conway1

Jailbreak in Conway

Walsh County
Inhabited as of 8/11

Conway is a near-ghost town in Walsh County, southwest of Grafton.  Conway’s peak population was reported in the 1900 census as 216.  Today the population is 23.

US Census Data for Conway
Total Population by Place

1900 – 216
1910 – 184
1920 – 148
1930 – 100
1940 – 120
1950 – 107
1960 – 67
1970 – 57
1980 – 33
1990 – 24
2000 – 23
2010 – 23

On September 7th, 1897, the New York Times published the following story:

KILLED TRYING TO ESCAPE

Tramps Imprisoned in Conway Set Fire to Jail

Fargo, ND. Sept 6th — The city marshal and a posse, after a hard fight, captured three tramps who had robbed several stores at Conway, a small town in western Walsh county, and lodged them in the city jail.

At an early hour Sunday morning the jail was discovered to be on fire, and before the flames could be extinguished, one of the vagrants was cremated and the other two have since died from frightful burns.  It is supposed the men tried to burn a whole [sic] through which they could escape and the blaze got beyond their control.

Conway, North Dakota

Conway, North Dakota

Conway, North Dakota

Conway, North Dakota

Conway, North Dakota

Conway, North Dakota

Conway, North Dakota

Conway, North Dakota

Conway Memorial Park was dedicated to the soldier shown below, Lt. Frank L. Vorachek.  We were able to determine that he was a veteran of the Army Air Corps ca. 1916-17, and that he later graduated from the UND School of Law.  If anyone else knows more about Lt. Voracheck, we’d like to hear from you.

Sadly, the park doesn’t seem to get much use anymore.

Conway, North Dakota

Terry walked into this belt of trees and discovered the park.

Conway, North Dakota

It is sometimes… unsettling, to be in a playground where there are no children to play.

Conway, North Dakota

Conway, North Dakota

Conway, North Dakota

Conway, North Dakota

Conway, North Dakota

Conway, North Dakota

Conway, North Dakota

All of the furniture is falling into the basement. Note the spiderweb in the doorway.

Conway, North Dakota

Conway, North Dakota

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

Comments
33 Responses to “Jailbreak in Conway”
  1. wow, is all i can say!! i would like to have the furnishings in that kitchen!!

  2. Sharon Klemm says:

    Hey

    What is the white building with the porch, appears to be in fairly good condition. Photos are great. Hate to see the vandalism though. Agree with TrollDoll, the stuff in that kitchen is cool.

  3. Dane Molde says:

    I believe the large white building is the town hall. I was at a wedding dance there a while back. Keep up the good work!! Love the photos, Although a little saddening.

    • Susan Bartuska Hendrickson says:

      Yes, the white building was the town hall and also used by the Catholic Church in Conway as their parish center. I grew up a couple of miles from Conway and have many fond memories of that hall. It’s where we had our church bazaars every October–home made goodies, games (always bingo!) and a huge turkey and all the trimmings dinner. It had a large kitchen and dining room with a dance hall on the porch side of the building. I lived there in the 1960s and 70s and all the other buildings were already abandoned and in very poor shape. I haven’t been there for a long time. Thank you for these pictures. I think I’ll make a point of driving through next time I’m in that area.

  4. Wow, I love the playground, it looks like something from an apocalyptic movie, just abandoned mid play.

  5. Ben B says:

    I think some of the spookiest pictures on this site are the interiors of abandoned houses that still have all the furniture still inside.

  6. Larry Schwartz says:

    I’m told that the 6th picture from the top is the Conway town hall, home to many a church bazaar out of St. Mark’s Catholic Church (now decommissioned). The door on the projection to the right of the photo is the entryway into the kitchen. There was a dining room that was separated from a the “hall” by a wall.

    Conway and Pisek were separate parishes served by one priest, who lived in Pisek.

    The Conway Catholic cemetery is the final resting place of many Bartuskas, Jedlickas, and Peckas. There is an adjacent burial ground for Protestants.

  7. Don Tank says:

    The ‘Giant Strides’ in the park reminded me of the set we had in the school yard at Alexander, ND. Don’t see them anymore… Not ‘child friendly’

    • Elwood Omdahl says:

      It and the merry-go-round used to be located at the school which no longer exists. I got my head cracked open on the merry-go-round and my tongue frozen to the giant strides. Ah the memories of stupid childhood!

  8. Laurie Krile VanNyhuis says:

    I believe the small brick structure to be the vault from the store run by my grandmother, Emma Sobolik. I have never seen a photo of the orginal store.

  9. Ramona Karnik Long says:

    Love the pictures….I grew up in Veseleyville, north of Conway. Keep up your good work!!

    • Bev Hanson says:

      Hey Romona,
      We took many trips to Conway to visit our Aunt & Uncle. Good memories! Good seeing your name!
      I’m Eileen’s “little” sis, Bev

  10. If I remember correctly I believe the jail that burned is now located at the Walsh County Museum in Minto, ND.

  11. Love the pics, havent been to Conway for years; my Mom, Auntie & Uncles were all born & raised there. Think just after ’65 when all the kids were married & on their own my grandparents moved from there but we all went back for visits, bazaars & the centeniels. So many memories…I remember playing in that vault many times :)

  12. Kim says:

    Does anyone from the Conway area know if the St. Mark’s Catholic Cemetery has always been a Roman Catholic cemetery? Would love any information on the origins, if anyone knows.

  13. My husband served a church in Fordville near Conway and I remember going to the turkey dinners at the Conway Parish hall. They were fabulous and that is a beautiful area. We loved it there.

  14. jason omdahl says:

    i grew up in this town…. my grandfather, Douglas Omdahl developed my sense of work ethic, peace, and spirituality here….. i love this town…. ghost town or not….. i miss visiting….. i miss my family get togethers…. though i have had some very bad experiences here…. i wouldn’t hesitate to build a house here when i retire and live the rest of my days in peace…… though Conway is somewhat dead as far as population….its still big in my heart….. !!!

  15. Ruth Gorham says:

    I wonder if that house (with the great kitchen appliances) was the haunted house that Diana Eisner, Joanne Schoyen and I snuck into one winter in the early 70′s. We heard a noise and it scared us so much that we ran outside so fast that we all got stuck in the snow banks and suffice to say there was a bit of colored snow after that escapade. I just remember being so terrified, and then laughing so hard we couldn’t stop. Guess that’s what happens to 8th grade girls. Seeing the pictures of Conway brought back lots of fun memories. I grew up in Fordville so didn’t spend much time in Conway.

  16. Vincent E. Slebodnik says:

    this is my hometown, i lived here most of my life, i grew up on the west side of town, where the burlington northern train went right by, since then the tracks have been tore out, now the railroad joins the soo line track just north of town, i live now in a trailer house on the property i grew up on, the house that me and my 2 brothers and one sister grew up in has been destroyed, my mom and dad have both passed away, and my oldest brother lives on north east part of town, he lives in the old ed pecka house, that was once used as the conway post office, my other older brother lives in my Grandma mary peckas house , she passed away also, and my sister moved to a farm where she lives with her husband and two kids. i wil live and retire and die here in conway, this old town is a part of me like the air i breath and the blood that runs through my viens.

  17. Jackie Lang says:

    I love the pictures of the playground and the old buildings. Do you know who owns the white house with the furniture in it? I’d love to rescue that white cabinet in the back before it falls into the basement. It deserves a second chance.

    • Vincent E. Slebodnik says:

      hi jackie, my brother mike slebodnik owns the house, but the white cabinet, isnt a cabinet, its a dresser and i own that, theres also a old white stove in there to (:

      • Jackie Lang says:

        Hi Vincent, The dresser reminds me of those old dry sinks that used to have a pitcher sitting on top. I don’t have room really for anothe piece of furniture, but I would like to rescue it if possible. Do you know if it is still sound and if you would want to sell it? I like to repaint old furniture for fun and save old pieces. The stove is cool too, but I know I don’t have room for that. Anyway, just thought I would ask if you would want to sell it…if it can even be got out of the house safely. :-) I liked the pictures and have never visited your town. I live in Fargo and like to make road trips in the summer. Perhaps I could visit sometime. :-)

  18. Kevin Slator says:

    Love the photos and this Web site, and I’m not even from North Dakota. However, the Walsh Count Historical Society Web site (above) says peak population was 228 in 1890. By 1900, I guess Conway had already started its population decline…

  19. Michael says:

    I was just in Conway today and took many pictures while there. I would like to come back soon to take more pictures and hopefully talk to someone to learn more about Conway.

    I really like the old service station and would love to know more about the teal colored house with the observatory in the yard.

  20. Kelly O says:

    I have attended several of my husbands family reunions in Conway, ND in that old building and spent time playing on that (quite dangerous) playground equipment with family. Even used that outhouse once or twice (no other bathrooms to be found anywhere). It always saddens me to see these beautiful old places abandoned. Incidentally, that hall in Conway has gorgeous antique tin stretching from wall to ceiling in a large auditorium that we played bingo in. Just amazing.

  21. Sharene says:

    Hi Vincent,
    My name is Sharene Novak Bloss, my father frank Novak was Mary pecka brother. My father died in 2000. Aunt. Mary and Tom I re beer visiting them when I was 13. I came out with my aunt geneva, Mary’s sister, I might have met you then. I remover hanging out with Cindy and Todd. I never knew aunt Mary’s house was the post office. Who lives in aunt Geneva’s old house?
    Nice reading your post
    Sharene

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