Day of Kansas ‘ghost towns’

Today was Adventure Day — a day to explore “ghost towns” right in my own backyard. In one day we managed to visit several towns: Cedar Point, Clements, Elmdale, Diamond Creek and Dunlap.

It was a glorious fall day today. The leaves are starting to turn and the cool fall air coupled with abundant sunshine made for a perfect day for exploration.

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Cedar Point mill

The first place on the list to visit was Cedar Point, Kansas. Cedar Point, according to the 2010 Census, had a population of 28. It is located in Chase County and was founded in 1862. The 1880 Census listed a total of 113 people. That total rose to 190 in 1920, declining from there until its current number.

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Imagine the conversations that took place in this area. Cedar Point, Kansas.

Today, very few residents remain. It does have a bank and a post office and the mill still stands.

The next stop from Cedar Point was Clements, most know today for the Clements Stone Arch Bridge, which was completed in 1887. The bridge today is only open to foot traffic. A restoration effort is underway. Clements also is located in Chase County and was originally known as Crawsfordsville. It was renamed Clements in 1884. The town did have a post office, but it was closed in 1988.

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Clements Stone Arch Bridge

Today, only a few buildings in town remain in Clements.

The third stop of the day was Elmdale. This one also is in Chase County. The 2010 Census had over 50 people listed as living in Elmdale.

The first Post Office was opened in Elmdale in 1873. It was moved from a now extinct town called Middle Creek. Elmdale was officially incorporated in 1904.

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Bummie’s Elmdale

According to Census history, Elmdale was once home to 246 people in 1930. Population began a rapid decline in the 1940s and dropped to under 100 people starting in the late 1980s.

I wrote an article on Bummie’s. The business officially closed in 2013.

The next stop on today’s tour was Diamond Springs. This one was much harder to find and is located in Morris County. The town once was a stop for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail.

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Diamond Springs Cemetery

Diamond Springs has an interesting history. It once had a two-story hotel and a large lot for livestock, according to this article. The town was attacked by a gang of Confederates in 1863, essentially destroying it. Following the Civil War, the town was re-established by settlers from Illinois. Seven families purchased land near the original site of Diamond Springs and established a school and a church. In 1887 the Diamond Springs Town Company was organized and filed for 38 blocks.  The town experienced growth when it became a railroad community, however, it never grew as other railroad communities did. It only had 27 residents in 1910 and the post office closed in the 1930s.

Today, the only sign of the town sites’ existence is a cemetery we stumbled upon.

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Many homes have been reclaimed by nature in Dunlap.

The last stop of the day was Dunlap, which also is in Morris County and comes with interesting history as well. The 2010 Census listed Dunlap as having 30 residents.  Having driven through it today, I estimate it’s far less than that.

Dunlap’s peak population was over 400

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Dunlap

people in the late 1800s. It began to decline in the early 1900s, sharply declining in the 1940s-60s.

In 1883, according to the History of Kansas by A.T. Andreas, the town had three stores, a grist and a sawmill. The town was named after Joseph Dunlap, the founder of the town and the first white settler in the Valley Township. Also according to the Andreas in 1883: “colored people form a large percent of the population.”

“Benjamin “Pap” Singleton, a former slave, incorporated the Singleton Dunlap Farm Colony and brought 200 Black settlers to the Dunlap area in May 1878,” according to this article. “Dunlap boasted a blacksmith shop, hardware store, grocery store, ice cream parlor, flour mill, butter and cheese factory, restaurant and the Guaranty State Bank among other businesses.

Dunlap’s Post Office closed in 1988. Today it’s a mere ghost town of what it used to be — mainly empty lots.

It was a day of true adventure! Can’t wait to explore more of Kansas’ lost towns.

For all the photos I took go to The Wandering Pigeon’s Facebook page.

Other sources: Wikipedia and the U.S. Census

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