In Iowa, United States
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BETHEL CITY. A post office in the southern part of Clay Township about two miles west of the present town of Tracy. The name was Bethel City from 1875 to 1883, and was Bethel until it was discontinued in 1884.
Like many other states in America’s Heartland, Iowa is exceptionally rich in ghost towns. What caused so many towns to die? In general, the number one ghost town creator is failure of the town’s economy. That failure can be caused by many factors, but the three major triggers were: agriculture, mining and railroads.
AGRICULTURE – As transportation methods improved in the mid-1900s, it was easy to hop in the family car or truck and drive to a larger town where shopping choices were better. This led to a gradual slowdown in business in the local communities. When major discount department stores expanded nationwide beginning in the 1960s, the mom & pop stores couldn’t compete, and began to fold. Also many farm families would sell out at retirement, and the farms would be taken over by major agricultural conglomerates, which because of mechanized farming, had no need for the little towns, which would then fade into oblivion.
MINING – Coal mining throughout Iowa contributed hundreds of small coal mining camps and larger company towns. As mining declined in the post-WW II years, these mining camps either had to transform their economies or perish. Most took the later route and disappeared.
RAILROADS – There were three categories of ghosts created by the railroads.
• Temporary construction camps that would move as tracks progressed across the countryside. They often had large transient populations of workers and others who tried to provide diversions to liberate money from the workers.
• Railroad stations. When trains switched from coal to diesel fuel the need for water stops and coal refilling stations declined. Also, as agricultural communities began fading in the mid 20th Century, the need for many railroad shipping centers in rural also faded. The need for stations also declined as other transportation methods carried people.
• Relocation of towns occurred when railroads would come through the area, but miss an established town by a mile or more. Often the townsfolk would pack up the town and relocate it to the railroad, leaving the old site abandoned
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Last Updated: on 6/12/2014 9:51:56 AM Pacific Daylight Time (4:51 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum