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Category: Merricourt, ND

Dickey County
Inhabited as of 5/05

Passing Through Merricourt

Passing Through Merricourt

Merricourt is a very remote town in Dickey County, about fifty miles south of Jamestown. There are fewer than a handful of residents in Merricourt — just one family remains in this near-ghost town. We didn’t intend to visit Merricourt when we went on an adventure in October of 2014, but some last minute route changes took us right through town, so we stopped to snap a few shots, nine years after our first visit.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Our first visit to Merricourt was in 2005, and we have been there several times since then.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Judging by the number of emails we get about this place, Merricourt is one of the more popular places we’ve visited.

Merricourt, North Dakota

The former First State Bank of Merricourt was also a bar later in its life. When we first visited in 2005, the glass was still in the panes and the door on the hinges. By 2011, it appeared to have deteriorated considerably. Below, the bank as it appeared in 2014.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt, North Dakota

We’ve occasionally encountered a bank vault standing alone in a vacant lot, like the one in Silva, North Dakota, and it’s usually a dead giveaway that you’re standing where the bank once stood.  In this case, you can see the vault in its original context, at the back of the building. The floor has sunken considerably since 2011, and the roof gets worse by the day. Absent heroic intervention, that vault will be the last thing standing one day.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Author Keith Norman contributed a story about a robbery in Merricourt.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt, North Dakota

We’ve yet to see another brick elevator, but we’re told there’s one in Beach, ND.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt, North Dakota

We’ve enjoyed our visits to Merricourt immensely over the years. It’s very quiet and peaceful, and so picturesque, we chose to feature it in our third hardcover book, Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 3. If you enjoy this website, please consider ordering a book via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or our website, or you can pick up a copy in person at one of these fine retailers.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt, North Dakota
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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A Robbery in Merricourt

A Robbery in Merricourt

merricourt-11-1Host/Author/Producer Keith Norman was kind enough to share a story about a Merricourt robbery, from his book – ‘Great Stories of the Great Plains, Vol. 1

Self Defense on the Back Roads

Roy Michaelson listed his occupation as a professional Boxer from Minneapolis Minnesota. His record in sanctioned bouts was 1 win, 1 loss, and 1 draw. In all likelihood he fought in many unsanctioned fights across the Midwest in his brief stint in the ring.

In late 1930 his career had brought him to Merricourt, North Dakota, there he became friends with the local moon shiners, the Brossart Brothers, spending the holidays and the first weeks of 1931 at their farm North West of town. On January 12, 1931 three Brossart Brothers, John Ellingson, and the Boxer Roy Michaelson robbed Jenner Merchandise in downtown Merricourt, while no one witnessed the crime a local Gas Station attendant noticed the Brossart car at the store late on a Saturday night. When the robbery was discovered on Sunday morning Dickey County Sheriff B. W. Crandall was called and after a brief chase arrested the Brossarts, Ellingson, and Michaelson and recovered $500 in stolen merchandise. The Sheriff also discovered 15 gallons of illegal booze at the farm.

On the trip to the jail at Ellendale the Brossarts and Ellingson were put in the deputy’s car. The Pro Boxer, Roy Michaelson was the only prisoner transported in the Sheriff’s car. While the two cars left together they became separated and were not traveling together as they approached Ellendale. According to Sheriff Crandall two miles out of Ellendale the prisoner tried to overpower him, forcing the car into the ditch. In a brief struggle the sheriff was forced to shoot and kill Roy Michaelson. While local speculation questioned whether the shooting was actually self defense a local coroner’s inquest convened two days after the incident ruled it a justifiable homicide.

Great Stories of the Great Plains Vol. 1
Keith Norman
Host/Author/Producer

See more photos of Merricourt.

Merricourt, ND

Merricourt, ND

A farm post office for Merricourt was established in October 1883. North Dakota Place Names by Douglas Wick lists Merricourt’s peak population at 153 in the 1940’s.

US Census Data for Merricourt
Total Population by Place

1960 – 66
1970 – 22
1980 – 17
2000 – Did Not Appear

During our visit to Merricourt, we saw one home which was occupied, right in the middle of the townsite. We also heard someone calling for their dog, so we didn’t stay in that area long. There are quite a few abandoned structures, as well as some buildings which are still maintained. The surrounding miles of farmland are dotted with crumbling farms in every direction. Population loss was hard on this part of the state.

Merricourt, North Dakota

A nicely paved two-lane highway runs right through the middle of Merricourt, but there’s very little risk you’ll encounter any traffic. This town is very much off-the-beaten-path. In fact, Merricourt is so remote, FM radio and cell phone service were nearly non-existent when we visited in 2005. There are no services (gas, lodging etc…) of any kind in Merricourt.

Concerning the building pictured above, Host/Author/Producer Keith Norman writes,

“This building is my Aunt and Uncle’s old house. They operated the post office from the building. The old WPA constructed gymnasium is currently owned by a British construction/energy company. The area just to the west of Merricourt is considered the best place in the entire United States for wind energy. The British company (and I forget the company name) has talked about a Billion dollar wind energy project in the area. No word on when or if they’ll ever get going. I believe that there are a person or two living in Merricourt.”

Mr. Norman has also contributed a story about a robbery in Merricourt.

Merricourt, North Dakota

We returned to Merricourt some years later and found the bank shown above in much worse condition.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt, North Dakota

The elevators in Merricourt are very imposing structures. They are much taller in person than they look in photos, yet their deteriorating state is a constant reminder of their fragility. One of them is a brick elevator, seemingly rare since it’s the only one we’ve ever seen. Update: we’re told there is also a brick elevator in Beach, North Dakota.

The tracks which run beside the elevators are still in use.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt was featured in our hardcover coffee table book, Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 3. If you enjoy this website, please consider ordering a book via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or our website, or you can pick up a copy in person at one of these fine retailers.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt, North Dakota

The large structure on the right is a former WPA gymnasium/community center.  When we visited in 2005, we thought it looked like it was in pretty good shape, and perhaps still used.  When we came back years later, the basement was full of water and it is clearly no longer usable.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt, North Dakota

It was a misty and somewhat spooky on the day we visited.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt, North Dakota

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