Our journey to Heil, North Dakota, in Grant County, about fifty miles southwest of Mandan, took place on an evening when the forecast said there was a chance of scattered thunderstorms in the area. We got more than we bargained for and ended up driving through a pounding thunderstorm with rain coming down in torrents. By the time we got to Heil, however, the storm had moved through and we were able to get a few shots of Heil for the first time since our initial visit in 2007.
I had forgotten what a nice little town Heil is. Aside from these few vacant properties, Heil is a very nicely kept town where the property owners take pride in their appearance.
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Heil wasn’t officially founded until 1911, considerably later than many of the towns we’ve photographed. According to North Dakota: Every Town on the Map and More by Vernell and Louise Johnson, an early settler named William Lawther opened a post office on his farm in 1910 and named the settlement Lawther. A real estate developer and storekeeper named William Heil acquired the land one year later and renamed the town, Heil.
Someone painted the school since our last visit.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media.
Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy