Kansas, known as the Sunflower State, is steeped in history and culture. From the days of the Wild West to its agricultural heritage, Kansas has a diverse and rich background. Within this captivating state lie several abandoned places that tell tales of a bygone era. These abandoned places in Kansas range from deserted homesteads on the plains to vacated schools, asylums, and even entire towns.
For urban explorers, history enthusiasts, and adventurers, these places offer an opportunity to peek into the past and experience the echoes of stories that have shaped the state.
Note: Many of these locations are in an extremely delicate state. Specifics on locations, such as coordinates or maps, are not given. This is done so purposefully as a barrier to entry to those who may mean harm to these spots. I want to ensure that these abandoned places in Kansas are known about, but stay as vandalism and destruction free as possible. Remember: Take only photos, leave only footprints.
Breakdown: The Top 10 and More
If you have a specific location from the list below that you would like to immediately get more information about, click the links in the list to snap straight to that abandoned places in Kansas location.
- Joyland Amusement Park (Wichita)
- Stull Cemetery and the Ruined Church (Stull)
- Le Hunt (Montgomery County)
- The Brown Mansion (Coffeyville)
- Topeka State Hospital (Topeka)
- Dunlap (Morris County)
- The Ritchie Block Building (Topeka)
- ATSF Railyard and Harvey House (Florence)
- Old Abilene Town (Abilene)
- The Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant (De Soto)
Broaden Your Horizons Beyond Kansas
Are you interested in venturing outside the state of Kansas? Maybe you live close to the state line, or maybe you’re just looking for adventures outside your home state. Whatever the case may be, here are some guides to bordering states that may be helpful in effective urban exploration:
Don’t Forget About Trespassing Laws
It is important when considering abandoned places in Kansas to know the basics of Kansas trespassing laws. Luckily, we have developed a massive guide to trespassing laws in all 50 states. For laws that specifically relate to Kansas, please click here.
Without any further ado, let’s hop into the list of abandoned places!
The Best Abandoned Places in Kansas
Joyland Amusement Park (Wichita)
Joyland Amusement Park in Wichita, Kansas, was once the go-to place for thrilling rides, cotton candy, and the giddy laughter of children. It was the largest theme park in central Kansas and provided the community with a source of joy and entertainment for more than six decades.
Established in 1949 by Lester Ottaway and his sons, Joyland Amusement Park was a family-oriented place with over 24 unique rides. It boasted a wooden roller coaster, a 12-gauge steam locomotive that circled the park, a Ferris wheel, a log flume, and a vintage 1949 Allan Herschell carousel with hand-carved horses. The park was also famous for its iconic animated mascot, Louie the Clown, who played an automated organ in front of the roller coaster.
However, despite its popularity, Joyland began to struggle in the late 20th century. Changes in safety regulations, increased competition, and economic difficulties contributed to its decline. The park closed temporarily several times due to financial issues and severe weather damage. The final closure came in 2006, when the park’s owners, facing ongoing challenges, decided they couldn’t keep it open.
How Things Look Today
Since then, Joyland Amusement Park has been abandoned, with the structures deteriorating and the grounds being reclaimed by nature. The empty rides, peeling paint, and overgrown landscape have given the park an eerie atmosphere, making it a magnet for urban explorers and photographers. Unfortunately, it has also been subjected to vandalism and theft.
The park’s merry-go-round was restored and installed in Botanica, The Wichita Gardens in 2014. Louie the Clown, which was stolen when the park closed, was found in 2015 and is now part of a private collection. Despite various plans and proposals over the years, the park itself has never been revived and remains a decaying reminder of happier times.
Remember, trespassing on the property is illegal, and it’s always crucial to respect private property rights. The park’s dilapidated state and the risks associated with decaying structures make it a potentially dangerous place to explore.
Stull Cemetery and the Ruined Church (Stull)
Stull Cemetery and the Ruined Church are situated in Stull, Kansas, a small, unincorporated community west of Kansas City. The cemetery, established in 1859, is one of the oldest in the area and has gained significant notoriety due to various urban legends and stories of paranormal activity.
The most notable structure within Stull Cemetery was the old stone church. Constructed in 1867, this church was long abandoned and partially ruined but stood as a haunting monument within the graveyard until it was razed in 2002. It was this church that largely inspired the rumors and legends that have surrounded Stull for years.
The legends suggest that Stull Cemetery is one of the seven gateways to Hell and that the devil appears in the graveyard on Halloween and the Spring Equinox. Even though these stories are not supported by any historical or factual evidence, they have made Stull Cemetery an intriguing site for ghost hunters and thrill-seekers.
How Things Look Today
The ruined church was said to be impervious to rain, with people claiming that they remained dry inside the church even when it was raining heavily. The church’s demolition in 2002 has not lessened the cemetery’s reputation or the persistent rumors of supernatural occurrences.
Despite the intriguing tales, it’s important to respect that Stull Cemetery is still in use and is considered sacred ground by those with loved ones buried there. Trespassing on the property, particularly on Halloween, is strictly forbidden, and the local law enforcement takes this very seriously. Anyone considering a visit should remember to be respectful and adhere to the posted rules and hours of operation.
Le Hunt (Montgomery County)
Le Hunt, located in Montgomery County, Kansas, is an abandoned town with a history rooted in the early 20th century.
The United Kansas Portland Cement Company established the town around 1905 to support a large cement plant meant to take advantage of the area’s rich limestone deposits. At its peak, the town boasted a population of several hundred people, many of whom were employed by the cement plant.
The town’s most notable landmark is the skeletal remains of the cement plant itself. The building, while crumbling and overgrown with vegetation, remains a striking image of industrial decline. Various structures, such as the powerhouse, kilns, and warehouses, provide a glimpse into the industrial past of the area.
How Things Look Today
One notable feature of Le Hunt is the enduring presence of a man called “Paul,” or more accurately, his concrete likeness. As the story goes, a worker at the cement plant named Paul fell into a vat of concrete. His co-workers couldn’t save him, but they created a sort of memorial by leaving an imprint of a man on the side of a concrete structure, and this imprint can still be seen today.
After the cement plant closed in the 1930s due to economic hardship, the town of Le Hunt gradually declined until it was entirely abandoned. Today, the area stands as a reminder of a once-thriving industry and the community it supported. While intriguing, Le Hunt is located on private property, and any potential visitors should secure permission before exploring to respect the current owner’s rights.
The Brown Mansion (Coffeyville)
The Brown Mansion in Coffeyville, Kansas, is an opulent symbol of the city’s prosperous past.
Constructed in 1906, the mansion was the home of W. P. Brown, a successful businessman involved in natural gas, oil, and other ventures. The grandiose three-story mansion is constructed in the Neoclassical style, featuring a full basement, a main floor for entertaining, and a private second floor with an exceptional number of bedrooms.
The mansion boasts architectural elegance and intricate detailing throughout, showcasing features like imported hand-carved woodwork, crystal chandeliers, and a grand staircase. The third floor, once a ballroom, mirrors the era’s social culture.
However, as time progressed, the mansion was abandoned and left to endure the elements. The once-vibrant property now stands as a somber reminder of the city’s affluent history.
How Things Look Today
In its current state, the Brown Mansion still commands a sense of awe, its imposing structure a stark contrast to the surrounding area. While nature is slowly reclaiming the property, you can still see the elegance and opulence that defined this mansion in its heyday.
In recent years, the mansion has been cared for by the Coffeyville Historical Society and is open to public tours, preserving the structure as an important local landmark and testament to the wealth and optimism of the early 20th century.
Please note that while the mansion is open for public tours, it’s always a good idea to verify the current situation and visiting hours beforehand. Visitors are also expected to treat this historical site with respect and caution to help preserve its legacy.
Topeka State Hospital (Topeka)
The Topeka State Hospital, located in Topeka, Kansas, is a haunting relic of a bygone era in mental health treatment.
This mental health facility first opened its doors in 1872 and was originally known as the Topeka Insane Asylum. At the height of its operation, the hospital was home to thousands of patients. The facility was built with a grand, park-like layout, with a sprawling main building and numerous auxiliary structures. The central structure, built in the Kirkbride style, was architecturally impressive with its elongated wings arranged in a staggered line, designed to allow patients access to natural light and ventilation.
However, the hospital’s picturesque exterior belied a troubling history. Throughout its operation, the Topeka State Hospital was dogged by controversy over its treatment methods and conditions. By the mid-20th century, stories began to emerge about the inhumane conditions within the hospital, including overcrowding and substandard care.
By the 1990s, societal shifts and changes in mental health treatment resulted in a decreased reliance on long-term institutionalization, and the hospital’s population dwindled. The Topeka State Hospital officially closed in 1997, leaving behind an array of abandoned buildings.
How Things Look Today
Today, the former hospital grounds offer a sobering look into the past. Many of the buildings have been demolished, but some structures remain standing, now shrouded by nature’s encroaching grip. These lingering edifices, despite their dilapidated state, serve as a grim testament to the hospital’s controversial past.
Urban explorers and history buffs may find the site intriguing, but it’s important to note that any remaining buildings may be unsafe due to structural instability. As always, one should respect the area’s history and property rights, and verify the current status of the property before planning a visit.
Dunlap (Morris County)
Dunlap, located in Morris County, Kansas, is a poignant example of the many small towns that have gradually faded away across the American heartland.
Dunlap was founded in 1869 by Joseph Dunlap, an Indian agent for the Kanza tribe. The town enjoyed a period of prosperity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, spurred by the arrival of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. Dunlap was home to various businesses, a post office, and at its peak, boasted a population of several hundred residents.
Notably, Dunlap was a hub for African American settlers during the Exoduster Movement of 1879, when freed slaves from southern states moved to Kansas seeking a better life. This rich cultural history adds an extra layer of significance to this small ghost town.
However, like many railroad towns, Dunlap suffered when the railway was rerouted, causing economic decline and a gradual dwindling of its population. By the late 20th century, many businesses had closed, and the town was largely abandoned. The post office, one of the last vestiges of the once-thriving town, was discontinued in the 1990s.
How Things Look Today
Today, Dunlap is a quiet place of crumbling buildings and overgrown streets, a ghost town that echoes the vibrancy of its past. The ruins serve as a silent testament to the town’s history, from its founding to its role in the Exoduster Movement to its eventual decline.
For those interested in history and urban exploration, Dunlap offers a thought-provoking glimpse into the past. However, any visitors should remember to treat the area with respect, taking into account its historical significance and any potential safety hazards associated with decaying structures. As with any exploration, ensure to get any necessary permissions and respect all private property rights.
The Ritchie Block Building (Topeka)
The Ritchie Block Building in Topeka, Kansas, is a significant historical structure with a rich past, although it has sadly been left to decay in recent years.
The building was constructed in 1887 by John and Mary Ritchie, notable abolitionists and activists who played a pivotal role in Topeka’s history. The Ritchies were deeply involved in the fight against slavery and the Underground Railroad, and their building later became a significant center for commerce and community in Topeka.
The Ritchie Block Building is a classic example of the Italianate commercial architecture that was popular in the late 19th century. It features ornamental detailing, large windows, and a robust structure, characteristics that hark back to its days of prominence.
Over the years, the building housed a variety of businesses, reflecting the changing fortunes of Topeka’s commercial sector. Despite this, as the city evolved and developed, the Ritchie Block Building fell into disuse and was eventually abandoned.
How Things Look Today
Today, the Ritchie Block Building stands as a forlorn reminder of a bygone era. Its once bustling interior is silent, and the grand façade has succumbed to the passage of time, with peeling paint and signs of wear.
Despite its current state, the building holds a great deal of historical significance. For urban explorers and history buffs, the Ritchie Block Building can offer a window into Topeka’s past, from its early days as a growing city to its role in the abolitionist movement.
As always, explorers should proceed with caution and respect for the site’s historical importance. Permission for any exploration should be obtained, and private property rights should be upheld.
ATSF Railyard and Harvey House (Florence)
The ATSF Railyard and Harvey House in Florence, Kansas, are notable landmarks of a bygone era. These structures hark back to the time when railroads were the lifeblood of American towns and Harvey Houses provided necessary respite for weary travelers.
The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) railyard in Florence once bustled with activity. It was an essential part of the rail network that crisscrossed the United States, moving goods and people across vast distances. At its peak, the railyard was a hive of activity, with trains coming and going, workers busily maintaining the tracks and machinery, and the constant, rhythmic clatter of rail cars echoing in the air.
The Harvey House, part of a chain of hotels and restaurants established by Fred Harvey along the ATSF railway line, offered hospitality and comfort to travelers. Known for their high standards of service and quality food, the Harvey Houses were an essential part of rail travel in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Florence Harvey House, a beautiful two-story limestone building, provided meals and lodging to train passengers stopping in Florence.
However, with the decline of rail travel and the rise of automobiles and air travel, the railyard and the Harvey House gradually lost their significance. The last train left the Florence railyard decades ago, and the Harvey House closed its doors.
How Things Look Today
Today, the railyard is a shadow of its former self, with rusting tracks and quiet air. The Harvey House stands empty, its once busy dining rooms and comfortable accommodations now silent. The buildings are gradually succumbing to the elements, with signs of decay evident on their structures.
Despite their abandoned state, the ATSF Railyard and Harvey House are a significant part of Florence’s history. They represent an important chapter in the story of American transportation and hospitality. For urban explorers and history enthusiasts, these sites offer a poignant glimpse into the past. As always, anyone visiting these sites should exercise caution, respect the property, and seek any necessary permissions.
Old Abilene Town (Abilene)
Old Abilene Town in Abilene, Kansas, is a historical district that echoes the vibrant days of the Old West. Abilene was known as the terminus of the Chisholm Trail, where thousands of cattle were driven from Texas for shipment to Eastern markets. This made the town a bustling hub of activity in the late 19th century.
The reimagined Old Abilene Town was designed as an homage to those lively times. Original and recreated buildings transported visitors back to the 1860s to 1880s, including a saloon, a jail, a general store, and a hotel. It was also known for its reenactments of Wild West gunfights, stagecoach rides, and various other events, making it a popular tourist destination in its heyday.
However, as time progressed, Old Abilene Town fell into disuse and disrepair. Factors like changing tourist interests, lack of funds for maintenance, and operational challenges led to the abandonment of this once-popular attraction. Today, many of the buildings stand vacant, with their faded facades, empty windows, and peeling paint bearing testament to more prosperous times.
How Things Look Today
Yet, even in its dilapidated state, Old Abilene Town still exudes a certain historic charm. Its quiet streets and abandoned buildings seem to be frozen in time, offering a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the modern world. It provides a fascinating insight into the cowboy era and is an intriguing site for those interested in American history.
Those interested in exploring Old Abilene Town should keep safety in mind and respect any “no trespassing” signs or barriers, as the stability of some old buildings may be compromised. Always seek necessary permissions if required. Despite its state of abandonment, the site remains an important part of Abilene’s heritage and Kansas history.
The Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant (De Soto)
The Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant (SFAAP) in De Soto, Kansas, was once an essential part of the United States’ war effort. The facility was built during World War II, and it was in operation from 1942 to 1992. During its peak activity, it was one of the largest employers in Kansas, employing thousands of workers who produced and assembled ammunition.
Over the years, the plant produced propellant and explosives for various military applications, including artillery, tank, and mortar rounds. However, when the Cold War ended, the need for such a large-scale ammunition plant reduced, leading to its decommissioning and abandonment.
How Things Look Today
Today, the 9,000-acre site remains mostly deserted. Many of the original buildings and structures are still standing, though they are in various states of disrepair. Some structures are dilapidated and overgrown with vegetation, while others have been demolished over time. The deserted streets, empty warehouses, and the silent machinery present an eerie reminder of the plant’s bustling past.
The SFAAP is a captivating site for those interested in military history and urban exploration. However, because of the potential hazards from its previous use as an ammunition plant, such as unexploded ordnance and chemical contaminants, access to the site is heavily restricted. Visitors should not attempt to enter the site without proper authorization and should always prioritize their safety.
Despite its current state, the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant is an integral part of De Soto’s history and a reminder of the significant role that Kansas played during World War II and the Cold War. Its vast, abandoned expanse stands as a stark contrast to the lively manufacturing site it once was.
Our Final Thoughts on Abandoned Places in Kansas
Those who are into urban exploration in the Kansas area should get comfortable with Kansas trespassing laws. Luckily, we have developed a massive guide to trespassing laws in all 50 states. For laws that specifically relate to Kansas, please click here.
For more about obtaining permission to explore abandoned places, check out our guide Explore Abandoned Buildings: How To Get Permission. Finally, if you are wanting to find more abandoned places in Kansas, check out my resource How To Find Abandoned Places With Google Maps.
- John Bourscheid, Killer Urbex