Hartford, Indiana, Level 4 Ghost Town

Hartford, Indiana, Level 4 Ghost Town

Hartford, Indiana, Level 4 Ghost Town

With a population of less than 25, Hartford, Indiana is a “Level 4 Ghost Town” which is the most common type of ghost town in the Midwest.

In the early years Hartford was a very vibrant community that was home to school teachers, auctioneers, a dress maker, a physician/surgeon, an attorney, a shoe maker, mills, farmers, two blacksmith shops, a wagon shop, 2 stores, a church, a school, two lodges and more!

Over the years the town of Hartford had a total of four flour and saw mills running along the banks of Laughery Creek. However it appears that the last mill was wiped out in the 1937 flood. When they were in business it has been said that at times between 1 and 2 dozen flat-boats would line the banks of Laughery Creek carrying corn, flour, lumber whiskey & stone.

The town had 2 general stores as far back as 1860 when it had a population of 114 people. The one store is still somewhat standing at the Northeast Corner of Hartford Pike and Hartford Ridge. At this point it’s beyond repair and only a matter of time before the whole thing is lost. There was a newer general store over on the northwest corner of Hartford Pike and Hartford Ridge but that is also closed now.

A Post Office was established in 1844 and is reported to have closed in 1891 but I think it may have been operating well into the 1900s. The building was demolished sometime between 2003 and 2005.

When first established, the Methodists built a brick church in 1838. However for some reason the brick structure was replaced with the current wooden frame church in 1899 and then went through a series of closures and reopenings beginning in 1945. I think it has been closed since the late 1990s and if I remember correctly I believe I saw rare curved pews inside the church many years ago. Unfortunately, nature is taking over this building. I received word that people have offered to purchase the old church with the intent to restore it but unfortunately the current owner has turned down all offers.

In 1831 a stone school house was built near the Southwest corner of Hartford Ridge and Hartford Pike of which portions of the walls are still standing. That school was later replaced in by another school house about 200 yards east of Hartford Ridge and the south side of Hartford Pike. I know there is some type of structure on that hillside but once again the vegetation has begun to takeover to a point that you really can’t see anything from the roadway so I don’t know if this is the old school house or not.

In the mid 1800s Hartford had a hotel which featured running water. A true luxury at the time which attracted travelers from miles around.

Two lodges were built in town. A Free & Accepted Masons lodge and an I.O.O.F. Lodge although only the Independent Order of Odd Fellows lodge is still standing today. I have no idea where the other lodge stood.

A concrete phantom bridge sits on the west side of Hartford and on the south side of Hartford Pike. The bridge was probably built in the 1930s and bypassed in the mid 1960s when Hartford Pike was realigned.

One of the more infamous legends about Hartford is the dryford across Laughry Creek. Since the beginning of time, the only way to reach Hartford from the north was by crossing Laughery Creek when the water level was low enough. This was the only way in from the north up until the mid 1990s when a bridge was built a half mile down stream connecting Nelson Road and Cole Lane. The dry ford was a concrete pad that was relatively safe to cross when the water was low. Unfortunately some people tried crossing during high water levels and had to be plucked out by water rescue or in a few cases, didn’t survive.

Today Hartford, Indiana is only a shell of it’s former self. Less than a dozen houses make up Hartford with a population of only about 20-25 people. Will anything be left in Hartford 100 years from now? Only time will tell.

GPS  Location:  38º59’35.6″N 84º57’24.8″W