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Carneiro - A Tidy Little Ghost Town

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Located about 12 miles east of Ellsworth, is the tiny little city and mostly ghost town of Carneiro. It got its start as a stop on the Smoky Hill Trail in 1866 when the Kansas City and Santa Fe Stage and Mail Line began to travel from Kansas City to Denver. Called Alum Creek Station, it was established at the point where the Smoky Hill Trail crossed Alum Creek. A post office called Alum Creek was established in December, 1872.

 

Though a few settlers came to the area, it would not be until Edward W. Wellington came to Kansas in the late 1870’s that a town would be established. Massachusetts-born Wellington, a Harvard graduate, purchased 12,000 acres of land in Ellsworth County and began to develop an extensive sheep operation which he named the Monte Carneiro Ranch.

 

Carneiro, Kansas

An old store in Carneiro, Kathy Weiser, March, 2009.

 

 

 

The word “Carneiro” means sheepfold or mutton in Portuguese. Over the next several years he returned to Boston several times and married a woman named Clara Edwards in 1879. He also brought back to Kansas with him, several friends from Boston and Harvard, as his new associates. One of the largest ranches in central Kansas, Wellington built a number of houses and buildings to accommodate himself, friends, and employees.

 

In 1882, Wellington, along with his associates and other area ranchers established the townsite along the Union Pacific Railroad as a shipping point for their livestock. The town's name was officially changed to Carneiro in June, 1882.

 

Before long, stockyards, a hotel, and three general stores were built. In 1885, a school building was constructed. The United Methodist congregation held services in the basement and the Christian Church held services on the main floor.

 

Carneiro, Kansas churchIn 1895, the Methodists built a new church, which still stands and welcomes members today. In 1910, the village boasted a money order post office, telegraph and express offices, a couple of general stores, a Methodist and Christian church, and 76 people.

 

In 1916, a new school was built, which served all grades up until the early 1940’s. Afterwards, it served only as a grade school until the 1960’s when it was closed for good. On September 30, 1953, Carneiro's post office closed its doors for the last time.

 

Today, less than a dozen people live in this sleepy little town, its stores and school are closed; but, the United Methodist Church continues on with about 20 people in attendance each Sunday. Also gone are the large sheep ranches, replaced today with cattle and wheat fields. Many old farming towns, once their businesses are closed and most of the homes are abandoned, take on a disheveled, tired, haphazard appearance – often filled with rusting vehicles and farm implements. Not so – Carneiro. Though there are numerous abandoned buildings, this small town is surprisingly tidy, with many mowed lawns and manicured homes.

 

The Carneiro Cemetery is about a mile west of town.

 

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, updated October, 2013.

 

 

Carneiro School

The Carneiro School operated from 1916 until the 1960's, but, has since sat abandoned. Kathy Weiser, March, 2009.

 

Carneiro, Kansas

This looks as if it was a very fine house once upon a time,

Kathy Weiser, March, 2009.

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