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Category: Grassy Butte, ND

McKenzie County
Inhabited as of 6/10

Dust Bowl Grassy Butte

Dust Bowl Grassy Butte

Grassy Butte, North Dakota is a very remote Badlands settlement in McKenzie County near the Montana border, an unincorporated community with a population in the dozens. In the 1930s, Grassy Butte was one of a multitude of places where the locals who’d arrived in search of the American dream faced sad realities and hard choices. The population was in the hundreds then, and knowing that, you now understand the choice that many eventually made.  They left.

Grassy Butte, North Dakota, 1936

Communities like this were hit hard during the Dust Bowl (it would be the new millennium before an oil boom would bring some life back to Grassy Butte) and the Farm Security Administration sent photographers to document the conditions American farmers and families were facing. Arthur Rothstein was the first of these photographers, later to be joined by Russell Lee, who would also photograph parts of North Dakota during the Dust Bowl.

Mr. Rothstein captured the photos you see here in 1936. Mr. Rothstein’s captions paint a bleak portrait of life in western North Dakota at this time and make clear that the Dust Bowl was an accelerating factor in the depopulation of the plains.

Grassy Butte, North Dakota, 1936

Captioned: J. Huffman of Grassy Butte, North Dakota, has been forced to close his general store on account of the drought

Grassy Butte, North Dakota, 1936

Captioned: Waiting for better times, J. Huffman of Grassy Butte, North Dakota, sits in front of his closed store. Photo by Arthur Rothstein.

Grassy Butte, North Dakota, 1936

Captioned: Going to Church to Pray for Rain.  Photo by Arthur Rothstein.

Grassy Butte, North Dakota, 1936

Do you have our Ghosts of North Dakota hardcover coffee table books?

Grassy Butte, North Dakota, 1936

Photos by Arthur Rothstein
Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Grassy Butte, ND

Grassy Butte, ND

Grassy Butte, ND is in a very sparsely populated area of western North Dakota. It does not appear in any of the census records back as far as 1960, but it reportedly harbored 100 citizens at one time. Monica Hardy contributed these fantastic photos with the following comments:

The building that looks like a church in the background of the post office/museum pictures are of a private home. Someone renovated the home. There were other bldgs in the town that had been renovated into private homes. This town is very close to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park..no hotels located in this town at present.

Photos by Monica Hardy. Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media