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Category: Deisem, ND

LaMoure County
Abandoned as of 7/12

Return to Deisem

Return to Deisem

When we planned our trip in early October of 2014, we realized we would be in the area of Deisem and made plans for a return visit. Deisem’s former church, the lone remaining structure, was in such terrible shape last time we were there, we didn’t know whether it would even be standing when we returned.

Deisem, North Dakota

There it was, right along Highway 34, northwest of Edgeley, still standing but looking like more than two years had passed since our last visit.

Deisem, North Dakota

Once you get past the sadness for a place forgotten and left to wither in the elements, there becomes a certain magic to abandoned places like the church in Deisem; the last remaining structure from this tiny vanishing rural settlement. Angled rays of sunshine beam through the windows, and golden dust motes swirl in the light when your shoe scuffs a wood floor laid down by craftsmen nearly a century ago. The silence is deafening, and for a few more moments at least, the place still stands.

Deisem, North Dakota

The trains once came through Deisem, but the tracks were torn up long ago.  You can still see the telltale ridge of the railbed, running from southwest to northeast through this section of land.

Deisem, North Dakota

The building that was the Post Office and Store burned down on January 30th, 1943, and the loss spelled the end for the rural settlement that was once Deisem.

Deisem, North Dakota

Deisem, North Dakota

This church is featured in our book, Churches of the High Plains.

Deisem, North Dakota

You can definitely see how the floor on the left has sunk considerably since our last visit.

Deisem, North Dakota

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

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Ten Lost North Dakota Places

Ten Lost North Dakota Places

It’s always a thrill to see enthusiastic residents get involved in saving historically and culturally significant places in their communities, but in North Dakota’s vanishing small towns, the losses frequently outnumber the wins by a significant margin. It’s something we’ve seen time and again in over ten years of photographing North Dakota.

What follows is our personal list, by no means exhaustive, of ten significant North Dakota places that have unfortunately lost their battle with time.

1. The Opp House

This home stood in a field outside Lincoln Valley, North Dakota until the early-2000’s when it was razed due to safety and infestation concerns. It was the former home of the Opp family, who just packed up and left one day, leaving most of their belongings behind. It became a very early icon of our website and we’re saddened to see it go.

2. Hamberg School

A fire claimed this Hamberg School on April 1st, 2012. It was a beautiful place.

3. Stardust 17

We took these photos in August of 2011 and in the fall of 2012, they took down what remains of the screen at Stardust 17, the drive-in theater outside of Grafton, North Dakota.

Fillmore, North Dakota

4. Fillmore

The incredible near-ghost town we visited in 2006 is no more, most of it destroyed by fires of suspicious origin according to some local residents.

Sanger, North Dakota

5. Sanger County House

The Sanger County House, a former boarding house for travelers, and perhaps the most significant original remaining structure in Sanger, North Dakota, has collapsed.

6. Deisem

This church is all that remains of the rural outpost that was once Deisem. This former Seventh Day Adventist Church is severely structurally compromised. When it finally collapses, the above-ground remains of Deisem will pass into history.

7. Bentley Church

Less than two years after we photographed this church in Bentley, the steeple had collapsed. We’re told the church is today just a pile of lumber.

Temple, North Dakota

8. Temple School

Contributor Mark Johnson visited Temple, a true ghost town, in 2004 and photographed this school. In the years since, the school has been moved and re-purposed as an addition to a home.

9. Fargo College

Fargo College opened in 1890 and blossomed into a sizable campus over the next few decades, including the Jones Hall building shown above, and later Dill Hall and a Carnegie Library. Finances took a nosedive however beginning with the Great Depression, and by 1964 all but one remaining original structure had been torn down. The only remaining structure is the former Watson Hall Conservatory of Music at 601 Fourth Street South, which is now the home of the Fargo Fine Arts Club.

moodys-1910-thumb

10. Moody’s Department Store

Moody’s was  a landmark department store in Fargo at the gateway to the west. This store stood on the corner of a city block in Fargo with the Waldorf Hotel one block away and the Northern Pacific Depot across the street — it was frequently the first stop for any traveler headed west on the railroad through North Dakota. The Moody’s store was a character in the drama that played out in the Great Fargo Fire of 1893 — home to a fire alarm box for which nobody could find a key. The city bought the building for so-called urban renewal in 1966, and the site is now home to the Bank of the West building, completed in 1973. Many of these Fargo places were featured in our book, Fargo Moorhead Lost and Found.

Bonus Place: Sanish, North Dakota

Upon completion of the Garrison Dam and the subsequent flooding of the Missouri River Valley to create the Lake Sakakawea reservoir, Sanish was abandoned in 1953 and the residents moved to higher ground. We photographed the remaining foundations when the lake was at extremely low-levels in 2005.

If you enjoy posts like this, please check out our hardcover coffee table books in our online store, or pick them up in a store near you.

See also: Building Four Bears Bridge

See also: Ten More Lost North Dakota Places

All That Remains of Deisem

All That Remains of Deisem

Since starting this website about North Dakota’s ghost towns and abandoned places in early 2004, suggestions about places to visit have been rolling in. One of the suggestions we’ve received on more than one occasion is a place called Deisem, North Dakota.

So in July of 2012, with fellow photographer and GND co-founder Terry Hinnenkamp, we set out for Deisem. Driving through LaMoure County just south of Jamestown, we turned onto what can only loosely be described as a “highway” — Highway 34, northwest of Edgeley. We discovered what was once a bright yellow line dividing two very narrow lanes is now barely visible, and gravel pokes through the asphalt in places. Traffic is nearly nonexistent.

Deisem, North Dakota

We arrived to discover this church is all that remains of Deisem, North Dakota. The location is remote. We were on site for about a half hour on a Saturday afternoon and we didn’t see a single car pass by.

This church was reportedly a Seventh Day Adventist church, and it is now in very tenuous condition. If it survives another heavy snowfall, we’ll be surprised. In hindsight, we were quite foolish to explore the inside at all, and we would strongly recommend you admire it from the outside if you should decide to visit. It could collapse at any moment.

Deisem, North Dakota

According to North Dakota Place Names by Douglas A. Wick, Deisem was founded in 1880. The Post Office was established in 1907, but was closed for good when the store it was housed in burned to the ground on January 30th, 1943. The end came officially in 1984 when the railroad pulled up stakes.

Deisem, North Dakota

According to reports by fans on our Facebook page, Deisem was quite a happening town back in the day, and was home to a well respected general store which is long gone. There are various foundations hidden in the tall grass on the former Deisem townsite though, remnants of a town now lost.

Deisem, North Dakota

The outhouse is gone, but the hole in the ground remains, and as is often the case in abandoned places, there are other hazards which remain hidden in the tall grass. It wouldn’t be hard to step in the wrong place and twist an ankle or a knee.

Deisem, North Dakota

Deisem, North Dakota

The remains of several crumbled foundations are nearby, near the rail line which pulled up stakes a long time ago.

Deisem, North Dakota

Deisem, North Dakota

The view from the pulpit.

Deisem, North Dakota

Deisem, North Dakota

Deisem, North Dakota

Deisem, North Dakota

Deisem, North Dakota

The stairway to the balcony.

Deisem, North Dakota

Deisem, North Dakota

Looking down from the balcony.

Deisem, North Dakota

Deisem, North Dakota

This church is far beyond saving and will soon collapse, if it hasn’t already.

Deisem, North Dakota

As we left Deisem, I took one last look in the mirror, all too aware that we may have photographed a place called Deisem for what may turn out to be the last time.

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