Railroads don't seem quite so important anymore. But they are. How many things get transported by railroad trains these days? A ton. No, wait. Make that tons.

And while railroads are important these days, there was a time when they were a literal lifeline. While today interstate highways are important to a community's growth, back in the day the railroad could well determine if a community lived or died.

Welcome to Bangor, South Dakota.

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Never heard of it? Well, if you venture up to Walworth County, it's there.

Well, sort of.

It was back in 1884 that Bangor became the new Walworth County seat. Oh yes, the town fairly flourished with a number of businesses. Life was good in Bangor.

It was about 1899 that the Milwaukee Railroad talked about an extension into Bangor. And that would be like having the interstate highway pass through your town.

In other words, big things were on the horizon for Bangor, South Dakota!

Except it didn't happen. Nope. Instead, the town of Selby had been established and the railroad folks decided to bring the railroad there. There was a dispute for several years about who would be the County Seat, a dispute that was settled in Selby's favor. Eventually, even buildings were moved, from Bangor to Selby.

And the beginning of the end of Bangor was underway.

These days Selby is doing well, thank you, with over 600 people and still the Walworth County seat. I've had the pleasure of being in Selby several times, a great small town with friendly folks, a fine hot beef sandwich, and a fun place to visit.

And Bangor? Well, a few miles south of Selby on Highway 83, there's a Bangor commemorative monument and a small cemetery. And memories of when the railroad decided to go a few miles up the road.

Ghosttowns.com contributed to this article

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