Driving down Highway 71 after a barren stretch of nothingness, visitors will soon come upon a few decaying homes. There’s little to no traffic here, as the town is barren and forlorn, frozen in time—a photographer’s dream.
Founded in 1889, Ardmore was a classic 19th-century frontier town, mainly created as a stopping point for the New Burlington Railroad. The town was plagued by drought and the local creek was too acidic for human consumption. The steam trains would leave water for the residents while refueling using the creek water. President Calvin Coolidge even visited the town for a picnic. At the time of the visit, the town was making headlines experimenting with dry farming, a technique that involves the cultivation of crops in areas lacking irrigation. However, the plan failed.
When trains began to move away from steam power, they no longer needed to stop in Ardmore, forcing residents to leave for areas with substantial water supplies. The town was slowly abandoned over the years. Now all that remains are a few buildings and a picturesque landscape.
Know Before You Go
Located approximately one mile north of the South Dakota-Nebraska border, along South Dakota Highway 71.