Nebraska November 15, 2016
Take This Ghost Town Hike In Nebraska If You Dare
Although there are lots of ghost towns in Nebraska, very few of them are located conveniently within a state park and served by a system of hiking trails. The former town of St. Deroin is a part of Indian Cave State Park near Shubert, in Richardson County, in far southeastern Nebraska. This is one ghost town that you can hike directly into – and maybe even experience the past while you’re there.
There are several ways to access St. Deroin.
You can park at one of the trailheads in the central or southern part of the park and make a long, leisurely hike of it. The town is at the opposite side of the park from the cave, so if you want to see both you could make a long excursion between the two.
If you have the time and physical ability, we recommend hiking as much of this park as possible. It's positively stunning, and there are more than 22 miles of trails to explore.
If you don't want to do that much hiking, you can park very close to St. Deroin. From the park entrance, drive down toward the river and you'll see the town site.
However you get here, stepping into St. Deroin is always a slightly eerie feeling.
The town was chartered in 1854 and for a while boasted a healthy population that relied on income from its ferry crossing.
As time went on, the river changed course, the railroads didn't come to the town, and St. Deroin began to wither.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, a series of severe floods sealed St. Deroin's fate. Townspeople left little by little until the town was abandoned by 1920.
Today, there are still signs of the once-thriving town.
The restored schoolhouse and general store are here, and in the summer and fall you can attend living history events that show you what life would have been like in St. Deroin. The log cabin is another interesting look into the town's history.
But perhaps the spookiest part of our hike through St. Deroin is the two cemeteries.
The St. Deroin Cemetery still sits on the bluff above the original town site. The old markers here are fascinating.
It's easy to feel a kind of connection with the townspeople who lived here so long ago. St. Deroin is said to be haunted, so you may even feel some kind of paranormal presence as you wander the site.
Knowing that the town was abandoned nearly 100 years ago, walking through the cemetery can feel a little bit spooky, even if you don't believe in ghosts.
The other cemetery near the town (which is not pictured here) was known as the Half-Breed Cemetery, where people of mixed European and Native American descent were buried. Only a couple of grave markers are left; the rest have either been vandalized or lost to time.
Hiking to and through this old town is definitely worth the trip to Indian Cave State Park.
Many people come just to see the cave and the jaw-dropping Missouri River overlook. But take a little hike down to St. Deroin next time you're there and walk through some of the ghosts of Nebraska's past.
Whether you take a long hike or just walk from your car to the town site, St. Deroin is a must-see in southeastern Nebraska. Have you ever visited? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.