Attractions October 26, 2018
The Truly Grim Reality Of 10 Deserted Ghost Towns In Wisconsin
The sad truth of growth and expansion is that sometimes towns fall away. Known as ghost towns, these are the places that were once bustling centers of the community that no longer exist for number of reasons. There’s pretty much never a good reason for a town to get abandoned, so the stories tend to highlight the harshness of life in the 1800s here in Wisconsin. Here are the stories of 10 Wisconsin ghost towns and why they were abandoned:
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
A community in Grant County that was at the mouth of Sinipee Creek on the Mississippi River, Sinipee's founding was based on lead. The community lasted less than a decade as snow melt and flooding led to standing water that drew mosquitoes, which caused a devastating malaria outbreak.
This town was formed because it sits on the Fox River. Established by a fur trader right as the state was founded, there was all kinds of commerce here as well as a floating bridge. But the town wasn't chosen as the county seat and then the railroad went elsewhere. When that happened, the people and the trade went with it and the town faded away.
Iowa County boomed with mining became a huge part of the area commerce. Right on the Wisconsin River, it was a port for transporting lead out of the mines. A shot tower was built to make use of the lead, but then the railroad chose to go through Spring Green and the people followed it. You can find a replica of the shot tower and some of the other structures at Tower Hill State Park. That and a cemetery are all that's left of this now defunct town.
The city of Dover had a series of different names. The original settlers were from the British Temperance and Emigration Society, The city was abandoned when it was bypassed by the railroad in favor of Mazomanie.
Pendarvis exists as a historical attraction in Mineral Point, but at one point it was a separate town full of miners who came to the area to mine tin, lead and zinc. The town was as big as 4,000 residents at one point. Many of their buildings remain and the area has been absorbed by Mineral Point. It's on the National Historic Register, but the town itself was abandoned as the mines dried up.
6. Gratiot's Grove
Founded as a lead-mining and smelting mecca, when the lead dried up, so did the town. The home of Henry Gratiot still stands, but this area has been absorbed by Shullsburg and there's little to show the thriving town that once existed.
The Wisconsin Territory was formed in 1836 and it was quickly understood by entrepreneurial residents that a place for the government to meet and form would be needed. Belmont was used for less than two months. The buildings had no heat and the meetings began in late October 1836. It was soon decided to move the capital to Madison. Though the buildings still stand and are managed by the State Historical Society, there's not much else to show for what was once the most important place in Wisconsin.
You'll find a creek with the name and a music festival, but there's not much else left to show the town of Ulao in the Cedarburg/Grafton area north of Milwaukee. In the mid-1800s, Ulao was a major port in Ozaukee county, but the area will forever be remembered for an infamous resident. Founded by an enterprising businessman looking to take advantage of Lake Michigan and the money available in the logging industry, he hired two land surveyors to help lay out the area in streets and land plots. The son of one of those men is Charles Guiteau – the man who assassinated president Garfield. It's also the area that the folks from the next town went to once they left Vorree.
In 1844, James Jesse Strang was baptized into the Mormon Church by Joseph Smith himself. Within a month, he was recognized as a Church elder and Smith sent him to Wisconsin to create a Mormon Settlement. He chose Voree, a town west of Burlington in southern Wisconsin. Strangite Mormons exist to this day. Land prices were high in Voree and the group moved on, though their quarry and some of their brick buildings remain.
Known as the town that time forgot, Cooksville was a thriving location with its own mill. The general store still stands and has been running for most of the past 170 years. But the town was bypassed by the railroad, so the people and the businesses left and Cooksville fell apart.
Looking for more historic Wisconsin? Check out
This Road Trip Takes You To The Most Fascinating Historical Sites In All Of Wisconsin.