Passing through Botna, a ghost town in Shelby County

May 9, 2019

Iowa is, of course, full of hundreds of dots on the map that either barely exist today or are skeletons of their former selves. In some respects, everything is gone and what was maybe once a settlement is now a corn or bean field. In northern Shelby County in Southwest Iowa, I found one of those "ghost towns".

 

When I stopped in Aspinwall and the paradise that exists there, I looked at the map on my phone and it indicated that there was an area called "Botna" a few miles away. Botna? I'd never heard of it. Of course, I had to see if there was anything left. The answer? Yes...but barely.

According to research I found online, Botna derives it's name from the nearby Nisnabotna River. When it was originally platted, it was named Rochdale. Like many towns in Iowa, it got it's start as a result of the expansion of the railroads. At one time, the town had a dry goods store, a post office, a grocer, a blacksmith, a grain company, and a lumber yard

 

None of that exists today, though I did find a street named "Main".

Instead, I found a couple of houses and a number of structures that have fallen into significant disrepair.

There is some tree cover that I am sure makes for good wildlife habitat.

 

I know it would take some work and some minor investment, but I wish some of our county historical societies could put together a sign with whatever photos and information that can be gathered and place it where some of these towns once were. Maybe someone from Shelby County is reading this and can be inspired to take action?

 

This was a 5 minute visit but I'm glad I stopped. Botna is but a dot (barely) on the map anymore, but 150 years ago it was probably a nice little village. It should be remembered as part of our country's western expansion.

 

As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Shelby County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.

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