Have you ever wondered how a thriving community becomes a ghost town? It doesn’t happen overnight. Some of the most common reasons towns fade away are because businesses close, natural resources dry up, or railroads cease stopping. That’s certainly the case in Minnesota, where more than few towns have come and gone over the course of a few hundred years. Here are 11 ghost towns in Minnesota – and the story of how each one met its ultimate fate.
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1. Taconite Harbor
Little remains of this once-booming community off Highway 61 near Schroeder. Back in the 1950s, the town started to grow when Erie Mining began processing taconite in the area. Because it is so remote, they set up housing and facilities for employees to use off the clock. Taconite Harbor grew into a thriving community until the demand for iron or decreased sometime in the 1980s. With few other employment options in the area, residents had no choice but to pack up and leave. But old lampposts and other remnants of Taconite Harbor are still visible if you go looking for them.
Here is a town that had a promising beginning. When the Northern Pacific Railroad extended their line through Red Lake County, Dorothy rose up along the tracks. A grain elevator, an oil company, a post office, and several other establishments grew up along with the small town. There was even a touch of culture - actors in Dorothy drew crowds from miles around, and a Catholic church added to the population every Sunday. But by 2000, the church was no more - and the town faded away with it. Today, there are a handful of homes still in the area, but Dorothy is nowhere near what it was in the early days.
At one point, this ghost town in western Minnesota had a jail, a town hall, a post office, and a grain elevator. But the population declined, thereby causing the post office to close in 1971. Today, Dale consists of a few old buildings and not much else.
Like many ghost towns, Pitt met its fate because of limited job opportunities and lagging population growth. But when it was still around, it was a station on the Canadian Pacific railway. Other than the sign marking its existence, little remains of Pitt other than an old boarded up general store.
Across the United States, many towns have come and gone alongside the railroad lines that once crisscrossed the country in great numbers. Now that passenger rail travel has declined, little towns like Radium meet their fate as ghost towns. This place was once big enough for its own post office, but there is little evidence that anyone ever lived there today.
Ironic name aside, Winner was once a thriving community that built up around a central store. The tight-knit community even had its own newspaper,
The Winner Northern Minnesota Booster, which operated from 1916 until 1919. Unfortunately, the population faded, with the post office closing in 1937. Today, only a silo remains.
Not much is left of Huot today, but by the time it was created in 1879, it already had quite the history. In the mid-1800s, the area served as a trail for those crossing western Minnesota into North Dakota. Messages and goods were exchanged along the trail, making Huot a hub of communication. But given the limited job opportunities, the population declined. The historic store, which enjoyed over 100 years in business, closed in 1976. Today, Huot's remains are located near the Old Crossing State Wayside Park.
This ghost town a few miles outside of Red Lake Falls was around from 1883 to 1937. It's another town that grew up around the railroad. In Wylie's glory days, it had a huge array of amenities: a cheese factory, a lumber yard, shops, grain elevators, a barber, a million station, and more. But the population declined after the railroad was taken up, and the town itself declined along with it. Today, a few homes dot the otherwise unpopulated Wylie.
Mavie thrived for a few years from 1910 until 1914, with many stores, a dance hall, and a blacksmith. But it met a quick decline. By 1945, much of the once-thriving Mavie met its grim fate as a Minnesota ghost town.
Being located in a beautiful part of northern Minnesota, Faunce could have been a small but booming town not unlike today's Ely. But high taxes forced many would-be Faunce families out of the area. By the 1930s, Faunce was all but a memory. Today, a visit to the Beltrami Island State Forest will bring you as close as you can get to this tiny town of yesteryear.
Orleans was once a trading hub in its early history during the late 1800s. But the combination of a fire and the economic struggles of the Great Depression brought the town's growth to a halt. Very little remains, making this place another ghost town.