Elgin, Ks.

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City/Town: Elgin, KS
Location Class: Disappearing Town
Year Built: 1869
Year Abandoned: N/A
Status: AbandonedDisappearing Town
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.

Liked it? Help AOK take action to save some of these places on Patreon! Donations will help fund clean ups, securing of buildings and hopeful restorations as we work with the owners who want to bring them back to life.
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Bubba Williams
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Bubba Williams

On the internet you can also be stupid and ignorant. Like you!

Deb
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Deb

Been spending weekends in Elgin for about 10 yrs now and in the process of moving from the big city to Elgin permanently. The people who live there love the town and its history. The landmark water tower was torn down several years ago. The single lane bridge crossing the river into Elgin Is going to be torn down and a new bridge built. It's so sad to see the iconic landmarks disappear. Maybe that will be my project when I become a resident. Thank you Abandoned Okahoma for documenting and preserving the history of these wonderful old communities.

Gary Baker
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Gary Baker

Attended HS at Sedan ,KS Graduated in Class of '56. My senior year I dated Gloria Williams who lived on the North end of town on the brick street in a very nice Brick home. At one time there were a lot of nice houses in town. Wonder what Elgin looks like now.. In 1956 it was a very nice small town. Hope good families still live there like the Williams and Sweeney Families.

tony white
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tony white

My dad is buried there Sg Tommy White USMC 1954-2007 he never lived there but loved the area we he lived at hulah lake and hunted and fished the areas around Elgin bought his plot for 25$ said that the deer would eat on that side of the cemetery we as kids would go by there on are way to ceders bluffs.

hutch
Guest
hutch

Hey tony I had no idea your dad was buried up here. This is hutch. Long time no see.

Reid copeland
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Reid copeland

My Grandmother Eliza Leona (Powell) Sears told me me when she was a little girl There were Saloons in Elgin and one day a man brought a bear to town which would fight all comers . The owner of the bear and the Bear were at one of the saloons and the bear was at the bar with the Cowboys drinking. My grandma and the other kids were all trying to get a good look at the bear through the swinging doors on the saloon.

Alan Blake
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Alan Blake

My family, decendents of George and Dilla Todd, still meet on Memorial Day weekend at the community center. We have gathered in Elgin since the early 1950s. My two aunts, my uncle and my mother lived in and around Elgin. They are still living and in their 90's. Mom graduated from Elgin. My paternal grandparents owned a ranch a few miles south of Elgin, and my mother and cousins continue to own the land. In the community center are a number of photos as well as some ledgers from city court. I remember my dad talking about dances at the… Read more »

JERRY MACK MARTIN
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JERRY MACK MARTIN

When I was 13 I ran away from home with a friend. We rode freight trains and hitch hiked across Oklahoma to get to Elgin for some reason I don't remember why we went there. Maybe my friend Bobby Tatum knew someone there. While we were we attempted to steal two horses got caught, locked in the fire ststion, and exported back to FT Worth where we started from. I remember the people we met there as nice and kind. The fed us and treated us well although I am sure they were happy to be rid of too. I… Read more »

Connie Gray Siemen
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Connie Gray Siemen

This is amazing, my Father was born in Elgin,was a horse man on the Chisson Trai until he enter the Army in ww1. My 2 children and I visited, in the early 90″s with not much family history we had, so searching for family was hard. My son and daughter went back a few years later and found more history, Where some Great Aunts and Uncles are buried, my Grandmother Homestead with no house. As you said the center of towm with the brick road was beautiful, as you, we took many pictures. Again thak you.

Jacque Burris
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I really enjoyed looking at your pictures that you took in Elgin. You did a very nice job. My husband and I are doing research on Kansas Ghost Towns. Your site is very informative.

Pamela PIke
Guest

Thanks for the site My Great Grandfathers allotted Land is just north of Elgin His second wife was Maud Shaw,I Believe Margret's was her daughter she had a Cafe in Elgin Its nice to see all the history I missed growing up in Florida so far from Osage Thanks again Pamela

Theron White
Guest

Elgin, Kansas, would've been a great place to live, what with brick-paved shady streets, brick churches, banks and schools. It is a shame the world never knew about the place. What ever happened to Old Blackie, whose head was mounted over the door to the tavern? Trail drivers discovered some cows had a charisma. Where they went, the herd would follow. Old Blackie led herds of cattle up from the Red River across Indian Territory to the rail head at Elgin. He was a good old steer and made the trip again and again. Finally, he died. The cowboys had… Read more »

Mitzi
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Mitzi

I was raised in Elgin from 6 grade to graduation from Sedan. When we first moved there we were bussed to Peru for Jr. Hight then to Sedan for High School. Loved living there. The Old School was still there and most of the kids at Elgin would gather there and play on the swings in the school yard and play softball. The Post Office was still open at that time. Then the building that had the grocery store was turned into a Bar. We used to go out West on the Hewins road and ride our bikes to Caney… Read more »

jai
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jai

Visited a few times. Just curious why there are so many campers and RVs? Awesome town.

Dawn
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Dawn

They are hunting in Oklahoma

k.hicks
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k.hicks

I know it's been awhile since you posted this but thought i'd answer.many of the lots and houses have been purchased by hunters from oklahoma as sort of scamp so they don't have to commute during hunting season to hunt hellenic hunting lands luckily the house my brother bought that I now own was in good shape but many opted to tare down the houses and add campers or r.v

Patricia Crawford...
Guest
Patricia Crawford...

Thank you for the site. My grandfather , Todd Crawford was born there in 1887. He was married to Julia Bailey. His dad, David Crawford was still there in 1880 census that says he was a farmer. this is also the year I have for his dath. I was told, Todd was a "trail boss". I don't know who he worked for but I know Julia was the cook at the ranch. She had great stories. If anyone remembers these folks I would love to hear from you. I am not sure where they are buried, but I will check… Read more »

Eric
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Eric

The railroad was pulled up in 1939, but if you drive west of town and follow the grade on the right side of the road and then up on the hill, you will eventually come to a spot where it crossed a creek and there is a huge stone bridge/culvert where the rails passed over the creek to your right. The handiwork of it is quite amazing and I have to believe that there were big plans for this brach of the railroad when it was first built. I actually have the depot sign from Elgin in my collection.

Jay
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Jay

I would be interested in seeing a photo of the railroad sign. The Santa Fe railroad ran to Elgin from Havana Kansas. I'm not sure how far it ran NW of Elgin though.

Eric
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Eric

The line was built SW out of Havana to Chataqua, Elgin, Hewins and Cedarvale, where it ended. The Mopac was in Cedarvale before the Santa Fe, so the SF interchanged with them at this point instead of building on. The line was built in 1886-1888 and opened in Dec of 1888, I believe. The line was removed around 1939. At one point, Elgin was the largest cattle shipping point in the US. I'd be more than happy to send you a photo of the sign, but I'd have to have your email addy. Are you by chance in B-ville?

Martha Nicholas
Guest
Martha Nicholas

My husband and I just visited Elgin 08/05/11, we were so interested, we came home and looked it up on the internet, to see if we could find out any informationn about what happened in Elgin, Oklahoma. We were amazed with the answers. Thank you, people of Elgin for your replies.

killa clowns
Guest
killa clowns

Well that's Elgin alright. Everything still looks about the same except the water tower is gone now. That old 66 3/4 ton ford was runnin sob back in the day. That 352 sure did move. Tine drove it all over. We just rebuilt that old fire truck and still use it today.

Jane
Guest
Jane

When I was a little girl, a lot of the original buildings were still standing and were documents as to what they were. It was like walking back into time to go into the buildings and imagine what it was like 100 years ago. I was very sad when the majority of the buildings washed away in the flood. My sister has a stagecoach that our father purchased for her from a man who made them and either sold them in the cafe or the building next door. I understand that there is new life in Elgin. They have a… Read more »

Leah Adams
Guest
Leah Adams

Wow. Thanks for the post. My mother’s family is from here, in fact, L.C. & F.C. Wait, in the photos of your tombstones, were my great-great uncle & aunt. I remember going to the café there, and getting gas at the gas station, back when I was a little girl in the ‘70’s.

Steve
Guest
Steve

My Uncle owned one of the two gas stations in town in the 1960's….don't remember if the other gas station was still open then. I am not sure when his closed down but I believe it was the late 1970's. My grandmother owned the farm just out of town. At the time, it extended from the base of the hill that led to the cemetary to the main house set back 150 yards from the road towards Sedan past a house that was for the foreman (I think) which was on the opposite side of the main house from the… Read more »

elaine thorn
Guest
elaine thorn

i grew up in elgin went to school in sedan, the best days of my life. when i was there most of the town businesses were already gone but buildings were there, we went through the flood in "86 i remember magrets cafe and rusty brim had a little store at one time then i remember a bar, i believe the gas station just went out of business around the time i was born in "69 i still remember seeing it on the corner. i remember all the pictures in the cafe. my father was louis duncan who lived in… Read more »

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