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Ghost Town USA’s

Guide to the Ghost Towns of

NEBRASKA

“The Cornhusker State

 

 

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Western & Eastern Treasures

Ghost Town USA Column Index for Nebraska.

 

Nebraska is full of ghost town sites, ghost towns, and near ghost towns. During the 1880s, Nebraska boomed. Farms exploded across the prairie, and these in turn caused towns to pop up, and railroads to reach across the landscape. A large portion of these towns were established along the railroad corridors, and spaced from six to ten miles apart. According to old sources, that is because most farmers could drive their farm wagons to and from town in one day. During the past 100 years many of those towns have disappeared, along with many of the railroads. This is definitely linked to more efficient transportation via cars and trucks.

 

Wicked winters, valuable farmland, and lack of government owned property have also contributed to the demise of many of Nebraska's ghost towns. Again as in many areas, the owners of property seldom like to keep abandoned and dilapidated structures around, as they have to pay taxes on them. This has contributed to the demise of many small villages, which have since reverted to farmland. In addition to actual town sites, consider the fact that the Oregon Trail followed along the Platte River across the state, with its scattered military posts, stagecoach stops, and pony express stations. Suddenly the possibility for finds has increased considerably! Nebraska is fertile ghost town and metal detecting territory.

 

This list barely scratches the surface of what is available. While on a journey through the state in 1993, we stayed several days with my wife's brother and his family in the Omaha area, where I did some serious backcountry exploring. In one small county alone, I found and visited the sites of over 30 ghost towns and sites. Multiply that number by all 93 counties, and there are a whole lot of possible ghost town sites in the Cornhusker State!  A few are listed below...

 

 

PLEASE NOTE: 

Where photos are indicated thusly (PHOTO!), please use your browser’s “BACK” button to return to this page.  More photos will be added over time.

 

THE GHOSTS

 

AMES

Dodge Co.

On US 30, seven miles west of Fremont (which is 50 miles northwest of Omaha), on the north side of the Platte River. This historic old class D town was founded in 1885, grew rapidly into a major cattle town. It faded after the 1930s. In 1930 Ames boasted a population of 500, but by 1990 that had shrunk to 35.

ANOKA

Boyd Co.

Anoka is a class D town sitting on State Highway (SH) 11, just below the South Dakota border about 15 miles west of where the Missouri River enters South Dakota. This faded town claimed a population of about 145 in 1910, and by 1990 this had decreased to only 10.

ANTIOCH

Sheridan Co.

Antioch is unusual among Nebraska ghost towns. It was a potash-mining town. During WWI, potash was needed for military purposes, so the small town's population swelled to over 2000. When the war ended in 1919, the demand for potash decreased almost overnight, and the population decreased. Twenty years later only 147 folks remained, and by 1980, only 25 people were left in this wonderful little class D town. Antioch is located in the western part of the state on SH 2, 15 miles east of Alliance.  Ruins remain of the potash works along the north side of the highway.

BRIDGEPORT

Sarpy Co.

This class A site was a ferry that transported folks to Cedar Island, an island in the Platte River, several miles west of its confluence with the Missouri River. It was located three miles west of the US 73/75 bridge over the Platte River.

Brownson

Cheyenne Co.

This near-dead little class D town is located just a few miles west of Sidney, in the far western end of the state.  It has some fascinating buildings remaining.

For more details on this fascinating town, see our Brownson page.

 

This was our Ghost Town of the Month for December 2012.

BURTON

Keya Paha Co.

In 1884, a post office was established, and a county seat battle developed between Burton and nearby Springview. A year later, Springview was county seat, and Burton muddled along as a has-been. In 1940, 104 people lived there, but by 1990 that had dropped off to 9. Burton is located in the northeastern part of the state on SH 12, nine miles east of US 183, at a point seven miles north of Springview, 50 air miles east of Valentine.

CHALCO

Sarpy Co.

This was an 1880s railroad town northwest of Papillion. The site is just west of SH 60, south of the county line. In 1993, all that remained were an active grain elevator and warehouse.

DYSON HOLLOW LIME KILN

Sarpy Co.

This was a class B, 1850s era lime-kiln employed 400 men.  Ruins of the old kiln are still visible along Dyson Hollow Road, south of Platteview Road, southeast of Omaha.

ELDORADO

Clay Co.

This town site is located on SH 14, nine miles south of I-80, 25 air miles southeast of Grand Island. It is shown on several current road maps, but the former town of 100 or so doesn't have much left to show for itself, except for a double handful of buildings.

FOREST CITY

Sarpy Co.

The barren site of Forest City is 1.5 miles west of Gretna, in the west end of the county. It was located on the stage road between Omaha and Ashland and had a post office, church, two stores, two boarding houses and a granary. School was held wherever room could be found to hold classes. By 1875 the town was eclipsed by the Burlington Railroad town of Gretna.

FORT ATKINSON

Washington Co.

This 1820s era fort is located on US 75, 18 miles north of I-680, north of Omaha. This important military post was the first American fort established west of the Mississippi River, and housed about 1000 soldiers. Because it was too far north of the trails that followed the Platte River, its usefulness subsided, and the fort was abandoned in 1827. It is located on Madison Street in town of Fort Calhoun.

FORT CROOK

Sarpy Co.

Located south of Bellevue, Fort Crook was built between 1894 & 1896, with the first infantry troops arriving June 28, 1896. In 1918 arrival of the 61st Balloon Company elevated it to an airfield. In 1921 landing strips were graded, and by 1924, it became known as Offutt Field. Both the airstrip and army post grew in importance, until June 11, 1946 when Fort Crook officially transferred to the 2nd Air Force, and on Jan. 13, 1948, the entire complex was renamed Offutt Air Force Base. The fort's old brick barracks, hospital, and other buildings are scattered around Offutt Air Force Base, mixed with more modern structures.  NOTE:  Access is limited only to members of the military and their official guests.

FORT CROOK CITY

Sarpy Co.

Fort Crook City was located just outside the west gate of Fort Crook, and served as a "support" town for the soldiers stationed there. This class A site has been absorbed by Bellevue, and the old town's remains are buried under the pavement of US 73/75.

FORT HARTSUFF

Valley Co.

In the center of the state, along the North Loup River, five miles southeast of Burwell, just south of the county line. This class C/F restored infantry post dates back to 1874, when it was built to protect settlers from the Sioux. It was abandoned in 1881. Today it is a State Historical Park.

FORT KEARNEY

Kearney Co.

To reach this 1848 era class C/F military post, go four miles south of Kearney to the south side of the Platte River, then four miles east on County Route (CR) L50A. This restored fort was important to the protection of westward emigrants heading towards California. According to records, some 30,000 people passed by the fort. Later, during the 1866-67 period, the fort provided protection for railroad construction crews. In 1871 it closed.

FORT ROBINSON

Dawes Co.

On US 20, three miles west of Crawford in the far northwestern corner of the state. It was established in 1874, to keep an eye on the Sioux. The fort also served as an Indian agency. The post was active for 70 years, and today is a restored State Park.

GILMORE

Sarpy Co.

This town barely established itself, and today is located where the Union Pacific Railroad crosses 36th St. A grain elevator, stock pens, and railroad depot mark the former community.

GOTHENBURG PONY EXPRESS STATION

Dawson Co.

The restored Pony Express station in the city of Gothenburg lies north of I-80 and the railroad tracks. The site is sits on the south side of a green shaded park. This reconstructed exhibit represents a typical Pony Express station, and is a must stop even if you are just passing through. Gothenburg is on the north side of the Platte River and I-80 at EXIT 199, 36 miles southeast of North Platte. The actual station was located south of town.

La PLATTE

Sarpy Co.

  • FIRST SITE:  Nothing remains of this class A 1850s Missouri River town located just north of the confluence with the Platte River. It was abandoned due to flooding.
  • SECOND SITE: Established when La Platte relocated a couple miles inland and renamed itself Larimer Mills. In the 1880s when the railroad came through, Larimer Mills already faded, so a railroad station called La Platte was established on the north side of the tracks, across from "downtown" Larimer Mills. Today this site is a small, sleepy, class D community of several hundred people and a few OLD buildings.

LARIMER CITY

Sarpy Co.

After the town of La Platte relocated here (see above), it grew slowly. It was first called Larimer City, but that changed to Larimer Mills. Most of Larimer is hidden by trees, or under La Platte #2.

McGREW

Scotts Bluff Co.

This faded farming town is located on SH 92, 14 miles southeast of Gering and south of the North Platte River.  Many interesting buildings still stand.  In 1990, only 99 folks remained.  PHOTO!

This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.

MEADOW

Sarpy Co.

Nothing much remains of this once busy railroad junction community except scattered farmhouses, cornfields and rubble. A mile and a half west of this class B town is the Meadow Cemetery.

NEAPOLIS

Saunders Co.

Located 2.8 miles northeast of Cedar Bluffs, this "town" was originally designated to be the state capital of Nebraska. The site was proposed, platted, and talked about, but not much actually happened. During the 1850s and 1860s a few log structures were built. Later when the Union Pacific Railroad was built, the site of Neapolis became a major construction camp. But, when the railroad moved on, the site was abandoned.

NIOBRARA

Knox Co.

In 1990, this small town has a population of 376. BUT, this is its second location. The original town was established in 1856, along the Missouri River, two miles south of the mouth of the Niobrara River. In 1881, a flood along the rivers caused a mass evacuation, and the town relocated about 1.5 miles to the southwest.

PORTAL

Sarpy Co.

This class C town was along the Union Pacific Railroad, and was predated by a one-room school and a cemetery, both of which still remain. It was located on Giles Road, between 108th and 114th Streets, northwest of Papillion.

SARPY CENTER

Sarpy Co.

Sarpy Center was founded in 1874, with the anticipation of the arrival of the railroad and county seat honors. The railroad came, Sarpy Center grew. In 1875, Papillion was awarded the county seat honors, and Sarpy Center died.  Its site is at the corner of Fairview Road and 120th Street. The old school and a store still remain; both converted to farm homes.

SIOUX ARMY DEPOT

Cheyenne Co.

Active from 1942 through the mid 1960s this one-time major US Army ammunition depot was located about two miles north of Brownson and about eight northwest of Sidney in the far western panhandle.

For more details on this fascinating town, see our Brownson page.

 

This is our CURRENT Ghost Town of the Month (December 2012.)

WINTER QUARTERS

Douglas Co.

On the east side of Omaha, this was an 1846 encampment for the Mormons on their long journey towards Utah. Here they established a base camp with over 600 log structures and dugouts. The population of this temporary settlement is claimed to have reached 3500. At 3215 State Street is the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery. Here some 600 of the settlers perished and were laid to rest.

XENIA

Sarpy Co.

Seven miles east of Springfield, the site of Xenia is at the corner of Buffalo Road and 192nd Street. On one corner is the abandoned schoolhouse, while on another the old store is now a home. Half a mile to the west is the cemetery.

 

MORE INFORMATION

 

Historians estimate that there may be as many as 50,000 ghost towns scattered across the United States of America.

Gary B. Speck Publications is in process of publishing unique state, regional, and county guides called

The Ghost Town Guru's Guide to the Ghost Towns of “STATE”

These original guides are designed for anybody interested in ghost towns. Whether you are a casual tourist looking for a new and different place to visit, or a hard-core ghost town researcher, these guides will be just right for you. With over 30 years of research behind them, they will be a welcome addition to any ghost towner's library.

Thank you, and we'll see you out on the Ghost Town Trail!

 

For more information on the ghost towns of NEBRASKA, contact us at

Ghost Town USA.

 

E-mailers, PLEASE NOTE:

Due to the tremendous amount of viruses, worms and “spam,” out there, I no longer open or respond to e-mails with unsolicited attachments, OR messages on the subject lines with “Hey”, “Hi”, “Need help”, “Help Please”, “???”, or blank subject lines, etc.  If you do send E-mail asking for information, or sharing information, PLEASE indicate the appropriate location AND state name, or other topic on the “subject” line.

THANK YOU!  :o)

IMPORTANT

 

These listings and historical vignettes of ghost towns, near-ghost towns and other historical sites in NEBRASKA above are for informational purposes only, and should NOT be construed to grant permission to trespass, metal detect, relic or treasure hunt at any of the listed sites.

 

If the reader of this guide is a metal detector user and plans to use this guide to locate sites for metal detecting or relic hunting, it is the READER'S responsibility to obtain written permission from the legal property owners. Please be advised, that any state or nationally owned sites will probably be off-limits to metal detector use. Also be aware of any federal, state or local laws restricting the same.

When you are exploring the ghost towns of NEBRASKA, please abide by the

Ghost Towner's Code of Ethics.

 

 

 

 

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THIS PAGE

FIRST POSTED:  June 1999

LAST UPDATED: January 12, 2013

 

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