Monday, April 21, 2008

Cottonwood ghost town

Cottonwood is a ghost town, but not completely. According to the highway sign, the population here is 12. Located on US Highway 14 approximately 12 miles east of the town of Wall, Cottonwood contains no businesses, but people do live here.

As most unoccupied buildings deteriorate over time, the town of Cottonwood is slowly fading back into the prairie from which it sprang. These pictures were taken over the last 10 years or so. As I drove by in April 2008, I noticed that many of the signs and facades have broken, fallen down or just plain faded.

As rustic as it appears here, this antique store has not been operating for many years and does not look this nice at the present time.

Many of Cottonwood's buildings do still stand proudly, though, as if waiting for new residents to move in.


Anonymous said...

Where to start? When I was growing up my parents took me to many dances at the hall in Cottonwood. The building to the north had a store open, I believe it was a grocery. Beyond it was a bar that was run by a man by the name of O'Dea. South of the hall there was women's clothing store. At one time Cottonwood was larger than Philip to the east. My wife lived at old section house by the tracks a little west of JoAnn's trading post. Most of the action at that time was south of the railroad tracks at Heinie's cafe and the Buckhorn bar. At one time the bar faced the north alongside Hwy. 16, but when the new highway went in they simply turned it around and faced to the south where the new road ran. My wife's family attended church there before it was closed. I believe the priest was Father Balfe a irish priest who was occassionly the substitute bartender at the Buckhorn. I could go on, but I think that is enough information about the good old days when life was much simpler!

Chad Coppess said...

Wow, great stories! Thanks for reading and for sharing your memories.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your reminiscing and wish you would have gone on.Coppess's pictures are great. I have driven by Cottonwood hundreds of times and once drove around and took some pictures. They are on slides somewhere.
Was there a relatively large brick school house on a little hill to the north and railroad stock yards or do I have that confused with Quinn?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment. Indeed there was a school house on the hill. It was their high school. I am not sure when it closed or when it was completely tore down, but I was in the building sometime in the 60's. There were stock yards as you remember. I don't even recall when they disappeared. When I was about 12 or so the Chicago Northwestern railroad still ran a passenger train daily thru Cottonwood. When it was announced that the route would be abandoned my parents sent a friend and me to Rapid City and back just so we could experience the ride. I've never forgotten stopping in Cottonwood to pick up cream cans on the way home. Later in life I met my wife in Philip where I grew up. Her father was a career employee for the railroad and they lived in a section house along the tracks east of where the cafe and bar I mentioned previously. There were many more buildings in town back in the fifties and sixties, but I can't identify whose they were or what they were. Two of the most popular bands to play in the hall back then were the Philip Five and the Gumbo Lily Kids. Great names don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for more great stories and for the assurance that my mind isn't completely gone.There were a lot of towns along Hwy.14 that mostly paralleled the C&NW tracks. I'm glad that Mr. Coppess is trying to document what is left before they turn to dust.

I remember as a young (would be) cowboy competing at the rodeo they used to have at Four Corners,(west of Hayes). I think the arena is still there but falling down. I think the old building at the stage stop (Plum Creek?) to the south on the way to Midland finally succumbed to the weather.
There used to be many wooden signs along the Hwy erected by an historical group years ago describing significant happenings in the area.Most are neglected now and many are hard to spot since they have often moved the road. I always meant to take a picture of each one. Another thing I never got done. Be nice if Mr.Copppess could do that or a group could restore them.They are very interesting.
Boy, I've rambled on too long here. I like the name "The Phillip Five". Probably would have liked the music too.

Anonymous said...

I am hoping somebody still reads this post. We visited Cottonwood over the weekend, the last time we were there was in 1994. This town facinates me. What happened that made the people move from Cottonwood? One of the residents, who didnt want to spend much time talking to us said that the town was lit on fire 3 different times. She also said new people took over the bar/trading post and closed it down. I guess I just want any information or stories that anybody can give me about Cottonwood. The difference in 14 years is just unbelieveable.

my email is, if you have anything for me.



Wow, Quite a surprise to read about this town. My wife lived in the house behind the old rusted-out car for a few years back in the late 50s and early 60s. We visited Cottonwood in 2004 when we were back in South Dakota for her 30th High School (Wall) reunion and I took a few photos of the town and house. The car was gone when we were there.

We are planning a return trip back to Cottonwood in the near future.

Chad Coppess said...

Glad you enjoyed it. I think I'll be stopping in Cottonwood for more photos this spring as well.