Elgin, Ks.

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City/Town: Elgin, KS
Location Class: Ghost Town
Year Built: 1869
Year Abandoned: N/A
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: Johnny Fletcher

Although Elgin may not qualify as an Oklahoma ghost town it might be just close enough. Elgin sits right on the Oklahoma & Kansas state line. Just a quick jog off of Hwy 99 north & you will find your self in a deserted pocket of a once bustling town.

Elgin is a piece of American history that has slipped away with time. The weathered and broken buildings with so many tales to tell…..the brick streets worn from years of wear, old and scraggly trees that break with each wind storm.

Around the turn of the century Elgin was the biggest cattle shipping town in the world and it was a boom town again later when oil was found. Now the last business in town, Margaret’s Cafe, is closed and the sign outside it that announced “the town too tough to die” has been taken down & relocated in front of the community bldg, one of the only modern bldgs in the town.

Bob Dalton and Bill Doolin among other outlaw types were often
visitors to this wild town. After cattle ceased to be the main industry,
oil was found and they had a boom that lasted until 1924. The town hit on hard times after that and has never recovered.

The oldest town in Chautauqua County, once had a station on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. R. 10 miles southwest of Sedan, the county seat. It had banking facilities, telegraph and express offices, and a money order post office. The town was supplied with good schools and churches. The first preaching in the county was held here by Rev. S. Peacock. The first school house in the county, as well as the first store, the first mill, and the first Masonic lodge, was at Elgin. The town was founded in 1869 by L. P. Getman. The population according to the 1910 report was 350. As of 2009 only 75 populate the area.

Very little is left except for an abandoned bank, a few shops, & an old water tower which isn’t in use anymore.

My Family & I personally visited the town of Elgin and it was a little bit on the creepy side. After a quick visit to the cemetery north of the town we stopped at a small park for a picnic. We were in awe of how quiet it was. There was not even the serene sound of birds chirping. In fact the feeling was almost as if we were in a scene of Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn” as we felt we were being watched. We were the Outlanders!

We had actually only seen 3 people while we were there. They gawked & looked on as we had our picnic. After a tour down the lonely “Grand Ave” for a couple of shots of the crumbling shops we made a few more rounds of the streets to see if we missed anything & we had just about had our fill of loneliness & exited the town headed south across the amazing one lane Caney river bridge.

Article and Photos by AOK Photojournalist Johnny Fletcher.

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RONALD E. POWERS
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RONALD E. POWERS

MY DAD WAS BORN IN HULA OKLAHOMA BUT RAISED NEAR ELGIN AND GRADUATED FROM CHAUTAUQUA HIGHSCHOOL. HE SERVED WITH THE FLYING TIGERS DURING WW2 AND AFTER THE WAR SETTLED NEAR PERU KANSAS WHERE WE FARMED AND RANCHED. WE LEFT KANSAS IN 1958 BUT CAME BACK OFTEN TO VISIT. DAD WOULD TALK OFTEN ABOUT TIMES IN ELGIN AS A BOY WHEN THEY WOULD SHIP COWS OR GETSUPPLIES; THE RAILROAD IN ELGIN AND ALOT OF NEAT STUFF.HE TALKED OF A MAN NAMED MR. LEDBETTER WHO LOST A FORTURE DURING THE DEPRESSION WITH CATTLE IN ELGIN.MY DAD PASSED AWAY AUG .2008 I MISS… Read more »

Shane Wallace
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Shane Wallace

Did you dad ever mention any names like Ora or Verda Myers? They were my grandparents who lived in Elgin across from the Methodist Church in a two story white house. You can reply to me at shane-wallace@hotmail.com

Mac
Guest
Mac

My father, William D Wall, was born in Elgin, 1921. His great grandfather, William Madison Wall, sr. and family came there circa 1871. William Madison Wall, Jr. had a race track there..horses. We took Dad back there in 2010 to see his old home town. He had lots of little stories to tell…turned back time for him. We took lots of pictures, but I manage to lose them all, so this site is a treat for us. His favorite site was the old Jail, so covered with vines and tree, we nearly missed it. The Black Dog Trail park you… Read more »

Shane Wallace
Guest
Shane Wallace

Mac, can you ask your dad if he knew Ora or Verda Myers? They were my grandparents who lived in Elgin across from the Methodist Church in a two story white house. You can reply to me at shane-wallace@hotmail.com

Barbara
Guest
Barbara

Mac: I hope that your Father is still alive. Could you ask him if he remembers Dr. George Jeffers who was the town doctor. I would like to hear whatever he says – good or bad. I think that my grandfather had a drinking problem. He was married to my Grandmother, Christine Schwirtz. They had a daughter, my Mother, Louise Barbara Jeffers. They divorced in about 1915 and Christine married the town druggist Harry Shinn. Would he remember any of these names. Hope to hear from you.
.

Mac
Guest
Mac

go online to a search engine. Type in Elgin Kansas cemetery. Will pull up list of burial there on record.

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Katie
Guest
Katie

i live here its really quiet and theirs like 10 kids here including me it's boring and there's a lot of old people here just saying

Jim smith
Guest
Jim smith

I am proud to say that I spent wonderful summers spending time at my grandmothers (Mary myers)..walking to sat night movies on the grass lawn, standing under the water tower when it overflowed on hot summer days, the quiet nights, family dinners, and many other memories. My family: callender myers, Mary, alma leota,bill, Eva, bertha, Harold, gladas

Connie Gray Siemen
Guest
Connie Gray Siemen

My father was born in Elgin in 1894. He was Chester Gray and his grands were Forrester from Tenn after the civil war. When we visited in the early 90's it was hard for me in searching as I didn't have much family history to use. I really would love to hear from someone who might remember the family.

Cindy
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Cindy

I would try at the Chautauqua County Court House at Sedan. Just an idea. Don't know for sure

Richard Urie
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Richard Urie

I went to school in Elgin from the 5th to 8th grade, graduated in 1961. They have a school reunion in Oct. every year.
When I was in school there was still several old timers around, they could tell some stories about Elgin. I still live 6mi north of Elgin.

Karen
Guest
Karen

Elgin is a special place that is truly lost in time. My husband and I have been visiting the area for the last 20 years and have a friend who still lives there. We also have a very special friend who is now buried in the Elgin Cemetary. Many happy times have been spent in the Caney River or enjoyed around a campfire. The brick streets are amazing, and you can almost see the town for what it was in it's former, cattle-town glory. I wish sometimes I could put on magic glasses and see Elgin how it used to… Read more »

Brenda
Guest
Brenda

My grandfather Charles Thompson and his brother Walter had the deliery wagon service there back in the early 1900's. There use to be pictures of them with their teams and the delivery building in the museum that use to be there. Great Uncle Walter lived in a cabin outside off town and Charles lived up by Wauneta on a place my family still owns. I'd like to find more info or pictures on elgin back in those days so I can piece together my family history. I have family buried in all of the cemetaries around Elgin, and occassionally we… Read more »

Suzanne
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Suzanne

Hi, Anyone remember the Revelette family?

Alan Kisling
Guest
Alan Kisling

My wife and I just spent 3 weeks crossing America. Looking for my ancesters. Found my grand parents marriage lic. 1897 in Sedan. I have a picture of my grand father. He is wearing a Mason uniform, it was taken in Elgin approximately 1890. I could not believe it was taken there until I read your history of Elgin. Thank you, it has helped alot. Will have to go back there next year just to visit.

Cheryl (King) Piment
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Cheryl (King) Piment

I visited Elgin as a small child of about 8, when my parents took me to visit my two cousins who lived there at the time. Growing up in a "small town" in California (about 30,000), I was mesmerized by this small community of about 90 people. It was incredibly beautiful — peaceful and quiet. My fondest and strongest memory is of some of the streets paved in cobblestone and the way the residents parked when they went to town. They stopped where they were in the street, parked and went in to the shop they were visiting. My dad… Read more »

Sharon Danison-Caulk
Guest
Sharon Danison-Caulk

Wonderful memories. Lived in Elgin from 1951-1957 with my grandparents. Both now buried in the Elgin cemetary, having their funerals at the Methodist church there. Some of these homes look like my grandparents home today that was flooded out in 1986. Still own 4 city lots on Cherokee avenue across the street from my grandparents home site. I wish someone would point me to someone who could help get this Methodist church on the Kansas historical sites list. The 4'x 8' stained glass windows, all different scenes of Jesus's life on earth, are just spectacular and should be maintained as… Read more »

Eddie Wheeler
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Eddie Wheeler

I own two lots across the street from the bank would you sell you're lots?
I like this town.

eddiegwheeler@yahoo.com

Gary Baker
Guest
Gary Baker

Sharon: I remember you well. As I remember you lived in the southwest part of town. Had contact with Jimmy Sweeney a while back. You probably don't remember me but in 1956 I dated Gloria Williams. What a good time I always had in Elgin and the many friends I had there. So sad when a town like Elgin dies. It was a real western town and had a very large part of the history of Chautauqua county.

Hazel Myers Wallace
Guest
Hazel Myers Wallace

Enjoyed..I was raised in Elgin..population at that time was around 88..probably still the close to the same..The Methodist church in this video was across from our home..both my parents funerals were held there..were you aware that in 1800's Elgin was the largest cattle shipping center in the country and if I remember right in the world..the Dalton gang hid in a cave about 3 mile west of Elgin..as kids we use to climb the steep hill to the cave..thanks for sharing..nice keepsake..

Roy St. John
Guest
Roy St. John

I still go to the Methodist Church in Elgin we have service every Sunday at 8:00 am. You missed the stain glass windows inside the Church. It is open all you have to do is walk in. When I was a boy, 1945 and up we went to Elgin on Saturday night for a movie on the side of one of the building and the adults dances at the Grange Hall. Fond memories of busy Elgin.

Brittany
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Brittany

I Live n elgin i have lived there for about 4 years and its a ghost town as you can see not very many people live there. ITS A town to tough to die

Jim Hess
Guest
Jim Hess

Yeah, that line reminds me of the 8 foot long, 2×8 sign that hung above the boardwalk almost in front of Margaret's Cafe. It said: " Elgin, a town to tough to die, but Reagan's about to get it done."
Jim

stanley warmbrodt
Guest
stanley warmbrodt

i was born in Bartlesville and spent early childhood in Sedan.
Elgin was the closest town to my grandparents ranch, the Fred Bowman Bar F.
i spent many summers there. we used to go to the movie there on
Saturday night, this on an empty, grassy lot with everyone sitting on blankets, the film projected onto a stretched bed sheet. i
remember that almost everyone there hand cranked their own ice cream and i could just wander about shopping for peach.

as long as someone is still alive who remembers, Elgin will never die.

Thressa Merriman
Guest
Thressa Merriman

Hi Stanley, just read your post and I see that Fred Bowman was your grandpa. Was his house located on Pond Creek? If so,my mom grew up in the 60's in his old farmhouse. She said that when they moved in, it had a houseful of old neat items. Her dad was a pumper and they rented the house from The Blake family. My Grandpa insisted that Mr. Blake get a hold of some of the family to come get the items out of the house because he didn't feel comfortable with it all being left there. I think she… Read more »

Kenneth R. Payne
Guest
Kenneth R. Payne

I am curious as to when you went to the movies there. I was born in elgin in 1937 and lived there for maybe 5 years. On of the few memories i have of the place is of going to the movies as you have described. I have been told me that the lot was the site of my fathers restaurant (Paul and Ella Payne). I hope this reaches you.

Ken Payne

Jim Smith
Guest
Jim Smith

Some of my best days were those in Elgin….spending my summer with my grandmother (Mary Myers). Remembering strolling downtown to Saturday night movies on the grass. The quiet at night, hunting for wild rubarb in the woods, standing under the water tower when it periodically overflowed on a hot summer day, running through the wheat fields, watching flying squirrils in the trees. canning vegetables, family fireworks, and on and on. So many memories. The home of my grandmother: Calendar Myers, Mary Myers, Alma Leota Myers, Eva Myers, William (Bill) Myers, Bertha Myers, Gladys Myers, Harold Myers, Red Hansen.

JERRY MYERS
Guest
JERRY MYERS

. I REMEMBER SOME OF FAMILY GET TOGATHERS AND RUNNING AROUND WITH YOUR BROTHER HOWARD LEE . HELPING WITH YARD WORK AND RUNNING AROUND TOWM IALSO WENT AGIRL WHO LIVED CLOSE TO GRANDMOTHERS HOUSE.

Debra
Guest
Debra

My husband and I live in Tulsa and for the last 6yrs have spent many weekends and free time in Elgin and the surrounding area. We bought property there and wouldn't trade it for anything. My husband calls it "paradise lost". The river, the land and the serenity of Elgin is priceless. Thank you for doing such a great job of capturing the timeless pictures and video.

Kari Hosar
Guest
Kari Hosar

Last fall we explored the cemetery, but never ventured in to the downtown area.

RThorne
Guest
RThorne

Interesting video but sad! I've photographed much of Kansas but never made it to Elgin. As a retired professional photographer I loved living in Kansas. It's richness in history is surpassed by few others. You can view my historical photos at: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&searc

Tigun
Guest
Tigun

Thanks for posting. I used to work at Sedan and have been through Chautauqua quite a few times. I never made it over to Elgin though. Maybe someday. Looks like it may be too tough to die, but it's on life support.

Sam Sears
Guest
Sam Sears

We used to go into Elgin to buy food back in the mid 50's. My grandparents lived about six miles west of town and were named McGongial.

David Carter
Guest
David Carter

I was last in Elgin about 1978 doing some telephone line construction with my father. We had lunch at Margaret's, decent cheeseburger, fries and the little bottles of Coke as I recall. There were quite a few old cars strewn about the town that I would like to have bought, but could never find who owned them. Also some old old equipment if memory serves me right.

A lot has changed in thirty years. It certainly looks much more bleak than it did 30 odd years ago. Thanks for the visit.

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