Heaton – Six Years Later

Wells County
Inhabited as of 5/10

We returned to Heaton nearly six years after our first trip in 2004. How things have changed.


Heaton, North Dakota

This is an animation showing the former Heaton Bank and the Hawks of Heaton Gift Shop (which we believe may have been the Post Office at one time as well).  As you can see, sometime between 2004 and 2010, the structures have disappeared.  we don’t know what happened to them.  Several homes which used to stand in Heaton are gone now as well.

Heaton, North Dakota

Heaton, North Dakota

Heaton, North Dakota

Heaton, North Dakota

Heaton, North Dakota

Heaton, North Dakota

Heaton, North Dakota

The awning over the porch on the home above has collapsed sometime since 2004.  Click Here to see what it looked like then.

Heaton, North Dakota

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Heaton, North Dakota

Heaton, North Dakota

Heaton, North Dakota

Heaton, North Dakota

Heaton, North Dakota

Heaton, North Dakota

All photos by Troy and Rat, copyright SonicTremorMedia.com

38 Responses to “Heaton – Six Years Later”
  1. It seems like the new thing with ghosttowning is to make visits several years later to chronicle the changes that have taken place. Even I can pick out differences in photos I’ve taken in visits to towns already visited by the GND people.

  2. Gerald says:

    Some of these towns were centers of commerce at one time. Heaton, Sykeston, Woodworth, Edmonds, now ghost towns. But, how I remember Saturday nights when all the farmers came to town to sell their cream, buy a few groceries, and visit on Main Street. All over now. The Ford 350s and SUVs just fly by on the highway to Wal Mart in Jamestown, to the shopping center in Fargo and even to Minneapolis. But, there was a day these were wonderful little towns. I no longer live in North Dakota, but I still miss the state.

  3. Maggie says:

    I visited Heaton with a friend of mine August 2008 to take pictures, and those buildings were all still there then! I cannot believe they are just gone, with basically nothing left behind! How unfortunate. That was an interesting little town.

    • Anne says:

      Heaton no longer has water hooked up to it and that happened a few years ago. So the one family that lives there has a cistirn. The buildings were torn down in 2009 by the rural residents of the township that surrounds it. Once the buildings become county property to no one paying on the taxes the rural township made a vote and decided to tear them all down. They have had a real problem with scavengers going into the remaining homes and taking items out of them. Some of the oldtimers saw these buildings as an eyesore vs. a ghost town or something to preserve. Very sad really.

  4. David says:

    The photo of the Gordon Kahl gravestone is an interesting photo. Just seeing it brought chills – I hadn’t heard or thought of that name in decades…

    I lived in North Dakota (we farmed land just south of Heaton) during 1983. The Gordon Kahl story was big news in the small towns.

    • notme says:

      One of the Gordon’s accomplices in the murder was well known to my family who lived in Harvey at the time. There are still people in Harvey that mention him or the case from time to time. Definitely one of Dakota’s biggest crimes.

      • grm says:

        Defending one’s self when being fired upon is not a crime. Gordon Kahl did not have “accomplices” nor was he a murderer. He was singled out by a heavy handed government. Kahl was himself murdered in Arkansas — see Death And Taxes documentary.

        Apologies to the website managers. Didn’t mean to hijack this interesting thread. Just could not let a good man’s name be further besmirched.

        • Lew says:

          Even Hitler had his admirers!

          I am also apologetic about hacking the thread, but felt it necessary to comment.

          And LOVE this website! I haven’t heard of most of these small towns and it’s great to see the rich history they have!

        • Ted says:

          I despise big government, and I despise the intrusions to which Americans and North Dakotans are subjected every day. But Gordon Kahl was NOT a good man. A good man does not shoot a wounded human being in the head as he lays helpless on the ground. Gordon Kahl is the most despicable man to ever soil the good name of North Dakota. Every year beyond 1983 is another year to forget this murderer’s name. And that’s a good thing.

    • Gordon Kahl is one of my ancestors. The family tell an almost identical story, except that his son was not armed and he is in prison after being falsely accused. Gordon was very verbal and had too much attention brought to himself. AND, believe it or not, before Gordon passed away, my father, brother and other members of my family with the last name of Kahl, had unwanted visitors in their homes when they were not home. Some of the visitors were so stupid, they walked in mud and left tracks through my dad’s home. My dad was a state policeman. He met the man who had been in our home and confronted him. Sometimes he would receive telephone calls with people asking for Gordon Kahl. Gordon never made it to where we lived. Dad never met him. But, the IRS always assumes they are correct.

  5. Fairlane says:

    From what I’ve been able to find, the two buildings were considered “Brownfield Sites” by the ND Department of Health, and were removed due to asbestos contamination. Such a shame, and I fear this same reasoning may result in many more lost buildings.

    Here’s the list:

  6. GhostFan says:

    The last photo and photo-6,7,8 are the pictures of Heaton Lutheran Church. Tiny little chuch on main street. I was baptized in that church. Most every other building I can name and tell you whol live there in the 60′s and 70′s. I grew up on a farm south of Heaton and my grandmother and aunt & uncled lived there, so spent much time there. Was a wonderful small town–with great people–some real characters too–as all small towns have. I often now miss the simplicity of that time.

    • sdtumbleweed says:

      Interesting!! I also went to church in that little Lutheran church…..and was confirmed there in the fifties….lots of good memories growing up as a lad in this small prairie town…..

      • GhostFan says:

        Another Heatonite…great! It is always interesting when people share some of the same memories….I was 6 when the church closed in 1966 and most of the congregation transferred their membership to Bowdon Lutheran. But have vivid memories of the town all through my teen years and up until the last of my relatives left or passed away. Often drive through town on Memorial day weekend after visiting Heaton cemetery where my parent are both buried.

    • Arlene F. says:

      Good to read remarks of Heaton memories…brings back a lot more. I grew up SW of town on a farm; beautiful school building; grandparents, uncles & aunts lived there; carried a lot of water from the old town pump to Grandma’s house; hauled a lot of grain to those elevators, attended the Congregational Church..
      Would love to be in touch with former residents.
      Also would like to find the name of the ‘town’ before it was incorporated as Heaton. Have an old picture which may be “heaton” -would like to identify.

      • Larry Munson says:

        Arlene, what years were you in Heaton? Did you attend school there?

        • arlene says:

          Larry, you may remember Lois & Margy (who finished school in Bowdon).
          I was there 1938-1946. Lois is gone, but I’ll relay to Marge of our
          communicating. Your name is familiar and i’m sure she’ll remember.
          Sorry, I’ve been away from this spot for a while; will try to get back again soon.

  7. Kailey says:

    I have been to Headon with my family before. We were just wanted to drive through it and check it out becuase we had heard of ghost stories and that made my parents want to check it out. Well driving through we saw lots of abandoned houses. But one house had a new screen door!!! We thought was weird. So as we continued driving through the place we were driving past i believe onebof the last houses, and there was obviosly nobody living there, and as we were passing it, there was a swingset with an older man with long, gray, kind of messy hair was sitting on a swing, and there were at least 5 or 6 children around the swingset… I remember driving a little bit qiucker as we saw them, and as we were, the man eyeballed me through the window as far as i could see. this was i believe in the summer of 2007. But now talking to my parents about it, they saw somehing differnt than me. They remember seeing a few older guys, and one guy leaning on an older car smiling at them a s we drove away. But all of us are sure we saw somthing, and we are for sure those men and children were spirits..

  8. miller says:

    Iam sittin in the tractor today and was readin about heaton and thought I would post an update of the towns status since iam the only living resident right now(there’s plenty of nonliving ones there to). I grew up on our family farm just north of heaton and moved a house into heaton fall of 2009 where I currently live with my dog and chickens in the back yard. I have rural water right to house (which I read in earlier post there was none), I can walk 2 blocks to our local butcher shop which my parents own and is the only business left in town, it is the former gas station building on corner of town, they also have a house there which we rent out to hunters during hunting season. There is an elderly couple that live just west of town, they are my closest neighbors. The township is taking over more lots and will continual cleaning up. I love living in heaton cause of the freedom and I can walk right out my back door and go hunting. Don’t be afraid to stop and talk if you drive thru town, iam not a ghost walking around.

  9. Clifton Nelson says:

    I was a car collector for years and was always driving into small towns off the highway looking for treasures….About 1996 or so I drove thru all the lil’ towns along Hwy 200 from Carrington to Hurdsfield checking out the old car situation on my way to Bismarck by myself to visit my sister….She had to work til 5 P.M. so I started out early and checked a bunch of these towns including Heaton…there was a lot more to it then,maybe some ol’ cars too,but not what I was looking for,mainly muscle Mopars like Cuda’s,Challengers and Road Runners…..No such luck in Heaton,Gordon drove them to Arkansas for getaway cars…Fast you know,lol.lol

  10. Mike Wilson says:

    Went to first grade in Heaton and then we moved to Iowa but were up there a lot when I was a kid. I always thought the church south of school was Congregational but 1947 was a long long time ago. Remember a lot of people from there and we visited several years ago. Weren’t that many names in the cemetary south of town I didn’t know or had heard of from my parents. Still have relatives in the area but have pretty much lost contact over the years. They’re all considerably younger than I. I remember one house that I thought was so big as a child and think the girls name was Barbara Lepke but don’t know if that is the correct spelling. Wasn’t as large as I remembered it.

    • Arlene F. says:

      Hi, Mike. Glad to see you had posted. My sis & I drove thru Heaton about a month ago. Who would have thought our/my home town would someday look like this. But then I’m not younger either. Didn’t get up to decorate my parents’ and our grandparents graves this year.
      Let’s get in touch soon, OK? Hi to your bro & sis.
      Arlene James Franchuk

      • Mike Wilson says:

        Will have to give you a call one of these days. Seems like Dad told me that Uncle Bob and himself hand dug that well downtown by hand. Pretty sure he said it was 36′ deep! I kind of lost track just who lived where there anymore but remember a lot of names including a number of which I wouldn’t have a clue how to spell. Many fond memories of Heaton and it was saddening to see it even though I knew it was a ghost town basically before we were there that time.

  11. Mike says:

    Heaton was a home away from home for me we lived there 2 years then moved

  12. Jon Gums says:

    I went to summer vacation bible school in Heaton and my mother’s family was raised there… The Swart’s….

    I remember My grandma and grampa Mary and Lester both long time residents and every building in that town… I will have to run through there this summer and just remember all the good times…

    I sent several dimes at Lyle’s… knocking at his door to open the little gas station and “candy store” for me…

    too many memories!

  13. Larry Munson says:

    Interesting comments here…….I went to school in Heaton from the 5th grade through High School…graduated in1957….lots of happy memories! Left the spring of 1960…..anyone that remembers me, feel free to send a email….Larry, sdtumbleweed1@yahoo.com

    • Arlene F. says:

      I have an old picture I’d like to be able to identify; possibly Heaton before the town was
      “organized.” Can’t make out the name, but is definitely not ‘Heaton.’ Anone know what it
      was called before “Heaton”?

      • Troy Larson says:

        As far as we know, it was always called Heaton. According to North Dakota Place Names by Douglas A. Wick, Heaton was founded as Heaton in 1899 and named for George Heaton, a land sales manager for the railroad.

  14. Ava says:

    I remember visiting the Miller’s with my parents as they had been friends of my grandparents in Russia. I remember Kathryn the banker – the little store and a town with nice lawns. I once had a patient whose parents had owned the grocery store. They saw my name and asked who my Dad was – I told the lady and he had sat behind her in grade school and interpreted for him from English to German since she knew Yiddish and some German.

  15. ed em679@hotmail.com says:

    I have kin that was on the force in Heaton he still talks about the murder.

  16. Irv says:

    good man? His views on taxes may have been right but his views on race and religion made him out to be a nutjob.

    • grm says:

      Yes, Irv. A good man. A better man than most. Or maybe you knew him, and he wronged you in some way.

      Some of his children and grandchildren still live in the area, as does his widow. I have never heard ONE person who knew Mr Kahl say a negative word about him. Quite the opposite, in fact. Now, they will tell you that he could be rigid if you were in a discussion of religion with him, but he never held a grudge if you disagreed. (Personally, as a non-believer in the supernatural, I think all religious people are missing something…)

      As for his views on race, they were probably more correct than your views on race. He probably knew alot more on the subject than you do, Irv. Doesn’t make you a ‘nutjob,’ just another underinformed/misinformed victim of the liberal media.

  17. Jewel says:

    My childhood best friend that was her grandpa, it’s been a long time since I thought about that story either. Crazy thing that took place so many years ago.

Check out what others are saying...
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  2. […] has gone down quickly over the last decade, with most of their abandoned buildings razed and only one resident […]

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