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13 Ghost Towns In Iowa [MAP]

    ghost towns in Iowa

    If you’re searching for ghost towns in Iowa, we’ve got you covered! Below are 12 different ghost towns you can explore across the great state of Iowa along with their status and exact GPS coordinates.

    We rate ghost towns in Iowa 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. Rockville

    42.41861, -91.14194
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: David Sebben – flickr.com

    History:

    In 1845, the village was established by Oliver A. Olmstead and was one of the oldest towns in Delaware County. At one time, the town had a sawmill, blacksmith’s shop, hotel, and various stores.

    Rockville was once bustling, but by 1915, the population had dropped to one. After all, several major events had struck the town, including the Great Flood of 1851, which flooded the town and killed many people.

    In 1857, the Dubuque and Pacific Railroad bypassed the town, which was a significant part of the community. As transportation routes shifted to other areas, fewer people traveled to Rockville.

    What’s Left?

    Explorers can still find ruins along the nearby river as well as several abandoned houses where the town once stood.


    2. Elkport

    42.73971, -91.27791
    Status: Abandoned

    History:

    The town is a remnant of the booming gold rush days that swept through the area. This town has been mostly abandoned since 2006, with only a few remaining houses and a blacksmith shop.

    What’s Left?

    Elkport is one of my favorite ghost towns in Iowa due to its large amounts of abandoned buildings and historic structures. If you’re in the area don’t pass up Elkport!


    3. Buckhorn

    42.05697, -90.75256
    Status:
    Abandoned

    Photo Credit: ForgottenLight – reddit.com

    History:

    The town of Buckhorn was a quaint farming co-op town that had a stagecoach, tavern, blacksmith, and hotel. The town continued to thrive until a commercial dairy farm bought the town in 1960. This triggered a max exodus leaving behind many homes and businesses.

    What’s Left?

    Of all the ghost towns in Iowa, Buckhorn has some of the largest numbers of abandoned structures still standing. Explorers can check out the cemetery, old church, and abandoned homes throughout the area.


    4. Carrollton

    41.9497, -94.74803
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: aerial1981 – reddit.com

    History:

    Although the community had a small population, it was once the county seat. It was growing slowly until 1867 when the Northwestern Railroad built a station in Carrollton. The railroad introduced the town to other communities, such as Sunbury, which was once home to a dance hall. The dance hall closed in 1964, but there was a bank in the town.

    What’s Left?

    While Carrollton isn’t among the most exciting ghost towns in Iowa, there are still dilapidated buildings to see and explore.


    5. Mount Etna

    41.12054, -94.73525
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: Tom McLaughlin – flickr.com

    History:

     This tiny town in Adams County, Iowa, has an abandoned school, church, and post office. It also once boasted a grocery store and a number of churches. Not much is documented online, however we believe the town sharply declined in 1960.

    What’s Left?

    Today, the town is mostly vacant. One of the thirteen rural schools in Corning’s school district closed in 1960, but the schoolhouse remains. The town is truly the last of its kind.


    6. Stiles

    40.63502, -92.35129
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: Ray Kasal – flickr.com

    History:

     It was founded by two Union supporters, Jacob and Elizabeth Stiles. Elizabeth was fearless and outspoken. They later emigrated to Kansas where they established their home. Jacob and Elizabeth Stiles’ children were George, Clara, and Sarah Anne. All four survived the Civil War, but their legacy lives on.

    What’s Left?

    Stiles is one of my favorite ghost towns in Iowa, with beautiful old abandoned homes scattered between the few people that still inhabit the area.


    7. Stanzel

    41.31582, -94.26106
    Status:
    Abandoned

    Photo Credit: jenniferrodriguez – flickr.com

    History:

    Unfortunately, there’s almost no documented history of Stanzel online. The town was likely a small agricultural community that declined throughout the mid-1900s.

    What’s Left?

    Today, Stanzel has an old active church, a few abandoned houses, and a few abandoned stores to explore.


    8. Buxton

    41.15833, -92.8213
    Status: Abandoned

    History:

    The town of Buxton was settled in 1895 as a coal mining town that supplied the Chicago and Northwestern Railway. During its operation, the town was predominantly African American. The town declined after diesel engines took the stage in the early 1900s. A massive fire devastated the town in 1916, and by 1927 the town was officially deserted.

    What’s Left?

     Buxton is one of the more isolated ghost towns in Iowa, surrounded by trees down a dirt road. Explorers can check out a few abandoned buildings in the area, as well as an old grain silo tucked away in the woods.


    9. Sunbury

    41.66999, -90.93083
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    History:

    In the 1960s, this town was a co-op for farmers. It was purchased by a large commercial dairy operation, and soon afterward the population diminished. Some buildings and equipment remained and were left untouched. 

    What’s Left?

    While this isn’t the most deserted of ghost towns in Iowa, Sunbury still gives off ghost town vibes. Abandoned stores, old homes, and overgrown ruins can still be found throughout the area.


    10. Monmouth

    42.07696, -90.87986
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    History:

    Monmouth was established in 1856 and took its name from Monmouth Township. Not much is documented online regarding its history. If you know more about this town, be sure to let us know.

    What’s Left?

    Travelers can check out the old storefronts on the main street, as well as the old historic schoolhouse from the early 1900s.


    11. Cedar Bluff

    41.78585, -91.30821
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    History:

    The community was founded in 1876 and was formerly a thriving hamlet. The town was home to the Cedar Bluff General Store, which was eventually bought by Frank Suchomel and his sister, Millie. The couple operated the store until they retired in 1987.

    Since then, the town has been a ghost town, with few buildings remaining. The largest remaining building is the town’s old community hall, built for dances. The town also has one church and one saloon.

    What’s Left?

    The downtown area features an old theater built in 1931. Located near the Civil War-era cemetery, the theater is said to be haunted. It has been the site of strange apparitions, including a white woman rushing past the bay windows, and witnesses have heard footsteps and voices.

    Of all the ghost towns in Iowa, many say Cedar Bluff is among the most haunted.


    12. Downey

    41.61613, -91.34849
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    History:

    Downey was established in 1856 after the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad was built in the area. Downey remained a small railroad town throughout its life, only reaching about 100 residents during its peak. The town declined after the mass adoption of the diesel engine.

    What’s Left?

    While visiting Downey, Iowa, you can explore some of the remaining buildings from the early days of the town. The Butterfield Stage Station, which was built in the late 1940s, once served as the ticket office of “Bushy Bill Higdon’s” stagecoach ride.

    Built in a rustic style, the structure has been preserved for all to see. Explorers can also check out the old historic bank that has been preserved by locals. However, the town is not what it once was, with many parts of the original structure still intact.


    13. Kinross

    41.46084, -91.98684
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    History:

    Named for a town in Scotland, the town grew around a railroad depot in 1879. The town was once a thriving city, but slowly declined, eventually down to just seven residents. In 1990, the remaining residents voted to disincorporate and become a ghost town. It was officially disestablished in 1991.

    What’s Left?

    There are several historical structures in the area, including the McCoy Polygonal Barn, built in 1914, and an aerator.


    Go out and explore!

    That concludes our list of ghost towns in Iowa, 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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