We visited Balfour in November of 2014, nine years after our first visit, to get some photos of all the things we missed the first time. We actually tried to revisit Balfour in 2012, but a road construction crew had traffic at a complete stop on Highway 52, complicating our travel schedule, and we decided to wait until another time, so it was nice to finally get back there.
Most notably, Balfour has this abandoned church standing right along Highway 52. If you drive the stretch between Minot and Harvey, you’ll see it.
We’re told this church was originally in Verendrye, North Dakota, a near ghost-town where only a farm and the facade of the old school remain standing.
On this particular weekend, winter was about two minutes away, and the skies had been flat, gray, overcast the whole time. Balfour was our last stop before heading for home.
This church, several derelict homes, along with several inhabited ones, stand on the south side of Highway 52.
On the north side of the highway, some familiar sights… like the former Post Office and Community Hall, covered in gorgeously rusted tin siding.
The sunset was approaching and the street light was on.
Right across the street, the former bank.
As we were photographing this area, we ran into the Mayor of Balfour who informed us there are now about 20 residents in town. He also told us about the former fire station and jail, and gave us permission to shoot it as long as we promised to be careful.
This little non-descript building once functioned as the fire station and jail in Balfour.
Inside, the firefighters’ jackets still hang on the wall. The years they’ve been hanging here can be seen demonstrated in jacket number four. The original red wall paint remains on the wood where the jacket has shielded it from the elements that have been pouring in through the open roof for years. Winds have blown the jacket back and forth on the hook, wearing a fan shape on the wood, and the silhouette of jackets that have fallen on the floor can still be seen on the wall.
The siren still rests on top of a tower outside.
This is in the room on the other side of the wall from where the jackets are hanging.
The door on the left leads to the Balfour town jail. Seeing this chair with the ashtray on the floor made me imagine a jailer, sitting here smoking cigarettes, waiting for a county deputy to arrive and take custody of a prisoner.
The jail cell is made from two by fours, and when the door is closed, it is pitch black inside.
These two abandoned homes stand on the west side of town.
The clouds had been around all day, but just as we were finishing up shooting this school, the sun ducked below the cloud cover and illuminated Balfour in a beautiful golden light that would only last about twenty minutes before sundown.
There was another school in Balfour before this one.
Part of the wall has collapsed on the south side of the school.
Trees have sprouted between the slabs that once served as the basketball court.
There’s something hidden in the photo above. Can you spot it? (Click the image, then again on the next page to see it full size.)
We have featured Balfour in several of our hardcover coffee table books.
Photographer Ria Cabral sent us some photos of Balfour in winter you can see here.
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