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Ten Lost North Dakota Places

It’s always a thrill to see enthusiastic residents get involved in saving historically and culturally significant places in their communities, but in North Dakota’s vanishing small towns, the losses frequently outnumber the wins by a significant margin. It’s something we’ve seen time and again in over ten years of photographing North Dakota.

What follows is our personal list, by no means exhaustive, of ten significant North Dakota places that have unfortunately lost their battle with time.

1. The Opp House

This home stood in a field outside Lincoln Valley, North Dakota until the early-2000′s when it was razed due to safety and infestation concerns. It was the former home of the Opp family, who just packed up and left one day, leaving most of their belongings behind. It became a very early icon of our website and we’re saddened to see it go.

2. Hamberg School

A fire claimed this Hamberg School on April 1st, 2012. It was a beautiful place.

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3. Stardust 17

We took these photos in August of 2011 and in the fall of 2012, they took down what remains of the screen at Stardust 17, the drive-in theater outside of Grafton, North Dakota.

4. Fillmore

The incredible near-ghost town we visited in 2006 is no more, most of it destroyed by fires of suspicious origin according to some local residents.

5. Sanger County House

Although it is still standing, the local residents told us during our last visit the Sanger County House is beyond saving and will soon collapse.

6. Deisem

This church is all that remains of the rural outpost that was once Deisem. This former Seventh Day Adventist Church is severely structurally compromised. When it finally collapses, the above-ground remains of Deisem will pass into history.

7. Bentley Church

Less than two years after we photographed this church in Bentley, the steeple had collapsed. The webmaster of BentleyND.com has added some photos recently which show the condition is now much worse.

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8. Temple School

Contributor Mark Johnson visited Temple, a true ghost town, in 2004 and photographed this school. In the years since, the school has been moved and re-purposed as an addition to a home.

9. Fargo College

Fargo College opened in 1890 and blossomed into a sizable campus over the next few decades, including the Jones Hall building shown above, and later Dill Hall and a Carnegie Library. Finances took a nosedive however beginning with the Great Depression, and by 1964 all but one remaining original structure had been torn down. The only remaining structure is the former Watson Hall Conservatory of Music at 601 Fourth Street South, which is now the home of the Fargo Fine Arts Club.

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10. Moody’s Department Store

Moody’s was  a landmark department store in Fargo at the gateway to the west. This store stood on the corner of a city block in Fargo that included the Waldorf Hotel at the opposite end and the Northern Pacific Depot, the first stop for any traveler headed west on the railroad through North Dakota. The Moody’s store was a character in the drama that played out in the Great Fargo Fire of 1893 — home to a fire alarm box for which nobody could find a key. The city bought the building for so-called urban renewal in 1966, and site is now home to the ten-story Bank of the West building, completed in 1973.

Bonus Place: Sanish, North Dakota

Upon completion of the Garrison Dam and the subsequent flooding of the Missouri River Valley to create the Lake Sakakawea reservoir, Sanish was abandoned in 1953 and the residents moved to higher ground. We photographed the remaining foundations when the lake was at extremely low-levels in 2005.

See also: Building Four Bears Bridge

See also: Ten More Lost North Dakota Places

Comments
10 Responses to “Ten Lost North Dakota Places”
  1. Matt Rothchild says:

    Wow. Just wow. This is why I do UrbEx. I had a chance to go into many of those buildings and did. And now they’re gone.

    Bentley Church, I saw that coming. It looked ready to collapse when I visited back in 2009. The steeple had fallen by then.

    Hamburg School, what a tragic loss. Wanted to try going inside, but the floors didn’t appear structurally sound.

    Temple School, in remarkable shape when I visited in 2008. Kind of glad someone found use for it, but still…I had written my name on one of the chalkboards still inside.

    Fillmore, a wonderful find. Too bad so much of it had to burn. The best part of the town for exploring is gone forever.

  2. John Piepkorn says:

    The Ploom Creek Hauges Norwegian Lutheran Church Church SW of Williston is one I would recommend. I shot pics of it in 2010 and it has since been totally erased from the landscape.

  3. Carroll Rasch says:

    I looked for and found what was left of the town of Krem. My uncle Richard and I walked two of the cemeteries … The corner of part of the old Rolling Mill is very obvious but, I learned that the last building, the summer kitchen of one of the leading citizens, had been burned down. Evidently a group of teen agers out partying set fire to it. Very sad.

  4. Jason says:

    1. The Opp House. My mother, her parents, and her four siblings (the Opps) headed west into Montana, unwilling to accept government handouts to North Dakota farmers. The house was bought and moved from a nearby town in the early 1940s. The Opps left behind a lot of stuff including uncles, aunts, grandparents, and the family dog (a collie named “Lassie”). Several Opps were buried in the Lincoln Valley Cemetery which is at the western border of this property. Grandma Rose Opp’s house still stands (totally covered by trees) facing east on a south-western corner lot in Lincoln Valley.

  5. Amber says:

    It’s sad how fast these places fall into ruin. It’s bittersweet to see the Stardust on this list, even though I see the actual location almost daily. It was always a treat when our parents loaded us up in the car and took us to the movie there. There was something special about watching a movie in your jammies in the back seat of the car, sharing popcorn and a pop, trying to stay awake for the second movie on double feature night. The place was always packed with people of all ages. I remember my mom not letting us kids go to the concession stand alone because she didn’t want us around the rowdy teenagers, one of whom is now my boss. It’s been a little over 20 years since that storm took out the screen and shut the place down. A little part of me always hoped they would reopen, and still does I guess, thinking maybe after they finish rejuvenating the Strand, they might find it in their hearts to keep the fundraiser going and bring back the Stardust. I know it won’t happen, but it doesn’t hurt to have a dream…

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  1. […] another list — the original is here – ten more significant North Dakota places that have unfortunately lost their battle with […]

  2. […] Moody’s department store would have been just out of frame on the left of the scene below, and there are other interesting landmarks in this postcard, too. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the postcard. […]

  3. […] the years since these photos were taken, the school has been moved from the townsite and repurposed as an addition to a home, and the site itself has occasionally been home to oil […]



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