Trotters, ND

Trotters, ND

In terms of driving distance from any other town in North Dakota, Trotters may be the most remote townsite in the state. It is a true ghost town, with just a church and former gas station remaining.  Monica Hardy made the drive out to the edge of the Little Missouri National Grassland and captured these photos.

Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media

49 thoughts on “Trotters, ND

    1. I do Genealogy and just found one of the “kin” buried in Trotter..??? is there a cemetery? how many years since anyone has lived there.? She died in 1919…
      Thanks…was glad to see your note..
      Jean Hanson

      1. my relatives used to live just outside there, in 1968 as a family we visited them
        we mowed and spruced up the church yard whilw there, the gas station used to be
        an all in one, gas, post office, general store, at that time only one old guy lived
        right there, i went thru there by myself in 1976 and it was still pretty much the same then to!!

      2. What was the name of the woman buried there? My Mother is a Trotter. Lee Trotter was her Grandfather. I was there once…years ago. My daughter, her husband along with my Parents were there about 5 years ago. The pictures she took look just like these pictures.

  1. I lived in Trotters in 77 to 79 I have some kin burried from 1899 to 1919 no head stones I miss the gas station we lived just south of there. Does anyone know of the old cemetery there. Its not close to the church and has indians buried there I was told!!!

    1. The cemetery is north of the Trotters Church several miles. It’s called the Sunnyside Cemetery and some of the graves are listed in but not all.

  2. I had heard that there were a lot of Idiana graves close to the town. Trotters was another great twon that is no more I remember getting gas at the station in the picture

  3. I had stopped in Trotters for gas when passing through there I miss the town and the people who owned the gas station.

  4. I have a girlfriend who was married at this church in the early 90’s. It was in the middle of nowhere but still kept up for being so far out. Sad to see it now…

  5. i was born in trooters in 1935 i still may have some relatives in the area,the last time i was there was 1966/67 my grandfather homesteaded there and had the store,postoffice/gas station.and belive the chruch mother left trottters around 1937.

    1. Hey, I live in Trotters community and it is wonderful up here. We have many great neighbors and get to gethers during branding and shipping of calves. We are not too vacant. We would also love to get the store up and running again, but the family that owns does not want to sell or lease it out. Too bad it is in a great location with the oil boom now.

      1. Who owns the Church? Do they ever have services there anymore? We lived not too far from there for the summer and my husband used to hunt there years ago…fond memories. If you know how we could find out more about the church please respond. Melissa Zeis,

      2. your family was’nt the Spears by chance?? had a ranch just northwest of town about 10-15 miles
        raised cattle, then horses?

    2. Mr. Hesse…My dad and I used to camp by the Store in the late 60’s when deer hunting. Must have been your grandfather that was there then. I remember the store and buying gas there. Camped there 2 years for hunting mule deer. Good times!!! I plan on going out there this fall and maybe camping by store when out hunting. Do you know if someone owns the property so I could contact them?? Thanks,

  6. My husband used to hunt around Trotters in the ’70s. He camped next to the gas station and remembered the church. I am temporarily working near New Town and staying in Watford City. He came out with me and decided to take a “road trip” down to see the area. He has many fond memories. Is there somewhere that a person can find out more of the history of the church and postoffice/general store?

  7. My dad’s story telling me of their family going out to visit family friends in trotters brought me here today. He said they went in the mid 60s, and they went into the post office/store and asked “where can we find so and so” and the man behind the counter said, “well, why dont you turn around and ask him yourself, hes leaning against that wall right there” Talk about the definition of small town! I showed him these pictures without saying where they were and he instantly recognized the place!

  8. I have fond memories of Trotters. We used to go hunting that area in the 80s and early 90s, and would often stay at Trotters. Leonard, the kind old man who ran the post office/ gas station/ store, would let us camp there and use the electricity and water. I haven’t been back in many years. Sadly, I’m sure Leonard is gone and the town has faded. Good memories there though.

  9. I too have great memories of hunting around trotters in the 80s and 90s. We camped by the store quite a few times. Leanord Hall, who was the postmaster and ran the store, was a great guy. Always had a story to tell. His family had a ranch just east of Trotters. I think it ended up being the southern cross ranch and was sold for big money a few years back? If my memory is correct I think they moved the church from the east to the west side of the highway when the highway was rebuilt sometime in the late 80s? We still drive through Trotters every time we hunt the Badlands. Many memories and awesome scenery.

    1. No, the gas station moved from the east side of the road to the west side when they paved Hiway 16 in the 1980’s.

      There is a cemetery a few miles north on Hiway 16 in Williams County.

  10. My grandfather homesteaded west of Trotters. His place straddled the Montana-North Dakota line. I spent most of my summers in the 50s working on their place and I remember Trotters well.

    1. Who was your grandpa? (Typical Montana question!) I am from the MT side of the line. My husband is from the ND side.

      1. My grandfather was Joe Stewart. Their ranch house was on the Montana side. One of my uncles carried the mail between Trotters and a tiny post office in a farm kitchen in Been, MT.

        1. We lived S.W. of Trotters in the mid1960’s. At night we could see yard lights off to our N.W. a neighbor girl (Gorrell) said it was “Stewarts”.

  11. I passed by Trotters on my way to and from Williston earlier this week. It had been a month or so since I had been up that way. I noticed the church had been painted recently!

    1. I remember visiting the Trotters Store as a kid. I would ride with my dad (Hal Lang) as he delivered the mail on the route north of Beach. I loved to see Leonard and my dad always visited with him. I think it was a highlight of the day for both of them! My dad let me get a candy bar to keep me satisfied until we got back to Beach.

      1. Hi, Angie,
        Nice to see another posting for Trotters. I asked in a previous posting above (Sept.14, 2013) about if anyone remembers Bill & Florence Voyen. Since your dad delivered mail from there, is there any chance that you remember these folks? I am thinking that Florence was the postmaster there in the 40’s and early 50’s. It was the mid 50’s when they moved all the way to the eastern part of ND (30 miles south of Fargo) to Bill’s home farm which was directly across the river from my home place. I remember them saying that they came from Trotters. Of course, at that time, I had no clue where Trotters even was. I was somewhere in the 6-8 age group.

  12. I have lived in ND for the majority of my life, so far, and have always wanted to travel to Trotters just because of its name. It’s on my bucket list. I wonder who it is named for?

    1. I just posted a few photos on and Leighton and Pearl Trotter are among them. There’s a plaque at the church that says “In Memory of Mrs. Pearl Omley” but I don’t know if she’s connected to the Pearl Trotter in the cemetery. Dates of death are 60 years apart. There is memoir in my family that refers to a church from Beach (or possibly the Rocky Butte/Sentinel Butte area) being moved to Trotters under the supervision of Joseph Middleton, but I’m not sure how accurate that is. Historical group in Medora may know.

      It’s a beautiful area, especially on a sunny day. I wish there was a way to post another picture of the church – I took a really beautiful photo that gives it a much different feeling than the ones here.

      1. IIRC, an old couple with the name Omley (or at least sounded like that) lived NE of Camel’s Hump (Sentinel Butte) back in the 1970’s.

      2. What was the name of the woman buried there? My Mother is a Trotter. Lee Trotter was her Grandfather. I was there once…years ago. My daughter, her husband along with my Parents were there about 5 years ago. The pictures she took look just like these pictures.

    2. Francis Leighton “Lee” Trotter and Margaret Trotter homesteaded here. Lee and John Leakey worked together to establish the post office You can find the story in a book written by John Leakey ” The West That Was – From Texas to Montana” Lee and Margaret were my Great Great Grand parents.

      1. John Leakey had a brother named Max Leakey who shot and killed my great-uncle Dorsey Frank Nelson in Wibaux, MT in August of 1910. Please provide any information you might have on John Leakey. Did he have a ranch near Trotter North Dakota? There is no mention in John Leakey’s book of this shooting.

        1. John Leakey married Margaret Trotter, widow of Lee Trotter, in 1910 By 1915 he had 44,000 acres.

          He lost everything in the drought and depression of the 1930s, and went back to Leakey, Texas, the town founded by his father and grandfather. He died at age 84.

          Max Leakey was found guilty in the district court in Glendive on February 17, 1911, of shooting Frank Nelson in September of 1910. Nelson was a 17-year-old livery stable hand, whom Leakey blamed for losing his horse. He offered a defense of insanity, but was sentenced to hang..

          Leakey was granted a stay of execution pending a new trial. There are no surviving records of that trial, but a surviving witness remembered that the new trial was held and Leakey was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He served 10 years and was paroled.

          ……paraphrased from Trails Along Beaver Creek (1976) by Irene James Jones..

  13. I spent time in Trotters visiting my Grandmothers sisters. Ruth Nethermore and Minnie Olsen. My Great Grandparents Bertha and John Carlson are buried in the Cemetery (Sunnyside) . The Nethermores sold some of their ranch to the State because it was part of the Badlands. Loved visiting back then.
    Lee Ann

  14. I am Martha Jan Omley, widow of George Edward Omley, whose mother was Pearl Omley and father was Ole
    Omley. George’s mother, Pearl, is the one whose name is on the plaque inside the old church. George and his siblings grew up at their homestead which was across the highway from the church. George’s niece, Joyce Fjelstad, lives in Watford City and could provide you with a lot of information on the Trotters area as she grew up there too. She is the daughter of Elizabeth Omley Crook Wood who was the oldest child of Ole and Pearl Omley. George was next to the youngest who was Geneese Omley. There was Elizabeth, Sue,Thelma, Ole, Cecil, George, Geneese and the oldest son (I cannot remember his name) was killed in a train accident at a fairly young age. All but Liz went to California after high school graduation. Geneese was a nurse and died in Livermore, California, George was a
    pilot and Lt. Col. in the Air Force and died in Ridgeland, Mississippi in 2009. Ole died from cancer at the hospital in Williston and Sue and Liz both died in Watford City, ND and were in the nursing home in Watford City.

  15. I drive by there once every week, and I always wonder about the history of this place.. would this ghost town ever be resurrected one day?

      1. My grandmother was Vivian Estella Nellermoe. Her parents were Andrew and Marie. She had lots of siblings: Orville, Norman, Arthur, Helga, Myrtle, Carlot, and Wesley.

  16. Norman, I think was Ruth’s husband. They had a son named John who passed away a year or so ago who still lived on the farm.

  17. This was a surprise. I just googled Trotters as a lady I met on a recent trip to Europe was originally from Sentinel Butte & went back to the area to get some info for me. My grandmother’s brother was Ole Omley and this lady sent me photos of the newly painted Trotters church, Sunnyside Cemetery sign and also Ole’s gravestone. Julia Thompson (my grandmother) also had a sister in Sentinel Butte. Her name was Helga Omley and was married to Halvor Olson.
    I also have a book “This Is My Life” by Carl Andreas Fosjord (1984) which I received when he came to Minnesota to visit and this was a good source of information on the Omley side of my family.

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