4. Kincaid Mounds

    37.08055, -88.49166
    Status: Historic

    History:

    The site was surrounded by a palisade made of upright logs or posts that was extended around the mounds and the residence areas, culminating at Avery Lake. These posts were plastered with mud and had guard houses at intervals of 100 feet. These may have served as a boundary marker for the town. 

    What’s Left?

    Today the ruins and mounds are protected as a historic site and can be explored freely.


    5. Benjaminville

    40.4765, -88.80611
    Status: Historic

    History:

    Benjaminville, Illinois is a historical community located 8 miles east of Bloomington, Illinois. It was founded by Quaker farmers in the 1850s on fertile prairie land. The town grew prosperous as a Quaker community in the Midwest. However, once the railroad bypassed the town, the population declined significantly. By 1870, the town was a ghost town, and its remaining structures were abandoned.

    What’s Left?

    There are just nine residents in the town who take care of the few remaining structures. Explorers can visit the Benjaminville Historic Site to see the old church, cemetery, and few ruins left behind.


    6. Clayville

    39.8667, -89.8971
    Status: Historic

    History:

    If you’re looking for the perfect ghost town in Illinois, look no further than Clayville. This quaint, old-fashioned town was once the main attraction for tourists and locals alike. The town was built around an inn that served food and accommodation. During the 1830s, it became a bustling community, but by the mid-nineteenth century, railroads no longer stopped at Clayville.

    What’s Left?

    The village’s main street was paved, and the Clayville Tavern was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Clayville Tavern closed its doors in 2009, but the town’s owners have rescued the town’s history. The Pleasant Plains Historical Society has since acquired the land and buildings that once sat vacant.

    Today, the town operates as a museum and hosts special events. Visitors can experience the history and culture of this aging community by visiting the Clayville Historic Site.


    7. Cahokia Mounds

    38.65699, -90.0587
    Status: Historic

    History:

    Visitors to Cahokia Mounds in Illinois are often surprised to learn that the site of a Mississippian society was actually a highly advanced city. he Cahokians were farmers and traders who built a low-scale metropolis on vast earthen mounds. They used the mounds as houses, burial grounds, meeting places, and ceremonial centers. In addition to farmers, they also had artisans that crafted ceramic vessels and sculptures, as well as astronomers who tracked the stars with timber circles.

    What’s Left?

    A recent study has shown that the ancient inhabitants of Cahokia had stable ground even when they had been abandoned for a long time. The site was closed off to industrial development in the mid-1800s due to its ecological disaster. However, the geoarchaeology experts at the site studied the remains and found that they were stable. 


    8. Cardiff

    41.05247, -88.28884
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    History:

    A century ago, Cardiff, Illinois was a thriving coal mining community that was less than 100 miles south of Chicago. The town thrived on coal, and as a result, the area became the global coal center. The coal industry was in a state of collapse by the 1960s, but in the 1970s, Livingston County discovered its own black gold. Cardiff was home to 400 miners, producing between 1,200 and 1,600 tons of coal per day.

    What’s Left?

    Today, there is no sign of the town. Today, visitors can see two massive mine dumps and a state marker.


    9. Kaskaskia

    37.92144, -89.91316
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    History:

    In the past, Kaskaskia was an important trading post and a center for the area’s middle Mississippi River valley. King Louis XV donated a bell to the Catholic church in Illinois in 1741. In 1778, the villagers rang the bell in celebration of their independence from British rule.

    What’s Left?

    Although the town has been virtually abandoned for the past several years, residents continue to stay put and visit the area to experience its history. There are no stores or restaurants in Kaskaskia, but there are still many historic buildings and homes that are still in use.

    While it is true that many residents have relocated to neighboring towns, there are no official evacuation orders or warnings. The town is frequently underwater and will likely be completely underwater one day. While it is the second smallest town in Illinois, it is a perfect destination for those looking for genuine ghost towns in Illinois.


    10. Cairo

    37.00525, -89.17543
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: Marcus O. Bst – flickr.com

    History:

    This Midwestern town is part of the National Register of Historic Places. Founded as a port town between the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, Cairo was once home to many shippers. During the Civil War, the city was of strategic importance. Eventually, the city fell into disuse and reverted to being a sleepy little city. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the beauty of this abandoned community.

    What’s Left?

    Today, however, the town is almost completely abandoned and consists of just 2,000 people. The town’s history is fraught with racism and economic desperation. The town had a high murder rate in the 1920s, and was home to an estimated 1,000 prostitutes. It was also a victim of periodic flooding. While many of the businesses were destroyed, the Federal Courthouse still stands as a district court in southern Illinois.


    11. Old Shawneetown

    37.69699, -88.1367
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    Photo Credit: Doug Kerr – flickr.com

    History:

    The village was established in 1812 on the banks of the Ohio River. Unfortunately, after the devastating flood of 1937, it had to be abandoned and relocated several miles inland. 

    What’s Left?

    Today, the town is just a small hamlet with no historic downtown. But it still has some historical significance, thanks to the flood that destroyed much of the town.


    12. Benld

    39.09282, -89.80398
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    Photo Credit: Larry Myhre – flickr.com

    History:

    At the start of Prohibition, Benld was home to over three-hundred residents and 32 saloons. The town’s history can best be described as “back to the frontier” – a reminder of the wide openness of the 1920s. Although only 1,600 residents now live in Benld, rumors about Al Capone’s involvement in the town’s illicit activities persist. In fact, many residents say Capone did conduct business in the town during Prohibition.

    What’s Left?

    One of the most interesting features of Benld are the ruins of the old town’s main street. You can also visit a roadside display of the town’s past.

    A former theater, a saloon and pub, and a winery are a few of the old buildings that still stand. It’s easy to imagine the setting for a gangster story in the early 1900s. There’s also a historic building – the Benld Coliseum – which was destroyed in a fire last year.

    Today, the town is filled with shops and restaurants that offer a chance to visit this historic landmark. While Benld is one of the more populated ghost towns in Illinois, its rich history and many preserved buildings secured its place on our list.

    13. Buda

    41.32614, -89.67898
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    Photo Credit: Marion Brite – flickr.com

    History:

    The town of Gold Point, Nevada, is a well-preserved historic mining community located in Esmeralda County, Nevada. The town was named for its local gold-mining industry, and its current population is seven. This area is well known for its sweeping views of Death Valley, and its attractions and activities include hiking, photography, and other outdoor pursuits. Gold Point is also home to a number of historical buildings and sites making it one of the best ghost towns in Death Valley for urban explorers.

    What’s Left?

    There are plenty of buildings to explore as well as some interesting geological discoveries. Trilobite fossils were first found at Gold Point by two geologists in the early 1960s. They were later identified by USGS paleontologists as the largest known assemblage of Early Cambrian trilobite fossils. This discovery prompted scientists to start exploring the site and its surrounding area. In addition to fossils, Gold Point is known for its extensive collection of dinosaur bones and skeletons.


    Go out and explore!

    That concludes our list of ghost towns in Illinois 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.

    If you’re having trouble finding ghost towns be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Finding Abandoned Places, or explore other ghost towns across the country.

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