“Finding Beauty in Desolation”: A Deep Dive into 12 Ghost Towns in Kansas

Feel Free To Share:

Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.

Get ready to explore the timeless landscapes of Kansas, uncovering the compelling tales of its ghost towns. From the mining town of Treece, awaiting environmental cleanup, to Bushong, with its ties to baseball and the Cold War, these towns are full of stories of a bygone era.


Abandoned and broken chair
Image Credit: Unsplash.

Step back in time to Mildred, Kansas, an almost forgotten settlement with roots in early industrial America. Here, amidst dwindling populations and quiet streets, lies the tale of an ambitious industrialist, a thriving cement company, and a town that once bustled with life. As of 2020, the population was recorded at just 20 current residents but you can still explore much of the town’s old structures.

Empire City

Abandoned home
Image Credit: PickPik.

Discover Empire City, Kansas, a nearby ghost town that once bustled with mining activity and notorious nightlife. Nestled just north of Galena, Empire City whispers tales of the feverish boomtown days, its weathervane pointing to Red Hot Street, a stretch once riddled with saloons, gambling dens, and brothels. Delve into the adventure of unearthing the past as you explore the few remaining historical buildings and homes, silent keepers of the city’s wild tales.

Trading Post

Step into the haunting past of Trading Post, Kansas, an unincorporated community in Linn County that holds a complex history within its quiet boundaries. Trace its origins back to a French trading post and uncover layers of history, including the American Civil War’s Battle of Marais des Cygnes and the Marais des Cygnes massacre. Despite its present quietude, the few remaining markers of this once-thriving town offer visitors a poignant glimpse into the breadth of Kansas history.


Pawnee, Kansas
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Journey to Pawnee, Kansas, a ghost town whispering tales of political change and early American territorial disputes. Marked as the Kansas Territory’s first official capital, albeit for a brief five days, the town’s old capitol building stands in quiet dignity, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Diamond Springs

Diamond Springs, Kansas
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Now a deserted ghost town, Diamond Springs was once a popular stop on the Santa Fe Trail and gained the nickname “Diamond of the Plains”. Traces of its former prosperity can still be found in the few remaining structures, each marking part of the town’s journey, from its establishment in the 1820s to a violent episode during the Civil War where Confederate Dick Yeager burnt the town to a crisp.


Elmdale, Kansas
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Visit Elmdale, Kansas, a tiny town steeped in history. Founded in 1859, it served as a pivotal point for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway and experienced growth before suffering from the Great Flood of 1951 and subsequent decline. Now, with a small population and a single grocery store, Elmdale offers both a peaceful and equally eerie glimpse into the American Midwest and its past.


Pfeifer, Kansas, is a semi-abandoned town with a compelling history. Established by Volga German immigrants, Pfeifer evolved with a strong religious focus, culminating in the impressive Holy Cross Church, standing tall at 165 feet. Explore its few residences and abandoned buildings, and visit the home of former MLB legend, Monty Basgail.


Abandoned house
Image Credit: Canva.

Huron, Kansas, feels like a town that exists outside of time. Founded in 1882, Huron’s sparse population and quiet streets offer a fascinating glimpse into the past, with several abandoned structures scattered among lived-in homes. The town may lack active businesses, but its quiet charm and lingering history are a draw for those seeking a quieter exploration.


Dunlap, Kansas
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Dunlap is a semi-deserted city that has a powerful past. Founded as a haven for freed slaves, Dunlap’s history is as diverse as its businesses were, ranging from grocery stores to ice cream parlors. Now home to a few residents, the city’s remaining historical structures, school, and cemetery stand as monuments to its resilient past.


Venture to Peterton, Kansas, a ghost town with a legacy stemming from its mining origins in the 1860s. Once a bustling coal mining center housing over 600 people and an array of businesses, Peterton now stands quiet, with remnants of a church, the schoolmaster’s house, and a coal-weighing foundation. Despite its tumultuous history and eventual decline, Peterton invites visitors to walk its once lively streets, offering a glimpse into its dynamic past.


Abandoned home in woods
Image Credit: Canva.

Unearth the dramatic saga of Treece, Kansas, a former boomtown in Cherokee County. Born of a lead and zinc discovery, Treece was once a bustling locale with a thriving industry. While the town has been evacuated due to environmental concerns, the town, now a Superfund site, stands as a stark reminder of its busy past, awaiting an environmental cleanup.


Bushong, Kansas - Ghost towns in Kansas
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Experience Bushong, Kansas, a city holding tales of baseball glory and Cold War history. Once a vital railroad stop renamed in honor of St. Louis Browns catcher Doc Bushong, it later hosted intercontinental ballistic missiles during the Cold War. Visitors can explore the remnants of its past, including a ruined bank, a high school, and an abandoned church.

Leave a Comment