Visiting the Town That Never Was: Rival, North Dakota

Visiting the Town That Never Was: Rival, North Dakota

Years ago, Wylora Christianson sent us a photo of a grain elevator, the only remaining structure from a town that never was: Rival, North Dakota. She was under the impression that the elevator was to be torn down soon, so she felt compelled to photograph it.

The Rival Elevator is so named because, as a Soo Line townsite, it was intended to rival the nearby Great Northern Railroad town of Lignite, North Dakota. North Dakota Place Names by Douglas Wick says this site was the terminus of the Flaxton branch railroad line. A post office existed here for two years, from 1907 to 1909, with Chester Teisinger as the postmaster, but no settlement of any significance developed. 

Rival, North Dakota
Image/Google Earth

Surprisingly, the Rival elevator still stands, and I happened to drive right by it on my way to Canada recently, so I made a note of it and returned for some photos on my way back home. I’m glad I did, because this deteriorating elevator strikes a compelling pose on the green prairie of northern Burke County.

Rival, North Dakota

The Rival elevator has a unique appearance, with a primarily wooden structure capped by steel. We’ve seen several of these wood elevators in which the top has collapsed due to weathering. It makes me wonder if this one endured some kind of collapse and had a steel roof added sometime later? If someone knows the story, please leave a comment below.

Rival, North Dakota

Rival, North Dakota

Rival, North Dakota

Rival, North Dakota

There were bricks laying around in the grass, and upon closer inspection, I found they were from North Dakota’s renowned Hebron Brick Company.

Rival, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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5 thoughts on “Visiting the Town That Never Was: Rival, North Dakota

  1. In my experience of exploring old grain elevators, I can tell you that they’re all made of wood; you can tell when you get inside the grain storage area and look straight up. Many of them have sheet metal affixed to the outside, I’m guessing to make the entire structure more durable and to better withstand the elements.

    In the case of this example at Rival, it appears that either they didn’t complete the job or someone came along and salvaged as much sheet metal to which they could get access, which could explain why the area devoid of the metal surface ends at a pretty uniform point around the structure.

  2. Thanks for capturing the elevator of Rival, ND so beautifully. I grew up in Burke County but never heard of Rival until I stumbled onto an article from the Bowbells Tribune 2/6/1914. It said that the school teacher, Miss Eleanor Skinner, had spent the night in the nearby school house to avoid being lost in the blizzard. The one room school had plenty of coal so she was fine sleeping in the classroom.

  3. Hello,

    This is our Grain elevator in North Dakota. If you would like to contact us, please do. Daniel & Heather Durick

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