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Category: Marmarth, ND

Slope County
Inhabited as of 5-07

Video: Driving the Badlands of Old Marmarth Road

Video: Driving the Badlands of Old Marmarth Road

We’ve visited Marmarth, North Dakota on several occasions, but it wasn’t until this past summer that we had the opportunity to drive the badlands of Old Marmarth Road, also known as Old Highway 16. We took quite a few photos while we were there, and shot some GoPro video too. This is our look at a scenic drive you just won’t experience by sticking to the interstate and the standard scenic overlooks. We found the change in landscape between the beginning of the video (on the rolling prairie) and the end (in the badlands), particularly interesting.

We uploaded this in HD, so if you have a Chromecast or Roku, or some other streaming TV capability, try watching this on a bigger screen. It looks really nice. Enjoy.

Photos and Video by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp copyright © 2015 Sonic Tremor Media

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The Badlands of Old Marmarth Road

The Badlands of Old Marmarth Road

In July of 2015, we visited Marmarth, North Dakota and had plans to proceed from there to Ollie, Montana to photograph the former school (it was no longer standing) on the way to the prairie ghost town of Carlyle, Montana. Our route of choice was Old Highway 16, also referred to as Old Marmarth Road. It was a route that would take us through the Badlands north of Marmarth, where the views are fantastic.

Old Marmarth Road

Although Old Marmarth Road is in fairly nice condition these days, it is not your standard scenic drive. It is a minimum maintenance road, and a sign at the south entrance advises you drive at your own risk. Although there are a number of ranchers who graze cattle on land adjacent to the road, there are no homes, services or businesses of any kind on the stretch we drove, and cell service is hit and miss even with the best carrier. You’ll drive over a dozen or more cattle guards in the road along the route, and there are no fences in places, requiring a slower pace and attentive driving habits, because it’s not unusual to encounter some cattle right on the road. We saw rattlesnakes on the road too, so if you drive here, be careful.

Old Marmarth Road

Old Marmarth Road

There are places along the road where you can see abandoned remnants of the old road, where travelers traversed the rugged Badlands of Old Marmarth Road in the horse and wagon era, sometimes crossing paths with new fangled machines called “automobiles.”

Old Marmarth Road

Old Marmarth Road

Old Marmarth Road

If you’re feeling adventurous, and yearning for something a little more visceral than the standard scenic overlooks of the Interstate System, Old Highway 16 is a good place to take in some North Dakota Badlands vistas.

Old Marmarth Road

One of the narrower stretches of Old Highway 16 as it looked in July of 2015.

Old Marmarth Road

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

Return to Marmarth

Return to Marmarth

Marmarth is in the far southwest corner of North Dakota, in the Badlands of Slope County, about seventy miles as the crow flies southwest of Dickinson. It’s a town we fell in love with the first time we visited in 2007, because, although there are still over 100 residents there (136 in the 2010 census), there are also a number of very impressive abandoned structures to photograph.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Unfortunately, Marmarth is also a town where we have not had very good luck. In 2007, we were photographing the town when we discovered there was something wrong with the brakes in my Jeep (Jeep stands for “Just Empty Every Pocket” in case you didn’t know) and we were forced to make a side trip to Bowman for repairs. Upon returning home, we posted our photos and discovered there was one quite vocal and rude Marmarth resident who took serious offense that we had the nerve to photograph her town and “brand it a ghost town.” She made her opinion known with comments and emails with LOTS OF CAPS.

Marmarth, North Dakota

This time, we had hoped to have better luck, and to make it clear that we have not ever, nor ever would, brand Marmarth a ghost town. We commonly photograph fading structures in lots of places where people still live. On this trip however, we had a different kind of difficulty — we spent a lot of time talking with local residents and didn’t have as much time to shoot.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

Our attraction to Marmarth has a lot to do with the old west ambience — the chalky Badlands landscape, the remote location, and the tendency of local business owners to embrace that role with enthusiasm and a sense of humor. The sign on the front door at Geezer’s illustrates the point. When the door is closed, the store is also closed.

Marmarth, North Dakota

A powerful thunderstorm had moved through the night before we visited Marmarth, and the evidence was visible on the floor of a former service station on Main Street. The rainwater flowed to the hole in the middle of the sagging roof, and poured in torrents onto the floor. This kind of weathering will lead to a collapse of this old service station, if a fire or the bulldozer doesn’t get it first.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

Since our last visit, the property owner has thoroughly boarded-up the former 1st National Bank and Barber Auditorium buildings.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

The Mystic Theatre, which we’re told is still occasionally used, has been nicely renovated since we last saw it.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

The small building next to Marmarth’s Pastime Bar and Steakhouse had a scaffold set up along one wall, like someone had planned to make renovations, but when we looked inside, it looks like the only thing going on is beer consumption.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

The Pastime is where we ate last time we were in Marmarth. Their food is excellent, and we tell people about it whenever Marmarth comes up in conversation. If you find yourself there, highly recommended.

Marmarth, North Dakota

The patio outside the Pastime is the kind of place I could sit for a week with some adult beverages and just enjoy the outdoors.

Marmarth, North Dakota

The former railroad bunkhouse has been nicely painted and seemed to be doing more business since the last time we were there. Truthfully, all of Marmarth seemed to be more active since the last time we were there. Although the population is (a little) smaller than it was previously, it seemed like oil and tourist traffic were making it a little more lively place.

Marmarth, North Dakota

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

Postcards from the Edge of North Dakota

Postcards from the Edge of North Dakota

This is a simple truth. There is no greater pleasure per penny than searching through a box of old postcards in an antique store. A little hard on the lower back if you’re wearing the wrong pair of shoes, but pleasurable none-the-less. Here are a few old postcards featuring scenes from Marmarth.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Year of the above photo is unknown but I’m guessing early 1930s. Look closely — on the left, behind the grassy median, several black sedans are parked. And on the right, a horse waits for it’s rider to return.  This photo postcard provides some insight into the original location of the depot, and the 1st National Bank/Barber Auditorium building we photographed on our first trip to Marmarth is visible on the left.

A great slice of life from old Marmarth.  Everybody’s dressed to the nines, the fountain is going, and there are trains in the background.  The effort that went into this photo!

The former Marmarth High School.

See Also: Marmarth, North Dakota
See Also: More Views of Marmarth

Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

More Views of Marmarth

More Views of Marmarth

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All photos by Troy and Rat
All content copyright SonicTremorMedia.com

Marmarth, ND

Marmarth, ND

Slope County
Inhabited as of 5-07

Marmarth, ND is a Badlands town in Slope County in the extreme southwest corner of the state.

Marmarth is one of the more populous towns we’ve photographed with 130 people according to the 2010 Census, but minimum conveniences. Marmarth has lost 190 residents since 1960.

There’s an exhilarating old west ambience in this part of the state… Montana is only five miles west and it’s just a three hour drive to Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming.  The landscape is a harder, chalkier badland than the more pastoral lands to the east and radio signals sometimes elude the car radio as the highway winds past the occasional butte.  There’s a gas station, a bar/steakhouse (with excellent food), and a railroad bunkhouse where you can rent a room with a double bed for $15 per night.  At the time we visited, we were told they had dial-up internet in Marmarth, and satellite was the only way to get TV programming.

The most prominent abandoned structure in Marmarth is Barber Auditorium. It’s actually two buildings, Barber Auditorium and First National Bank of Marmarth.

The train depot has been cut in two pieces and relocated to a stretch of grass along the highway as you enter from the east.

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Marmarth, North Dakota

The 1st National Bank and Barber Auditorium in downtown Marmarth, built in 1918.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

Order Ghosts of North Dakota Books

Marmarth, North Dakota

In the basement of Barber auditorium.

Marmarth, North Dakota

The red velvet theater seats still wait in the murky black.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

The staircase on the main floor of the auditorium.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

A former storefront, now only storage.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

The former Mystic Theatre

Marmarth, North Dakota

These were the first two jail cells ever installed in Marmarth.

Marmarth, North Dakota

The Pastime Bar has cold drinks, and the food in the steakhouse at the rear is excellent.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

One former filling station.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

Another former filling station.

Marmarth, North Dakota

The depot has been moved.

Marmarth, North Dakota

It now rests on blocks alongside the road in downtown Marmarth.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

A boarded-up school.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Marmarth, North Dakota

We rented rooms at this former railroad bunkhouse for $15 bucks a night.

Marmarth, North Dakota

See more photos of Marmarth here.

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