A Ghost Town Remembered

In my last blog post, I discussed Cardiff, Illinois, and the mining accidents of March 1903.

Here is some additional information regarding the town that flourished from 1899-1912:

There is a memorial site set up where the town was once located.  The unveiling was August 26, 2007.  There were also bricks that were made as part of the memorial, for purchase prior to the unveiling, in memory of a relative.  I think it is a wonderful remembrance for those who have roots in this town/area.  My grandfather was born in Cardiff, Illinois, on January 26, 1902.

Cardiff, Illinois

Cardiff Historical Marker:

THE VILLAGE OF CARDIFF WAS BUILT ON THIS SITE IN 1899, AFTER THE DISCOVERY OF UNDERGROUND COAL DEPOSITS.  A MINE WAS SUNK AND A RELATIVELY LARGE TOWN DEVELOPED WITHIN MONTHS.  THE TOWN, ORIGINALLY KNOWN AS NORTH CAMPUS, INCORPORATED AS THE VILLAGE OF CARDIFF IN MAY 1900.

A SERIES OF MINE EXPLOSIONS FROM MARCH 12-16, 1903 KILLED NINE MINE WORKERS.  THREE MEN REMAIN ENTOMBED IN THE MINE.  A SECOND MINE WAS SUNK TO THE WEST, AND MINING OPERATIONS RESUMED.  MORE THAN 2,000 PEOPLE LIVED IN CARDIFF AT ITS PEAK.  CARDIFF HAD A CHURCH, A SCHOOL, TWO BANKS, TWO GRAIN ELEVATORS, A SEMI-PRO BASEBALL TEAM, A BOTTLING PLANT, RAILROAD PASSENGER SERVICE, A HOTEL, NUMEROUS SALOONS, AND OTHER BUSINESSES.  PROSPERITY CONTINUED FOR CARDIFF UNTIL THE HIGH QUALITY COAL RAN OUT AND THE WABASH RAILROAD, THE MINE’S BIGGEST CUSTOMER, REFUSED TO BUY CARDIFF COAL.  THE MINE CLOSED IN 1912.

A TOTAL OF 18 MEN DIED IN MINE ACCIDENTS IN CARDIFF.

ALMOST AS FAST AS THE TOWN DEVELOPED, IT DISAPPEARED.  HOUSES AND OTHER BUILDINGS WERE DISMANTLED OR MOVED WHOLE.  TODAY THE TOWN OF CARDIFF IS GONE, YET REMAINS A LEGALLY INCORPORATED VILLAGE.  TWO LARGE HILLS OF WASTE FROM THE MINE ARE MONUMENTS TO THE PEOPLE WHO LIVED, WORKED, AND DIED HERE.  DOZENS OF ACRES THAT HAD BEEN HOMES, STORES, YARDS, AND STREETS HAVE NOW GONE BACK TO FARMLAND.

SPONSORED BY THE HERSCHER AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND THE ILLINOIS STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.  AUGUST 2007

Cardiff Memorial

Cardiff Memorial Bricks

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About Our Lineage

I invite you to join me as I share my journey of successes, surprises, and of course, disappointments. All belong to my passion called Genealogy.
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4 Responses to A Ghost Town Remembered

  1. I really admire those historical markers. They tell stories, really, and are alive with the particulars of the region. They are wonderful preservers. And your photo is so clear of the memorial stone(s) of those killed in the mines. I can read the names. I looked for Morgan, from your last post, but I think you mentioned he was spared. We still have the same issues for mine workers today!

    • Our Lineage says:

      Thanks, Mariann! I have a picture that I took – I bought a couple memorial bricks to commemorate my Morgan, Humphreys, and Price, and Woolford ancestors. I have learned so much about this part of my family’s past.

  2. gpcox says:

    Such a sad story for an entire town.

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