marc polo Ardmore is the town that dried up
Ardmore is a modern ghost town that wasn’t completely abandoned until the 1980s. Located 35 miles south of Hot Springs, time now stands still in this remote corner of the state with the iconic sprawling grasslands that the Midwest is known for.
“Ardmore is one of my favorite ghost towns because it is right on a paved road and is so intact. It is on a highway map so it is easy to show others.
In the old American West, wherever the railroad went, towns soon followed. Founded in 1889, Ardmore was one of these such towns that owed its existence to the railroad, only springing up when the Burlington Railroad decided to connect Omaha and Kansas City with Billings and the West Coast.
Unlike the Black Hills with its many natural resources and profitable mines, the plains of Ardmore were desolate and drinking water was scarce.
The well water quality was decent for steam engines to use but not suitable for human consumption. Instead, the train transported in drinking water. It was so dry in fact, that an experimental dry land farm was established there in 1911.
Circumstances like the Great Depression and Dust Bowl,
as well as the railroad no longer stopping in Ardmore, led to its eventual decline and abandonment.
“The reason the town was abandoned was the lack of good water. After years of still bringing water to the little town, they finally pulled the plug and no longer supplied fresh, drinkable water so the town dried up.”
Reimer became fascinated with the little town after driving through on his way to Nebraska. He looked online but couldn’t find any information about the ghost town, so he decided to write his own story.
“I’ve lived in the western states most of my life, and I’m familiar with old mining ghost towns,”he said. “That has a logical explanation the mines played out and people left.”
But Ardmore was different. The town wasn’t deserted until the 1980s. Reimer said he couldn’t find an answer as to why everyone left, so he researched and wrote his own book.
Reimer found Ardmore was founded by the railroad and, despite its best effort,
couldn’t survive the challenges of the 20th century like the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. The loss of their railroad stop limited access to humankind’s most valuable resource clean water.