My family roots are tied to the Black Hills region of South Dakota and Wyoming.  I still have quite a bit of family in the area, and a couple weeks ago I decided to take my first trip as an adult (and I use the term “adult” loosely) and see what there was to see.  I’ve been there several times, but mostly as a bored kid, strapped in the backseat of whatever Chevy sedan or wagon the parents owned at the time. Back then, the trips to South Dakota to visit the family seemed like long, endless, journeys to a far away land filled with dust and hot wind.  I didn’t have much interest in those childhood trips. This time around, I left Colorado with an open mind and a tank full of gas, and set off for the dusty roads of the Black Hills to see what there was to see…

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Ardmore was one of the stops I made.  Just north of the Nebraska state line in Fall River county, Ardmore was the quintessential “town where time stood still.”  Most of the “ghost towns”  today have at least some small resident population- Hermits and recluses hiding from the rest of the world, or the elderly still clinging on to what once was.  Ardmore had neither.  This was perhaps the most ghostly of ghost towns I’ve visited recently.

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Ardmore was clearly a decent sized town at one time, and had a small main street and several side streets that housed businesses and residences. The railroad still passes through, but it doesn’t look like they stop.  As far as I could tell, no one lives in Ardmore. From the appearance of the town and the cars in the yards, it looks like time simply stopped in Ardmore in the early-1970s.

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The hot South Dakota wind I remembered from my childhood visits whipped through the tall oak trees that lined the streets. Antelope stared at me curiously from the surrounding fields. A few black birds crowed at me from high above as they roosted on dilapidated buildings or towering oaks. I stopped in the middle of “Main Street” which, evidently at some point in time, was two-lane  blacktop, but today was a series of asphalt chunks with tall, bright green prairie grasses growing through the cracks.

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Ardmore, distant, vacant, and remote is a ghost town worth the trip for anyone visiting this sleepy corner of South Dakota. You can stand in the streets of this abandoned town and imagine how it must have been in the 1940s and 1950s. Just be careful, the rattlesnakes in this part of the country are plentiful and big, and Ardmore is one gigantic hiding place for these venomous critters! Watch your step and don’t go reaching for anything!

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Comments
  1. Great photos and a great story, I love travelling to the ghost towns here in Montana and across the west!

  2. Janna gray says:

    The 2nd and 5th photos show the building my mother grew up in. The tall section was a general store with living above it. The short side was the post office.

    • John says:

      I read your comments about Ardmore. I have an aunt who was born and raised in Ardmore. I know her and her brother died in Colorado, but they were buried in the Ardmore cemetary, I’ve been told. Perhaps you knew their family? I have many black and white photos from the area during the early 1900s. I live in Colorado Springs. Thanks for any information you might have.

      • Marge Mathers says:

        Would love to see an visit this ole town.. will be a trip yet this fall as I live in South Dakota. I have a relative that lived here years ago.. Did not know a cemetery was here. Hope I can locate it..
        The last name was Randall of distant relative..

    • Marge Mathers says:

      Beautiful memories… I am looking for information on a distant relative that lived here at one time.. Do you have knowledge of people that were residence way back..

  3. Norma Hutchison says:

    I lived in the house next to the spillway. The bus pick up was at the fire house, where we caught the bus to go to school at Igloo, S.D. I have fond memories of those years back in the late 50’s and early 60’s.jeanie

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