Abandoned Wabek, North Dakota Saloon

Abandoned Wabek, North Dakota Saloon

This is Wabek, North Dakota, in Mountrail County, about 35 miles southwest of Minot. Wabek was founded in 1914 and we visited and captured these photos 100 years later, in 2014.

Wabek, North Dakota

According to North Dakota Place Names by Doug Wick, Wabek even had a radio station once, broadcasting with the call letters WABK. Wabek’s all-time high population was 46 in the 1930 Census, but today there appears to be only one occupied property on the town site.

Wabek, North Dakota

This saloon was the last remaining business in Wabek for a long time… one lonely watering-hole splashed with white block letters on its facade, tall enough to be seen by anyone passing on the lightly-traveled highway a half mile to the north.

Wabek, North Dakota

Even after this saloon closed as an official place of business, it was still used for special events. As recently as 2003, “The Wabek Bar” hosted a bachelorette auction, a Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament, and a street dance.

Wabek, North Dakota

This place is in no condition to host anything these days. It seems structurally sketchy and there’s a huge hornets nest growing on the ceiling inside. Unfortunately, this saloon looks beyond saving unless someone decides to take heroic action right away.

Wabek, North Dakota

Wabek actually had a Post Office for almost fifty years, from 1917 to 1966.

Wabek, North Dakota

Below: a look inside the red building shown above.

Wabek, North Dakota

Wabek, North Dakota

This house is on the northwest corner of the town site.

Wabek, North Dakota

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Wabek, North Dakota

Just to the north of the house, this old pump (above) and the retaining wall below. It wasn’t immediately apparent to me what I was looking at, and I still don’t know.

Wabek, North Dakota

Wabek, North Dakota

Further to the south is this impressive Wabek School, which appears to be two fairly standard one-room school houses joined in the center for a twin classroom model.

Wabek, North Dakota

Across the road from the school is this church, which , at the time we visited, had been repurposed as a dwelling and was the only building on the original town site that was occupied.

Wabek, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.

22 thoughts on “Abandoned Wabek, North Dakota Saloon

  1. Great pictures and explanations, Troy. Sometimes the pictures and explanations are sparse making the viewer hungry and craving for more.

  2. I’m wondering if that is a present day picture of the inside of the Saloon ? can’t believe there would be anything left by the look of the outside.

  3. To me it looks like only the out side over hang is collapsed, and from the rest of the pics it actually looks ok. But you were there and i wasn’t.

  4. thanks for posting…great pics. I grew up by Wabek, my parents were very good friends of the original Wabek Bar owners. Spent many nights playing there. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

  5. I went to school there until it closed,lots of memories there ,foundation was a hip roof barn. West of bar was Lyslos store and across street Oliver dealership,thanks for giving use old wabek tec people a smile.

  6. My mother, Margaret Fuglie, was born in Wabek on October 20, 1914 — 100 years ago, almost to the day! My grandfather was a teller at the Wabek bank. After work he enjoyed playing tennis. My mother had many stories about Wabek. She told of walking down the hill to the water pump to fetch water. With the onset of Winter, they would pile manure around the foundations of the house to keep it warm. She attended school in Wabek. My grandmother enjoyed making beer in the bathtub. The only raw material available in Wabek was current berries; so she made beer out of current berries (at least that’s the story she told). The Sioux railroad line ran across the North edge of Wabek, and, of course, there were many hobos on the trains. One day my grandparents found written near their house a symbol that hobos use to identify houses with generous and helpful occupants. Minnesota relatives thought that life must be terribly difficult in tiny Wabek, but my grandparents were actually surprised at the thought and responded, “Not at all! We had fun!” My grandmother’s sister, who lived in Minnesota, came to visit my grandmother in Wabek. She met the young man who operated the grain elevator, and married him. Wabek is for Lovers!4500

    1. I also remember my Grandmother Tostine Fuglie talking about making their own wine from berries and dandelions, and developing her own black & white photos. Grandpa Martin would travel around to visit the farmers in sod huts (who probably had loans through his bank), and the Russian immigrants would serve him coffee made from chickory. On the frontier of North Dakota in those days, there were lots of young couples who played cards (and drank wine) and had a lot of fun. I remember Grandma saying they teased each other about risqué things like how soon a baby was born after their wedding day. I’m sure Grandma had a big garden and chickens. She was a talented woman. She learned to do all of the farm chores with her Dad, sometimes skiing out to the further fields. Girls didn’t usually do outdoor work, but her Dad needed help. Her Mom made sure she could also cook, garden, knit, tat, sew, crochet—all of the traditional skills for women. So she could do it all. We know she was a wonderful baker, her cinnamon rolls were a wonderful treat whenever she visited our family.

  7. My Dad grew up on a farm south of Wabek. He went to elementary school there. I heard many stories of Wabek while growing up. We drove out there in September, so sad to see the town and farm buildings falling down.

  8. It is sad to see the town in this shape have not been back since my great uncle passed away we stopped in at the Bar and had a drink to him. The Saloon years ago was the Yineman Store. My Great uncle told many stories from working in the store with his my Great Great grandparents and later on teaching at the store with his Wife.

  9. My Grandfather Emanuel was the Postmaster of WABEK ! My Uncle Rich held all the Positions of what was the worlds smallest incorporated city…He worked at the elevators, Mayer, Justice of the Peace,Sheriff, kinda like SamDrucker down the road in “Pettycoat Junction” When My dad was little he got burned on a significant portion of his body from a tractor fire. and had to spend a lot of time at home recuperating. I think his brother Daryl brought a red fox kit home and gave it to Bob. Bob was still a kid and he spent his days and nights training Reynard the fox tricks…I understand that people would come for miles to see him perform. I enjoyed going to the bar as a kid to get a Nesbitt’s as my grandpa lived right next door. I thought the bartender looked just like the one in”Gunsmoke” (only without Miss Kitty)……God Bless all that come from those parts…..

  10. i lived in that trailer beside the bar.thanks for the memories.it was one of the most pleasent times of my life out there.so sad to see it go.

  11. My band “Whiskey Jack” played there in the late 90’s (That seems like such a long time ago!) We played outside on a stage. It was a lot of fun!

  12. That looked like it was a wonderful bar at one time. The bar tables, all other items look in great shape yet. Anyone thinking of saving the furniture, bar area?

    1. I actually have future plans of saving what’s left inside in bar. Or possibly even bringing it back into business and restoring if I get around to that too. Hopefully things will head my way so I can do that sometime in the near future.

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