We’ve wanted to visit Antler for several years but it never quite fit into our travel plans until 4th of July weekend, 2013. Antler is a very small town in Bottineau County, just two miles from the Canadian border. The 2010 Census pinpoints Antler’s population at 27, although local residents claim a population of 35. Local residents have fought valiantly at times to keep the population figure from dwindling, including an effort by two local residents in the 1980s to give away free land to families who would agree to move to Antler. It worked in the short-term, with 6 families receiving land.
Antler has a rich and colorful history as a former Port of Entry, not to mention one-time World Record Holder for the World’s Largest Quilt. There is a fascinating website dedicated to Antler’s history at AntlerND.com — a word of caution however, you will get lost in that site for hours.
We stopped for a beer at the I Have No Idea Bar & Grill (also known as The Cabin) while we were there… not the friendliest place to outlanders like ourselves, but they had good cold beer and the prices were reasonable. You can see their Facebook page here.
This is the former Custom House for international travelers. It has also functioned as the Bank, Post Office, and Telephone Office.
This was also a bank, older than the Bank/Custom House in the center of the town square. The AntlerND.com site has photos of this building when it was still surrounded by other structures. We featured this building in our book, Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 3, and we’re glad we did, because in the spring of 2016, they tore it down after a white supremacist attempted to buy it, allegedly with plans to take over the town.
On the left, the former firehouse and jail. On the right, the International Order of Odd Fellows hall.
Vince Azzarello sent in a photo gallery of Antler in 2012 which you can see here.
Tiny Tim once performed at the Antler Public School during a tour to support small schools. Antler’s school is also featured in our third book.
This school was built in 1907. Hidden in the trees on the left, a quonset hut gymnasium built in 1949. On the right, a modern addition with extra classroom space, built in 1964.
The Antler school closed in 1976.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy