Manfred, North Dakota is in Wells County, about 30 miles south of Rugby, near the geographical center of North America. Manfred reportedly had 439 citizens in 1920, but that declined to 70 by 1960, and about a dozen when we took these photos in 2006. We actually hadn’t planned on stopping in Manfred, but we drove right by it on the way to Silva and Fillmore, and when we saw the hotel from the highway, we immediately decided to go to Manfred on the return trip. It was worth it.
Manfred also has a very impressive old schoolhouse, however someone had butted a trailer home up against the building and virtually swallowed up the entire structure as a living space. Some of the windows were plywood and others had bed sheets hanging in the windows. We were unsure at the time if someone was living there, so we chose not to photograph it on this visit.
Manfred’s Hotel Johnson looked like something out of the Old West when we visited in 2006. By the time we returned in 2012, things had changed dramatically.
We returned to Manfred six years later, and found much had changed.
The building pictured below appeared to have gone through a recent makeover. Due to a photo contribution from Mark Johnson, we were able to do a “before and after animation” on the structure.
The Post Office pictured below also appears to be in very nice condition, and there were several very well-tended modern homes in Manfred. We returned to Manfred six years later, and got some photos of the school, which was by that time owned by someone dedicated to restoring it.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2017 Sonic Tremor Media
Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy