South Dakota is Home to an Abandoned Town Most People Don’t Know About

South Dakota, known for its rich history and diverse landscapes, harbors a hidden tale of abandonment amidst its thriving past. Numerous towns that once flourished in the state now stand as ghostly remnants, lost to time and memory. One such forgotten place is Scenic, an ironically named town that fails to live up to its picturesque moniker.

The Genesis and Decline of Scenic

Established in 1906 as a vital railroad stop for travelers en route to the Black Hills, Scenic reached its zenith with a population of around 200 residents. Boasting a saloon, post office, dance hall, train depot, and various stores, the town also fostered a harmonious coexistence between settlers and a substantial Native American community.

However, Scenic’s prosperity proved fleeting. Struggling with water scarcity and arid conditions, farming became impractical, leading to frequent fires. Scandal and controversy further marred its image, with instances such as the school superintendent’s marriage to a ninth-grade student and the saloon owner facing murder accusations. The Great Depression exacerbated the town’s woes, and by the 1940s, Scenic had emptied out, becoming a desolate ghost town.

The Present State of Scenic

Decades of abandonment left Scenic in disrepair until its acquisition in 2011 by the Philippines-based church, Iglesia ni Cristo, for $799,000. Despite acquiring the town, the church chose not to restore or renovate any structures. Today, Scenic mirrors a scene from a horror film, characterized by dilapidated buildings, rusted cars, and scattered animal skulls. The town experiences sporadic signs of life during makeshift church services held in a humble chapel.

Scenic stands as one of South Dakota’s most abandoned towns, a historical relic hidden from mainstream knowledge. Its desolate landscape starkly contrasts with the state’s natural beauty and cultural heritage, serving as a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by communities in the past. While Scenic offers a captivating and eerie experience for those who venture to visit, it may not be suitable for the faint of heart.


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