Return to Merricourt

Return to Merricourt

Merricourt is located in south central North Dakota, Dickey County, about twenty minutes from the South Dakota border, and it is a place we’ve visited on a number of occasions. Each time we’ve visited Merricourt, we’ve found the former Soo Line Railroad town hovering near the end, with just one family (and at least one dog) still living in Merricourt. As is the case with so many vanishing towns on the prairie, there are no businesses in town, no industry, and no reason for new residents to settle in Merricourt in any significant number. It won’t be more than a generation or two before Merricourt is a true ghost town.

Merricourt, North Dakota

We were disappointed to find things vandalized and/or falling into disrepair in Merricourt since we visited in 2005. The bank still had glass in its window frames and a locked door when we last visited, but had all its windows smashed and the door kicked-in by the time we took these photos in 2011.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Above: Looking inside the bank, the door from the brick vault was removed at some point in the past.

Merricourt, North Dakota

The community center (above) looked like it might still occasionally be used when we were there in 2005, but it clearly could not be used anymore in 2011.  We found the steps crumbling and the basement filled with water.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt, North Dakota

Above: Looking north along County Road 2, Merricourt’s primary thoroughfare. Traffic is rare.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt, North Dakota

Our first visit to Merricourt was in 2005, this visit took place in 2011, and we passed through again in the fall of 2014.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt, North Dakota

We’ve never seen another brick grain elevator like the one in Merricourt, but we’re told there’s one in Beach, North Dakota.

Merricourt, North Dakota

See our entire collection of Merricourt-related posts, including a story about a historic police altercation in Merricourt contributed by author Keith Norman.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2017 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.

28 thoughts on “Return to Merricourt

  1. What a shame – it’s one thing for time and elements to take their toll, but there is no excuse for stupidity of vandalism

  2. That’s very sad. I did a photo tour of ND in 2009 and the doors and windows in the bank were intact at that time. That vandalism is pretty recent. That’s a beautiful part of the state. So quiet. One weird thing we noticed was that one of the abandoned structures had hundreds and hundreds of plastic cell phone parts resting in the doorway. Strange.

  3. I still think the town has a lot to tell! It is still one of my favorite places to be! My parents grew up in the area and its fun to put a visual to some of their stories! I was fortunate enough to have observed some of Merricourt while the town was still functioning. But yes sara you are right the town has really been reconsumed by Mother nature.

  4. Thank you for sharing the pictures. My mom was born there in 1943 and I have great appreciation for Merricourt hearing stories of her childhood on the farm. I visited the town with her in the early 90’s and the restaurant still had place settings at the tables, everything covered in cobwebs and dirt. Her house was still barely standing, as was the elevator my grandfather worked at. She removed some glass doorknobs from her old house before mother nature (or vandals) devoured it. I read some time ago that a wind power company has purchased the town and plans to redeem it. I would like to see any building still standing to be renovated. What a neat place, thank you again!!

  5. The house in disrepair above was the home of my husbands grandmother. She moved there from her farm “down the tracks” when she got older. We were back just this summer and were shown around town by it’s single resident, John, who told us stories about both her and the town in their heyday.

  6. I was there Sept 8, 2012. No water in the basement of the community center but obvious it hasn’t been used in a long time. Some no trespassing/private property signs that were shiny new. No one around that I saw.

  7. i remember the diner… is it still standing?or is that little building the bank?
    i remember after the elevator was closed down,us local kids would shoot squab for dinner… they had a lot of grain fed fat on ’em. lol.
    i also remember there being real outrage on Halloween that some vandals knockedover gravestones..

  8. Our family was born and grew up in the merricourt area. My dad had a wheat farm as a lot of his family did too. i loved these photos, the bank was a liquor store as i remember and we used to haul grain to those elevators. we used to go to dances in the dance hall.

  9. I still own the elevators. My dad bought them from PV company when the wood elevator to the west caught fire. Reinhold Stark was manger then. The house he lived in is the gray one in the pictures of town. After the elevator burnt he became a bartender at the old bank. The café (Do-drop-in ) across the street to the west was owned and operated by Edith M. She made the best burgers in the country.

    1. Aunt Edith did make the absolute best burgers in the country. Ate many, many of her burgers and fries! I remember going to the old grocery store with my mom many times.

  10. we went to school together mike, right/=?
    cool. glad to see those were preseved. i remember darrel bartell
    going sqab shooting there.

  11. My parents farmed several miles northeast of Merricourt. In the 60’s we attended school (grades 1-6), church, dances and visited grandparents friends and relatives in this sweet town. At that time there was a grocery store, post office, bar, the hall, cafe, elevator, a city park, 2 churches, depot for the soo line RR, and Standard oil gas. I worked in the grocery store and remember giving Mrs Harter a ride home many time after she walked to town from the hills about 8-10 miles away. She was 80 plus years old. She did this in the winter and summer. Everyday. I still put flowers on her grave every year as kind of an apology for those days I didn’t do it.
    Yes Mike she had the best burgers EVER.
    Wonderful memories of Merricourt.

    1. Hi, Ms. Emma Harter was my grandmother. I did not meet her as she passed before I was born. I have heard many stories of what a strong woman she was. On her behalf, Thank you for giving her so many rides!!

      1. Hi Patty,
        Emma Harter was my grandmother too! Which HARTER are you related to? My wife and I were there two years ago to see the town.

  12. The last inhabitants of the town are actually from my family Last name is Pahl, I believe my family were one of the many families in that area if i can recall, Wilbert Pahl, Henry Pahl, and Lillian Pahl are some i can list off Lillian and Henry are my grandparents. I’ve gone through the town a couple times and got some shots of the opera house and elevators, it doesn’t seem the elevators age but the rest has seen better days, sadly the opera house and elevators are the ones in the best of shape.

  13. Edith Maly is my grandmother. I spent many summers with her helping at the do drop inn. She would go to work at 7 in the morn and close shop about 7 or 8 at night. Always home cooked meals and hamburgers and potatoe salad. All without running water and was in her 70s and 80s. I loved those days and miss her dearly.

    1. This is so neat to see your post. Edward was looking up history and found this. I miss those summers so much. Whenever I hear the doves coo I think of walking across the field by the water pump to her café. She was an incredible lovely woman.

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