This is Bluegrass, North Dakota, a true ghost town, population zero, in Morton County, about thirty-five miles northwest of Mandan. Bluegrass is a former rural community that had a population of 20 in the 1920 Census, a relatively small peak population, but not surprising considering the railroad never came to Bluegrass. In his book “North Dakota Place Names,” Doug Wick says the last census figures in 1960 registered a population of 7.
This building was once the gas station and general store in Bluegrass. For a long time, it was the quickest place for area residents to pick up some goods when they didn’t feel like going all the way to New Salem, ten miles to the southeast.
This house is really the primary residence on the Bluegrass townsite. The rest of Bluegrass’ reported population was loosely spread throughout the township, and there are likely area residents who still consider themselves residents of Bluegrass.
Roads to the site are relatively narrow, loose gravel, and in the half hour we were there, we didn’t see a single vehicle pass.
Visitors to our Facebook page have mentioned several family names as former residents of Bluegrass — Dachtler, Elwein, and Mindt, among others.
Today, this part of the rural settlement that was once Bluegrass is totally abandoned, and it’s quite remote as well. The gas station/store burned down in 2014 leaving only the farmhouse and barn on-site. Our last update from Bluegrass came from a family member who told us the owner of the farmhouse was planning to donate it to the fire department, to be burned in a training exercise. Bluegrass will soon pass into history, if it hasn’t already.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media