Wheelock, ND

Wheelock, ND

These photos contributed by Nichole Simpson.

The interior of Wheelock School.

47 thoughts on “Wheelock, ND

  1. You should come see Denhoff ND this summer! Denhoff is the geographical center of ND. The school burned down 15 years ago. We have about 15 people left living in town, quite a few old houses, 1 old church, and 1 really neat small business building. Denhoff is located right by the corner of highway 14 and highway 200. So, just 1 mile of gravel to get there. I don’t know if it technically qualifies as a ghost town, since people still live there. But it is a neat place to visit! We still have our own zip code. 😉

  2. Is Wheelock the town that essentially has fences all over the place so that most of the town is being used as a pasture? I seem to remember that from a trip in that area in 2005 or so. We have seen that in mostly abandoned towns all over the state.

    1. Wheelock still has a couple of people living there, you may be thinking of Temple which is just a short distance NE of Wheelock. The area around the Lutheran Church in Temple is fenced and is used as a pasture.

      1. Yeah I remember the pasture at Temple, but I am sure it was one of the towns between Ray & Williston. Epping is a nice town, so perhaps it was Spring Brook? I just remember lots of fences, we didn’t even stop to take any photos.

  3. Interesting website! I had aunts and uncles who lived and worked in Wheelock for decades (Bradbury’s and Thue’s). Lenora Bradbury ran the post office, and her sister, Gladys Thue, ran the general store (shared the same building). The church in the photo was on the south side of the Bradbury’s property, and I remember my uncle Orlo Bradbury used to mow the church lawn. When my family visited, he used to “let” my older brother and me help him. Too funny.

    Wheelock was a very cool little town; at least as seen through the eyes of a young city boy who visited in the summers of the 1970’s. The innocense of that region always amazed me; no drugs, murders, rapes, or other mayhem on a daily basis. I remember it seemed “abnormal” to me at the time, that such a place existed.

    1. My father, Daryl Bendewald graduated with Olro Bradbury’s son(/), Dean and I remember him talking all about the other people too. We have an old calandar with Thue’s Store featured on it. My grandmother was Iona Pingrey Bendewald and she was the school teacher in the area. When I am in ND, I ALWAYS travel back to Wheelock and just sit and feel the stories that my Dad told me come alive. I have a brick from the schoolhouse that I display proudly.
      My father and Grandmother and their family are buried in the Wheelock Cemetary just outside of town.

  4. I remember haning out in the yellow house having hodowns there on Sat nights. Dancing untill 12 then going home past curfue my dad would be so mad.

  5. I started the 1st Grade in the Wheelock School in 1947 and then in the middle of the year my Dad who was the Depot Agent for the Great Northern Railroad was transferred to Minot,ND
    Thanks for the memories.
    Pat Crilly

    1. Hey Pat …I was in second grade in 46-47 and we left for Spokane WA in the fall of ’48 after I had just started 3rd. There were just 3 of us in the third row … Phyllis Mellang and Lana.

    2. Pat Crilly
      I worked in Wheelock ND in 1952 and 53, and knew your Dad well, he was very versatile and intelligent
      He was the person who hired me on the GNRR in 1952 and 35 years later he
      came to see me in Billings MT
      Wheelock was at the end of the double track between Williston and Wheelock and because of train orders and the manual system of switching trains it had operators at the depot around the clock
      In 1952-3 Wheelock had a very busy bar, a grocery store Post office and a hotel that I stayed at
      it was a better town than Epping and Temple but not as big as Ray, or as busy as oil town Tioga
      the new highway bypassed Weelock to its doom

  6. I grew up in Wheelock. We lived on a farm but we moved into Wheelock every year to go to school. I started first grade in 1951 and we lived over the old bank building that year. The next year we bought a house next to Jake Hodenfields garage. My dad paid $300 for the house. The house and the garage are both gone now. Kenny Thue ran the store “Thue’s General Mdse” and the post office was next door. H.K. Thue ran the store in the early days; Kenny took over when I was in the third grade or so. Sometime after I graduated from high school in 1963 the post office moved in with the store. For the first couple of those years we had a hardware store, “Lofgren Brothers”. The store closed when the last Lofgren Brother died. I don’t think I ever seen both Lofgren brothers at the store. In 1962 Wheelock High School had 10 students. 4 boys and 6 girls. The high school was closed that year and in 1963 we were all bused to Ray where I finished my senior year.

    1. $300 for a house?! Yet another reason to love Wheelock! Every time I visit this website it brings back very fond memories. It’s a shame that those little towns are no longer viable.

    2. Chuck.
      I knew and worked with your brother Ray Sherman in Willcox Arizona and we decided to move to Wheelock back in 1983, we got to know your brother Clarence { who was going to give me an job but got terminated the day before we got there } and your mom Mable, we bought an mobile home in Wheelock near the railroad tracks and stayed there till ’85 and moved to Europe, I’d love to go back there for a visit to see my little girls grave at the Wheelock cemetery and pay my last respects. I have many fond memories of Weelock and really enjoyed living there.

  7. Oh! Thank you for the memories and for letting Wheelock be alive again through them. It’s so sad to go back and see the condition of the town. I wish it could be the neat little clean town it was when I was growing up in the 50’s &60’s. I’m the youngest of the big family of Vinger’s. I’m sure anyone who ever went to school in Wheelock had one of us in your room! Ha!

    1. My Dad, Daryl Bendewald’s best friend was a Vinger! Is there a Kenny Vinger? That sounds right….I love this site!!!

  8. Brings tears to my eyes to see my church and school where I grew up in shambles. I went 2-8 Grade at the school. Attended Church, Sunday School was Confirmd & Married in this church. I have alot of awesome memories of Wheelock that was my hometown. I grew up on the Carl Melland farm,he was my Grandfather. Our address was Epping for the mail but Wheelock is where I call home.Our neighbors where the Alvin Garaas’s,Olive Vinger’s, Clearance Sherman & Oliver Hodenfield’s. My memories will alway’s be with me and can never be taken away. Thanks for the memories Wheelock and all the lived there while I was growing up.

    1. I wish there was something that could be said to make you feel better but thats what life is. I would feel the same way as you if I grew up there. Things turn to dust even us some day.

    2. Found this site on a whim. I’m looking for a picture of the inside of the store. (Anyone? anyone?) I used to visit my grandparents in Wheelock (also in the early 70’s) and walked to the store for treats, crossed the street to go to church, and played on the lone swing next to the school. It’s cool how many names I recognize above. I wonder if I’ve ever had a conversation with Grams when a Bradbury, Thue or Vinger wasn’t mentioned!

    3. Are you related to Dorland Melland? My father was Daryl Bendewald and he graduated with Dorland…I still go back there and just feel at peace. My Dad is buried in the Wheelock Cemetary.

    4. Could you please tell me when school started in Wheelock? My grandpa and grandma was Clarence and Ceona Sherman. My mom is one of the younger ones, Helen. Thank you.

    5. Alvin passed away just a few years ago. After I met him, along with my in-laws, we stopped at Wheelock to see some graves and take photos of the town my wife’s grandfather (Halfdan, Alvin’s father) settled in when he came to North Dakota. Really interesting town.

  9. Hello all!, My name is Jason and I currently reside in Hayden Idaho. I’m originally from Williston N.D. Though many of you have personal stories of Wheelock when it was a thriving town I have only memories of it starting in 1996. I was 13 when my grandfather who lives just 9 miles away in a lake house on Lake Sacajawea took me for a drive. My curiosity as a young man started then. I have photos of these buildings when they were still in descent condition. I had always wondered about the people who lived in this amazing town and your posts have really been quite surreal to read through. I return to Wheel lock with my wife and kids every other year as I have family who still live in the neighboring towns. My Grandfather Leland Olson “Ole” played basketball at the school. I have gone through many of the houses and buildings that were accessible. It has been sad to see over the last 2 years as the town has been overrun with bikers and a new bar named Wheelock Ramblers. If any of you would like more photos send me an email and let me know. Also, if anyone knows how to acquire land in this wonderful town I would be greatly appreciative. I did go to the Williston City hall to get names of the land owners to call and see if they would like to sell but had no luck getting this info.

  10. I spent my first 8 years in Wheelock. I was adopted by my grandparents. My grandfather Elwn (Shorty) Strong operated the equivalent to the modern convenience store. He had a gas pump in front where you had to pump the gas up into glass tank at the top and then use gravity to let the gas flow into a car or tractor or whatever. Maximum 10 gallons at a time. Inside you could buy a coke from the machine where you slid the bottles along a metal track and then lifted it out if you had put in the correct price. He also sold snacks. In the back of the store you could play cards or get a haircut from Grampa. We lived above the store for awhile and later got our own house.
    There was a well in the center of town where mostly kids got the joyful duty of carrying filled water pails home. Lots of outhouses in the town as well. The elementary portion of the school had 6 rows of seats … one for each grade. My grade had 3 students. We had one teacher for all of those 6 grades.

    1. My Grandmother was Iona Pingrey Bendewald and she taught school there in a one room school house by Wheelock. My Dad was Daryl Bendewald WHS Class of ’49. He had a brother and a sister and they lived with my Grandma’s brother. Very unusual for the time. Grandma sold the farm when Dad went to Korea in the war, but we have relatives in Tioga and friends near Wheelock that we still visit and I love coming back to Whelock. My Dad told us many of the stories that you shared in your post!

  11. We lived in Wheelock until 1948. I was back a few years ago and would recommend the Buffalo Trails Museum in Epping. There are some references to Wheelock there.

  12. My Grand father homesteaded in the early 1900’s close to wheelock .Interested in any info,pictures of wheelock. Grandfathers Name Fred Constable.Grandmothers name Amke.

  13. Who ever thought I would find myself on a site discussing Wheelock, ND??? This has been great fun. My maiden name was Carol Hodnefield. We lived right next to the church, and my family owned the yellow house. My dad, Jake, ran the local gas station/vehicle repair shop, which I believe is still standing. I too, have many wonderful memories of Wheelock. We were always safe wandering around town back in the 50’s and 60’s and managed to entertain ourselves quite well. In spite of leaving the house early each and every day and only coming home for meals, etc., I don’t think our parents worried about us very much. Those were much simpler times. I certainly remember many of the names mentioned here. Lenore Bradbury was our Sunday School superintendent and made us practice endlessly for Christmas programs. Kenny and Gladys Thue were the only people i ever remember running the grocery store. Kenny and Viola Melland were wonderful neighbors. And I certainly remember the Vingers and the Shermans. Mrs. Vinger made the best cinnamon rolls. Thanks for the memories. Hope we can keep this site going.

    Wheelock has sort of gained a resurgence with this recent oil boom. Last time i was there, there was considerably more action than in the past number of years.

    1. How sad to see Wheelock in its present state. My family used to spend our summers there and in Epping and I have wonderful memories of being there with my cousins making pests of ourselves in Jakes garage and Thue’s store. The school used to be the best building in the area and my cousins played basketball in the basement. What a shame to see it today.

      Jerry Hodnefield

      1. I am Daryl Hodnefield and a brother to Carol Hodnefield Seymour. I also have a younger sister, Janice Hodnefield, and an older brother, Jon Hodnefield. We all grew up in Wheelock with our parents, Jake and Esther (Halvorson) Hodnefield. Mom was born in Wheelock and lived there most of her life. Dad had the garage/repair shop, and was involved in farming with his brother, Oliver. I went to school in Wheelock through the 6th grade. During my last year of school in Wheelock, we had two grades with a total of 4 students (which included Janice and myself). Wheelock annexed with the Ray School District in 1969 after which time we attended Ray Public School. I don’t remember any new homes being built while I was growing up, but with the current oil boom there have been new homes moving into town and a frack sand business that has started up. The frack sand business is located where the grain elevators used to be on the south side of the railroad tracks. When driving into Wheelock a couple months ago we noticed a sign for “West Wheelock”. Since you can easily see from one end of town to the other I must admit it put a smile on our face. Although the town has changed considerably since our childhood days, it was a great place to grow up. Many fond memories of the people, church, school and business places that made the community.

        Daryl Hodnefield

        1. I remember my dad talking about the Hodenfields and I believe he probably grew up with relatives of yours. I too, swy the “West Wheelock” sign recently and chuckled. My Dads name was Daryl Bendewald and he and his brother and sister grew up there with their Mother who was the school teacher there for many years…she taught all grades back in the day, way before your time I am sure.

        2. I’m looking for information concerning any Hodenfield that may have married a Leota M. Reed, probably in the 1930’s
          Ray P.

    2. Do you remember the Bendewalds? My Grandma was Iona Pingrey Bendewald. She was the school teacher for all grades for years and my father was Daryl Bendewald (WHS Class of ’49) I am so happy to have found this site and read all the memories that people have. I thought my brothers and I were the only ones out there that even knew about Wheelock…we used to sit for hours and listen to Dad talk about growing up there and I visit at least once a year.

  14. The “bar” you speak of is the private clubhouse of the Ray Ramblers MC, an old and very much respected Motorcycle Club comprised of Medical Professionals, Business owners, common working people, Grandma’s and Grandpa’s and are some of the most friendly people you will ever meet from at least two states and Canada. They do not “overrun” the town, they come to meet and visit with their members, and guests, and to improve and maintain their private property. And they’ve been there doing that for decades beyond “two years”, breathing a little life into an otherwise nearly dead town.
    Please don’t assume that people are bad simply because they arrive wearing black leather and riding loud motorcycles.

  15. Could anybody please tell me when school started in Wheelock, if there was a river between Wheelock and Ray and any information on a family called the Shermans?

  16. school started in wheelock in 1908 the brick school house was built in 1927. I remember playing basketball in the down stairs gym. shirley, jon hodnefield, joe sherman and linda thue were in my class 5th and 6th grade. I remember the Vingers very well

  17. I spent a lot of summers out in Wheelock. My Grandmother Poole ran the bar in town in the 60s and I also had my Aunt Agnes Wilkie who lived next to the school. I also spent a lot of time in the general store. A safe and amazing place for a preteen boy. I actually went to 1st grade in the school until my mom moved us into Williston in 1965.

  18. Hello All! I am doing family research and am seeking anyone coming across a Felix LeRoy or Emily (Emma) LeRoy who were living with a WIlliam F. Gerrity and his wife Alice Pearl Gerrity in 1925. Their mother passed away on February 23, 1925. Her name was Sarah (Gravelle) LeRoy. The Gerrity homestead was just north of town. What is the name of the cemetery on the hill in town? Any contact person for the cemetery?

    The father, Felix B. LeRoy was living in View Township in 1925. His actual last name was Hoppa or Hopp.


      1. Hello Angela!

        Felix was the son of Stanislaw Hoppa (Hopp). Stanislaw married my g-grandfather’s sister (Frances Reak).
        Apparently there was a father-son rift and Felix changed his last name and moved to the most desolate area he could find. I have a copy of Sarah’s death certificate and apparently there was a third child born.
        She is buried in Ray, ND and I would like to know if there is a stone or some other marker for her grave.


  19. i just found this web site..and have lots of memories of wheelock… my family move to wheelock in 1947 . i was one year old..my dad was john holman ,going to school there was a great time.. many sat and sunday we would get the key to gym and go up the the school and shoot basketball .my sister norma and brother jim both grad from wheelock school.. in 1958 dad and mom moved to williston. so i finish 8th grade and high school in williston. dad worked at the garage and looking at all the other stories about wheelock .it was a great town and time… the the old names come back like it was yesterday… no one could take away the good time we all had..

  20. Just checking in – it’s been a few years since I visited this site. It seems like just a few years ago that I was 12 years old and riding a bike down dusty roads around Wheelock – it’s been 44 years. I do feel melancholy when visiting this site – but its all good. Life marches on.

  21. Hello Everyone….

    I was reading an article and the name “Wheelock, ND” came up. I lived in Grand Forks 25 years ago and on a whim researched Wheelock and stumbled upon this site. I thought the readers here might be interested in a photo of a “Mr. Tronson near Wheelock” at this website:


    The way the people here write is almost too painful to read, as the descriptions could have been for most any small American town in the fifties and sixties. These “Normal Rockwell little towns” don’t exist anywhere anymore….

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