The Best Ghost Towns to Visit in Kansas

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Throughout Kansas, there are a handful of historically significant—and eerie—ghost towns to visit, including LeHunt, Peterton, Elmdale, and Diamond Springs. 
Developments in agricultural technology have led many old Kansas towns and farms to be deserted. Some of these old communities live on as ghost towns, popular destinations for curious travelers and history buffs alike. 
Just as each town’s history is different, each one has met a different fate; some are well-preserved as historical landmarks, while others are nearly erased from existence. 
Here to give you the stories of these Kansas ghost towns and tips for visiting them is your personal car insurance shopper, Jerry.
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LeHunt 

View of the plowed field rows with trees in the distance and a colorful sunset overhead in blues, pinks, and oranges
Sunset over a plowed field

What is the story of LeHunt?

Around 1905, the United Kansas Portland Cement Company established the small community of LeHunt.
The town’s fate was fully intertwined with that of the cement company. It grew as the concrete plant thrived through the 1920s—but then the Great Depression hit, causing the concrete factory to suffer and eventually close down.
Today, you’d have to take a hike through the underbrush to access the old concrete facility, which sits about 12 miles west of the town proper. 
While trees and weeds have done their worst to take over the scene, the factory’s buildings, ovens, and massive smokestacks remain remarkably intact.

What makes LeHunt special?

The spirit of a worker named Bohr, who died in a tragic accident at the facility, is said to haunt the old location of the cement plant.
According to legend, Bohr fell into a vat of concrete and was never found. His coworkers embedded his wheelbarrow, pick, and shovel into a wall of concrete that was being built at the time of the accident.
His name and his pickaxe can still be found at the site. 
Pro Tip: The cement factory is apparently fenced off now, so be careful not to trespass on private property. Doing so could lead to your arrest and possible criminal charges.

How to Visit LeHunt 

LeHunt is closest to the town of Independence, which lies only six miles southeast.
To reach LeHunt, take Peter Pan Road until reaching County Road 5000, where you’ll take a left. From there, turn right onto North Rosser Road.
There are no gas stations or stores in the vicinity of LeHunt, so make sure you're stocked up before you go.

Peterton

White one-room school house surrounded by trees with a bell tower.
old school house

What is the story of Peterton? 

The mining town of Peterton was first founded in the 1860s by T.J. Peter of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway.  
The town had around 600 residents at its peak, as well as four churches, basic stores, hotels, bars, brothels, a doctor, a judge, and other small businesses. 
The first bad omen was the derailing of a coal train in Peterton in the 1870s, which killed a number of passengers. Apparently, the engine was buried since they couldn’t place it back on the tracks—and it supposedly still lies beneath the ground, waiting to be unearthed.
As the twentieth century progressed and coal demand decreased, Peterton faced increasing economic hardship, forcing residents to relocate. The school made it until 1964, when it closed due to a lack of money and students. 
Thereafter, the community was occupied solely by farmers and ranchers. Tornadoes passed through the town and damaged what was left of Peterton, leaving very few structures for visitors to see.

What makes Peterton special? 

Once the largest coal town in Kansas, little remains of Peterton today—but what’s left is worth seeing:
  • The church
  • A number of barns and houses
  • An old coal weighing foundation
  • The original schoolmaster's house

How to visit Peterton 

Peterton is only three miles north of Osage City, where you can get some gas and food or even stay the night.
To get to Peterton, get on N 9th Street/S Auburn Road and continue until you reach W 217th Street. Turn right from there and you’ll arrive in what was once Peterton.

Elmdale

Old wind turbine standing in a field.
Old school wind turbine in a field

What is the story of Elmdale?

Elmdale is a rail city that was established around the 1870s after the aforementioned Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Company built a line through the town.
Another relatively small town, Elmdale grew to house a bank, two schools, a town hall, and a Methodist Church in its heyday.
The little town plugged along but faced its worst challenge in the form of floods. The Great Flood of 1951 caused the rivers and streams around Elmdale to swell with severe rainfall.
The town built a levy, which bought them a few more decades, but it collapsed in 1998 and ushered in the town’s demise. 
Today, only 40 residents still live in Elmdale and a single grocery store is still standing.

What makes Elmdale special? 

Though the town isn’t entirely abandoned, there are still some spooky sights to see throughout Elmdale.
  • The original two-story limestone school and its gymnasium. It was constructed in the late 1800s and closed in 1967. These amazing historical relics are still sitting in the west end of town
  • The bank, dating back to 1898
  • The Elmdale Town Hall, built around 1936
  • Some abandoned work garages and homes
  • The Methodist Church, also built in 1898, which still holds services 
  • Clover Cliff Ranch, which now serves as a highly-rated bed and breakfast and is on the National Register of Historic Places

How to visit Elmdale

You can reach Elmdale from the nearest large town, Emporia. Just follow US-50 W until you reach Main Street—turn left here to reach your destination.
The lone grocery store of Bummies still stands, where you can grab some food and supplies if need be. If you’re looking to stay the night in town, rooms at the Clover Cliff Ranch feel like an authentic blast from the past.

Diamond Springs

Bridge during an orange sunset, backlit so everything is dark. On the bridge is a biker lined up with the sun.
Sunset view of bridge

What is the story of Diamond Springs? 

Diamond Springs, once known as the “Diamond of the Plains,” was a haven for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail in the early 1800s. 
In 1849, the station complex was constructed. It was made up of two enormous stone structures. One contained a hotel, restaurant, and bar; the other, a warehouse and store. Cattle awaited transport in the Diamond Springs corrals, so vast they could store hundreds of animals. 
During the Civil War, Diamond Springs’ station was attacked and looted by Quantrill confederate Dick Yeager, who killed the station manager and badly injured his wife.
The station, one of the few operating town businesses, was transferred down the road to Six Mile Creek, and as Santa Fe Trail traffic died down to a trickle, Diamond Springs dried up as well. 

What makes Diamond Springs special?

There are still some intriguing sights to see in the ghost town of Diamond Springs:
  • The area where the station once stood, which has been converted into a large ranch
  • The ruins of a few houses and stores 
  • An old cemetery
  • The spring, which is now a concrete cistern. It has its own historical marker but is on private property

How to visit Diamond Springs 

The closest city where you can fill up on gas and grab some food is Wilsey, which lies about eight miles northeast of Diamond Springs.
Take 1800 Rd/South 1st Street out of Wilsey and then turn right onto Z Ave. From there, turn left onto Bb Ave and you’ll arrive in Diamond Springs!
Keep in mind that private homes have since been erected near the old ghost town. Be careful not to trespass. 

Why you need good car insurance

Because ghost towns are usually found in rural locations, you’ll need to make sure your car insurance coverage is capable of protecting you in case the unexpected happens on the road.
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