A farm post office for Merricourt was established in October 1883. North Dakota Place Names by Douglas Wick lists Merricourt’s peak population at 153 in the 1940’s.
During our visit to Merricourt, we saw one home which was occupied, right in the middle of the townsite. We also heard someone calling for their dog, so we didn’t stay in that area long. There are quite a few abandoned structures, as well as some buildings which are still maintained. The surrounding miles of farmland are dotted with crumbling farms in every direction. Population loss was hard on this part of the state.
A nicely paved two-lane highway runs right through the middle of Merricourt, but there’s very little risk you’ll encounter any traffic. This town is very much off-the-beaten-path. In fact, Merricourt is so remote, FM radio and cell phone service were nearly non-existent when we visited in 2005. There are no services (gas, lodging etc…) of any kind in Merricourt.
Concerning the building pictured above, Host/Author/Producer Keith Norman writes,
“This building is my Aunt and Uncle’s old house. They operated the post office from the building. The old WPA constructed gymnasium is currently owned by a British construction/energy company. The area just to the west of Merricourt is considered the best place in the entire United States for wind energy. The British company (and I forget the company name) has talked about a Billion dollar wind energy project in the area. No word on when or if they’ll ever get going. I believe that there are a person or two living in Merricourt.”
Mr. Norman has also contributed a story about a robbery in Merricourt.
We returned to Merricourt some years later and found the bank shown above in much worse condition.
US Census Data for Merricourt
Total Population by Place
1960 – 66
1970 – 22
1980 – 17
2000 – Did Not Appear
The elevators in Merricourt are very imposing structures. They are much taller in person than they look in photos, yet their deteriorating state is a constant reminder of their fragility. One of them is a brick elevator, seemingly rare since it’s the only one we’ve ever seen. Update: we’re told there is also a brick elevator in Beach, North Dakota.
The tracks which run beside the elevators are still in use.
Merricourt was featured in our hardcover coffee table book, Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 3. If you enjoy this website, please consider ordering a book via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or our website, or you can pick up a copy in person at one of these fine retailers.
The large structure on the right is a former WPA gymnasium/community center. When we visited in 2005, we thought it looked like it was in pretty good shape, and perhaps still used. When we came back years later, the basement was full of water and it is clearly no longer usable.
It was a misty and somewhat spooky on the day we visited.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy