The Truly Grim Reality Of 8 Deserted Ghost Towns In Illinois
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Illinois has thriving towns both large and small, but we aren’t immune to our fair share of ghost towns. There are many places that have become abandoned over the years for one reason or another, and some of their stories are truly heartbreaking. Here are just a few of the deserted towns in Illinois:
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Have you visited any of these ghost towns? Let us know in the comments.
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13 Ghost Towns In Illinois [MAP]
Last Updated on August 26, 2022 by Urbex Underground
If you’re searching for ghost towns in Illinois, we’ve got you covered! Below are 13 different ghost towns you can explore across Illinois along with their status and exact GPS coordinates.
We rate ghost towns in Illinois based on their status. Here’s how our system works:
- Abandoned: Is abandoned with ruins and structures in a decayed state. Great for urban explorers .
- Historic: Preservation efforts have been made and sometimes plaques installed. Great for everyone .
- Barren: Almost nothing remains of the town. Ideal for metal detectorists.
- Commercial: Is commercially owned with amenities, restaurants, and stores. Great for families .
- Semi-Abandoned : Abandoned areas with a small population in the area.
- Privately Owned: Tours might be available but not open to the general public.
3. griggsville landing, 4. kincaid mounds, 5. benjaminville, 6. clayville, 7. cahokia mounds, 9. kaskaskia, 11. old shawneetown, the anarchist’s guide to exploration.
If you’re looking to dive deeper into the world of urban exploration, this book is for you. Learn how to uncover more abandoned places and the techniques used to capture their beauty.
40.93959, -90.16085 Status: Abandoned
This small town lies approximately a mile north of Interstate 74 and U.S. Highway 150. While the town was once the county seat of Jackson County, it was abandoned after the courthouse burned down in 1843.
The town has a number of interesting historical sites to visit, and you can also tour the abandoned buildings and hear ghost stories about its residents.
40.94111, -88.58361 Status: Abandoned
Located northeast of Pontiac, Illinois, the Cayuga ghost town was never incorporated and is now a sprawling, abandoned landscape. The population of Cayuga maxed out at 160, but never surpassed that. As the international highway system gained traction more people bypassed this small town. By 1955 the town’s population was only 60.
Its most recognizable remnants are an abandoned grain elevator and railroad depot along the Union Pacific. Its residents may remember when the town was still thriving, but it has been largely forgotten. If you’re road tripping down Route 66 we sure to check out the town as it’s a short stop off the road.
39.69694, -90.6475 Status: Barren
Known as Griggsville Landing, this small Illinois town once served as a ferry to cross the Illinois River. In the early nineteenth century, the area was surveyed by the United States government. In 1822, a man named Garrett Van Dusen established a ferry service, transporting footmen across the river. Later, it was developed as a steamboat stop, with its name changing to Phillipsburg and Phillips’ Landing. By the late 1870s, the community was completely abandoned.
A large mound is located near the site. Joseph Smith, the Mormon leader, claimed to have seen a vision while visiting the town. The bones he found there were supposedly those of a great warrior named Zelph. The bones later led to a mythical battle between “Lamanites” and “Nephites.” A nearby camp was known as Zion’s Camp.
Today, a few abandoned buildings and the mound are all that are left behind. Despite this, Griggsville Landing is still a unique ghost town in Illinois that should definitely be explored.
37.08055, -88.49166 Status: Historic
The site was surrounded by a palisade made of upright logs or posts that was extended around the mounds and the residence areas, culminating at Avery Lake. These posts were plastered with mud and had guard houses at intervals of 100 feet. These may have served as a boundary marker for the town.
Today the ruins and mounds are protected as a historic site and can be explored freely.
40.4765, -88.80611 Status: Historic
Benjaminville, Illinois is a historical community located 8 miles east of Bloomington, Illinois. It was founded by Quaker farmers in the 1850s on fertile prairie land. The town grew prosperous as a Quaker community in the Midwest. However, once the railroad bypassed the town, the population declined significantly. By 1870, the town was a ghost town, and its remaining structures were abandoned.
There are just nine residents in the town who take care of the few remaining structures. Explorers can visit the Benjaminville Historic Site to see the old church, cemetery, and few ruins left behind.
39.8667, -89.8971 Status: Historic
If you’re looking for the perfect ghost town in Illinois, look no further than Clayville. This quaint, old-fashioned town was once the main attraction for tourists and locals alike. The town was built around an inn that served food and accommodation. During the 1830s, it became a bustling community, but by the mid-nineteenth century, railroads no longer stopped at Clayville.
The village’s main street was paved, and the Clayville Tavern was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Clayville Tavern closed its doors in 2009, but the town’s owners have rescued the town’s history. The Pleasant Plains Historical Society has since acquired the land and buildings that once sat vacant.
Today, the town operates as a museum and hosts special events. Visitors can experience the history and culture of this aging community by visiting the Clayville Historic Site.
38.65699, -90.0587 Status: Historic
Visitors to Cahokia Mounds in Illinois are often surprised to learn that the site of a Mississippian society was actually a highly advanced city. he Cahokians were farmers and traders who built a low-scale metropolis on vast earthen mounds. They used the mounds as houses, burial grounds, meeting places, and ceremonial centers. In addition to farmers, they also had artisans that crafted ceramic vessels and sculptures, as well as astronomers who tracked the stars with timber circles.
A recent study has shown that the ancient inhabitants of Cahokia had stable ground even when they had been abandoned for a long time. The site was closed off to industrial development in the mid-1800s due to its ecological disaster. However, the geoarchaeology experts at the site studied the remains and found that they were stable.
41.05247, -88.28884 Status: Semi-Abandoned
A century ago, Cardiff, Illinois was a thriving coal mining community that was less than 100 miles south of Chicago. The town thrived on coal, and as a result, the area became the global coal center. The coal industry was in a state of collapse by the 1960s, but in the 1970s, Livingston County discovered its own black gold. Cardiff was home to 400 miners, producing between 1,200 and 1,600 tons of coal per day.
Today, there is no sign of the town. Today, visitors can see two massive mine dumps and a state marker.
37.92144, -89.91316 Status: Semi-Abandoned
In the past, Kaskaskia was an important trading post and a center for the area’s middle Mississippi River valley. King Louis XV donated a bell to the Catholic church in Illinois in 1741. In 1778, the villagers rang the bell in celebration of their independence from British rule.
Although the town has been virtually abandoned for the past several years, residents continue to stay put and visit the area to experience its history. There are no stores or restaurants in Kaskaskia, but there are still many historic buildings and homes that are still in use.
While it is true that many residents have relocated to neighboring towns, there are no official evacuation orders or warnings. The town is frequently underwater and will likely be completely underwater one day. While it is the second smallest town in Illinois, it is a perfect destination for those looking for genuine ghost towns in Illinois.
37.00525, -89.17543 Status: Abandoned
This Midwestern town is part of the National Register of Historic Places. Founded as a port town between the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, Cairo was once home to many shippers. During the Civil War, the city was of strategic importance. Eventually, the city fell into disuse and reverted to being a sleepy little city. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the beauty of this abandoned community.
Today, however, the town is almost completely abandoned and consists of just 2,000 people. The town’s history is fraught with racism and economic desperation. The town had a high murder rate in the 1920s, and was home to an estimated 1,000 prostitutes. It was also a victim of periodic flooding. While many of the businesses were destroyed, the Federal Courthouse still stands as a district court in southern Illinois.
37.69699, -88.1367 Status: Semi-Abandoned
The village was established in 1812 on the banks of the Ohio River. Unfortunately, after the devastating flood of 1937, it had to be abandoned and relocated several miles inland.
Today, the town is just a small hamlet with no historic downtown. But it still has some historical significance, thanks to the flood that destroyed much of the town.
39.09282, -89.80398 Status: Semi-Abandoned
At the start of Prohibition, Benld was home to over three-hundred residents and 32 saloons. The town’s history can best be described as “back to the frontier” – a reminder of the wide openness of the 1920s. Although only 1,600 residents now live in Benld, rumors about Al Capone’s involvement in the town’s illicit activities persist. In fact, many residents say Capone did conduct business in the town during Prohibition.
One of the most interesting features of Benld are the ruins of the old town’s main street. You can also visit a roadside display of the town’s past.
A former theater, a saloon and pub, and a winery are a few of the old buildings that still stand. It’s easy to imagine the setting for a gangster story in the early 1900s. There’s also a historic building – the Benld Coliseum – which was destroyed in a fire last year.
Today, the town is filled with shops and restaurants that offer a chance to visit this historic landmark. While Benld is one of the more populated ghost towns in Illinois, its rich history and many preserved buildings secured its place on our list.
41.32614, -89.67898 Status: Semi-Abandoned
The town of Gold Point, Nevada, is a well-preserved historic mining community located in Esmeralda County, Nevada. The town was named for its local gold-mining industry, and its current population is seven. This area is well known for its sweeping views of Death Valley, and its attractions and activities include hiking, photography, and other outdoor pursuits. Gold Point is also home to a number of historical buildings and sites making it one of the best ghost towns in Death Valley for urban explorers.
There are plenty of buildings to explore as well as some interesting geological discoveries. Trilobite fossils were first found at Gold Point by two geologists in the early 1960s. They were later identified by USGS paleontologists as the largest known assemblage of Early Cambrian trilobite fossils. This discovery prompted scientists to start exploring the site and its surrounding area. In addition to fossils, Gold Point is known for its extensive collection of dinosaur bones and skeletons.
Go out and explore!
That concludes our list of ghost towns in Illinois but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to find. Take the back roads, follow train tracks, and find some places for yourself. There are plenty of places I kept off this list so get out there and explore.
If you’re having trouble finding ghost towns be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Finding Abandoned Places , or explore other ghost towns across the country.
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Eerie Ghost Towns in Illinois You Should Visit – If You Dare
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There's a lot to do in Illinois, but if you're looking for a bit more of an adventure you might want to visit these ghost towns.
Onlyinyourstate.com thinks these are the creepiest ghost towns in Illinois, and I happen to agree with them. From national disasters to crime, and wars there are some towns in Illinois that were once thriving now sit almost abandoned and vacant.
Ghost Towns in Illinois You Should Visit
Yes, people still live in these towns so if you do happen to visit any of them be respectful and mindful that they may be small and look abandoned but they are not.
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Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places
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Ghost Towns Map
- Be aware of your surroundings and take safety precautions. Ghost towns can be dangerous, so it is important to be aware of your surroundings and take safety precautions.
- Do not trespass on private property. Many ghost towns are located on private property, so it is important to get permission before you explore.
- Respect the history of the place. Ghost towns are often places of historical significance, so it is important to respect the history of the place and leave no trace.
- By following these tips, you can safely and respectfully explore ghost towns.
- Look for abandoned buildings and infrastructure. Ghost towns often have abandoned buildings and infrastructure, such as old houses, businesses, and railroads.
- Check with local historical societies. Local historical societies often have information about ghost towns in the area.
interesting. keep up the good work. Comment: Old Chicago (Bolingbrook, IL) was an amusement park not a town
Edward, Thanks for your comment. The map has only one layer at this time (that will be changing) and shows both abandoned settlements and places, including abandoned theme parks.
Here's another one for the list: New Birmingham, TX (31.777152, -95.120225). It lasted only a few years in the late 1800s. There's a Wikipedia article and likely other Google search matches out there about it. It was even around long enough to have had a small cemetery, which is listed on Find A Grave. The state Historical Marker at the site along US 69 south of Rusk is also listed online: https://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/Details/5073006774
John D, Thanks for the info! New Birmingham has been added to the map.
I can't find anything on Tedens, IL as to how big it was, how long it lasted, and when it existed.
Thanks for the comment. I have not either, outside of that it was a station stop on the Santa Fe Railway at that location. There does not appear to be any ruins nearby of any town, however geographical changes can hide where villages once were, a great example of this is Torino, IL, about 30 miles south of where Tedens was.
The settlement or village of Petersburg was in Kankakee county at the corner of E 10500N Rd. and N 16000E Rd. 41* 16' 27.78" and 87* 34' 06.16". The settlement or village was very small. St. Paul's Lutheran church, the only existing original structure, is south of the corner. There was a blacksmith and a creamery. I believe that the creamery was turned into a house and was torn down about 2009. Curtis Nevel
Curtis, Thanks for your help! We have added the settlement to the map!
You had listed Redmond, near Slippery Rock added, what is its story, as to why was it abandoned, also it was a railroad station that linked to Leesburg Station junction, so more correctly Redmond might have been a station instead of a ghost town.
Amazing website. I've been looking for a resource like this for years. I'm like a kid in a candy store. I love following old railway lines in Google Earth VR, and this website has just provided me with hours and hours of free fun. I'll be emailing you soon about 2 abandoned lines east of Ottawa Canada that aren't on this map for you to add. Thanks for your work on this. Tim
New Salem Illinois was not like haunted just when the bigger better town of petersburg was built nearby the towns people moved their and also it is now technically open you walk through all the building and there are reenactors who tell you the history of the town
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Ghost Towns In Illinois
Illinois had a battle to conquer before becoming the 21 st state of the United States on December 21, 1818. Due to the belief that Illinois would join as a free state and tip the balance of power away from pro-slavery, the government set a population requirement of 60,000 that needed to be met before gaining statehood.
Even with fur trading, farming, coal, and timber work bringing in more territorial residents, the population requirement was an enormous task to overcome. As legal battles continued, Illinois was eventually granted statehood as a free state, and the northern border extended to the great lakes.
There are 84 ghost towns in Illinois. As mills closed, railroads bypassed towns, and floods relocated entire communities, more and more cities became abandoned and left to become one with the land.
The state of Illinois was one of the most diverse regarding lands in the United States. It provided the Midwest’s necessary resources for agriculture, coal, timber, and petroleum. It was the perfect state to stop before continuing to another location. With so much to offer, why would towns disappear?
Millville was a settlement in Illinois in Jo Daviess County, instituted in 1835. It was 22.8 miles away from Galena, Chicago.
Its economy came mainly from sawmills as it was the first business built there. By 1850, the railroads entered the county but only to go through on their way to other locations. The Illinois Central Railroad decided that Millville was not the place for development, causing it to decline.
In 1847, a gristmill replaced the sawmill, increasing grain production and putting timber aside. Other businesses were established, such as blacksmiths, millwrights, carpenters, grocery keepers, storekeepers, and woodchoppers. Based on historians, the estimated population was around 300 people by late 1830.
In 1892, a flood swept away the town. Buildings, houses, and mills were destroyed entirely. The state of Illinois purchased the land and built the Apple River Canyon, State Park. This site is open to visitors to walk around or have a picnic.
Vishnu Springs, Illinois
Vishnu Springs was a piece of land near natural springs in McDonough County, Illinois. The water springs in this location were known as Tennessee Springs, but after a doctor, J. W. Aiken, bought the land, Vishnu Springs was renamed after a Hindu God known as the preserver of living things. The doctor wanted to sell the idea of the water’s natural medicinal features.
It was established in 1840, about 13 miles west of Macomb, IL. Near the 20th century, Darius Hicks decided to build a resort town to attract people to the spring water. It was called Capitol Hotel and hosted many people, including bootleggers and gangsters like Al Capone.
With the businesses and ideas behind the spring waters, the town attracted nearly 3,000 visitors every year. Unfortunately, by the 1920s, it had lost its charm. Access to the city was a hassle because there were no rail lines, the river was unnavigable, and the roads were difficult to travel during the winter months.
In addition, some unfortunate things happened, such as the handler of the children’s carousel was crushed to death in a horrific accident; and in another instance, an altercation about a business payment ended up with a stabbing.
Ira Post tried to resurrect the hotel in 1935 by advertising it as a destination area for vacation, but once he died, it changed hands. The new owners attempted to operate only the restaurant and country music attraction part, but it lasted less than two years.
By 1980, Vishnu Springs was abandoned, but not before it had been used as a commune by hippies and college students. In 2003, the site was donated to Western Illinois University. It has been renamed Ira & Reatha T. Post Wildlife Sanctuary, a university-students study location.
Cardiff was a town in Livingston County, Illinois, founded in 1899, as a coal mining town, with the closest city, Reddick, just 5.2 miles away.
This town started mining due to rejection from a nearby village named Campus. The White Breast Fuel Coal Company was looking to start a mining company, but Campus decided to pass on the offer, and that’s when they decided to try in Cardiff.
The mine was built in 1899, and the railroad helped distribute the coal. The town started to grow, and with the demand for coal, more people were needed. In the following years, more miners moved to Cardiff; stores and shops opened up, schools were built, and the town seemed to thrive.
In 1903, tragedy struck with the explosion inside the mine, killing three miners. After rescuing the injured miners, funerals were held for the deceased. Another explosion ensued on the day of the funeral, killing six more men. The following day, a third explosion occurred just before a crew was about to go in to do repairs.
This explosion was the biggest one so far, which damaged the mine shaft and machinery used, killing one more person. Within the next few days, two more explosions occurred, but luckily with no casualties. By then, the mining company had lost an estimated $100,000.
Typically, a person would think that these explosions happening one after the other, and with 13 losses, would be disastrous for a town, but it was just a tipping point. Cardiff Coal Co. decided to dig another mine where more coal was found and required more people. The city grew, and the economy prospered until Wabash Railroad, the largest client, decided to end their business relationship as their buyer.
The coal’s quality had dropped, and by losing the town’s most considerable customer, the mine ended up closing for good in 1912, and with that, so did the town. In 2013, there were about 28 people still living in Cardiff. Still considered a ghost town , Cardiff is still alive by its connection to Romanetto Welding, a welding company in town.
Clayville was a small settlement in Cartwright Township, Illinois; the closest location was Pleasant Plains, 1.5 miles to the west. This city was founded in 1824 and started by the Broadwell family. John Broadwell and his wife Betsy arrived at Clayville in 1819 but moved to Richland Creek once the rest of the family came. They stayed there for about four years until Clayville started selling land.
The family bought 3,000 acres and began constructing the Broadwell Inn, a stop-and-go place for people traveling in and out of Springfield. This place offered passersby lodging and water for their horses, allowing the Broadwells to sell alcohol in the bar.
The inn’s success brought people to Clayville, and the town started to grow. In 1850, the railroad came through the city. With railroads in place, there wasn’t as much need for an inn where people could spend the night or allow horses to rest, so the tavern and inn started to die out until eventually sold.
In early 1900, the roads were paved, and motor vehicles became the norm. The main street in Clayville became what is still known today as Illinois Route 125.
With the tavern’s demise, jobs were lost, and the center of the town was relocated to Pleasant Plains. In 2009, the Pleasant Plains Historical Society and a non-profit organization obtained the tavern and the surrounding lands. They created the Clayville Historic Site, a museum, and place for activities.
Illinois is one of those states where a community can succeed wherever they go. Plenty of lands to exploit, freshwater, and a great location overall. This is why many ghost towns speak more about the people looking for greener pastures than the land itself.
List of Ghost Towns in Illinois (A-L)
List of ghost towns in illinois (m-z).
Ghost towns of illinois (a-l).