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Ghost Town on the Prairie

The story of Cardiff is available in a book, "Cardiff: Ghost Town on the Prairie," by Jim Ridings.

Cardiff won an award in 2007 from the Illinois State Historical Society, and in 2006 a Studs Terkel Award from the Illinois Humanities Council.

County West Companion

What is Cardiff
"Cardiff: Ghost Town on the Prairie," tells the story of nearby coal towns that are gone, such as Torino, Clarke City and Tracy. It has a history of the town of Campus and a history of mine disasters at Diamond and Cherry.

Special Emphasis of the Book!
The village of Cardiff was built between Kankakee and Dwight in Northeast Livingston County in 1899, after the discovery of coal. A mine was sunk and a relatively large town developed within months.

A series of mine explosions from March 12 to 16, 1903, killed nine mine workers. Three men remain entombed in the mine.

A second mine was sunk to the west, and mining operations and the village grew bigger than ever. 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, its biggest customer, refused to buy Cardiff coal. The mine closed in 1912.

Almost as fast as the town was built, Cardiff disappeared. Houses and business buildings were dismantled or moved whole. A few houses and businesses remained into the 1920s, and a handful of people have continued to live in this area since then.

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, gardens and streets have now gone back to farmland.  

How & Where do I purchase?
Local Purchase: It is available for $29 at the Herscher Historical Museum.

Through the mail: The price is $29 (plus $4.00 for postage) Please make checks out to Jim Ridings!

Send a check and the Herscher Area Historical Society Order Form to:

Cardiff Memorial Bricks?
An official state historical marker is being planned for the former coal mining town of Cardiff, Illinois, located between Dwight and Kankakee. Read more about the Cardiff historical marker.

Mail to Jim Ridings
PO Box 464, Herscher, IL 60941

Phone Jim Ridings

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