In the heart of Wisconsin there was once a small town called Doveland. But then something strange happened. Doveland disappeared in the 1990s. That is right, an entire town with buildings and residents vanished in thin air and left nothing behind.
This surely makes no sense, right? But here is the true story of Doveland, the town that vanished.
Most towns keep records of things like public officials, property records, and even the individuals that are born and die in a town. On top of that, all states in the US have official state archives, which are full of documents charting the history of every town in the state, census data, etc. Even odd items are recorded, like the first stop sign in a town that someone’s great grandma stole as a prank, that sort of thing.
With that in mind, finding records related to Doveland, Wisconsin, should be easy. Getting information from an archive is simple, and there is a lot you can access without needing to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
What makes Doveland so fascinating is that there are no records of a town with such a name, the town was not renamed or altered its zoning, and there is no map of the state that includes the coordinates of a town called Doveland, Wisconsin. Yet people claim they remember the town, had friends or relatives who lived there, have visited it, and a few folks have souvenirs to prove they have been to Doveland.
How could an entire town and its residents suddenly disappear into the ether?
So, we have a town that people remember but which apparently never existed. Several theories have been suggested that might explain the disappearance of an entire town. The first theory is that Doveland was destroyed by an earthquake which could have caused a massive sinkhole that swallowed up the town.
Someone would have noticed, right? OK, the second theory is that Doveland was destroyed by damming. Over 900 dams were built in the State of Wisconsin, and over the years many have been removed, or abandoned.
In the past, Wisconsin has experienced dams bursting, leading to large-scale flooding and destruction or near-destruction of towns. Did flooding wash away Doveland?
A third theory as to why Doveland seemingly vanished from existence is that Doveland might have been destroyed by a “military science experiment that went horribly wrong”. This sounds ominous, to be sure, but is most likely speculation from those who think the “rule of cool” applies to the real world.
The fourth theory is similar to the third; perhaps Doveland was a military town that ceased to exist after the operation or war ended. Such temporary towns are known, but there is no corroborating evidence in the memories of those who recalled Doveland to suggest this.
The fifth theory is that all of Doveland’s residents moved away because the economy failed. This would make more sense, and indeed such ghost towns exist all across the United States. But tis would mean that the remnants of Doveland would still exist, and that seems to not be the case.
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The sixth theory neatly solves this, however: perhaps Doveland still exists, but is invisible. Surprisingly alien involvement, the obvious next step, is not however tied to the mystery of Doveland. But could extraterrestrial beings with advanced technology abduct an entire town, leaving no sign of life or habitation behind?
Dismantling the Theories
While the six (possibly seven if you believe in aliens) theories for what might have happened to Doveland, Wisconsin, sound rational, these theories can be debunked. The idea that an earthquake occurred that was so strong it leveled the town is unrealistic.
There are no fault lines that run through the State of Wisconsin, so an earthquake with an epicenter in Wisconsin strong enough to decimate a town is not possible. That isn’t to say that Wisconsinites have never felt an earthquake in their state.
The most recent earthquake that was felt in Wisconsin was in March 2012. This 1.5 magnitude earthquake occurred in Clintonville in Waupaca County, and reports say the quake rattled the windows across the county. Most earthquakes that have been felt in Wisconsin have epicenters in places like southwest Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, and Canada.
No towns in Wisconsin have experienced more than minor damage due to an earthquake. Because there have not been any significant earthquakes in Wisconsin in the state’s history, the suggestion that one caused a massive sinkhole lacks support.
Besides, if a sinkhole swallowed up an entire town, did the state just fill the hole and act like the town never existed? Maybe in a movie, that might occur, but not in real life.
While damming has led to the destruction of several towns in Wisconsin, there are records of the towns existing before the flooding occurred. Even after flooding or a burst dam, structures, trash, trees, and building foundations are still left behind.
There is no way a flood destroyed Doveland and took all the debris with it as it flowed away. Doveland’s disappearance due to a military experiment gone horribly wrong is a creative idea but one that would have left evidence behind.
For example, the Ukrainian city of Chornobyl was the location of a nuclear accident that destroyed the city. But there are still abandoned buildings and signs of life that once thrived in the city.
The destruction was to the environment, which is still incredibly radioactive 37 years after the accident. Even if the military tested a bomb on the town of Doveland, there would be debris and things like bomb fragments that people would have found by now.
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Similarly, the theory that Doveland was a military town that ceased to exist after the conflict or operation ended is unrealistic. In the US, there are numerous abandoned military complexes and bases.
There is the North Concord USAF Station in Vermont, Fort Pike in Louisiana, Fort Tilden in New York, and the Titan I Missile Complex in rural Washington. All of these locations have been abandoned. All that remains is graffiti-covered dilapidated buildings, concrete bomb shelters, and rusting equipment.
If Doveland were a former military town that dissolved after the military left, there would be signs that the area was once home to the military, mostly abandoned structures where local kids go to do some underage drinking or recreational drugs. But there are none.
The final theory that residents of Doveland, Wisconsin, moved away due to a failing economy is possible. Boom towns popped up across the US when oil, gold, coal, and silver were found, and miners came to work.
These small towns were prosperous when the resources that stimulated the economy were in abundance. However, when the resources ran out, the miners would relocate to the next boom town, leaving behind the iconic western ghost towns.
Like all the other theories, if Doveland had been abandoned when the economy began to fail, there would still be things like buildings left behind. The idea that Doveland became invisible is fantastical, and it sounds like the plot of an episode of The Twilight Zone. So what was Doveland, Wisconsin?
We do not know who started the legend of Doveland, Wisconsin, but we do know that until 2015 there were no mentions of a Doveland or a town in Wisconsin that suddenly vanished. The internet is full of legends and eerie stories accompanied by doctored photos and records that claim to prove the validity of the stories.
People have souvenirs from Doveland not because they have been there but because you can buy mugs, hats, shirts, and keychains from “Doveland” online through sites like Redbubble. What about the people who swear they have been there, had family that lived there, and knew of its existence before it vanished in the 1990s?
Those individuals are experiencing false memories. More specifically, they are experiencing the Mandela effect. The Mandela effect is the existence of specific false memories that can be shared amongst large groups of people.
False memories can easily be created, but social and cognitive reinforcement (pictures, articles, etc.) allow them to permeate and become so real in one’s mind that it becomes something people swear occurred, existed, or happened to them. Doveland, Wisconsin was never a real town; it was fiction that grew a life of its own.
Top Image: Doveland apparently existed only in memory, and was never there in real life. Source: Alcorn Imagery / Adobe Stock.