A ghost town is an abandoned village, town or city, usually one which contains substantial visible remains. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, government actions, uncontrolled lawlessness, war, or nuclear disasters. The term can sometimes refer to cities, towns, and neighborhoods which are still populated, but significantly less so than in years past. Like any state, Iowa has its share of ghost towns too.
Rockville is a former city in Delaware County, Iowa, United States, founded in 1845. Second only to Delhi, it was one of the oldest towns in Delaware County. The area served as an important trading point and included a sawmill, a gristmill, a blacksmith, hotel, and various stores. Today, the area is recognized simply as a rural area on the outskirts of Worthington.
Elkport was laid out as a town in 1855. The population was 37 at the 2010 census, down from 88 at the 2000 census. The town was severely damaged by floods in May 2004. After the floods, all residents of the town chose federal buyout, selling their homes to the United States federal government for demolition. In September 2006, nearly all of the buildings of Elkport were demolished.
Buckhorn is a ghost town, located in Jackson County just off of Highway 64. Some quick research reveals that it was a farmers’ cooperative founded early in the 20th century, and then was bought out by a large dairy in 1962. All that is left of it is a cemetery, an abandoned church, and this building, the old Buckhorn Creamery.
Located in Carroll County, this old ghost town used to be the county seat. The place grew slowly, as did the county, until the building of the Northwestern Railroad in 1867, and the laying out of Carroll. Most of the houses have been taken into the surrounding country, where they are used for stables or other out-houses. There are yet remaining a store, post office, blacksmith shop and a residence or two.
Sunbury, Iowa, was a small town about 30 miles west of Davenport. The town was founded when the railroad was introduced into the area and the population is estimated to be 50 people. Sunbury was supported by small farms in the surrounding countryside; most were small, family farms that survived, due in large part because of the very fertile, loamy soil. The town had a small bank, the Sunbury Bank, in a brick building, but if failed during the Great Depression, and was left to decay, eventually being razed around 2014.