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Terra Cotta, Kansas facts for kids

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Terra Cotta, Kansas
Ghost town
KDOT map of Ellsworth County (legend)
KDOT map of Ellsworth County (legend)
Country United States
State Kansas
County Ellsworth
Elevation 1,473 ft (449 m)
 • Total 0
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code 785
FIPS code 20-70175
GNIS ID 484797

Terra Cotta is a ghost town in Ellsworth County, Kansas, United States.


A post office was opened in Terra Cotta in 1878, and remained in operation until it was discontinued in 1913.

Initially a shipping station for sand and clay in 1867, Terra Cotta was named for the red clay in the surrounding hills, "colored earth." The town of 15-20 people added a grocery store, elevator, lumber yard, and a hotel. A cheese factory and blacksmith shop were built, but the majority of the population (around 75 at the highest) were farmers and ranchers. At a convenient location along the Kansas Pacific Railway in 1885, Terra Cotta housed several stockyards. And, between 1886 and 1912, more cattle were shipped from Terra Cotta and neighboring Brookville than from any other place between Kansas City and Denver.

A series of hardships sealed the fate of this small town. The hotel was burned down by wildfire in 1887. A local recession drove many families and businesses away the next year. Although in population decline, the Union Pacific Railway built a new depot in 1900. By 1910, only 20 people lived in the town, and the post office closed in 1913.

Today, only the railroad tracks remain of the townsite, as the depot was moved to Ellsworth as part of a museum complex.

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