Merricourt, ND

By / May 5, 2005 / Merricourt, ND

Dickey County
Inhabited as of 5/05

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.

US Census Data for Merricourt
Total Population by Place

1960 – 66
1970 – 22
1980 – 17
2000 – Did Not Appear

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.

CLICK PHOTOS TO ENLARGE

Merricourt, North Dakota

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.

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.”

He continues, “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.”

Merricourt, North Dakota

We returned to Merricourt some years later and found the bank shown above in much worse condition, and we’ve included some before and after comparison shots in our third book.

Merricourt, North Dakota Merricourt, North Dakota Merricourt, North Dakota

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.

The tracks which run beside the elevators are still in use.

Merricourt, North Dakota Merricourt, North Dakota Merricourt, North Dakota Merricourt, North Dakota

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.

Merricourt, North Dakota Order Ghosts of North Dakota Books Merricourt, North Dakota

It was a misty, somewhat spooky day.

Merricourt, North Dakota Merricourt, North Dakota

 

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

About Author

Troy Larson

Troy Larson is a father, husband, author, photographer, publisher and devoted cat person. Troy is the President of Sonic Tremor Media and co-founder of GhostsofNorthDakota.com

11 Comments

Lois Schneider

I was born and raised on a farm southwest of Merricourt and still visit often as the family farm is still operational. Thank you for the wonderful photos and history lesson.

Reply
Engineer Bruce

I also remember stopping here in ’78 or ’79. We were working on a ballast train (done dumping and eastbound back to Hankinson) and had to clear for the local westbound (heading for Wishek). The local cafe was still open as we had lunch while we waited. Soo Line (now C.P. Rail) operated the line at that time. It is now a short line, Dakota, Missouri Valley and Western now. The elevators were abandoned at this time too. I always wondered too about the brick elevators these are the only ones I have ever seen. Did someone locally manufactor bricks for the elevator? Lack of lumber at the time? You would think that it would have been expensive to ship this many in.

Reply
Donna Hoffman Eszlinger

what interesting photos, and history lesson, Our country church shared a pastor with the Merricourt church, so at different times we would attend church there as well as for the confirmation of the three churches served by the same pastor, I believe it was a Rev. Moos, he served our country church and one in Kulm as well. I lived out on the McIntosh/Dickey county line at that time.. great job…

Reply
Sharon Klemm

Photos are spectacular. I have a question though. If there are no services there, how does a person, or two, live there? Is there any electricity?

Reply
ghostsofnorthdakota

That is a good question. We think there is utility-supplied electrical power. Perhaps we’re using the wrong terminology but when we say there aren’t any services, we’re actually referring to businesses, stores, gas stations, fire department etc… there are none in Merricourt.

Reply
Dave D

Merricourt has had lights since at least 1927 – they may have had a municipally operated light plant before that, not sure. It was Northern Power & Light from the mid-1920s to 1939 when it became Dakota Public Service Co. and finally Montana-Dakota Utilities in 1945. I’ve been through Merricourt a couple times – the substation is about a half-mile northeast of town (and a very small one at that); for some reason the company decided to bury the main line into town.

Reply
john steinwand

my dad grew up just eaST OF THERE .my kids and i drove around the area would love to bUy aND RERSTORE SOME OF THE PROPERTY .

Reply
Brad Jenner

I lived my first 5 years in Merricourt. 1955-1960. The hall was just across the street from our house.

Reply

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