Kansas Ghost Towns – Atchison (but add Leavenworth!)

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There are Kansas Ghost towns, but there is only one Kansas Haunted Town! Atchison, Kansas, contains many supposedly haunted buildings. However, first, visit Leavenworth on the drive to Atchison from Kansas City. For some, Leavenworth may also be a “ghost town” since it holds five prisons! Now, let’s visit both towns. However, I’ll also provide a Kansas ghost towns map later.

Kansas Ghost Towns
Missouri River in Atchison

How about visiting Leavenworth while on our way to Atchison? (By the way, here’s a link back to the Kansas City post.)

Kansas Ghost Towns – and more


That’s it, the infamous Federal Prison!

The United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth, more commonly known as “Leavenworth,” remains a major federal prison. The prison was the largest maximum-security federal prison from 1903 until 2005. At that time, the Federal Bureau of Prisons downgraded it to medium security. Leavenworth also maintains a minimum-security camp on the same grounds.

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(A side conversation: There are many maximum security federal prisons left. I believe it’s about 15 that are listed as High-Security. There is only one “Super-Max,” and that’s in Florence, CO. A few of the high-profile prisoners at that location include Terry L. Nichols, Timothy McVeigh’s partner serving 161 consecutive life sentences; Robert P. Hanssen, convicted spy who sold thousands of classified documents to Russia serving 15 consecutive life sentences; Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber serving eight consecutive life sentences; Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, Al-Qaida cofounder serving a life sentence; and Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber, serving three consecutive life sentences.)

Leavenworth Prisons

The first photo shows a closeup of the photo at the top of this post. Of course, it’s a closeup, so you know you don’t want to be a “resident” there! The second photo is of a military prison built in 2010 for military base consolidation. It replaced a prison on Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

The third prison is what the military calls “Leavenworth.” It’s located on Fort Leavenworth, a US Army base. That one is the United States Disciplinary Barracks. They handle military prisoners from minimum security up through Level III Maximum Security. The fourth one is the Leavenworth Detention Center which is currently inactive. Finally, the fifth is just the Leavenworth County Jail. But you can see that many of the area’s “residents” are prisoners!

Fred Harvey House

Fred Harvey immigrated to the US from England at the age of 17. His restaurant career started almost immediately. Working in New York, New Orleans, and St. Louis until he started a new career with the railroad. During his railroad days, he relocated to Leavenworth, which remained his home for the rest of his life. He and his wife had six children who grew up in this house.

After a dozen years with the railroad, he and a business partner returned to the food industry. They built restaurants along railroad lines, typically at no cost or a low-cost lease from the railroad itself. During his railroad career, he learned that the railroads provided low-quality food, and most rail stops had little to no food or housing for passengers stopping over for a day or more.

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As his business grew, he built hotels along the way as well. In any event, he died in 1901, but The Harvey Company remained in the family until 1965, upon the death of his grandson. Here’s a link to a former Harvey House in Winslow, Arizona. A young couple, she’s an artist as well, took it over in the early 2000s. Today, it’s beautifully restored and still serves its original purpose.

..and Fred Harvey Innovations

Some of his innovations included the Harvey Girls, selling scenery postcards to promote his businesses, and hiring actors to portray Native Americans, showing the desert lifestyle. Of course, the actors sold tickets for use in his restaurants and hotels!

The Harvey Girls became a great success for the company and for the Girls themselves. He hired women between the ages of 18 and 30. Their employment agreement specified they could not marry for the first year. However, the company treated them well, and they made more money than possible in many other places. Since many came from farther east, they also learned to live independently. After some years of service, many went on to college with the money they saved, or marry men they met in their job, or move to other parts of the country other than their home.

Harvey became an early adapter of hiring Hispanic and Native American women. Initially, the move met resistance from customers and railroad workers. Harvey stood his ground and provided them the same benefits as white women. Although initially, these women had lower-paying jobs such as housekeeping and laundry. Later, they moved up to servers and other jobs.

Here’s a link to a National Park Service article about the Harvey Girls.

Atchison – Kansas Ghost Towns

Really, we’re talking about a haunted town, not a ghost town. In today’s world, “ghost town” means an abandoned (or nearly abandoned) town. Atchison remains a thriving community of nearly 11,000 people, with many houses and old mansions that claim to be haunted. So, let’s call them haunted here, shall we?

Additional Atchison haunted buildings

Here’s the link to the Atchison city map. This map shows The Sallie House and the McInteer House. Ten additional buildings also appear on the map.

(I’m working on finding a way to show the other Kansas ghost towns listed below on a map.)

When you go to the interactive map, click on an icon to see the name and information about the place, including the matching number.

1. Riverview Drive & R Street7. Kearney St. Haunted House
2. Santa Fe Depot8. Muchnic House
3. Haunted Trolley Tours9. Gargoyle House
4. Theatre Atchison10. Benedictine College
5. Glick Mansion11. Jackson Park
6. The Sallie House12. Amelia Earhart Hanger Museum
Haunted places in Atchison – Number matches numbers in the interactive map

I’ll let you know more about Kansas ghost towns in the final summary.

Haunted Houses – part of Kansas Ghost Towns

Included here are pictures of two haunted houses. See the list above for a summary of others. By the way, Atchison has so many haunted places that the Travel Channel produced a segment called Haunted Town that depicts many of Atchison’s supposedly haunted locations.

McInteer Villa

Kansas Ghost Towns

Irish Immigrant, John McInteer, built this villa in 1890. In 1975, the National Register of Historic Places recognized its historic value with inclusion in their registry. However, if you walk or drive by the building, you may see figures at the windows when no one is there. Other odd phenomena reported include lights turning on and off in the tower, which has no electricity.

Visitors and historians report figures appearing in photos taken inside the house.

Let’s move on to the next haunted house!

Sallie’s house

Kansas Ghost Towns
Sallie’s, the Heartland Ghost, North 2nd Street.
A look into the basement of the house

The house belonged to a local doctor in the early 1900s. During his time in the house, six-year-old Sallie became very sick at night with abdominal pains. Sallie’s mother rushed her to the doctor’s house. He maintained his office on the ground floor.

The doctor diagnosed Sallie with severe appendicitis, requiring immediate surgery. Sallie panicked at the sight of surgical tools, and the doctor had to hold her down while giving her ether.

In his haste, the doctor started operating too soon, and Sallie awoke, fighting with the doctor. Before she died, she looked at the doctor with both fear and loathing. Psychics believe her ghost lives in the house to this day.

People who lived in the house reported paranormal activity. Some activity was playful, like turning appliances on and off, turning pictures upside down, and scattering child’s toys about the nursery.

More Pranks and then worse

After the harmless pranks, the young husband of the occupants suffered frequent attacks. They also experienced spontaneous fires throughout the house. The man described a severe drop in temperature before the attack and acquired long bloody scratches.

A consulted psychic informed the family of two spirits in the house. The spirit of the child did the playful pranks, and an approximately 30-year-old woman performed the malevolent activities. Soon the family moved from the house. No other occupants have reported paranormal activity.

Kansas Ghost Towns
And you can buy Sallie House merchandise!

When I visited the house, two couples were renting the house for the night. They had recording equipment to catch any activity. Since the house opens by appointment and the people in the house rented it, I didn’t disturb them for too long to take some pictures. They told me they lived in the Kansas City area and visited paranormal buildings, trying to record activity. They told me they did find some in other houses where they stayed and hoped to find some in this house.

I have better things to spend money doing, like taking road trips and visiting places like this for a quick visit, not overnight! Here’s a link to a story about the Sallie House.

Amelia Earhart – The hometown is one of the Kansas Ghost Towns

Amelia Earhart grew up in Atchison. A museum now occupies her childhood home. As she grew up, her parents moved several times, and she attended high school in Chicago and college in Pennsylvania.

She dropped out of college to become a nurse’s aide in Toronto for soldiers wounded in World War I. After the war, she entered a pre-med program at Columbia University. But her mother insisted she move to California with them. While in California, she became interested in flying, something women didn’t do back then. But there were a lot of things women didn’t do back then.

The Atchison airport features the museum honoring Amelia. She became the first woman to solo across the Atlantic in 1928. Again, in 1935, she made history with the first solo flight from Hawaii to California. Later that year, she became the first person to fly solo from Los Angeles to Mexico City.

During her various flying adventures, she encouraged women to reject the constrictive social norms and pursue various opportunities. She helped to found an organization for women pilots that became known as the NInety-Nines.

Final flight, 1939

In 1939, she set out to fly around the world with a navigator, Fred Noonan. In June, she left Miami, flying east. They made various refueling stops before reaching New Guinea on June 29. They departed on July 2nd and headed for Howland Island. As a precaution, brightly lit US ships were stationed to mark the route. She also maintained contact with the Coast Guard cutter, Itasca. On July 2nd, she radioed, “We are running north and south.” That became their final transmission. Searchers estimated she went down about 100 miles from Howland Island.

She left a legacy for women pilots and women everywhere to reject social norms and take up new challenges!

Kansas Ghost Towns Map – Really, these are considered ghost towns!

Let’s get back to Kansas Ghost Towns!

(I’m looking for a Kansas Ghost Towns map to include here.) Here’s a list of ghost towns near Kansas City. Some of them leave barely any trace, while others still show abandoned buildings. Others have a handful of residents, down from hundreds “back in the day.” Here’s the list: Douglas County – Belvoir, Franklin, Lapeer, Louisiana, Media, Prairie City, Twin Mound, Weaver.
Then on to Leavenworth County: Delaware City.
Next, Franklin County: Appanoose, Coburn, Garlington, and Hackett, to name a few. There are 17 listed for Franklin County.

Again, I’m still looking for a Kansas ghost town map!

Classic Rock Recollection

“Ghost Song” by The Doors

Shake dreams from your hair
My pretty child, my sweet one
Choose the day, choose the sign of your day
The day’s divinity
First thing you see

Written by Jim Morrison, John Paul Densmore, Raymond D. Manzarek, Robert Krieger

#atchisonkansas #kansasghosttowns