Gascoyne is on the east edge of Bowman County, in southwest North Dakota, about fifty-five miles south of Dickinson. The town, not far from the South Dakota border, was first called Fischbein, after a family who settled the area, but the name was changed to Gascoyne in 1908. According to the 2010 Census, there are 16 people still living in Gascoyne.
We like to revisit the places we’ve photographed over time to see how they’re doing, and Gascoyne seemed largely the same as it was when we first visited in 2007. The former school is probably our favorite photo subject in Gascoyne; beautifully situated atop a hill, right alongside Highway 12.
The portico over the entryway of the school is sagging just a bit more than it was in 2007. We did not consider it safe to step onto the front steps or go inside the school. That portico could come down any moment if you put weight on the wrong thing.
The scenery in Gascoyne is a beautiful prairie landscape. On the north and south sides of the Dakota border, it’s an awe-inspiring setting of gentle hills, noticeably lacking in trees — an easy place in which to get lost. Drive ten minutes down a gravel road and you will likely find yourself in a place devoid of power and telephone lines, where the view is the same as it was 150 years ago with perhaps the exception of a road and an occasional fence. It’s time travel at forty miles per hour.
The students’ desks are still stacked two-high inside the former classroom. The property owner could probably make a good chunk of change if he or she were willing to sell them to collectors, museums, etc…
Although the front half of Gascoyne Lumber Company still looks good, the back half has suffered a collapse since we last visited.
The Post Office in Gascoyne closed in 1971, and the last business, the grocery store, closed in 1972.
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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