knox20

Knox, ND

Benson County
Inhabited as of 5/12

Knox is a rarity as near-ghost towns go — it is located right off a major highway — US 2, between Rugby and Devils Lake.  According to the 2010 census, Knox is home to 25 residents, has 13 occupied households and 13 vacant households.  Knox was founded in 1883 and reportedly had a peak population of 330 in 1910.

We drove into Knox and immediately got out and started taking pictures.  There are a lot of impressive abandoned structures, not the least of which is the grain elevator.  It was very quiet in Knox, with very little activity for a Saturday afternoon.  A local resident told us the predominantly elderly population of Knox was temporarily relocated several winters ago due to heavy snowfall and the inability to find anyone who would clear snow from the town’s roads.

We ran into a gentleman who had an interesting story to tell while we were photographing Knox.  He was a traveling gospel singer who had arrived in Knox three days earlier.  He was a soft-spoken man with a noticeable southern drawl due to his Texas heritage, and he told us he didn’t have a home — he spent his days traveling the country in a minivan, stopping at little towns, bartering his gospel performances for food and lodging.  He’d been traveling for eight years.  Imagine the things he’s seen and the places he’s been.

The former Knox Post Office

A resident told us his stepson is in the process of dismantling this home.

There were quite a few homes like this one where it wasn’t totally clear whether anyone was still inhabiting them.

This flyer was hanging in the display case in front of the now abandoned Post Office.

Photos by Troy and Rat, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Comments
48 Responses to “Knox, ND”
  1. Tracy Hofmann says:

    Wow….I had forgotten about this little town. I remember when my father, Jerome Morin used to come to Knox and work here. Thank you for the rekindled memories!

  2. Karen Jones Buddenbohm says:

    My mother was born in Knox in 1923. She is Elizabeth Fay Jones. Is the Knox history book still available? Maybe I’ll try the phone number tomorrow and see if it still works.

    • my husband grew up in the house with the fence..2.story

    • Karen Jones Buddenbohm says:

      Sorry about the misinformation, but my mom was born in York, ND. My grandfather, Francis John Fay, was born in Knox, as well as his brother Leo Fay. My grandfather was the first white child born in the State of North Dakota, being the first recorded birth on the day North Dakota became a State.

      • Donna Eszlinger says:

        How very interesting,,, what a family history to preserve.. I really can see why they call theses Ghost towns,, but there surely are lots of stories to be told from behind those empty walls,, I so enjoy reading about these little towns,, love this site…

      • Boyd Olson says:

        Aloha Karen

        In talking to my mom, then Eileen Follman, the Fay family was next door neighbors on the farm, about a 1/4 mile away. She remembers all of the Fay family.

        Mahalo Boyd Olson

    • Danny McGowan says:

      My great grandmother lived in Knots all her life. She passed in the early 60s. Just remember her by grandma Knox. She had an outhouse and pump in her kitchen. Think her last name was Christianson. We used to visit her every time we were in North Dakota. Remember the how small the town was and the store we used to buy candy at when we were young. . Any information on my great grandmother would be appreciated. She was from Norway and talked with the accent.

    • Danny McGowan says:

      Am sure she would have remembered by Great Grandmother. She lived in Knox until she passed in the early 60s. Believe her last name was christianson. Remember she had a outhouse and pump in her kitchen. Had to pull a rope in the kitched for stair to come down so we could get up the bedroom. vikingdan01@aol.com. PS. Would love one of the history books if still available

  3. Very aswesome article. Next time you are wondering around North Dakota you should check out Hansboro. That was once a bombing town and as close as it is to the border you would think it still could be but not anymore.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I grew up in Knox. I can’t believe that it is becomeing so run down. I still have family living there. I have lots of good memories…

    • Karen Jones Buddenbohm says:

      Jennifer, do you know if either Tom Newland (Know History author) or Donna Lennon (the seller of the book) are still alive. Secondly, do you know where the book can be found?
      Thanks.

      • Trina says:

        Donna Lennon
        (701) 583-2340

      • Karen Jones Buddenbohm says:

        Trina, thanks for the area code. I did call and had a long chat with Donna Lennon. Turns out she knows my Aunt Pat and Uncle Don Monger and Aunt Helen Drege in Rugby, and my cousin, Donita Monger Hagen (Stan) in Fargo. All except 1 of her boys still live in ND and her sister is the postmistress for Leeds. She is sending me a copy of the Knox History Book. It was fascinating to talk with her and more people should try. She’s a walking encyclopedia of the area. Jennifer, she wants to know if you are a Vogle or Vogel, not sure of the spelling. She knows lots of people in Rugby, too, so give her a call.

  5. Marie says:

    My family used to attend church in Knox when we lived in Wolford, ND. I remember drinking from the pump during vaction bible school in the summers. Thanks for posting this!

    • Karen Jones Buddenbohm says:

      Marie, Donna Lennon grew up in Wolford and I believe her dad ran the grainery. something like that. Ask your mom or grandmother if they know Donna.

  6. Robert F Brossart says:

    Lots of fond Memories of Growing up in the Community of Knox

  7. Kristi Brossart Erickson says:

    That house with the fence in front where you were not sure if it is still lived in is my old home. I lived in there from 1968-1978. I believe my parents bought it around 1961 after living in the country outside of Knox. I believe the lady still lives there. She is the retired Post Master.

    • Jane says:

      Kristi – I’m fuzzy on who your folks were. Also your older brothers and sisters. I’m thinking you were one of the youngest in your family.?.
      Is that Maggie Miller you are refering to that may still be living there? If so she would have to be up in years by now.

      • Robert says:

        Kristi is the Baby of the family, Our Parrents were John & Rosemary Brossart, they are buired in the Knox Cath. cemetary

        • Danny McGowan says:

          My great grand mother lived in Knox. We only knew her as Grandma Knox. Believe her last name was Christianson. We used to visit her every time we went to North Dakota. I loved that small town. Would love any information on my great grandmother. She passed in the early 60s. Had a house with an outhouse and pump in her kitchen. Remember chickens in her yard. Used to go to the little store and by candy.

  8. Jane Britton says:

    Knox Lutheran Church still has services every Sunday with Pastor Brenda Burns.

  9. I have many fond memories of dances in the hall in Knox. They are some of my best teenage memories of North Dakota.

  10. Donna Lennon says:

    I am Donna Lennon. I have a few Knox History books to sell. I live here yet and do have people passing through that are so glad to get the book. The author [Tom Newgard] lives at Moorhead, Mn.

    • Boyd Olson says:

      Aloha Donna
      A lot of my family history is in Knox. My grandfather Andrew Olson, owned a farm just a 1/4 mile to the west of town, and he is buried in the Lutheran Cemetery. My Mom lived across the street from the Lutheran Church but moved in 1949 when she married my dad Lloyd Olson. I would love to buy a Knox History book. I hope to return in a few years to visit when I retire. I was last there in 1967.

      • Donna Lennon says:

        A relative by the name Boehm from west coast ordered a Knox History Book and I mislaid her address so could someone tell her so I can sendit. She has a relative in Fargo too. Let me know, Boyd , if you can. I am Donna Lennon 701 583 2340.

        • Boyd Olson says:

          Aloha Donna

          I have not been back to this website for a while. Yes, Boehm is my cousin. I will send her an email athough this is probably taken care of.

          Mahalo Boyd

      • casey k wells says:

        boyd my grand father was ernest sigfred olson son of jon eric olson and albertina olson he was born in knox in 1899. he had six other kids in the family five were born in knox , wilhemina, alfred erik, gottfred o, jon enfred, harold victor, carl lewis . chances are we could be related . i have to get a copy of the book on knox if any of these folks are your kin please contact me as we dont have a lot of history from the olson clan. all we know is most of those folks ended up in and around eugene oregon. thanks casey wells

  11. Jane says:

    Hello Donna,
    Would you by chance have any of those Knox History books left yet? If not, do you think the author you mentioned would? I am Jane (nee Burkhartsmeier) and living in the Twin Cities. We lived a mile or so south of Knox until 1969. I attended first and second grade at Knox school – 2nd grade I remember Dale being in the classroom with our teacher, Mrs. Olson. Great memories of that old building. I remember you lived next door to the school. Also can’t forget Harry Hildstedt (sp?) who rang the bell every day and was the janitor, Merlin N. the mailman (who used to tease me about getting letters from “my boyfriend” as I waited by the mailbox for him to come in the summers) and Rosie and of course Maggie Miller at the Post Office. You all were such a fun bunch! Are any of them still living?

    Let me know if you have any books left, and I will send you my address and $. Thanks Donna for posting. Good to see your picture. You look just as I remember you. :)
    -Jane K……paulandjanek@usfamily.net…….651-653-3892

    • Marc Hillestad says:

      It was Harry Hillestad. I am his grandson. His wife Olivia was the cook at the school. I remember playing all around that town and old schoolyard without a care in the world. Harry and Olivia had nine kids and each of them had big families as well so when family reunions came around that town was hopping ;)
      Oilivia’s brother Walt Mears lived right next door with his wife Ida. Great people. I have one of the Knox books on CD and it is a great history of the city and its people.

      • Cris says:

        One of the reasons I’m at this site is that I ran across a reference to a WWII Army Air Force B-24 bomber crewmember named William J. Mears, a Technical Sergeant (flight engineer/gunner) from Knox, ND, who was killed in action (KIA) in 1943. When I surfed the comments and ran across the name Mears I figured it must be the same family. Many men in WWII were from what are now ND ghost towns, but probably bustling communities then.

    • Danny McGowan says:

      I would also like one of the history books. vikingdan01@aol.com 760-900-1579
      Forgot, my email address is vikingdan01@aol.com. She had a daughter named Vivian Evanson that lived in East Grand Forks Minn.

  12. Donna Lennon says:

    Yes I have books here again. Call me and I will mail it to youi. You would pay $ 18 for the book plus postage and for the envelope to mail it in. OK? Donna 701 583 2340
    421 Morgan St. Knox, N. Dak.
    58343

    • Carol Steffan says:

      Hello, Donna ~
      My dad (DJ “Bud” Holter) managed the Knox elevator from about 1956 until 1963, and I have many fond memories of living in the “elevator house”. Knox was a wonderful little “Mayberry” kind of town to grow up in. My brother Buck and I rode our bikes all over town and knew everyone who lived there. I remember buying groceries at John’s Red Owl, having a pop at Mary’s cafe, picking up mail at the little post office, and of course the wonderful school house where I attended all 8 years of elementary. The memorial hall is where we had a lot of events, including our Christmas programs, wedding dances, graduations, etc. Mom & Dad had a band with Arland & Vivian Borgen, so they played for many dances in the area. I remember Harry Hillestad who took such good care of the school and I played dolls with his daughters. Mrs. Whalen was the school cook and made the absolute best meals for the kids. Those were the days!
      I’ve driven through town a few times through the years. I was sad to see the school torn down, but very happy to see the “elevator house” is still there. I’d love to have a copy of the book and will call you to order it. Are you still living in Knox? I would enjoy seeing the old house sometime if we could arrange a visit. Mom and Dad and Buck are gone now, but what wonderful memories I have of our 8 years in Knox.

  13. Donna Lennon says:

    The History Books of Knox are Ten Dollars , not eighteen as printed. Would the one from Grafton call me as I lost your address.. she ordered four books and I can’t mail them until I get her address.
    Donnaa Lennon

  14. What incredible pictures of a beautiful old town. I sang at Arlene Borgen’s wedding in the Lutheran Church there many years ago. have many good memories of eating and playing at her grandparents Elmer and Hazel Borgen’s home. Hazel was my Grandma Ada Drege’s sister.

    • Karen Jones Buddenbohm says:

      And Sandi Drege Harper is my cousin. Our mothers are sisters, so all of my previous comments about our Grandpa Fay and Uncle Leo apply to Sandi also. What a wonderful site this is!

  15. Gene Reieson says:

    And Don’t forget Dennis Goetz

  16. CHRIS C says:

    WHO OWNS THE LAND OF THESE OLD BUILDINGS LIKE THE FIRE DEPT ?

  17. Becca C. says:

    Wow! This is the town my family lived in near the turn of the century (1910). Is there anyway I can get information about the town or would you know where I could go to find it? Thanks!

  18. Anthony says:

    About four years ago, I delivered some furniture to an elderly man in Knox. I don’t remember his name, or where exactly he lived there, but because of him, I’ll never forget this little town. I drove by it a billion times, never thinking twice to stop. When I did for work that one day, myself and my delivery partner were having a pretty rough morning. This guy in Knox sounded not very nice on the phone, so we were expecting the worst. We got to his house (a very nice house btw), delivered his beds, set them up, and tried to be on our way. This guy was so proud of his house though, and all of his hunting trophies, that he insisted on us taking the grand tour. Heard some cool stories, saw some cool things. Prior to the tour, while we were setting up his beds, he was cooking. Never thought twice of it, until he presented us each with a foil wrapped cheeseburger as a tip. Best tip I’ve ever received, and that guy made damn sure we’d never forget that place.

  19. Boyd Olson says:

    Aloha Gene

    Talking to my mom on the webcam tonight, then she was Eileen Follman, she had Dennis Goetz in her classroom at Knox School.

    Mahalo Boyd

  20. Trevor Lennon says:

    Hello Everyone!

    I am Donna Lennon’s Grandson. Donna has moved to Rugby, ND (Just a few miles west of Knox). The number on the picture is still available to call but she will not be checking the messages as often as normal. If you wish to contact her for books her phone number is 701-771-0077.

  21. Sandy Kjosa Austin says:

    I remember also the great wedding dances in Knox. Those were great times. The best dances were always in the small towns, York, Knox, Harlow, Penn.

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