Ghost Town on Broken Kettle Creek

Ghost Town on Broken Kettle Creek

In Plymouth County, about twenty miles north of Sioux City, stands Ruble, Iowa, a tiny dot on the map near Broken Kettle Creek.

Ruble, Iowa

Ruble was founded in 1900, and was never really more than a roadside pit stop, with the store serving weary travelers and regional residents under the leadership of H.C. Marbach. The small one-room country school served area students in the early days until a larger school was built on a different site.

Ruble, Iowa

The store once had a hitchin’ post for horses, and later, gas pumps. The store also served as the post office for Ruble, but only for six years, from 1900 to 1906.

Ruble, Iowa

Ruble, Iowa

Ruble, Iowa

There is a nicely maintained home that stands between the old school and the store, but either nobody lives there anymore, or they just weren’t home when we were there.

There is an underground storm shelter next to the school which would have served as protection from the powerful twisters that pass through this part of the Great Plains.

Ruble, Iowa

Inside the storm shelter. Hopefully tornadoes scare you more than spiders.

Ruble, Iowa

Inside the schoolhouse. The roof is porous, and this school needs a renovation to save it.

Ruble, Iowa

Ruble, Iowa

There is a short local history and some vintage views of Ruble, Iowa on IowaGenWeb.

Ruble, Iowa

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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21 thoughts on “Ghost Town on Broken Kettle Creek

  1. What a delightful place! So glad I found it on Google Maps street view. 🙂 Almost like a rural garage sale on the side of the road. I have never experienced severe weather on the scale of a tornado, so that underground shelter really fascinates me! I would like to sit down there and image what a tornado would sound like. I wonder how many severe storms these buildings have endured! Great article. Thank you!

        1. Yes that was Ruth – she was Bill’s wife and the school nurse. We spent quite a bit of time in the old store and would go upstairs where Bill & Ruth lived – lots of memories from there.

  2. Across the road from the school was a house where my grandparents lived in the 50’s. That place had one time been a creamery. I went to school with the Marbach girls and their brother. Good memories.

  3. We live a mile east from Ruble. There is someone that lives there yet. She has wonderful history of the old station and school.

  4. My great grandfather Henry Marbach owned this store. Alot of my family history is in that town and have heard alot of cool stories.

  5. Bill and Ruth Lamorey owned the store at one point. It was a store, gas station, repair shop and where you heard the town gossip.

  6. I have three old newspaper photos from the LeMars library showing an interior shot, an aerial pic, and a store front shot.
    There are hitching posts in front and a late 40s or early 50s car partially visible next to the store. I have passed it many times in recent years so nice to see what it looked like in the past.

  7. Always fun to ride our bikes to Ruble when we were kids. Bill and Ruth Lamourex always gave free Tootsie Rolls away to the kids out of the fascinating candy display case. Also liked to grab a cold pop out of the corner fridge, and charge it to the family account.
    Loved their little dachshund Flower.

  8. Mary Lamourex has been the Queen of Ruble Days since 1964. I drove bus for Le Mars and when the kids would sweep out the bus we would stop and they would get a pop. If a farmer in the area needed a quick weld on a broken piece of equipment, Bill would get them back in the field quickly.

  9. My Grandfather , Lowell Marbach ran the store in the late 40’s and into the 50’s, my mother, Loanne lived there I believe until she was 10 and then the family moved to Lemars, would love to fix the store up….lots of history!!!

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