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Category: Gascoyne, ND

Bowman County
Inhabited as of 5-07

The Western Intrigue of Gascoyne, North Dakota

The Western Intrigue of Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne is in Bowman County along Highway 12 in southwestern North Dakota, about 15 minutes east of Bowman. It was founded in 1907 as a Milwaukee Road railroad townsite, originally known as Fischbein, named after an early settler.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

The former school is the most prominent abandoned structure in Gascoyne. It rests on top of a hill on the west edge of town, right alongside Highway 12.

Update: a visitor to our Facebook page tells us this school was demolished in late 2016.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

These photos were taken in 2007. When we returned in 2015, the passage of eight years was apparent. The portico over the steps was sagging a little more, and the school was a little more weathered.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Like most pioneer railroad towns in North Dakota, Gascoyne started losing population during the farm depression and drought of the 20s and 30s, hastened by mechanized farming and the rise of the automobile.

US Census Data for Gascoyne
Total Population by Place

1920 – 60
1930 – 97
1940 – 48
1950 – 76
1960 – 50
1970 – 34
1980 – 23
1990 – 22
2000 – 23
2010 – 16

Gascoyne, North Dakota

A site visitor once told us a story of attending this school as a child by riding a horse to school, which he tied-up in a stable nearby, and the story keeps with the western intrigue of the towns in this part of the continent. The region around the junction of the North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana borders is very sparsely populated. It was settled by hardy souls who came to farm the land only to discover that the land was unsuitable in the drought-stricken conditions of the day. Many of them departed for greener pastures and left behind empty monuments to the old west, relics of our westward expansion.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Above: The door into the basement of the school. When we returned in 2015, we poked our cameras through the windows to get a look inside.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Empty storefronts still stand along Main Street in Gascoyne. In the photo above, the building on the right is the former Erickson store. Below: a view from the back.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne, North Dakota

On the other side of the road and just across the tracks from the stores on Main Street stand the remains of the Gascoyne Lumber Company. In our subsequent visit in 2015, we found the back half of the building (on the right) had collapsed.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne, North Dakota

If you’re driving Highway 12 in southwestern North Dakota and you enjoy photographing abandoned places, be prepared for some prime photo opportunities.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2017 Sonic Tremor Media

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Gascoyne, Eight Years Later

Gascoyne, Eight Years Later

Gascoyne is on the east edge of Bowman County, in southwest North Dakota, about fifty-five miles south of Dickinson. The town, not far from the South Dakota border, was first called Fischbein, after a family who settled the area, but the name was changed to Gascoyne in 1908. According to the 2010 Census, there are 16 people still living in Gascoyne.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

We like to revisit the places we’ve photographed over time to see how they’re doing, and Gascoyne seemed largely the same as it was when we first visited in 2007. The former school is probably our favorite photo subject in Gascoyne; beautifully situated atop a hill, right alongside Highway 12.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

The portico over the entryway of the school is sagging just a bit more than it was in 2007. We did not consider it safe to step onto the front steps or go inside the school. That portico could come down any moment if you put weight on the wrong thing.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

The scenery in Gascoyne is a beautiful prairie landscape. On the north and south sides of the Dakota border, it’s an awe-inspiring setting of gentle hills, noticeably lacking in trees — an easy place in which to get lost. Drive ten minutes down a gravel road and you will likely find yourself in a place devoid of power and telephone lines, where the view is the same as it was 150 years ago with perhaps the exception of a road and an occasional fence. It’s time travel at forty miles per hour.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne, North Dakota

The students’ desks are still stacked two-high inside the former classroom. The property owner could probably make a good chunk of change if he or she were willing to sell them to collectors, museums, etc…

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne, North Dakota

Although the front half of Gascoyne Lumber Company still looks good, the back half has suffered a collapse since we last visited.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

The Post Office in Gascoyne closed in 1971, and the last business, the grocery store, closed in 1972.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

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

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