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Category: Arena, ND

Arena: Nine Years Later

Arena: Nine Years Later

We first visited Arena in May of 2004.  Nine years later, we returned to this rolling spot on the prairie in Burleigh County and found things much the same, if somewhat weathered.

St. John’s Lutheran church still stands, though the white paint has weathered considerably over the last nine years.  The cinderblock foundation on the east side of the church has continued to crumble, and will likely cause the church to topple into its own basement eventually.  The outhouse out back has also crumbled in the last nine years.

The yellow house last occupied by the grandparents of Marlon Leno (his account is in the comments section, here) is obviously visited by vandals and party-hounds from time to time — the devastated window frames tell the story.  The small white school house which was moved to the Arena town site from somewhere else still looks solid.

On the trip that led us to Arena on Memorial Weekend of 2013, we were plagued by terrible weather all morning.  Flat gray, overcast skies, fog and rain.  When we arrived in Arena, we expected more of the same.  But something incredible happened the moment we got close to the church — the sun peeked out and some blue sky started to show. We couldn’t help but smile and start snapping.

Arena, ND

Arena, ND

Arena, ND

Arena, ND

Arena, ND

Arena, ND

Arena, ND

Arena, ND
Arena, ND

Arena, ND

Arena, ND

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

Arena in 1992

Arena in 1992

Arena was only the second true ghost town we ever visited, back in 2004.  At that time, the school had already been torn down and we were never able to locate some large photos of it, until now.

Thanks to these photos contributed by Dale Fisher, we can now see Arena as it looked in 1992.  There are a few interesting comparisons to be made with our photos from 2004:

In the photo above, we can see a small home which was not standing when we visited in 2004. The church still stands, as does the yellow house behind the two pine trees. But there was no trace of the little house in between. On the left side, the light brown structure (just above the car) was also gone by the time of our visit. And at the far left, partially cut off, is the little white building which we photographed and also still stands.

This was the Arena school — a place we really regret missing out on.  You can see the school looks remarkably better in this 1992 image as versus the image contributed by Stephen Berg in our Arena gallery… the windows are still intact in this image, and the structure just looks more stable.  Someone did a real number on this school in the twelve years between ’92 and ’04.

A question we’d still like to answer… what year did the last full-time resident move out of Arena?

Original Content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Arena, ND

Arena, ND

Arena was founded with a rural post office January 23rd, 1906. It is said to have had a peak population of 150 around 1920, but had withered to 35 residents by 1930. It is now abandoned.

arena-schoolThe photo shown left is the former Arena School, photo contributed by Stephen Berg. As of our visit in 2004, the school was gone. This was the only photo we’d been able to locate of the school for quite some time, but in summer of 2011, Dale Fisher contributed a few shots of Arena in 1992.

Although there aren’t any residents in the immediate vicinity of the town, there is a yellow house on the townsite which had blankets hanging in the windows, suggesting someone used it for something relatively recently.

Marlon Leno commented at the bottom of our Arena in 1992 entry, and filled-in quite a few of the details.  Marlon said his grandparents lived in the yellow house as late as 1981, and that his cousin, George Pehl, demolished the school when it became a hazard.  Mr. Leno also informed us of the name of the church — St. Johns Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod.

The road leading south out of Arena is a short, scenic drive, bordered tightly on both shoulders by a couple of small lakes.

 

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