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Category: Ardoch, ND

Walsh County
Inhabited as of 9/12

Ardoch, ND

Ardoch, ND

Ardoch is a town of around 60 residents in Walsh County.  We visited Ardoch once before to photograph the quite impressive Mondry Elevator, a visit during which we spent quite a bit of time looking for a phone lost in the tall grass.  Since I was in the area again, I decided to stop in for a better look.

Ardoch City Hall

There are an unusually high number of trailer homes in Ardoch, both inhabited and abandoned.  Most of the historic structures are now gone, with only a few exceptions.  I was somewhat shocked to discover a teenager burning leaves in a driveway right in the middle of town.  It was a breezy day at the end of the driest summer in decades… seems pretty risky in a town without a fire department.


Photos by Troy, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Mondry Elevator in Ardoch

Mondry Elevator in Ardoch

We stopped in Ardoch primarily to photograph the elevator which Terry had been wanting to shoot for some time.  We drove into town past the city hall and a little yapper dog promptly ran right in front of Terry’s car and stopped.  He just stood there staring at us.  So Terry started to back up, and a second dog joined the first in circling around his car.  We were kinda stuck, not able to go forward or backward very quickly for fear of running over these two little dogs.  And the whole time it’s happening, the woman who owns the two dogs is sitting in a lawn chair, watching.  She had a look of befuddlement on her face–like, how did this happen, these two geniuses are trapped in the street by my chihuahuas?

Inevitably, Terry was able to break free from the insane chihuahuas, and we proceeded to the elevator.  Terry took some shots while I did a social media update, and he got some good ones.

Terry walked the full perimeter of the elevator in waist high grass, snapping photos all along, and then returned to where I had parked the car across the highway.  I was grabbing a bottle of water out of the car when I looked over and saw Terry kinda patting himself down, looking for a phone that was no longer there.  He had just finished walking through waist high grass for like, thirty minutes straight.

I asked him, “Is your ringer on?  Will your phone make noise if I call it?”  He nodded.

Terry walked back across the highway and I took out my phone and began calling his repeatedly while he listened for it to ring.  He was walking through the grass, and I was watching him from across the highway.  I would dial his phone, his voicemail would pick up after 15 seconds, and I would have to hang up and call back.  And he’s still just over there on the other side of the highway, waving his hands along the tips of the tall grass and prairie flowers like he’s the lost phone mystic or something, about to sense the electromagnetic energy of a lost Sprint slider phone.

Then all of a sudden, he squatted down in a wrestler’s stance and rotated right to left like a radar dish, listening.  I looked down at my phone.  The voicemail picked up and I had to hang up and redial.  I called back and looked across the highway at Terry — he was still crouching in the grass.  The call connected and I saw Terry leap into the grass — he found it near the garage door pictured second photo down.  It’s a shame there wasn’t a reality TV crew around to capture it the way I saw it.

Order Ghosts of North Dakota Books

I went back to Ardoch in 2012 and got a few photos of Ardoch without any problems from Taco Bell’s mascot tryout class.

A beautiful, nearly full-page photo of this elevator appears in our book, Ghosts of North Dakota: North Dakota’s ghost towns and abandoned places.

Photos by Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Kerr Family Homestead

Kerr Family Homestead

As I was going through my email account and flagging all of the photo submissions we’ve received, I came across this photo which had somehow been overlooked. The original was wrinkled and severely faded, and had a child’s scribble marks on it. You can still see some hints of that, but I spent several hours cleaning it up, restoring the contrast, and removing the wrinkles from the photo. What I ended up with is the photo you see here.


It was emailed to me by Karen Acree with the following comments: it’s the homestead of my grandmother, near Ardoch, ND – in Walsh county. She was born in 1888 and was the little girl in the front of the picture. Near as I can determine, picture must have been taken around 1905-06

The photo was captioned with “Minto, ND” on the bottom, and I’m not exactly sure which girl the emailer was referring to. She was described as “the little girl in the front of the picture” but if she was born in 1888 and the photo was taken in 1905 to 1906, that would make the girl in question 17 to 18 years old. At any rate, the more I worked on this photo, the more amazed I became.

I can’t tell you how often Rat and I arrive in a small North Dakota town and end up saying the same thing and asking ourselves the same question… “Look at that house over there. Did somebody actually live there?” It’s so hard to imagine. Some of the homes we’ve seen are so small. If you own a home with a double garage, it’s a good possibility that your garage is larger than many of the homes we’ve seen, and the one pictured here is no exception.

Not only did families live in homes like these, but they were large families. There are ten people and a dog in this photo if I’ve counted accurately, and I only see one house. And as I examine more of the photo, I’m further amazed at smaller details. Note the soot on the roof from the chimney — the heat which sustained them in the winter surely gave that chimney a workout. Also, if you look carefully, you can see the tips of the tree branches are a little blurry. There was a breeze blowing when this picture was taken, and camera technology around the turn of the century would have required the photographer to leave the shutter open for more than the split second you get with a modern camera. Hence the blurring of the tree branches. But that also means, the people in the photo would have had to stand quite still for a moment to take this picture.

They were posing — the entire family, even the horses. And see the gentleman with the pitchfork? The man proudly displaying the horses? And the women with the children? These were the things that mattered to early settlers. Home and family. Imagine the hardships they endured. The planting and harvesting. The endless chopping to sustain the woodpile. The chores. Caring for the children. Surviving the winters.

It challenges me to reflect on the relative safety with which we now live our lives in this state. The convenience of having a phone with you at all times. Heated, gas powered vehicles to carry you to your job every day. Indoor plumbing. Air conditioning. Fast food. I am grateful to the early settlers for the sacrifices they made, and at the same time, envious of a life where your daily existence was focused on the simplicity of doing what you needed to survive.

It is a testament to our people, and the legacy of our state. The pioneer settlers of the place we call North Dakota.

Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media