Ellsworth, Kansas

Ellsworth, just like many other towns, had a secret underground network of passageways beneath the town. The tunnels connected hotels during an era of cattle drives, and were once considered for Gentlemen only. During prohibition, gangs, the tunnels were regularly used.

The Ellsworth Map

Ellsworth was named after Fort Ellsworth, 1887. It was a cow town in the 1870’s, called “The Wickedest Cattletown in Kansas.”  The Kansas Pacific Railroad had a stockyard there to ship cattle. The Cheyenne and other tribes once wandered the area hunting buffalo. Once the Smoky Hills trails and Santa Fe rode through, raids began on stagecoaches, which was the reason for the Ellsworth Fort. The town popped up nearby. Once the railroad spread to Ellsworth, the town flourished with the cattle market from 1871-1875. Cowboys, outlaws, “unruly” women, and gamblers flooded the town. It had a reputation for being wild and unruly, where multiple murders occurred after drunken Cowboy shootouts. At one point, two men, Craig and Johnson led a gang, and sieged the town. They robbed banks, and harassed the townspeople, until eventually the people organized a committee hanged them near the Smoky Hill River. Buffalo Bill Cody, George Armstrong, and Wild Bill Hickok were some of the big-named outlaws to frequent Ellsworth.


This was used as a sheriff’s headquarters and a jail. I also read it was a courthouse at one point. The photos of the interior are from Old House Dreams.



Below is part of the interior. What a beautiful building! It still looked vacant when I visited, even though it was sold in 2012.

Interior of the building when it was last for sale.

The initial jailhouse is quite an impressive structure. When walking through, I got chills. It was indescribable to be within the walls, considering all of the legendary outlaws who frequented Ellsworth.

1873 Jailhouse

The Ellsworth County Veteran’s Memorial Hospital moved into a new facility in February 1999 vacating the building below.  The original four story building was constructed in 1921.  Many additions have been added over the years. The first was added in1953.  They installed an elevator and expanded the first two floors.  In 1963 the upper two floors (3 and 4) floors were extended to match the first addition. A kitchen and boiler room were added, and a chapel was over the original front entrance.  In 1972, an emergency room and offices were constructed. It has 36,000 square footage, and four floors.

I really wanted to photograph the interior, but I was alone with my dog. I couldn’t leave her in the car, and I was too much of a chicken to go in there without her. It’s an impressive structure.

I could not find much about this abandoned mill, but it was amazing to see in person.

This old stone farm has the initials B.M. on it with Nov. 1883. I found a number of property transactions, including oil leases on the property.  Some leases went on through the 1930’s, so this may have helped the property owners through the Depression.  The initial patent showed the owner as Bernard Mozart in 1891. There is also someone listed as Henry Renkan. Bernard was also listed as Bernhard Mossartt, and Barnhart Mossert. It looked to me like the name was spelled differently on different sections of land, including Henry Renkan. I think these were all the same man. Check out the newspaper clippings below.

On March 15, 1887, per the Historical Society, the Union Pacific Railroad granted the land to Heinrich Cadman.  They were unsure of Heinrich’s last name, as it was written in semi-legible cursive.

The first oil lease on record is from R.D.  Thomas to R. Hissem on May 1st, 1916.

Irene Ranker made an oil lease to J.H. Cornwell on March 4th, 1929. Then John and Irene Parker made an oil lease to P.E. Rogers on February 14,1937.  I think Irene Parker may have been Irene Ranker before she married John, since there are no records of transfer between March 4th, 1929 and February 14th, 1937.  There were a number of oil leases in the area during the 1930’s, which may have helped it through the Depression.

John and Irene Parker then made an oil lease to A. K. Polis on March 29, 1950, and to Saline Oil Co on March 13, 1959.

On November 11 1989, the United States granted the property to Henry Ranker.  The Historical Society thought perhaps B.M. tried to homestead on the land, but couldn’t fulfill the terms of the Homestead Act, which would return the property to the government.

My book: Abandoned Farms and Homesteads of Kansas: Home is Where The Heart Is will have more photos and information about this farm.

The patent listing B.M.


Trish Eklund’s first book, Abandoned Nebraska: Echoes of Our Past, was released in November of 2018. Her second photography book, Abandoned Farmhouses and Homesteads of Nebraska: Decaying in the Heartland will be released on February 22, 2021. She is finishing up her third book; Abandoned Farmhouses and Homesteads of Kansas: Home is Where the Heart is. Trish’s photography has been featured on Only in Nebraska, Raw Abandoned, ListVerse, Nature Takes Over, Grime Scene Investigators, and Pocket Abandoned. She has a photo on the cover of: Fine Lines Summer 2020: Volume 29 Issue 2. She is the owner and creator of the photography website, Abandoned, Forgotten, & Decayed. Trish has an essay in the anthology, Hey, Who’s In My House? Stepkids Speak Out by Erin Mantz, and another essay in another anthology: Voices of the Plains Volume III by Nebraska Writer’s Guild and Julie Haase. Her writing has been featured on The Mighty, Huffington Post Plus, Making Midlife Matter, and Her View From Home. She owns, moderates, and writes for the blog: Trigger Warning: Surviving Abuse. She has written four young adult novels and is hard at work on her first adult novel.

Categories: Abandoned Barns, Abandoned Farmhouse, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, Abandoned Kansas, Abandoned Mill, Abandoned PLaces, History, In Remembrance, Photography, Trish Eklund, Uncategorized, UnexpectedTags: , , , , , , , ,

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