It’s always amazing when you run across a place like this rural Driscoll Church… like they just left yesterday.
We were on our way to visit Arena, North Dakota in September, 2016, when we drove right past this place and decided to stop for a visit.
Zion Lutheran Church is in Burleigh County, Harriet-Lein Township, and is described as “rural Driscoll.” In reality, it is about ten miles north of Driscoll, or eleven miles southeast of Wing, North Dakota.
When we arrived, it wasn’t easy to tell from the outside whether Zion Lutheran was still an active church or not. It looked like it. It is weather-tight with a steel roof, good paint, and intact windows. The grounds were well-maintained too. Perhaps a congregation still assembled regularly?
A quick search revealed Zion Lutheran has it’s own Facebook page. Although Zion Lutheran no longer has services every Sunday, special events are still happening here, and planning was underway for a 100th Anniversary celebration in 2017. Below: The cornerstone planted in 1917.
Above: The sacristy is just inside the door.
Above: Some information for anyone who wants to make a monetary donation to preserve Zion Lutheran Church. Below: Even though they held a service here in July of 2016, nobody touched the keys apparently, because they’re still covered in cobwebs.
The sanctuary exists in a state of beautiful suspended animation, awaiting the next wedding or funeral.
The piano also made it through the service with some of the cobwebs on the lamp still intact. We would have never guessed while we were there that it had been so recently used.
In the sacristy.
In the basement of Zion Lutheran, the kitchen where generations of people attended pot luck lunches.
Above: The Lein family name substitutes for the numbers on the clock. Below: An abandoned farmhouse stands in the distance, a remnant of an increasingly rare agrarian lifestyle. The end of that living condition, brought about by mechanized farming, the end of the railroad era, and an aging population not replaced by a younger generation, leads to places like this… rural churches standing lonely on the prairie, used less and less frequently, until all who have a personal connection to the place have moved on, to another place or another plane.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 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