Kathryn, ND

By / July 9, 2012 / Kathryn, ND

Kathryn is a beautiful little town in Barnes county, nestled perfectly into the landscape of the Sheyenne River Valley. It is more of a small town than a near-ghost town with a population of 57, but with an abundance of abandoned places and other photo opportunities. There’s a nice little bar in Kathryn and one or two more businesses, plus some nicely maintained homes. If you decide to drive the Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway, Kathryn is the perfect non-touristy place to stop in for a beer.

The former bank.

If you drive the Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway between Valley City and Kathryn, North Dakota, you’ll be treated to a roadside panorama as incredible as nearly any in the state. It is beautiful.

Terry was snapping photos of this old jail when he walked around the corner and saw this mannequin staring out at him. He said something about needing a change of pants after that!

We spoke with a local resident named Roger who showed us this old photo of the hotel.

The former harness shop.

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

About Author

Troy Larson

Troy Larson is a father, husband, author, photographer, publisher and devoted cat person. Troy is the President of Sonic Tremor Media and co-founder of GhostsofNorthDakota.com

55 Comments

Larry Danielson

Fantastic to see such pride in a small town, signifying it is still “home” to those that are there….even if others have left. (This is not too far from my old town of Cuba).

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Lynn

I’m a N.D.native living in Minneapolis, I really enjoy following your adventures via Facebook. Keep up the great work and thanks!

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Sandy

having grown up here it is sad to see how there is so little left of what once was a thriving town…what was….will never be.

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Pam

My grandparents lived right by Kathryn when I was a child, on the Sheyenne River, but I never saw the actual town until now! I remember my dad telling me about the bar. The owner opened it when he felt like it.

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Sandy

pam, I’m curious, who were your grandparents, and Olive, who is your sister-in-law

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Tom

I Live in Florida and this is a beautiful little town And would love living there because Im retired in 70`s….. Im a florida native… dont suppose any of yall wanna trade places for a few weeks….. Grins….. saturday july 28 2012…midnight eastern time… Ill try to return here…

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g

Tom…if you’re going to visit, summer is the time to do it. I moved out of that area to Texas because I couldn’t handle the cold anymore :)

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perry hawkins

this little town sure brings back memories ,I remember the good times with Gary Ross and Douglas Eidsvig , and the little school on the hill ,the roller rink on wed.nite . those were just some of the people , Martha &Oscar (R.I.P.)

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Larry Hovgaard

Perry Hawkins, there couldn’t be 2 with that name in Kathryn, ND. We were good friends back in the mid 50’s. Carol B. sent me this web site, and I am soooo impressed. AND then, I find a post by Perry Hawkins. Perry, email me at lwh79@hotmail.com Thanks, Larry H

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Jean(Mikkelson) Lenox

I lived around Kathryn until 1950. I do go back almost every year as I have two sisters still living there. Sad to see what once was a booming town now only has a post office and a bar..

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Laurel Haas

Hello Jean,

I am sure that you knew my mother, Marion Frostad. I am her daughter Laurel. My sister Danna lives in Fargo. All of the rest of my siblings live in Washington state. I remembered your name and that is why I thought I would reply to your comment. All of us kids have very fond memories of Kathryn. Four of us went back there in 2009. A lot has changed but it felt great just to be there again.

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Elaine Scott

I was born in Kathryn in 1944 left in 1948. I have been trying to get some history of my grandparents who were Ervin and Genette (Tempte) Mickelsen. I know that Grandpa had the Bank and my dad and mom (Helen and Howard Mickelsen lived out of town on a farm. I believe my Grandparents home is still there and I sure would like a photo if anyone around knows which one it was. My dad had said it was sold to the Grain Elevator company for their manager to live in. I know that it was across the street from the Olsen’s and had a creek behind it and was fairly large.
It was interesting to read and see what it looks likke now. I have never been back (live in Seattle) but my parents did take a trip about 20 years ago. It is interesting to see the photos I was comparing them to a strip of movie film I have from about 1942 that shows the main street and a few of the residents that I have no idea of who they are except for my grandfather. My dad always had great stories of growing up in Kathryn.

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Kristin Seaks(Mikkelson)

It is so interesting seeing the pictures and reading comments with my relatives names in them. Also seeing that my aunt Jean wrote on this site. Kathryn is a lovely, peaceful little town. Whenever we would go to Waldheim for fall dinners, I would always think, this is God’s country. Time seems to slow down here and you know what is important.

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Jacey Hanson

I dearly love the whole Sheyenne Valley, a true hidden jewel. We are looking to move into the area and if anyone knows of an old farmstead, or vacant home, property that can be made available, we would be grateful to hear from you.
Sincerely,
jace@pennywhistle.net

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Molly J

Silly question, but does anyone know the purpose of the building design that features that flat streetfront face and then the pitched roof behind it? You can see it especially clearly in the top photo as well as a few of the others. Did this have something to do with acting as a windbreak or something? Just curious…

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Frank

Hi Molly J.

You almost have it right. The flat front, facing the street was to give plenty of ‘canvas’ to paint the sign of the business plus hang any business related items like on the harness shop shown to the right on the first picture. Second it was to provide a uniformity of buildings facing the street. Every building was faced up to the sidewalk and you could see straight down with no buildings hidden by being away from the sidewalk.. They are all faced up to the sidewalks.

As far as the sloping roofs. Only one goal: Get the snow/sleet/rain etc., off the roofs as fast as possible. The longer it ‘stands’ or puddles on a less sloping roof, the more damage it will do and the sooner it will need a new roof.

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Barry N.

Appreciate the pictures of my home town. One correction however: the picture of the Rusty Spur cafe you label as the former hotel as it looks today. The Kathryn Hotel was actually torn down about 20 years ago. This building was Frostad’s Cafe, a fixture in the town. Andrew, his wife Laura and son Stanley ran this cafe for probably over 5 decades. Great malts, fantastic meat balls and pies. Sadly, the Rusty Spur is no longer in operation.

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Gloria Reiss

I grew up in Kathryn, across the road from the old high school, up on the hill. I go back often as I live only 45 miles away. It has changed due to floods and a few fires and the fact that all the old business owners have passed on and no one stepped in to keep the businesses open. It isn’t possible to make a real profit there. It is a beautiful little town and my parents still live there. Only a few of the people I knew are still there, but we have a big family reunion and fill the hall about every other year and it is a great place to hang out and just let the kids run, safe and open. The weather in June is the best time to hang out outside. The old grade school is now a private residence and the “new” school is a private business now.

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Roger Knutson

My father grew up at a farm just outside of Kathryn. We used to visit my Grandmother, Oline (Lena) when she lived in town, near a well on the street in the 1950s.

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june halmo-steinfeld

Carol: My mother, Eleanor Evenson, was born in 1913, raised in Kathryn. My sister and I are planning a
trip to the area in ?May. Disappointed to read that the old Hotel was torn down…she was a tele operator there after HS graduation. Memories :)

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KRISTINA BROWN

My grandfather Kenneth Edland was born/raised in Kathryn, ND August 1915. Would she have known anyone in the Edland family? He had brothers and sisters too. I remember Spencer and Gordon, but not his sisters names. I recently moved to Dickinson ND from California. Haven’t visited Kathryn yet. but would like to, Would really like to find family or friends of the Edlands. Any help or leads would be so appreciated. I haven’t ever met anyone from my grandfather’s family. Would like to find some decendents… long lost relatives to join up with.

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Kathryn Brunette

Reply to: April 14, 2014 at 5:58 pm KRISTINA BROWN:

I really am a “Kathryn” – this spelling is rare….

Where in California did you move from? I’m a SoCal/CA native, but my folks are from Kindred, ND [50 miles east of Kathryn]. Dickinson is familiar to me, my older relatives living in the towns near you might be able to make a Edland connection for you. Some have done family charts. Respond back with your email & we can collaborate. UFF DA Kathy

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Kristina Brown

Hi Kathryn, I am just now reading your response. Sorry so late. I am from Clovis CA, its in the Central Valley. I was able to visit Kathryn in August 2014. My parents came for a visit and my mom was able to see where her dad was born and raised when I took her there. Very moving experience for her. She took many pictures. It was unfortunate that I hadn’t made any contact with anyone who remembers my grandfather’s family. But I hope to do this eventually and my folks plan on retuning again this August for another visit. It would be amazing to be able to introduce her to family or friends of family she didn;t know she had. Any help would be wonderful. thank you!
Kristina

Deb Wacha

This is the town that my Great Grandmother Lena lived and her house is still standing. We went there with our Grandpa and Grandma Lee and had ice cream cones. I think it is stlil the lefsa capital, with our Cousin Delores Ross being featured on the Travel Channel some years back.

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Deb Wacha

The formal name of our great grandmother was Lena Helgeson (sp) and her husband was Ole Helgeson … so Ole and Lena it was. Does anyone remember them

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Amber McKee

If any of you would happen to have any information on Rasmus Olsberg I would be willing to pay you for your time or info. All I know is he had a bunch of farms in that area. He was married to Julia Olsen. He was Vice Pres. Of Farmers State bank in Kathryn!! Not sure which one that would be in the pic!! My email is talkmckee@bresnan.net. Thanks

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LuAnn Markgraf

My grandparents lived on a farm in Kathryn south of hwy 46. My grandparents were Oliver and Minnie Mennis Every summer we went a couple times to see my granparents and my Uncle Cliff’s family in Fort Ransom. I have a lot of good memories of my grandparents farm and family reunions The last time I was in Kathryn, was I think 3 years ago, when we were in Fargo for a family wedding..’ I remember going to town with Grandpa to get groceries for Grandma. Does anyone remember my grandparents? They went to Nordheim Lutheran Church and are buried in that cemetery.

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Don Smedshammer

Back in 1956, my dad (Henry Smedshammer) had a contract to removed existing sidewalks between 2nd & 4th ST (I think) and pour new concrete along highway 38 right to the store fronts. He asked me to see if 4-5 of my high school friends wanted to have work for a few weeks and found 4 that did. We lived in Enderlin and I remember driving dad’s pickup from there to Kathryn each morning with 3 of the “workers” sitting in the back. The biggest problem I remember was as we were pouring the new concrete in front of one of the two bars…3 times one of the bar patrons would step out the door and walk to the street thru the freshly poured mix. Dad had asked the owners if they would block the front door for a few hours. Didn’t always work!!! One of the great memories of growing up in the southeastern part of ND. Left there in 1957, been back several times, and have a favorite saying when asked the question, “So Don, where you from?” I tell them I live in Lake St Louis, MO, but I am from Enderlin, ND! Great pictures and the good/bad thing about most of them…I remember the buildings. Thanks!!!

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Stephanie P

Happened upon this site in search of other things. I lived right on the Main Street there (next to Ralph’s Bar and Frostad’s Café) and went to school on the hill–yes, roller skating on wed night at the town hall. So much fun we had! Swimming at Brown’s Dam. Walking along the railroad tracks the other way to the river, beating the trains across the trestle, a rope swing into the river. Trips to Little Yellowstone park. This old town is the inspiration for a novel I’m writing that takes place in the 60s, much of it in a fictional town in the same general area. A rare and tough breed of people lived here (and a few apparently still do).

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Tammi Petersom Mitchell

Beautiful photos! I was born in Vally in 1957, first home in Kat’ryn like so many of the old Norwegians used to pronounce it. My parents were school teachers and lived at the school (I think) the first year they were married–Roland “Pete” and Mari Ann (McDonald) Peterson. They are still living in Carrington–Dad’s 88 and Mama’s going to be 90 in Nov. If any of you out there remember either of them please drop them an email—it would really make their day. Their email is MacPete@Daktel.com. We only lived here a couple years but I remember my “Grandma” Elfie and “Grandpa” Trygve Svestad even today…quiet peaceful days swinging on a rope and tire swing in one of their old big trees. If you send Dad and Mom an email please tell them hello from me, their daughter Tammi!

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M. Shawn Bjerke

Tammi;
My maternal grandparents, the Svestads, told me stories about you when I was a child growing up just outside of Kathryn. My parents still live there, as does my sister. Small world!

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Kathryn Brunette

Reply to December 9, 2013 at 10:46 pm Tammi Petersom Mitchell:

…If you send Dad and Mom an email please tell them hello from me, their daughter Tammi!

Tammi: are you a Petersom [see your spelling above] or a Peterson”????

I’m emailing your parents, MacPete@Daktel.com, per your 12/9/13 comment above: “Pete” and Mari Ann (McDonald) Peterson. I hope they respond. We have Peterson cousins, so we could be related! UFF DA!

I’m the same age as you, a SoCalifornia native, but we visited the family farm every 3 years. Yep, AND …..they still say: “Kat’ryn” [like so many of the old Norwegians used to pronounce it]…. My family’s from the Kindred, ND farmlands [50 miles east of Kathryn].

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Mary Ann Miller

I was born in Kathryn in 1942. My father, Ben Herr was the rural mail carrier. The town had two grocery stores, two bars, two cafes, three gas stations, “Ole W” had a hardware store, Levi Larson had a movie theater and roller skating.. My mother ran the switchboard in the old hotel and later was part time postal clerk. The old train had passenger service and twice my grandma took me to Litchville where we shopped until the train came back from Marion. Loren Brown was the local electrician and my brother Ben worked summers with him. Laura Frostad was famous for her date turnovers and chocolate cookies, Jennie Stevens operated the other one. Clarence Knutson operated one barber shop and Emil Olson the other. Thoralf Pederson family operated .one grocery store and Glen Rintoul the other. Gertha Larson got the 4-H club started. There was a stage on main street and a big lumberyard. The crew that built the new elevator worked twenty four hours a day. Drive- in movies were shown .on te lumber yard, Farmers brought their cream to Pederson’s store.. There was a stage on Main St. which held talent shows on Wednesday nights.. There were four places to buy gas
Jake Arves, Cliff Hagen, Art Bommelman.. The Ladies Aid had bake sales in the old bank building. Russ Rowlamd was lumberyard manager.

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Mary Ann Miller

I was born in Kathryn in 1942. My father, Ben Herr was the rural mail carrier. The town had two grocery stores, two bars, two cafes, three gas stations, “Ole W” had a hardware store, Levi Larson had a movie theater and roller skating.. My mother ran the switchboard in the old hotel and later was part time postal clerk. The old train had passenger service and twice my grandma took me to Litchville where we shopped until the train came back from Marion. Loren Brown was the local electrician and my brother Ben worked summers with him. Laura Frostad was famous for her date turnovers and chocolate cookies, Jennie Stevens operated the other one. Clarence Knutson operated one barber shop and Emil Olson the other. Thoralf Pederson family operated .one grocery store and Glen Rintoul the other. Gertha Larson got the 4-H club started. There was a stage on main street and a big lumberyard. The crew that built the new elevator worked twenty four hours a day. Drive- in movies were shown .on the lumber yard, Farmers brought their cream to Pederson’s store.. There was a stage on Main St. which held talent shows on Wednesday nights.. There were five places to buy gas.- Jake Arves, Cliff Hagen, “Ole W” Selmer Chose.and Art Bommelman’s. The Ladies Aid had bake sales in the old bank building,.. If only I could remember last week!

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Tony Cortez

Hello All. My Mothers name is Terry Heron ( Terry Evans ) and she lived in the little white building that has the other white building to the right of it, separated by a staircase. She lived up stairs in the building to the left featured up above here in the pictures. Her Mother was Mariel Heron ( Evans ) who was one of the the school teachers at the school in the late forties to mid fifties. I have a picture of the school from 1955 that I will try and upload later to this site. Does anyone know the exact location on google earth of the old school building? If anyone would like to contact me my email is tcortez 906 @ yahoo . com

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Doug Eidsvig

I certainly enjoyed reading these comments. I grew up three miles from town and went to high school there from ’58 to ’62. Tammi – your folks were a couple of my teachers. I remember the boys getting to leave school and go to your home to watch the World Series games in the fall. My mom also delivered cream to your home. Larry Hovgaard – its been a while! Perry Hawkins – glad you caught up with me a few years ago. Mary Ann – nice to see you once in a while. Jean Lenox – my aunt, along with Deloris Ross and Myrtis Clauson. People can’t help but have some good memories of Kathryn. We used to enjoy trying to drive Art Abrahamson and Andy Frostad crazy – but I think they enjoyed it too. I make it back there every year. The people may change but the memories remain.
Doug Eidsvig – eidsvigd@msn.com

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Erlys (Johnson) Paul

So glad to have found this site. Took my kids and grandkids on a tour of the countryside and cemetery where their ancestors are buried and where they homesteaded. I love the Valley and the prairies on either side. I remember so much of what you all have posted. Thanks for the memories. My closest friends were the twins Joan and June Rue, now passed away.

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James Eliason

I had lunch at the cafe several years ago on a return trip to Wisconsin. It was very good and I enjoyed the western motif. The drive to the South dakota border is beautiful.

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Howard L.

My uncle Bud use to own the Hitching post there back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. And my great grandparents lived there across from the Lutheran Church, and My wife and I are moving back there in December. Pam are you related to Art Kolrud?

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Candis

Hi Perry,
I just found this website of Kathryn-Ghost towns of ND. I read your comment. I often wonder what happened to people that I remember from my childhood. My name is Candis (Hanson) Hoffmeyer and my father owned the Texaco gas station and auto repair shop. I have so many good memories of growning up in Kathryn. Last winter I had the good fortune to have Judy (Ward) Galde come to visit me in AZ. I called a few other former Kathryn kids and we had a great visit. Judy remembers EVERYONE from Kathryn, names I had long forgotten. Judy (Ross) Holmgren, her brothers Gary and Steven, Carol Brown and my brother Steven Hanson were here also. It is fun to remenisce. I hope all is well with you.
Candis

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Kathryn Brunette

Reply to December 9, 2013 at 10:46 pm Tammi Petersom Mitchell:

…If you send Dad and Mom an email please tell them hello from me, their daughter Tammi!

Tammi: are you a Petersom [see your spelling above] or a Peterson”????

I’m emailing your parents, MacPete@Daktel.com, per your 12/9/13 comment above: “Pete” and Mari Ann (McDonald) Peterson. I hope they respond. We have Peterson cousins, so we could be related! UFF DA!

I’m the same age as you, a SoCalifornia native, but we visited the family farm every 3 years. Yep, AND …..they still say: “Kat’ryn” [like so many of the old Norwegians used to pronounce it]…. My family’s from the Kindred, ND farmlands [50 miles east of Kathryn].

Reply

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