coteau5

Coteau, ND

Burke County
Inhabited as of 6/10

Coteau, ND was founded in 1906 in Burke County, northwest of Minot, just over a dozen miles from the Canadian border. Like many, many other towns on this website, Coteau peaked around 1920, with a population of 150. Coteau was actually on our list of towns to visit in May of 2010, but we ran out of time and passed it by. Boy, did we miss out.

Tom Pence contributed these incredible photos of Coteau with the following comments:

The Methodist Church shut down probably within the last ten years. It was functional when I left in 1993 (so don’t blame me!). There was a community center of some type. I was not familiar with it but there is a stage inside with lots of wooden benches. Pretty rough shape inside as you can see.

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Photos by Tom Pence
Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Comments
38 Responses to “Coteau, ND”
  1. Crystal says:

    I recall visiting Coteau as a child, and I can’t wait to go again. Thanks for the post. I forwarded the Coteau email to my mom because she lived there as a child. Here is the story I got out of her regarding the little ghost town………..

    This is interesting about Coteau as I was there yesterday. Les & I went to Betty & Eddies 50th aniv. celebration in Bowbells which is real close to Coteau. On the way to Stanley we drove in and I showed Les the little ghost town where I went to grade school, went to Bible school & Sunday school, etc.

    I used to play a lot on those church steps too. Right across the street was Mrs. Parsins place. (The little house pictured) Mom would visit her and I could play in her back yard which I thought was paradise. She had little paths going all over with flowers everywhere. I have always remembered it.

    The pink house was where the Johnsons lived. The old man later lived close to mom and dad in the Minot apartments. He passed away shortly b/4 dad did. They were old friends and one of their boys was a classmate of mine.

    The bar that grandpa owned was just north of the church on the opposite side. It isn’t there anymore. We first lived inside the bar as there was living space in the back and a lot of upstairs bedrooms. I think it was at one time a hotel.

    We lived in three different houses after that and one is pictured right b/4 the pictures of the school.

    The old school was replaced with a new one after we left but shortly after that they closed it down and the kids that were left went to Bowbells.

    I would love to take all of you girls there someday before I die because I have so many good memories there.

    • Jerome Hinds says:

      Hi
      My family has had a presence in Coteau since around 1951. Merton and Ida Hinds moved into Coteau after selling family farm to eldest son Robert near the community of Flaxton. Merton worked for Great Northern Rail Road until his death in 1955. During this time He owned the last active bar in Coteau and Ida was a part time teacher at school. Their youngest son Mike ( my dad) attended school in Coteau until it closed then he returned to family farm and Finnished in Flaxton. After that Mike started his career in Automotive repair and returned to Coteau and purchased the service station from Phill Christianson and had a small convince type store and Auto Body shop along with his sevice station. Along came me (Jerome ) I grew up in Coteau started my career as electrician and like my dad I soon moved back to Coteau with a wife and kids to raise my kids like I was in my little Ghost Town. We are still close to the community we own property there and try to mow and keep it like it was but Coteau is not quite the same as it was with no business it is more o the ghost town than ever. We do have some young families moving in and recognizing the true benefits of 21st century Coteau, the great lifestyle and child rearing. I can only hope that one of my children will have the option to do what I have done to, make a life and raise their family in this historic little GHOST TOWN

      Jerome Hinds
      Coteau,ND

      • Dallas E. Neville III says:

        Phil Christensen was my great Grandfather. My grandfather was Gerald Christensen who has since passed. I think its wonderful to talk about the old times and remember our family history.

      • Terry Johnson says:

        Jerome, our family lived in Coteau in 1950-51 while my Dad was section foreman for the Great Northern. We lived in the railroad house across the tracks from the stockyard. I attended part of the first grade there before we moved. We knew your family well and I have memories of visiting Merton (“Dutch”?)
        and Ida’s house. I recall when Mike returned home from the military. I also recall the Ford family. I believe he was the depot agent. Great memories. Thanks for sharing.

    • Warren H Balfour says:

      My father, John J Balfour was born someplace near Coteau,nd or Bowbells nd. His father was William Henry Balfour, wife Mabel.They had a homestead somewhere near this area
      Anyone have any information on where the homestead might be.
      Thanks,
      Warren Balfour wbalfour@mac.com

  2. Mark N. says:

    My dad graduated from that High School in 1953! I still have his senior yearbook and there is a picture in there of the school in it’s heyday. There is only about half of the bricks left of the original building, that doorway was in the middle. And there was a large while quonset connected to the side that is missing that was the gymnasium.

    • Gerald Nelson says:

      Rolly Ross, my brother-in-law, bought that quonset and moved it to their farm a few miles to the east. I lived on a farm a half mile east of Coteau and graduated in 1950.

  3. elaine says:

    My Dad, (Arthur P. T.) was born in Coteau in 1910. He left for Oregon in the Depression, mid-Thirties. All his life, he believed it to be the finest town with the finest people he ever knew. Such is the power of our childhoods….. all us kids love Coteau, too, as a place that felt like a romantic fantasy even as we visited and walked the streets.

  4. Carrie says:

    My grandfather grew up in Coteau. Pearse Parsons. I believe that the Mrs. Parsins that Crystal mentions above is actually his mother, my great grandmother, Viola Parsons. I have pictures of my grandmother and grandfather on a motorcycle in front of that little church circa 1940s/50s. So amazing to see that church and their house today. This really meant a lot to me.

    • Rob Parsons says:

      Carrie,
      Viola Maude Parsons is my grandmother from Coteau ND. She was the Post Mistress there for awhile. She and my grandfather Robert Orange Parsons are buried west of town in a small cemetery along with my father Robert Donald Parsons and his brother Walter who died at a very young age (3-5 years old). I attended my grandmother (1974) and fathers (1979) funerals in the church pictured. I haven’t been to Coteau since 2004 and from the pictures it looks much the same as it did the last I saw it. I am not familiar with Pearse Parsons but would very much like to speak with you further to see how we are related :)

      • Carrie Bowman says:

        Rob,
        Pearse was your dad’s brother. There was also a sister Sara Parsons. I have some great family photos and newspaper articles you may enjoy. Here is my e-mail address: bowman.carrie@insightbb.com. Send me a message and we can chat. I would love to hear from you.

  5. Nolan L Grubb says:

    A good friend and neighbor in Powers Lake, ND bought a 1937 Hudson Terraplane from a widow in Couteau in the early ’70′s. Her husband had driven it and she kept it in the garage up on blocks. It had been started once a month and run for a short while.

    When she bought it, they drained the oil, aired up the tires and drove it from Coteau to Powers Lake at about 55 – 60 mph.

    She still has it today. It runs well and only has a few dents and some crazed glass.

  6. Tammy J. Elliott says:

    I Recently went through Coteau. I’m very Curious about the House Thats Mailbox Reads Mr.and Mrs. Albertson. My Great Grand Mother was Gina Albertson. Does anyone have More Info?

  7. Carrie Bowman says:

    Tammy,
    My mom used to vist my great grandparents up in Coteau and I asked her about the Albertsons. she recalls their names being Walt and Mabel. they had a son named Galen who she believes lived in Alaska. This was in the early 1970′s. I hope that helps you out. If you have any other questions I’ll be happy to try to help you out!

  8. Jill Maser says:

    Does anyone remember the Parsons they lived in town . The bar in town playing cards on Sat night.

    • Robin Arnold says:

      Robin Parsons Arnold says:

      My father Ed Parsons grew up in Coteau. His brother was Don Parsons, sister was Sarah Parsons, and their mother was Maude.

  9. Gloria Opseth Ryberg says:

    I attended school in Coteau through the 5th grade (the high school had closed prior to that). The school bus ride to Bowbells that 1st day was terrifying…walking into such a HUGE class (I think about 25 students). My Dad had a garage/mechanic shop in Coteau and farmed WSW of there. The pink house in the pictures belonged to my Aunt & Uncle Glen & Evelyn Johnson. He worked for the railroad. They later moved to Noonan and then to Minot. and are both deceased.

  10. Cathy Ward says:

    Does anyone have any information about Robert and Irene Little, my father Jack was born in Coteau and I am searching for information. I am told my Grandfather owned acreage about 12 miles south of Coteau and sold it to the government. Thank you for any help you can be. Cathy (Little) Ward

  11. Dallas E. Neville III says:

    I used to go there a lot to visit my moms side of the family. My moms aunt Shirley Haroldson still lives there and runs the farm at the northern edge of town. My moms parents grew up in Coteau and so did most of there family. The last names of my moms family that lived there are Haroldson, lindblad, and Christensen. I know one of my moms grandfathers or uncles ran the gas station and general store for years. My moms dad went to the high school. I wish I could have seen it in its hay day when it was still a thriving town. I am glad I have been able to see it now.

  12. Anna Peterson says:

    My husband and I have been living in Coteau for 3 years now. Sadly the school was torn down and there is a RV park there now. All the other buildings pictured are still upright. I love living here with my children and enjoy living in a ghost town!

  13. Virginia says:

    My grandparents, John & Anna Murphy live there from 1928 to 1940.
    John worked for John Elven (Anna’s brother-in-law), H. Haroldson, Andrew Anderson, J P Doyle, and he cooked at the school. Anna was a seamstress and sewed for many neighbors & friends. They had 4 children, Pearl (my mother), Charles, Elllen Margaret & De Merit. Pearl & Charles graduated from high school there. They moved to Plentywood, Mt. in 1940. Ellen (known as Marge to us) bought a vacant lot there many years ago & her son still has it. Pearl & Marge were at a big reunion several years ago where they were raising money for a big Choteau sign. Not sure of the year. There are many stories of Choteau families in the Burke Co & White Earth Valley book published in 1971. My sister, Janet Cron, lives in Flaxton, ND. & knows the area well.

  14. Heidi says:

    My grandfather was born in Coteau North Dakota around 1918 according to my mom’s birth certificate. I would love to find out if my family is in the book that is listed here. Hs name was John Grill, he had a brother, I’m not sure of his name and their mothers name was Carrie Grill. By 1940 my grandpa was in WA state.

    • Larry Opseth says:

      I knew of or actually knew almost all of the people mentioned in these notations.
      Bill Grill was an old bachelor farmer about 2 miles south east of our Harold and Doris Opseth farm. When he retired off his land which I think was a quarter section, Dad and I went over there to his one room farm house. He was a nice and kind man who enjoyed being invited to our house for dinner which was at noon and there was lots to eat and Mom’s homemade bread is something that everyone loved. Bill sold Dad his kerosene lamp, I don’t think he had electricity even and had an outhouse and a hand pump well. Dad also bought his washtub and I think a few things more because Bill didn’t need them any more.
      Grandpa and Grandma Gunnar and Helga Opseth had the first oil well in Burke County in 1955. Everybody thought they were going to be rich and some were. My family shares in 4 oil well there but Dad sold the land back in the 70′s.
      Dad Harold Opseth had the Coteau Garage that he bought in about 1940 and did a wonderful business overhauling engines for cars, trucks and tractors and had 3 or 4 mechanics working for him. The mechanics were long time family friends Lloyd and Ester Homiston, Benny and Duba Lindstrom and more who I don’t remember.
      The owner of the old car was Floyd Alstruff. I think he died in about 1960 and the heirs took the car a Terraplane which was in great condition. Quite the fancy car. Floyd Alstruff, Mr. Mulpy, Phil Christianson, Franz Lindstrom and others, were old men who used to come to Dad’s Coteau Garage and sit around the big octopus type furnace on a variety of old wood chairs and tell stories and watch the mechanics work and have coffee there. It was their social club. Floyd Alstruff drove his Terraplane in front of the garage door to prevent Dad’s truck from driving out with the last of his garage stuff when he shut it down about 1956? and moved the equipment to the farm. It was really sad for those old men to lose the only social place they had. I think he cried which men did not do back then.
      I have written a couple of little stories about Coteau so will have to find them and publish them online for anybody who might be interested.
      Coteau was a socially rich and varied small town full of good people and good businesses. It’s heartbreaking to see it like it is now.
      larryopseth@msn.com

  15. Ron Freed says:

    Does anybody know what happened to the Railroad depot, where it got moved?

  16. Sue in Montana says:

    My father, Thomas William Hagen, was born in Coteau in 1906. His parents were John & Amanda Olson Hagen. He had a sister Mildred Elven and a brother Gil. They have all since passed and my cousin Oakley Elvin was buried in Coteau just a couple years ago. Do any of these names ring a bell with anyone ??

  17. Terry Eklund says:

    My Mother-Eunice Bornstedt Eklund,was born in and grew up in Coteau. The family farm was just down the road and is visible from the Elevator in Coteau. I visited the elevator many times with my Uncle Donald Bornstedt,where he bought me many a strawberry soda as a little boy. One of my favorite memories during stay overs at the farm. Best little ghost town around.

  18. Gerald Nelson says:

    We bought the Rouse farm, just east of Coteau in the mid to late 40s. My family (Aden and Florence Nelson–children: Beulah, Floyd, Dwaine, Rodney, Marilyn and Gerald (me). Me and my sister Marilyn (married Rolly Ross, both now deceased) attended and graduated from Coteau High School. I graduated 1950 and graduated from MSTC–now NDState Univ–1954. I used to really look forward to the smorgasbords at the United Evangelical Church (I hope i have the name right) that is pictured in the book. I have many fond memories of Coteau—nice and friendly people there. I used to truck a lot of grain to the elevator there and was always greeted with a great big smile from Bert–Wilson? I think? I used to spend a lot of time at Robert Thompson’s house across the street from the Albertson’s—I think it was. I remember Phil Christiansen that ran the gas station across the street from the general store. I remember the Melby’s. Especially G.K. Melby who conducted the Bowbells City Band a few miles away. I played in that band along with my other kin on many Saturday nights in the band shell on Main Street

  19. Pat petrusha Opseth says:

    Love the stories! Pat Petrusha Opseth/Carlson.

  20. Kristy Opseth Ersfeld says:

    My dad went to school there. We just did a driving tour of all the old buildings about 2 years ago. It was fun to imagine it as it was. Then we had one of the greatest hamburgers ever, in the little cafe in Bowbells.

  21. Liz Falcon/Fender/Carlson says:

    Mrs Cora Fender was my grandma :-)…I spent many awesome summers in Bowbells n Coteau w my grandparents..Emil n Violet Carlson. Attended the Methodist church shown above every Sunday and Sunday school. If I remember correctly was the little pink house once where a phone operator once lived? Coulda swore gma said that that’s where the old time switchboard was located. Spent much time up in Coteau..Bowbells w my gma until she just passed away :(. Attended that Coteau reunion n it was so much fun…would love to relive some of those memories n be there when those stories took place. Great grandparents Carrie and France Linstroms homestead was just south of Coteau across the gravel road. Keep the stories coming. Only thing keeping the town and memories alive.

  22. Richard Ness says:

    Walt and Mabel are my aunt & uncle. Both have passed . Their daughter Carol still owns the house and she lives in South Dakota. Galen passed away some time ago. My father Al Ness, owned Al’s Market down and across from the church. We lived there In the fifties and then moved to Tioga. My grandparents Tom and Agnes Thompson farmed south of town.

  23. Barb Melby Bosch says:

    Wow, love reading all these stories about Coteau and its residents. My grandparents were Harry and Helen Maltby and lived in the big white house coming into town from the north. Spent a lot of time with them. Used to walk the railroad tracks from our farm into Coteau. Have such great memories of the Evangelical United Brethern Church and Sunday School where I went to church and sunday school every Sunday. Loved their potlucks that they would have. Lots of great cooks! My aunt Harriet Maltby was married to Harold Hovland and his dad owned quite abit of property in Coteau some of the Coteau Bank can be seen in the North Dakota State Historical Society at the State Capital and also owned the Coteau Hall (pictured with the stage) where they had concerts and dances. Melby Lumberyard was located near the old depot and my uncle Audy Melby ran it for a time, Carl and Edith Melby and then my parents(Dwaine and Ardyce Melby) also ran it. Not sure if the building is still standing or not.

  24. JEROME HINDS says:

    It was moved to Stanley it is located south of Grain elevator and looks like it did the day I seen it loaded up and moved, might have had a coat of paint looks like its used as private storage

  25. Ken cox says:

    I lived next to them for many years, they also had a daughter named Carol, don’t know where she is now. We owned a small house next door and moved to Bowbells in the early fifties. I attended the school shown until the third grade. My dad worked in the elevator then moved so he could be Manager of the Elevator in Bowbells. The gym was used as an EGG producing plant after the school closed. They had thousands of chickens in it for several years. The church congragation merged with the United Methodost church in Bowbells. I used to take the offering every sunday, with a friend from the Melby family. I will never forget at christmas we would have a party and they would show a movie, the Ten commandments or such. It was the first time I ever saw a movie. We would get a brown paper bag full of candy, and everyojne would get a gift. Still remember it to this day.
    As for the school I can remember Mrs Fender bending you over a table and using the ruler on your backside if you got out of line. I also remember a black and white movie about spiders being shown in the old Gym.

    I remember a man being burned up when his house caught fire, and watching it burn accross town from our front window. All that was left was ashes when the fire was finally put out. Old wood house so it went pretty quick. One of the pictures shown was a mortuary. It had an old car sitting in it for years, Model T or A. Anyway one day a flatbed truck pulled up, rolled out the car and left with it. The story was they got about $ 3000 dollars for it from some guy in Mineapolis.
    I remember Don Parsons, walking with a limp, and I still remember his old Green Henry J he drove.I remember Jense larsons store, At the store you could get a bottle of Pepsi and a bag of peanuts or a dime. Pour the penuts in the Pepsi and thought it was really something special. I remember Mike Hines filling station. I remember a buddy of mine in High school repainting a car he had bought. Don’t remember what year it was but he painted it Canary yellow and black in Mikes shop. There was a Coteau reunion in 2006 with the Bowbells reunion. Also just read an article that because of the Oil Boom someone just opened a RV park with full hook ups right next to the old school. I have wonderful memories of that town.

    I worked in the grain elevator one summer. One of the farmers would come in every day for coffee and cookies, free at the elevator, and would just love telling the Manager that the Mertes Implement in Bowbells always had better free cookies. I never saw anyone that loved to laugh as much as him.

    My grandfather had the farm about 1/2 mile from town. I would walk out there and spend the day with them. When I was a teenager we moved back to coteau for a winter while my dad was out of work. I walked to my grandfathers one day in a pretty good wind. When I got there my Grandfather made me stay over night because the wind was gusting to over 70 Miles an hour. That was after he told me how dumb it was to walk there in that wind. I thought it was just another good dsay to go rabbit hunting in his pasture.

  26. Mabel (Walt) Albertson was my Dad’s sister. My cousin was Carol Albertson, sister of Galen (who has died in Alaska.) Carol has a kitchen products and natural foods store in Watertown, South Dakota. Here is the website. She’s pictured with her husband in the tab: About Us.

    http://www.healthfoodcenter.net/

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