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FEATURE STORY: The abandoned towns of Winneshiek County

Posted: Mon, Dec 28, 2020 10:07 AM
Hay bales were the most noticeable feature of Thoten in this 2011 photo

We have previously written stories about places in Winneshiek County which used to be considered towns—but now aren't.  In a 2011 story ( we discussed how Mapquest was still listing "Thoten" and 'Nasset' as communities in Winneshiek County, with 'Nasset' located on Old Stage Road and 133rd Avenue and 'Thoten' located on Glenville Road and 258th Street.

Now, however, we have come across what must be the most complete listing of towns which once were towns—but now aren't.  "Abandoned Towns of Iowa" has a list of 30 communities in Winneshiek County which have vanished from maps.  Some of them are locally famous—Moneek in Bloomfield Township, for instance, was once in the running to be the county seat for Winneshiek County.  However, Decorah won that referendum (although maybe not without some cheating!) and Moneek vanished from the county in a year or two.

Most of the vanished towns were created in the 1850s, when the county was still new.  If a location had a post office, chances are good it was considered a town in those days, no matter how small its population.  One vanished town—Hyde in Frankville Township—was created in 1880 and appears to have been the last abandoned town on the list.

Here's a list of townships and their abandoned towns:

--Bloomfield Township: Moneek and Winneshiek

--Canoe Township: Springwater, Aquilla Grove, Canoe and Franklin Prairie

--Frankville Township: Frankville Prairie, Hyde, Trout River, Jamestown and Woodside

--Freemont Township: Clifton, Plymouth Rock and Wilimantic

--Glenwood Township: Thoten and Woodville

--Jackson Township: Alba and New Alba

--Orleans Township: Morgan

--Pleasant Township: Eide

--Sumner Township: Burr Oak Springs

Think we've left a town off this list?  E-mail us at