Blabon: Ten Years Later

Blabon: Ten Years Later

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.

Blabon, North Dakota

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.

Blabon, North Dakota

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.

Blabon, North Dakota

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.

Blabon, North Dakota

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.

Blabon, North Dakota

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.

Blabon, North Dakota

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.

Blabon, North Dakota

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.

13 thoughts on “Blabon: Ten Years Later

  1. As a 3rd generation born out of Norway and looking for family head stones. Looking for a child is harder as they usually didn’t get head stones due to money. Many are buried in the same graves as parents or where parents would be put with just red or white brick. If you find a family head stone with a brick in the plot she is probably there if there are any ‘records’ anywhere most likely church books you might find a note in there.

  2. I may be mistaken, but the photo of the first house with the heavily sagging roof may be the one where my family and I lived until moving in 1960 – if this is indeed the one near what used to be the elevator site on the east end of Blabon. Last fall, when I asked my Mother about the house (I remember the inside well) she said it had originally been two granaries that had been adjoined and turned into a house. The gravestone of the baby is that of my first cousin….my father, Colman W. Hanson was a brother to the baby’s mother, Hazel.

    Wow! These pics really turn back the years! 🙂

    1. Russell stenslands father has owned the house for 50 years. earl I believe bought it a few years after u moved. His father was the grain elevator operater. He bought the property for back taxes. He never lived on the property. He just gardened, raised chickens, bees. The family actually lived in hope. Later after the elevator burned the family moved to Mandan, nd. His father earl continued to garden until in his nineties. The property sat vacant for years. Now his son has an rv on site a d visits his mother in mandan. He also has put a garden in one of the same spots as his father. This year we saw the man who wrote the book unfortunately they missed each other, probably due to being shy. He would love to meet mr. Larson. Russell does not believe the house was two elevtors put together. We have found so much history here. I am cherishing every little piece. We have and plan to do some gardening and reviving the chicken coop. We would like to know how u got your water. We believe there is a water cistern in the basement.

  3. This is really fascinating. My great grandfather (Tolles) was born in Portland and moved to Blabon with his parents (Mandius and Christine). I have been doing a lot of reading about my family and their origins and this was really neat!

    1. Dan, I think we are related my maternal grandfather Tolles Jochumesen 1884-1970 and your great grandfather Tolles were first coucins. So their parents Edvard Mandius (aka MT) Langager and Jochum Langager were brothers. I live in Karmoy municpality in Norway. I have some family photos taken in Hope ND.

      I was contacted some ys ago by a grand daugther of Tolles, Ruth Simmons I think her mother was Tolles younger sister, Olga, I knew the Langager family was living in Blabon ND for some ys, thats why I found this site. Take contact if you want . my e-mail adr: geir.eide at haugnett.no

      1. Russell who inhereted the property from his father earl, was on the property in rv when u came by. He wishes u would have stopped in to say howdy. His father has owned the land for 50 years. Russell and I also travel and hikeed accross ND on NCT trail. We also enjoy visiting the towns of north dakota. He heard u were here after he saw your pick up along side the abandon road next to his property. Sorry we missed u.

  4. My grandfather, Hartwell Blair Burner grew up in Blabon. Every Memorial Day when I was a child back in the ’50s, Grandpa and I used to decorate family graves (some unmarked) at the cemetery there. It’s been many years since I last visited Blabon. Thanks for the memories!

  5. I lived in Hope during the 60’s which is just a few miles from Blabon. My friends And I used to go Grouse and pheasant hunting around Blabon. We would walk the tracks to get there and back to town. Those were really great times. Not really much in Blabon at that time either.

  6. I enjoyed seeing the 1910 (?) map of Blabon recently. It looked almost the same as back in the 50’s. Carl Monson’s house and Gilbert Johnson’s house both looked the same. The old wood building school was there – the brick 2 story school had not been built at that time. We lived 3 miles southeast of Blabon and I went to grammar school there.

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