Kief is a near-ghost town in McHenry county, and is home to the first Russian Baptist Church ever established in the United States. Although only listed as having a population of 13 in the 2010 census, the amount of activity we saw on our visit to Kief seemed to suggest a larger population, perhaps twenty? Kief has a bar which was open for business on the day we visited. Update: we’ve been told the bar has since closed.
Kief has a total of three churches still standing, but only one appeared to be still in use.
US Census Data for Kief
Total Population by Place
1960 – 97
1970 – 46
1980 – 36
2000 – 12
2010 – 13
Many of the abandoned homes in Kief were in quite good condition, and Minot, the closest sizable city, is only forty-five minutes down the road. We thought Kief would be the perfect place to buy a hobby home for a reasonable price.
From the era when a guy came out to your car and pumped your gas, washed the windows, and checked the oil. Let’s bring that back, can we?
Kief is also home to one of North Dakota’s longest running cold cases. Donna Jean Michalenko disappeared from Kief on November 2nd, 1968. Michalenko disappeared after a night of drinking with a male companion, who claimed he dropped her off at her ex-husband’s house. She was never seen again.
The investigation into Michaelenko’s disappearance was hampered by the fact that she wasn’t reported missing for six weeks after she disappeared. If you have information regarding the disappearance of Donna, please call the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office (the county where Donna lived) at 701-537-5633 or the McLean County Sheriff’s office (where she allegedly disappeared) at 701-462-8103.
Kief First Baptist Church’s claim to fame.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 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