NAME: Ortonville
COUNTY: Dallas
CLIMATE: Hot in summer, Cold in winter
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Spring, Fall, Summer
COMMENTS: At intersection of US 6 & County R16 20+ miles west of Des Moines or about three miles east of Adel. Not much left to see since Hwy 6 was widened recently. There are a couple of houses in the area and a modern mfg. plant and small warehouse type businesses on the north side of the old RR bed (now a bike trail).
REMAINS: No specific remains since old gas station is gone. Closer investigation may reveal some remains or artifacts, but this area has been pretty well worked over by road crews and construction companies.
Don't know the specific history of Ortonville, but it's general history is of interest, because it was a circus village. The Orton family were circus people who wintered here up until the circus folded, I believe sometime in the 30's before WWII My mother's best friend was an Orton who had grown up performing in the circus and married a local Iowa boy from my home town. She had several relatives living nearby and I recall some of them were at Ortonville when I was young ('40s & '50s). This was not so much a ghost town as a village that never grew and eventually disappeared. It did have a service station that was a landmark even after it closed; but that was either removed or destroyed when US 6 was widened recently. There was probably a RR station at one time on the old Milwaukee branch, but don't have any evidence or memory of it. Interestly, there was another circus settlement a few miles to the north and east of Ortonville just outside of Granger. I believe it may also classify as a "ghost", but can't remember its name offhand. It's somewhat puzzling why circus folk would have wanted to "hole-up" in Iowa's bleak winters. Submitted by: Larry Gibson