Fall of 2018 officially marks 15 years since we began documenting North Dakota’s ghost towns and abandoned places. I’ve previously written about how we got started (by accident). We photographed our first three places in 2003 and started the website in early 2004, and in that time we’ve driven more than 65,000 miles and traveled through every county in North Dakota in search of abandoned and vanishing places. We’ve photographed true ghost towns with zero residents and vanishing small towns with a handful of residents remaining — places like Merricourt, Corinth, and Haley among many others. We’ve photographed abandoned places of interest including San Haven Sanatorium, Fortuna Air Force Station, and the Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel to name a few. As we’ve photographed these places, we’ve learned a lot about North Dakota and its history and we’ve tried to share as much of that with you as best we know how. Our photography has gotten a little better over the years and my ability to put it into words has grown too. And we hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have.
We’ve sacrificed plenty to do this over the years. We’ve run three cars to ruin with all the extra miles (one of those stories is here), we spent about ten years paying for every fill-up, meal, and hotel room out of our own pockets, not to mention our substantial webhosting and bandwidth costs, and we missed any number of family gatherings because we used a holiday weekend as an opportunity to escape from our 9-to-5 and hit the road, but we’ve enjoyed every minute of it and we would do it all again.
Recently, I discussed Ghosts of North Dakota with my friend and long time partner-in-roadtripping Terry Hinnenkamp, and we both agreed that it is time for these dads to take a break. We still love fooling around with our cameras as much as we always have and love a good roadtrip, but our multiple trips per year have occasionally taken on the feeling of “obligation” — something we do to keep followers happy, to keep our Facebook page growing, to keep North Dakota’s vanishing places in the stream of content that flashes past all of us every day. If you’ve ever had a hobby that turned into a chore, you probably know the feeling.
When we started photographing North Dakota’s abandoned places, we were one of very few people doing it (Andrew Filer is someone who’s been doing it for a very long time), and we may have attacked it with a little more fervor than most, but today, there are a LOT of artists and photographers dedicating their efforts to this great state and covering it in their own unique way. Don’t believe me? Check out the work of Jack Dura, who photographs North Dakota places in his travels as a journalist for the Bismarck Tribune, MJ Masilko, an artist who paints the places she photographs, and John Piepkorn, who has contributed tons of galleries to Ghosts of North Dakota over the years. There are others, too, more than I can mention. Zachary Hargrove of Furious Skies, Nate Reynolds of Lost Places on the Prairie, Tim Riley of Whispers of the Past, Bob Hoffman of Country Candids and many, many more. With so many people doing it, we’re confident there will still be a stream of glorious North Dakota content for you to enjoy… click the links and follow all of those artists, you won’t be disappointed.
This has all led up to this, an official announcement. Terry and I are on indefinite hiatus from photographing North Dakota’s lost and withering places. The website will stay right here, and you’ll likely still see an update from us now and then, and probably contributor galleries popping up from time to time. There may or may not be another Ghosts of North Dakota book in the future, and who knows, sometime down the road, Terry and I might decide it’s time to take it up again. We’ll see. Until then, thank you. Your continued reading has meant everything to us over the last 15 years.
Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp
Ghosts of North Dakota
Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy