These days, many people seem to think smaller is better. There are smaller homes and cars being developed; how about small towns?
No, not some small town just off the highway. We’re talking really small. You may be thinking of a few thousand folks, at least. But, no. Smaller. Not a few thousand, or even a few hundred.
When you get down to double digits, you have towns like Indiana’s New Amsterdam. Apart from the fancy-sounding European name, New Amsterdam boasts a Main Street and a General Store, like many towns around the world. One difference is the population: across the entire 0.1 miles of New Amsterdam, there are only 27 folks who call it home.
That’s less people than you’d bump into in church on Sunday. And that’s FAR from the smallest. Yes, there are towns that are smaller than some people’s entire family.
What can be smaller than 27? How about towns with populations that you can count… on one hand? Here are ten of them right here in America!!
10. Weeki Wachee, Florida – 12
Located north of Tampa on the U.S. 19, the ‘enchanted’ spring that is Weeki Wachee must be seen to be believed. This small town is populated by ‘real mermaids’. Sitting on a patchwork of naturally occurring freshwater springs, the town grew around the iconic mermaid attraction. In 1947, an enterprising ex-Navy frogman, Newton Perry built a theater right into the base of the spring, allowing visitors view the mermaids in their ‘natural’ habitat.
Weeki Wachee was incorporated as a city in 1966, making it (at the time) one of the nation’s smallest cities. Today, Weeki Wachee is probably the only city in the world with a mermaid as a mayor. Robyn Anderson presides over the affairs of this Florida attraction and its remaining 11 residents.
9. Funkley, Minnesota – 11
In the Beltrami County of Minnesota, off the U.S 71, lies the city of Funkley. Spanning 0.6 miles, this city used to be called the Hovey Junction and serve the Minnesota and International Railway Station. As a junction town on the rail line, Funkely was never massively populated; records show that the highest population ever was 60.
This hasn’t stopped a few enterprising Americans from setting up home here. The town boasts its own Bar and Lounge which is a major draw for thirsty travelers. The bar attracts crowds of hunters in the fall and bikers in the summer. Getting a liquor license is probably easy here as the bar is owned by the city mayor, Emil Erickson. Funkley was home to six residents until one family moved there in 2013, making the current population 11.
8. Anoka, Nebraska – 6
Located in Boyd County, Nebraska is the village of Anoka. Originally laid out in 1902, Anoka was built in response to the CNW & CMO railway passing through the area. The railway company took the land needed for a track & railway station and the Pioneer Town Site Company sold off the remaining land as lots for development.
Like Anoka in Minnesota, Anoka Nebraska was named for its location on a river i.e. the Ponca Creek. By 1906, the 0.56 square miles of the village was home to two grain elevators, its own baseball team, a plunge bath, a hotel, a lumber yard, two newspapers and twenty seven other businesses.
As rail travel declined, people moved away from Anoka, whittling the population down from 150 to 10 in 2001. With more people moving away, the population currently stands at 6.
7. Gross, Nebraska – 6
Lying east of Anoka, is the 0.13 square miles that make up the village of Gross. Founded in 1893, it was originally called Morton, but was renamed for Ben Gross, the first homesteader in town. The village grew slowly till it had a post office, a trading post and the Village store.
About a decade later, in anticipation of railway lines being laid through Boyd County, the population grew rapidly. By 1903, there were 400 residents. Churches, factories, schools and even a navigation company were established in Gross.
When inhabitants realized the railway line wouldn’t pass through town, a mass exodus began. The misfortunes continued as two fires razed most of the buildings remaining. These days, Gross has only six inhabitants all year round, but you can still stop by and enjoy the restaurant at the Nebrask-Inn.
6. Freeport, Kansas – 5
Like many of the entries on this list, this town was built around a railway line, the Missouri Pacific Railway in 1885. The arrival of the railway led to a brief economic boom, but it declined rapidly. Freeport used to be the smallest incorporated town in the U.S. with a bank, a branch of the Bank of Kansas; but the dwindling economy led to its closure in 2009. After being in service for 126 years, the Post Office in town followed suit in 2011.
These days, Freeport still has one claim to fame; it’s home to the Old Runnymede Church which was built in 1890. The church is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Oh, and they have a grain elevator too.
But how many people are in town to enjoy ‘all’ these? A grand total of five!
5. Lost Springs, Wyoming – 4
The residents of this Wyoming town, have a love-hate relationship with the Census Board. In the 2000 census, the city was listed as home to only one resident. This information was displayed on the markers at the town boundary and on the official census site. However, this wasn’t true as they counted only one side of the Main Street!
Established in the 188os, Lost Springs sits on 0.14 miles of land, not far from the Rosin coal mine. When the mine closed in the 1930s, Lost Springs lost most of its 280 residents. By 1960, the population of the town had dropped to five.
These days, Lost Springs boasts of a Lost Bar, the Lost Springs Post Office & Antique Store, a catering business and hunting camp and 4 residents in town.
4. PhinDeli Town Buford, Wyoming – 2
Out on Interstate 80, and sitting at 8,000 feet above sea level, PhinDeli Town Buford is the highest populated settlement along the Overland Route and Interstate 80.
But that’s not its only claim to fame.
Until 2013, Buford (as it used to be known) had a sole resident, Don Sammons. Sammons moved there in the 80s with his family, but when his wife died and his son moved away, he stayed put.
In 2013, he put the town up for auction and it was bought by Phạm Đình Nguyên. The town had its name changed to help promote the new owner’s line of imported Vietnamese coffee.
PhinDeli Town Buford has come a long way from a population high of over 2,000 in the 1880s. These days, Sammon and Nguyên are the only residents, running their businesses side-by-side.
3. Bonanza, Colorado – 1
In the Colorado Rockies, lies the city of Bonanza. Pretty cool name in a cool location, right? At some point, Bonanza even had a whopping twelve residents, but not so many these days.
Founded in 1880, the town was flooded by prospectors hoping to extract silver from the land. This makes Bonanza one of the oldest existing municipalities in Colorado. The influx of miners in the 1920s led to an real estate expansion that included bakeries, dance halls and saloons.
With the silver all gone and residents leaving, Bonanza has become a shadow of itself. While up to 200 people own property in Bonanza, there is only one resident in the town. In spite of all this, Bonanza, still has one firehouse and even the mailman comes by, albeit once a year.
2. Monowi, Nebraska – 1
Yes, Boyd County in Nebraska makes yet another appearance on this list. For the third time, it is the home to one of the least populated places in America. All 0.21 square miles of Monowi,with a functioning tavern, local library and three homes are run by ONE person.
Like many small towns of the era, Monowi was developed due to the presence of a railway line. The town grew to a population of around 150 in the 1930s. As more people moved away, the population dwindled till it was down to a married couple, the Eilers, in the 2000 census.
Rudy Eiler passed away in 2004, leaving his wife Elsie as the sole resident of Monowi. She is the town librarian, restaurateur and bar tender. She also has to serve as town mayor; paying taxes, coming up with an annual road plan and regulating the liquor license. Pop down to the Monowi Tavern where Elsie promises the ‘coldest beer in town’.
1. Jean, Nevada – 0
You may be wondering what could be less than 1?
That would be zero, right? Yes, there is a town with a recorded population of zero.
Originally named Goodsprings Junction, Jean was a mining town supporting around 200 people, a post office, a few stores, and the mines. Enjoying decdes of propserity, the town gradually fell into disrepair and its 1,000 residents left. These days, Jean has become a commercial town. It’s home to the local post office, a courthouse, a minimum-security, all female prison, a casino and an airport.
Despite having no homes in Jean, communities around it use the city’s Post office as their mailing address. Its location, about 20 miles south of the southern edge of the Las Vegas Valley and around 12 miles north of Primm, also make it a prime location for people passing through, in need of a quick stop.
Here you have it, ten places where the population is less than many households. Until recently, Tenney, a town in Minnesota was in a battle for title of smallest city in the state. But in 2011, a vote was taken by the remaining three residents to dissolve the tiny town of Tenney.
Don’t waste any more time. Plan a vacation or day trip to include one or more of these. You never know when they’ll disappear for good.
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