In October of 2003, we visited Blabon, North Dakota, a tiny near-ghost town in Steele County with a handful of residents, and it was the first stop on what would become a ten-year exploration of North Dakota’s ghost towns and abandoned places. In 2013, we returned to Blabon after ten years to snap some photos and reflect on one of the stories sent to us by a very early fan of our website.
Where there was once a small town with two grain elevators, a hotel, bank, bar, post office, and 900 residents, there are now only a handful of structures, a resident or three, and this lonely old collapsing home. Not even the train tracks remain. We’re not positive, but the home shown above appears to be the oldest, and perhaps the only remaining original structure in Blabon. The roof has deteriorated considerably over the last decade.
We actually have been to Blabon twice before, the last time in 2004. Since then, the home shown above has been offered for sale on Craigslist several times. We’re not sure if it ever sold — it is in really poor condition.
Storm clouds on the horizon, as seen from the Blabon Cemetery. We noticed a fifth-wheel camper parked nearby which appeared to be lived-in and there appeared to be a little more life in Blabon than when we last visited. We didn’t see anybody out and about, but it looks like Blabon might have gained a few residents.
Ghosts of North Dakota and Churches of the High Plains hardcover coffee table books make a unique Christmas gift. Blabon is featured in Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 3.
Shortly after we founded the Ghosts of North Dakota website in early-2004, we received email from a gentleman in Norway named Øyvind Sætrevik whose great grandparents came to America around 1900 for a shot at the American dream. In a series of emails (which have unfortunately been lost) he told us the story of his great grandparents losing a young child to illness, and eventually they gave up on their American endeavor and returned to Norway, leaving behind their child’s grave in Blabon as the only indication they ever came to America.
We searched the headstones in the cemetery for an obvious match to the circumstances, but nothing seemed obvious. If Mr. Sætrevik is reading this, please contact us.
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