Elmdale, Kansas

On our most recent road trip we visited Elmdale,  one of those once bustling midwest towns.

The town was founded as a railroad town in the 1870s, and for many years was a hub of commerce for the local farming community.

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But Elmdale was built in a floodplain and periodic floods from the nearby Cottonwood River damaged the town many times over the years, causing residents to repeatedly evacuate and return after the floodwaters receded to clean up and salvage what they could. Many residents who evacuated in the particularly bad 1951 and 1998 floods never returned.

In the 1960s, Elmdale’s school and bank finally closed for good.

Elmdale bank

Elmdale bank

Handcarved detail on the Elmdale bank front

Handcarved detail on the Elmdale bank front

Today, there are only about 50 residents left in town. The post office is still open, as is Baumgardner’s Grocery,  called “Bummie’s” by the locals. The Methodist church still has services on Sunday morning.

The Elmdale town hall appears to still be active:

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Elmdale Town Hall

Elmdale town hall

Elmdale town hall

But grass is growing over the downtown sidewalks.

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Many houses are crumbling

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as are the few remaining downtown buildings.

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The land where Elmdale stands was once prairie.

And today the prairie is slowly taking back what remains of the town.

If you would like to learn more about Elmdale, and see more pictures of the town, click  HERE.

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Kitty Update:

The other day, Kitty did one of her sideways hops, her way of inviting me to chase her across the house. So I broke into a run towards her. She wheeled away from me and took off at top speed, tail flying, running like she was being chased by a pack of wolves out of the kitchen and into the mudroom. She finally came to a sliding crashing stop at the front door. It’s the first time we’ve played this little game since before she got sick, and my heart fairly sang for joy.

heart

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

17 comments to Elmdale, Kansas

  • Shaun

    So glad to hear Kitty is on the mends! I play the chase game with my kitty too! She also a calico.

  • Oh, how happy to see Kitty playing!!! Isn’t it sad to see the little old towns just crumbling?

  • So glad Kitty is feeling sassy enough to play again…I think its interesting to “watch” towns go back to nature…my favorite ghost town is Bodie in CA….
    Tara

  • Marcia

    What a relief, to hear that Kitty is playing again! May she continue to mend and be happy.

  • Laura

    She is on the mend! Wahoo!!!!

  • Tina

    That is so vey sad about Elmdale. I hate to see it die like that. As far as Kitty, yay!!! That means she is really feeling better.Nothing better than getting chased by a pack of wolves snapping at your heels to perk you up! Glad to hear it, you and Harland made good nurses.

  • Jeanne

    Yay Kitty!! I’m so happy to know she’s doing so much better! I was just grinning from ear to ear as I read what you wrote, Suzanne. I hope she’ll continue to improve till she’s completely well!

  • Jeanne

    P.S. I did go to the other website and look at all the information about Elmdale. It was interesting – and sad. (Thanks for including the link.) I’m always sorry to see old towns go. The one we live in isn’t doing so well, either!

  • Oh, that is so sad about the town of Elmsdale. The second photo is very similar to an old one of our little town. Back in the 1970’s, our town leaders began a revitalization which brought antique shops, gift shops and restaurants where there were once department stores, pharmacies, a jewelry shop, etc. (Of course, we’re located fairly close to some large cities, which probably isn’t the case for Elmsdale.)
    YAY for Kitty feeling better! I’m sure many of your readers’ hearts are singing for joy at hearing that news!

  • MaggieMae

    {{Kitty}} So happy to hear the Kitty news.
    Love to see and hear about your interesting adventures. I’ve never been to KS but feel like I have from your detailed blog. Your photography is AWESOME!

  • Carol

    Lovely photos Suzanne, run Kitty run!!!!!

  • Well, that’s great news about Kitty Chan’s inviting you to play with her. She has made it thru and come out on the other side of sick. Yay !~!

    Pics of old forgotten towns are so very interesting. I wonder who played with that deck of cards. We played so many card games as kids. The entire neighborhood would sit at someone’s BIG table and play pinochle or rummy for hours in the summer when it was just too hot to go outside-and we had NO air conditioning in those days in small town SE PA. You and Harland take the best pictures….

  • Angela M Maracle

    How can I find more information on my home in Elmdale Ks //// land??

  • Tanya Lawson

    Is there someone I can call about church members from 1910-1920? My grandma was born in Elmsdale, trying to find out what year they left.

  • Maggie ballard nichols

    Can anyone tell me about the buffalo up on the hill west and a litgle north of elmdale by country church? Please email or message me

  • LIVED IN A 16 TWO STORY HOUSE ON MAIN STREET. THE MOVIE GYPSY MOTHS WAS FILMED IN OUR HOUSE. THE HOUSE HAD 5 BEDROOMS DINNING ROOM TWO KITCHENS TWO BATHROOMS A BASEMENT AND A ROOM OFF FROM THE STAIRS WHICH HAD CIVIL WAR SOUTHERN PICTURES AND A UNIFORM FROM THE CONFEDERATE ARMY. THE STAIR CASE WAS A SPIRAL STAIR CASE. TWO BALCONIES. I LOVED THAT HOUSE BEEN LOOKING FOR PICTURES BUT NO LUCK. I LOVED LIVING IN ELMDALE AND WORKED AT THE CAMPWOOD CAMP. GRADUATED IN 1067. THERE WAS A STORE WITH A SODA FOUNTAIIN RESTAURANT. ALL OF US FROM SCHOOL WOULD GO THERE AFTER SCHOOL. ONE OF MY GIRLFRIENDS AND I WOULD SLEEP ON TOP OF THE BOX CARS NEAR DOWNTOWN. DURING THE WINTER HORSE BACK RIDING AND CAR HOODS TIED WITH A ROPE. THE HORSE PULLED.I HAD A GREAT HOME LIFE AND SCHOOL.

  • Bert Foley

    THIS IS BERT FOLEY WENKE. MY FAMILY LIVED IN ELMDALE FOR YEARS. OUR HOUSE IS NOW GONE, THE MOVIE IRON BUTTERFLIES, WITH BURT LANCASTER AND DEBRA KERR STARED IN IT. IN ONE PART OF THE MOVIE DEBRA KERR IS SITTING IN MY BEDROOM WINDOW AND BURT LANCASTER , HE WAS ON THE SIDE WALK, TALKING. I HAVE SO MANY GOOD MEMORIES OF ELMDALE. IF YOU WANT YOU CAN STILL ORDER THE MOVIE ON LINE.
    SEND ME A BOOK. PO BOX 2246 NOGALES, ARIZONE 85621. I HAD SO MANY FRIENDS, MY BROTHERS DAVID AND LESLIE FOLEY ARE GONE. BUT MY SISTER LOLA FOLEY PEARCE LIVES IN WICHITA, KS. MY MOM AND DAD ARE ALSO GONE. THANKYOU

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