Werner, ND

Dunn County
Habitation Status Unknown

Werner is in West Central North Dakota, south of Lake Sakakawea, in a very sparsely populated region of Dunn County. We have seen photos of various remains from the town of Werner in print and elsewhere. We do not know exactly how much is left. According to North Dakota Place Names by Douglas A. Wick, the last business, a service station owned by Arthur Kummer, closed in 1970. The city charter was dissolved with a 7 to 2 vote in 1971.

Monica Hardy contributed these photos of Werner. We will be making a visit to Werner on our next trip out west.


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35 Responses to “Werner, ND”
  1. Gene says:

    Some photos I found posted from 2008 of Werner – http://www.flickr.com/photos/afiler/sets/72157618428714947/

  2. Matt Gelvin says:

    Does anyone have any thoughts on if it is inhabited or not? From the pictures I’d say it’s doubtful but the pictures never show the full picture. Thanks

    • rose marie hoffer gruidl says:

      This house is not inhabited. It has electric wire surrounding the house so we, the grandchildren of Paul Hoffer who built it, were unable to go in the house in 2011.

    • Cookie says:

      It is inhabited I live in one of the 100 year old farmsteads out here and have other family here too they are just huge farms so its hard to tell

    • Debi says:

      There are a few people who live in Werner where the town was once located. But, it is only a few.

  3. drtrd says:

    These newest images are really beautiful! Love the new look of the site…can’t wait for my own trip to ND next year some time, to photograph a few of these places. Your site will certainly be my guide!

    Brian Brown

  4. Mark J says:

    I was in Werner in about 2005 or 06 and at the time I recall at least a couple residences that were occupied. If you look at Gene’s comment and the Flickr link he provided, in a couple of those photos you can see that there are some homes up on the hill. That’s where the houses were occupied.

    • rose marie hoffer gruidl says:

      The litle white house with the green roof was built by my grandfather Paul N. Hoffer and the birthplace of my father John E. Hoffer. I was last in Werner June of 2010, and saw places of all of the pictures dispalyed on the site.

  5. The little white house with the green roof was built by my grandfather Paul M. Hoffer and completed in 1919. My father John E. Hoffer was the first child born in the house. The house was the first to have running water in the town of Werner ND. Paul Hoffer had a blacksmith shop right by the grain elevator. Paul died in 1929.

  6. Susan Robison says:

    I was there in 2004 and my uncle’s house was still standing but not occupied. I will be back up there next summer.
    Susan Robison

  7. John H says:

    I lived there in 1950s and later miss the town I rember getting icecream at Hoffers

  8. Barbara says:

    My mother was born and raised in Werner. My grandfather owned the local hardware store. My mom is a walking encyclopedia of all things “Werner”. Growing up there were the happiest years of her life.

  9. Tim says:

    Ha !! I always wanted to stop at Werner. My Father-in-Law John Werner’s Grand or Great Grand Father started this town. DOn’t remember the whole story correctly. It’s been so long. LOL Stumbled across this and maybe I’ll take the ride for history purposes. I think Father-in-Law held minerla rights here until he sold them way back when. He;s been deceased for years. Was 72 I think when he died.

  10. James hillman says:

    I am the new owner of the elevators and land pictured above. Werner is very quite and peaceful. There is 20 to 25 people living in the area lots of deer and pheasants.

    • Tim says:

      Lots of deer and pheasant? That would make the trip more fun. Always wanted to see my Father-in-laws old history. I wrote just before your post. Typos and all.
      Tim Bederka, Rockford, IL

    • rose marie hoffer gruidl says:

      My family and I were in Werner in the fall of 2011. We could not get near the little white house our grandfather, Paul Hoffer built. There was an electric fence surrounding it. Lots of pictures were taken of the grain elevator. Our grandfather’s blacksmith shop was located near there. We loved the trip!

      • Dan McAdams says:

        I had a good friend Joe Hoffer that I knew from a cabin on Elephant Lake in northern Minnesota. Joe was from Werner, and before he passed away, I travelled there and took some photos of the cemetery, grain elevator, etc. He talked of riding horses across the plains with Indians and how much fun he had growing up there. Such a serene place….

  11. Coven (Dahlen) Murray says:

    sad day in Werner today, they burnt down the elevator . It will be greatly missed

  12. Matt says:

    I love old elevators so much. Seeing something like this (burning) kills me. Bummer

  13. Nancy Stevens Flynn says:

    So sad to hear they burnt down the elevators, not much left now. My Aunt and cousin live near there, but have not seen them in years. Such beautiful part of the country.

  14. Ron Thorstad says:

    My mother, Arleen Nodland Thorstad, now deceased, lived on a farm near Werner and went to school there in the 1930’s. Does anyone have a picture of the barber shop, which is likely no longer standin? My family lived there after it closed in 1940.

  15. Sandra Miller LaDuke says:

    My mother lived in Werner and has many stories of the town, knows where businesses were located, etc. Her mother, Stella Bessaw, saw the railroad come to Werner and lived to see it leave. She passed in 1976 and was one of the oldest, if not THE oldest, residents. We visit Werner often and love to listen to mom talk about who lived where and what happened when she was a kid. I remember the store/post office, Art Kummer’s gas station, the depot, the school, and knew several of the “old timers” who lived there. What a beautiful spot for a town!

    • Phil Rousseau says:

      My Grandmother, Margaret Rousseau lived in Warner and died at age 99 in 1960. Goldy Kummer’s first husband was Phil Rousseau, my uncle who I am named after. My wife and I might visit that area this Sept.

      • Sandra says:

        Phil, would you post or reply to my post when you plan your trip to Werner? My mom knew your grandmother very well. She would love to meet you and visit about her. I have a friend who is a great grand daughter of “Gramma” Rousseau and mom has a friend who is a great-great grand daughter! They would love to meet you, too, I’m sure! Thanks for your post and I look forward to hearing from you regarding your visit to Werner! Sandra LaDuke sladuke@excite.com

      • Rebel Kreklow says:


        I am trying to sort out my grandchildren’s heritage on their father’s side. Was your grandmother Margaret Rousseau who was married to an Edward Rousseau? I am trying to determine if they had a son named Paul or perhaps Louis, who was married to a Josephine Martel. This Paul/Louis died around 1918/1919 in North Dakota o Montana. Does any of that ring a bell? I can be reached at rkreklow@mindspring.com. Thanks for any help you can provide.

  16. Tracy says:

    My maternal grandpa was a Werner. Wonder if he was any relation to the person who started this town. Will probably never know. Love the pictures though!

  17. Paul Teagle says:

    My mother (now passed) was born in and grew up in Werner (born 1920). Her maident name was Odum and her dad was the postman. I have one of those weird memories for small details and I swear I remember her mentioning the last name Bessaw (pronounced it Bee-saw if I remember). Also Vaagen. Anyway, remember hearing about stories of Werner of the 20s and 30s; it was a pretty good size town. Visited once in the early 70s when there was a little still left and have been there a couple of time recently when travelling in the Midwest.

  18. Sandra LaDuke says:

    Paul, my mother is Mary Jane Bessaw Miller. She grew up living next door to your grandfather, Bob,and his family. She will be so excited to hear of your post and yes, she knew the Odum “girls”, Ruby and Pearl, too! Werner was a busy little town “back in the day” and we love to listen to Mom’s stories of “who lived where” and what went on in her hometown! Your grandpa’s house is still standing as is my grandparent’s house. Not much is left of the little town any longer. Your memory does serve you well….Vaagen’s lived in Werner, too!

    • Paul Teagle says:

      Sandra — Most amazing! I think (based on your post) that you probably already know or may have figured it out, but Pearl was my natural mother. She passed away in 1966 only a couple of months after I was born and I was adopted by my aunt, her sister, Irene (well, actually, Lola — but mom always went by Irene or “Erin”) and her husband. Mom passed back in 2006 and aunt Ruby passed I think in 2003. Uncle Don (James/Jim given name) is still alive in Minnesota. Last time I visted he showed me some interesting pictures of Werner in the past. As you note — it was quite a happening town. Mom used to talk about how it would be fun to drive in to Halliday or Killdeer or even more exciting, to Dickenson. If your mom has any interesting stories she wants to share, I would certainly be interested.

      • SandraMiller LaDuke says:

        Don, I will talk with Mom and share your email. She loves to hear from others who are interested in Werner! I’d guess that she has some stories that involve your family. I’ll see what I can share with you! My grandparents, Joe and Stella Bessaw were your grandparent’s neighbors and used to visit, have coffee, etc. all of the time! If I remember correctly, your grandpa was a mail carrier and WWI veteran. I remember him coming to Grandma’s kitchen and having coffee and pie! If you’d like to share your email address, I will send the information to you personally. My email address is sladuke@ excite.com. Good to hear from you!

    • DebbieJ says:

      My dad Curtis Rowe grew up in Warner and knew a Jack Beesaw. I met Jack in California many, many years ago when they were both involved with the VFW. I’m 99% sure his name was Jack. I remember him because he gave us “saw” lapel pins… Was he a relative?

      • Sandra LaDuke says:

        I believe you’re referring to my uncle, John Bessaw. He was very involved in the VFW in California and yes, he did have lapel pins that were bees with a saw!

  19. Ren says:

    My mom is Buehner, she graduated from Werner High School in 1948, the only one out of the class of 3 girls that graduated.

  20. Dave D says:

    When was the elevator built anyway? I’ve found mention that the Equity Elevator & Trading Co. was started in 1916 or 1917. The elevator included a small DC light plant and which served the town until Hughes Electric Co. came to town in the late 1920s.

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