Browsed by
Category: Points of Interest

Random Points of Interest

Saved from the Deluge: Independence Congregational Church

Saved from the Deluge: Independence Congregational Church

On several occasions we’ve made an effort to document the abandonment of civilizations along the Missouri River in 1953 due to a coming flood created by the Garrison Dam project — the story of Sanish, North Dakota, the construction of Four Bears Bridge, a visit to an Elbowoods Church, and a lost highway to the bottom of a lake, for example — and the story of Independence is another of those.

Independence, North Dakota stood along the west bank of the Missouri River. Douglas A. Wick’s “North Dakota Place Names” says it was founded in 1885 by Wolf Chief of the Gros Ventres, and named “Independence” to signify independence from the other tribes at Fort Berthold.

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Return to Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Return to Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Fairview Lift Bridge is a place we’ve visited before, but the last time we were there, the sky was full of smoke from wildfires, so we promised ourselves we would go back again when we got another chance, and that chance came in July, 2017. We had just learned that the adjoining Cartwright Tunnel, the only railroad tunnel in the state of North Dakota, was in danger of implosion if funding couldn’t be raised for a restoration, so that became another excuse to visit this rusty beauty spanning the Yellowstone River.

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Abandoned Durham Country School

Abandoned Durham Country School

Little country schools like this one are a rapidly vanishing part of our history on the prairies of the high plains. From the signing of the Homestead Act through the modernization of the transportation and education systems, little country schools like this were constructed by the thousands across the Midwest to serve a about a dozen students at a time. Families who had come to settle new homesteads, sometimes by wagon and sometimes by train, would send their children to a rural school where they would receive their education, frequently from a young female teacher who was barely out of school herself. In many instances, when boys reached an age where they could handle the arduous work of farming, they would leave school to work full-time on the family farm.

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Lonely James River Church on a Hill

Lonely James River Church on a Hill

We’ve passed this place a dozen times in our travels. It usually happens something like this… we’re on a tight schedule, wanting to get to all of the places we’ve planned to shoot before the sun sets, or the weather turns bad, so we pass on by, promising to hit it next time. Then, we usually get ten minutes down the road, and we start regretting the choice not to stop. So, this time we decided to stop and photograph this lonely James River Church on a hill overlooking Highway 200, about 16 miles east of Carrington, or 30 miles west of Cooperstown.

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
The Twin Towers of Josephine

The Twin Towers of Josephine

Once upon on a time there was a pioneer settlement named Genin at this spot in Benson County, about halfway between Maddock and Oberon, North Dakota. That settlment was later renamed Josephine, but it never really became a town. The highest population ever recorded was approximately 30, and some of those were folks who lived in the surrounding countryside. The truth is, Josephine was really just a glorified railroad siding along the Northern Pacific Railroad. The remains of the town are gone, and only two crumbling grain elevators remain.

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Hurricane Lake Church Approaches the End

Hurricane Lake Church Approaches the End

At one time, there was a “town” near Hurricane Lake, in the northeast corner of Pierce County, about 7 miles northeast of York, North Dakota. It was a “town” because it had a post office, but in reality it never had a sizable population. Hurricane Lake was founded early in relation to many of the towns we visit — in the 1880s — and was a stage coach stop, never having had the benefit of a railroad line to boost development. There was a hotel at the north end of Hurricane Lake to serve travelers on the stage line, but the post office shut down in 1905 and today there is nothing left of the original Hurricane Lake. At present, the area is home to the Hurricane Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and this crumbling church and still-used cemetery are the only man-made signs of the settlers who once lived in the vicinity of Hurricane Lake. 

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Norway Lutheran Church Overlooks Perseverance

Norway Lutheran Church Overlooks Perseverance

We visited this beautiful place, Norway Lutheran Church, in April of 2017. It’s in McHenry County, about 15 miles southwest of Towner, North Dakota, and it is perched on the hill above the Souris River Valley. The Souris, known to locals as the “Mouse River”, has flooded many times, particularly in 1969 and 2011 (a 1976 flood was serious, but not as severe as ’69 or ’11), and 6 years later, the legacy of the 2011 flood can still be seen everywhere. Just down the way from this church, a gravel road still stands blocked-off, partly underwater. Dead wood lies along the river bank in heaps, piled there by land owners after thousands of trees, live and dead, were uprooted and sent drifting downriver in the deluge. In places, there are the remains of flooded buildings, but in many more, new constructions, nicely landscaped and brightly painted. From a safe spot well above the flood plain, and in the tradition of the hardy settlers who came here more than a century earlier, Norway Lutheran Church overlooks perseverance. 

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Bethel Lutheran Awaits Just One More Potluck

Bethel Lutheran Awaits Just One More Potluck

The cornerstone for this church along County Road 5 reads “Bethel Hauges Norsk E.V. Luth. Kirke, 1915”. Put more plainly, that’s Bethel Hauges Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church. The building is located in northern Wells County, about 10 miles east of Harvey, and although the cemetery is still active, the building stands abandoned and boarded-up. In the place where the Lord’s word could once be heard on Sunday mornings by 80 or 100 parishioners at a time, Bethel Lutheran awaits just one more potluck.

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
The Abandoned Kincaid Power Plant

The Abandoned Kincaid Power Plant

Kincaid Power Plant is about four miles south of Columbus, North Dakota, in Burke County, about seventeen miles southwest of Flaxton. It reached the end of its journey and was abandoned in 1966.

Kincaid Power Plant

The 1971 Burke County and White Earth Valley Historical Society book describes this plant as follows.

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Built from the Earth: The Hutmacher Farmstead

Built from the Earth: The Hutmacher Farmstead

The Hutmacher farm is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is considered the midwest’s finest still-standing example of the earthen abodes built by Germans from Russia. Believe it or not, Alex Hutmacher lived here until 1979.

The Hutmacher farm has been undergoing restoration. You can get more information here. These photos contributed by Kim Dvorak.

More reading on the Hutmacher farm here and here.

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Argusville High School

Argusville High School

Argusville is located right off I29 about fifteen minutes north of Fargo. It was founded in 1880 and dwindled to around 100 residents by the 1980’s, but experienced a population boom after the turn of the millennium. Argusville now has a population of 475. So this abandoned high school is a rare spot in an otherwise budding town.

Argusville, North Dakota

The last class graduated from this school in 1997 when it was known as Cass Valley North High School.

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
A Solitary Haynes Township School

A Solitary Haynes Township School

We photographed this solitary Haynes Township school back in 2013, and although we featured it in a video, we never posted the actual photographs until now. It is in Kidder County, Haynes Township, just off Highway 3, about 11 miles north of Steele, North Dakota. A little further north are a few other places we’ve photographed, including the Tuttle School, two Clear Lake Township schools (here, and here) and true ghost town Arena, North Dakota is about 15 minutes northwest of this place.

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Little Muddy Creek Power House

Little Muddy Creek Power House

Angel Laws recently sent us some photos of a place outside Williston that we had never heard of. We asked visitors to our Facebook page for information, and we received a photo and some useful links that helped to reveal the history of this place.

Little Muddy Creek Power House

Someone sent us this photo of the place we’ll refer to as the Little Muddy Creek Power House and Irrigation Plant (if anyone knows the official name of this place, please comment below). The State Historical Society of North Dakota has this photo in their collection, the work of photographer Bill Shemorry, with the following description:

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
All That Remains of Grand Harbor

All That Remains of Grand Harbor

This school house still stands, right off Highway 2, between Devils Lake and Rugby. If you make that drive, you’ll see it just north of the highway. To our knowledge, it is the only remaining original structure from the town that once was Grand Harbor, ND

Grand Harbor, North Dakota

Grand Harbor was founded in 1882 on Teller’s Bay, Devils Lake, and moved one mile north to this location in 1897 to be near the railroad junction. Anything that might have remained in the original location would now be underwater due to the rise of Devils Lake. A suspiciously large population count, 225, was recorded in 1890, but tallies in subsequent years never surpassed 50 residents.

Grand Harbor, North Dakota

Hancock Concrete now occupies the adjoining plot of land, and there is also an occupied home or two on-site.

Grand Harbor, North Dakota

Ghosts of North Dakota has substantial bandwidth and hosting costs. If you enjoy this site, please consider supporting us by ordering a coffee table book or fine art print. Thank you!

Grand Harbor, North Dakota

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

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Fort Abercrombie: Gateway to the Dakotas

Fort Abercrombie: Gateway to the Dakotas

The original Fort Abercrombie was constructed in 1858, and it was the first military settlement in what would become North Dakota. Fort Abercrombie was a relic of the first transportation boom in the Dakota Territory — riverboats. Before the railroads, riverboats were one of the most efficient means of hauling cargo, and the Red River became a highway between Fort Abercrombie and Winnipeg. Due to flooding concerns, the fort was rebuilt in 1860 on higher ground, at its present location.

Fort Abercrombie

The fort was besieged by the Sioux for more than six weeks in 1862, an event that came to be known as the Dakota War of 1862.  Four soldiers were killed and two wounded.

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

With the frigid Dakota Territory winter approaching, the fort was abandoned as a military outpost on October 23rd, 1877. The town of Abercrombie was officially established nearly seven years later, about a half mile west.

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

Fort Abercrombie was largely forgotten for decades, but started to come back to life when the WPA began reconstruction of the original fort in 1939 and 1940. You can read more about the history of Fort Abercombie here.

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

Two reconstructed blockhouses and the original guard house now reside at The Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site.  Fort Abercrombie is right on the Red River, about forty minutes south of Fargo.

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

Fort Abercrombie is featured in our new book, the softcover Special Edition of Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 1.

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

The Red River has shifted its track over the years and the land under part of the site was compromised.  This marker provides a nice reference point for getting your bearings on the site.

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

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

Join 4,557 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Lonely High Cliff Country School

Lonely High Cliff Country School

Don Collings sent us these photos of High Cliff School with the following comments:

These are views of High Cliff School in Cow Creek Township, about 20 miles northwest of Williston. I attended this school with my brothers and sister (the Collings’ kids, along with the Haven’s, Barkie’s, Benth, Kjos and Brothers kids. The school reopened in 1953 and closed in 1961. To my knowledge it is still standing.

Ghosts of North Dakota is a wonderful web site. Keep up the great work.

High Cliff School

Of all the remote country schools in North Dakota, this one is one of our favorites for the beautiful setting.

High Cliff School

Do you know anything about High Cliff School? Please leave a comment below.

high-cliff-school3

Photos by Don Collings. Original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Join 4,557 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Lost Bridge of the Badlands

Lost Bridge of the Badlands

Lost Bridge was on the Little Missouri River, about 23 miles north of Killdeer in Dunn County. The name “Lost Bridge” holds a coincidental double meaning in this case, since the bridge no longer exists.

Lost Bridge Site

Above: An image from Google Earth. You can still see the missing swath of trees leading to the river’s edge, where the old Lost Bridge once stood.

Lost Bridge on the Little MIssouri River

These photos were taken by the Historic American Engineering Record, and the notes from the file tell an interesting story:

The Lost Bridge is a three-span, riveted Parker through truss, bridge designed by the North Dakota Highway Department and constructed in 1930. The bridge is associated with the Great Depression and stood relatively unused until approach roads were constructed in 1953 and paved in 1963 (north side) and in 1967 (south side). Thus, the bridge is well known in the State as “Lost Bridge.”

In short, this bridge was built to employ workers during the depression, but without roads leading to it, it was left unused for decades.

Lost Bridge, North Dakota

Today, there is a sign along the highway that tells the story in more detail. It reads:

More than a few ranchers have probably had to look for a lost cow in this country, but few people would suppose that even the world’s most famous Badlands were a place where you could lose a bridge.

A new bridge was built just downstream from here in 1931. A grand opening ceremony was scheduled for July 4, timed to coincide with the Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo. The governor was to orate, military maneuvers held, and a small orchestra was to play for dancing on the bridge. But torrential rains forced postponement, and many people left before the festivities were held the next day (in a sea of mud).

Bad luck continued. The roads leading to the bridge were supposed to be paved, but the onset of the Great Depression left no money available for construction. Locals dubbed the modern highway bridge with only dirt roads leading to it “Lost Bridge”, and the name stuck. The approach roads were graded and graveled in 1953, then paved in 1968 (ed. note: this date is contradictory to the HAER information quoted earlier in this post). The original structure was replaced in the 1990s.

Lost Bridge on the Little MIssouri River

We don’t know the exact year these photos were taken, but the road appears to be paved on both sides of the bridge, so the photos must have been taken in 1967 or later.

Lost Bridge on the Little MIssouri River

Lost Bridge was built in 1930, and renovated or improved on a number of occasions in 1953, 1959, 1967, and 1970. The bridge was demolished in 1994 and a modern highway bridge now does the job.

Lost Bridge on the Little MIssouri River

This bridge was also called the Killdeer Bridge, Dunn County Bridge, and the Little Missouri River Bridge.

Lost Bridge on the Little MIssouri River

Lost Bridge on the Little MIssouri River

Lost Bridge on the Little MIssouri River

Lost Bridge on the Little MIssouri River

Lost Bridge on the Little MIssouri River

It’s a shame to see this bridge demolished, but there is a piece of the bridge that was erected alongside Highway 22 (below) after it was taken down.

Lost Bridge of the Badlands

Below: From the vantage point of the photographer, the old road would have stretched straight ahead into the distance. The new highway bridge has no superstructure above the roadway, but you can see it on the left.

Lost Bridge of the Badlands

Although there is no longer a romantic steel bridge to see at this crossing, the scenery going down into the river valley is amazing and highly recommended. What do you know about the Lost Bridge of the Badlands? Please leave a comment below.

Original Content © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
The Haunting and Deserted Tyner Cemetery

The Haunting and Deserted Tyner Cemetery

Tyner’s derelict pioneer cemetery is all that remains of a rural settlement in Pembina County once known as Tyner.  Cemeteries are not something we usually feature as an entity all their own, primarily because there are plenty of websites out there which focus on cemeteries and family history already.  However, Terry visited Tyner Cemetery in August of 2012 to photograph the headstones for some of his wife’s family — the McCurdy’s — and was moved by the solitude of the site.

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

This pioneer cemetery is a relic of an immigrant community which is today scattered amongst rural farmsteads and nearby small towns in Cavalier County. It is in the middle of a farmer’s field and no longer even has a road leading to it. The only access is on foot, there is no fence, and as you can see from the photos, the entire site was quite overgrown at the time Terry visited in 2012. This cemetery tells a tale that was written a very long time ago.

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

I’ve attempted to transcribe the stones wherever they can be read. Update: We found some headstones in our photo archive that had not been previously posted, and those photos are at the bottom.

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

Samuel McCurdy, born Aug. 19, 1866, died Nov. 3rd, 1899, aged 33 years.

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

Mary McEwen, died Apr. 14, 1894, age 20 Y’s, 2 M’s, 14 D’s
Maggie McEwen, died Oct. 19, 1894, age 16 Y’s, 2 M’s, 20 D’s

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

A.C. McCurdy, Oct. 5th, 1888 to May 17th, 1975
Alice, wife of A.C. McCurdy, July 27th, 1884 to Sept. 14th, 1938

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

Eliza Jane, wife of Samuel Hillis, born in Ireland, Aug. 17, 1840, died Mar. 31, 1914

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

Frederick W. Mountain, died Feb. 7, 1899, aged 6 mos. 14 days.

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

Roy Tuson, died Mar. 26, 1892, aged 7 mos.

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

Alvin, son of John J. and Catherine Hughes. died Oct. 28, 1891, aged 14 years, 4 ms. 7 days.

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

Baby Symington, born Sept. 28, 1899, died October 15, 1900

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

Mary Gladys, Daughter of Peter & Kate Cameron
Died Jan. 19, 1889, Aged 2 yrs. 4 mos. [?] days

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

John Symington
Died May 12, 1890, Aged 29 yrs, 6 mos.

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

Peter McLean
Died Oct. 7, 1893, Aged 30 years, 30 days

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

Eliza Ann, wife of James Byers
Died Mar. 8, 1894, Aged 74 years

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

John Coughlin, Born May ?, 1812, Died Dec. ?, 1895
Mary A. Coughlin, Born Jan. 12, 1882, Died July 2?, 1895

Tyner, North Dakota pioneer cemetery

Roy Giles, Son of Mr. & Mrs. Thos G. McConnell
Died May 20, 1899

Photos by Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 4,557 other subscribers



Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Driscoll Church… Like They Just Left Yesterday

Driscoll Church… Like They Just Left Yesterday

It’s always amazing when you run across a place like this rural Driscoll Church… like they just left yesterday.

We were on our way to visit Arena, North Dakota in September, 2016, when we drove right past this place and decided to stop for a visit.

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

Zion Lutheran Church is in Burleigh County, Harriet-Lein Township, and is described as “rural Driscoll.” In reality, it is about ten miles north of Driscoll, or eleven miles southeast of Wing, North Dakota.

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

When we arrived, it wasn’t easy to tell from the outside whether Zion Lutheran was still an active church or not. It looked like it. It is weather-tight with a steel roof, good paint, and intact windows. The grounds were well-maintained too. Perhaps a congregation still assembled regularly?

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

A quick search revealed Zion Lutheran has it’s own Facebook page. Although Zion Lutheran no longer has services every Sunday, special events are still happening here, and planning is underway for a 100th Anniversary celebration next year. Below: The cornerstone planted in 1917.

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

Above: The sacristy is just inside the door.

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

Above: Some information for anyone who wants to make a monetary donation to preserve Zion Lutheran Church. Below: Even though they held a service here in July of 2016, nobody touched the keys apparently, because they’re still covered in cobwebs.

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

The sanctuary exists in a state of beautiful suspended animation, awaiting the next wedding or funeral.

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

The piano also made it through the service with some of the cobwebs on the lamp still intact. We would have never guessed while we were there that it had been so recently used.

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

In the sacristy.

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

In the basement of Zion Lutheran, the kitchen where generations of people attended pot luck lunches.

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

Above: The Lein family name substitutes for the numbers on the clock. Below: An abandoned farmhouse stands in the distance, a remnant of an increasingly rare agrarian lifestyle. The end of that living condition, brought about by mechanized farming, the end of the railroad era, and an aging population not replaced by a younger generation, leads to places like this… rural churches standing lonely on the prairie, used less and less frequently, until all who have a personal connection to the place have moved on, to another place or another plane.

Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

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

Join 4,557 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
This Lost Highway Leads to the Bottom of a Lake

This Lost Highway Leads to the Bottom of a Lake

We’ve visited a few lost highways before, like this one in Minnesota, or this flooded road near Devils Lake, but in my opinion, this is the most significant lost highway in the state of North Dakota, for reasons I’ll explain below.

While there are many reasons a highway becomes lost — rerouting of the road, mining, and freeway construction, for example — this road fell victim to the greatest flood in North Dakota history, a man-made flood, and now, this lost highway leads to the bottom of a lake.

North Dakota Lost Highway

About three miles north of Twin Buttes, North Dakota, on the Fort Berthold Reservation in Dunn County, Highway 8 becomes a dead end at the point shown above. In the upper left you can see Lake Sakakawea in the distance, the reservoir which forced the abandonment of this highway. There was an area on the left where we could see previous visitors had been driving around the barricades, but we chose to park here and hike the mile to the bottom.

North Dakota Lost Highway

Just a little further down the road, a second set of barricades were set up on a narrow stretch of the road, and you can’t drive around them, so we didn’t regret the choice to set out on foot.

North Dakota Lost Highway

North Dakota Lost Highway

The appearance of the road changed with the grade. In places where the grade was a little steeper, the remains of the road were plainly visible, with weeds and prairie flowers growing up between the cracks in the heavily weathered surface.

North Dakota Lost Highway

North Dakota Lost Highway

In other places, where the grade flattens out a bit, runoff sediment from the hills above has been settling for decades, obscuring the asphalt surface beneath a carpet of gravel and overgrowth.

North Dakota Lost Highway

North Dakota Lost Highway

The road traces a path down the side of a butte and the scenery is absolutely amazing.

North Dakota Lost Highway

North Dakota Lost Highway

Just as we found ourselves distracted by the amazing scenery and feeling like we were on a nature hike, we were reminded that cars used to travel the road on which we were standing at highway speeds.

North Dakota Lost Highway

The road parallels a deep ravine to the west, and there were no remnants of guard rails at any point along the road that we could see. Apparently, there was nothing to keep an inattentive driver from a quick trip to the bottom. Whether this rusted old wagon ended up at the bottom of the ravine in a tragic accident or was simply dumped, we don’t know, but aerial imagery shows it has been there for decades.

North Dakota Lost Highway

North Dakota Lost Highway

In one spot, a section of the highway slides away from the rest due to a minor landslide in which a portion of the hillside has separated and started to creep downhill.

North Dakota Lost Highway

North Dakota Lost Highway

Above: As we neared the bottom, we found a section of the road where someone had burned a bunch of old tires.

North Dakota Lost Highway

About a mile down the road, we finally arrived at what is today the bottom. This lost highway originally would have continued down into the Missouri River Valley, but today that valley is full of water and this is the end of the line. In the photo above, the water is a small bay of Lake Sakakawea (I’m not sure if it has a name, but Mandan Bay is just a few miles west) and the water is a little lower than average.

North Dakota Lost Highway

Beyond the end of the asphalt highway, small pieces of asphalt, weathered and broken down from runoff and fluctuating lake levels that bring periodic inundation, litter the prairie grass.

North Dakota Lost Highway

Someone made the trek to the bottom for a bonfire and a couple beers.

North Dakota Lost Highway

So, where did this highway go? It went down into the valley where the water is shown in the photo above, and it would have curved to the right around the point in the upper right of the photo, where the bulk of Lake Sakakawea is today. The highway led to the town of Elbowoods and the Four Bears Bridge, which was the only crossing over America’s longest river, the mighty Missouri, for miles around.

In 1953, Garrison Dam was completed, and the Missouri River Valley became a reservoir, or Lake Sakakawea. In one of the great injustices of modern times, the Three Affiliated Tribes lost 94% of their agricultural land, as detailed by author Michael Lawson in his book “Dammed Indians: the Pick-Sloan Plan and the Missouri River Sioux”.

The Four Bears Bridge was floated upriver and re-erected with new approach spans near Crow Flies High Butte. The communities of Elbowoods, Van Hook, Independence, Sanish, and others were forcibly evacuated and disappeared beneath the waves.

In addition to the evacuation of the towns which once stood in the valley, the Garrison Dam contributed to the abandonment of farms and towns even on high ground by cutting off transportation routes between the northern and southern portions of the state. Where you once would have been able to cross the Missouri River here and visit someone on the other side in just a few minutes, the drive is now an hour or more in many places due to the size of the lake and the required drive around the east or west ends.

There are few remnants today of the pre-Garrison Dam era, but this lost highway is one of them, and we’re glad we got to visit.

North Dakota Lost Highway

Above: Looking back from the end of the road, as we prepared to hike a mile uphill. We got our exercise this day.

What do you know about this old highway, Four Bears Bridge, and Elbowoods, North Dakota? Leave a comment below.

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

Join 4,557 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Neuburg Congregational Church: Back from the Brink

Neuburg Congregational Church: Back from the Brink

In 2014, we paid a visit to Neuburg Congregational Church, in Hettinger County, after we ran across a newspaper article which billed Neuburg Congregational as the most remote church in North Dakota–nearly 25 miles from the nearest town. We found the place on the brink of dereliction, with weeds growing up around the foundation, the paint thoroughly peeled, and pigeons making a home in the steeple. You can check out our original post to see how it looked at the time.

Neuburg Congregational Church

Sometime after our visit, someone decided to bring Neuburg Congregational Church back from the brink. The rapidly deteriorating roof was replaced with steel roofing, fresh paint was applied, and the grounds were tidied up. Even the sign out front was repainted. Our friend Tim Riley from Lost Places on the Prairie got these photos of the much improved Neuburg Congregational in 2016.

Neuburg Congregational Church

Neuburg was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, and was featured in our book, Churches of the High Plains, in 2015.

Neuburg Congregational Church

Above, 2016, below, 2014.

Neuburg Congregational Church

Neuburg was so deeply rooted in the German heritage of area residents that, until 1957, all services were held in the German language.

Neuburg Congregational Church

Photos by Tim Riley, original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 4,557 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
The Magic City, Fall 1940

The Magic City, Fall 1940

For those of us who are history buffs, the 1930s and 40s are a golden age of documentary photography. Government photographers from the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information traveled the country, photographing American cities big and small. They left behind a photographic treasure trove of places that no longer exist. It was photos like those, largely the work of Arthur Rothstein, that allowed us to do our book on North Dakota’s largest city, Fargo Moorhead Lost and Found, and another of those government photographers, John Vachon, captured these photos of Minot in October of 1940.

I find these photos interesting for the look back at the WWII era, in a season when the air had gone brisk and the leaves had presumably turned brilliant shades of yellow and red, about to become a carpet for residents of the Magic City.

Minot, Fall, 1940

Cars and trucks were everywhere in 1940, but these old horsedrawn wagons were still used to shuttle around cans of milk. This shipment was just waiting at the depot to head off to its next destination.

Minot, Fall, 1940

Unidentified football players on what appears to be Main Street, walking north. I could be wrong but their helmets appear to be plastic, which would have been a new development at the time. Riddell introduced plastic helmets in 1939, and the old leather helmets disappeared from use by the 1950s. Update: site visitor Brad says the player on the right, #44, is his dad Archie Peterson (see comments below).

Minot, Fall, 1940

The former Great Northern Hotel wasn’t exactly a swanky joint in 1940. I am not sure the location of this place, but it doesn’t look like the kind of place that would still be standing in a town the size of Minot.

Minot, Fall, 1940

Minot, Fall, 1940

This photo was simply labeled, “Chimneysweeper. Minot, ND.”

Minot, Fall, 1940

Upon closer inspection, chimney sweep looks like a dangeorous job. Standing on that wood ladder 3 1/2 stories above the ground doesn’t seem like a place I would be eager to be.

Minot, Fall, 1940

I zoomed in on this section of the photo because I was interested in the signs. Partially obscured by the column on the left is the word “Rooms,” indicating this was a rooming house, and the building in the background has an automotive use with the words “Body Dept.” painted on the white facade. It wasn’t until I saw the address “304” on the column at left that I realized I knew this place.

It is the former home of Martin Jacobson at 304 S. Main Street. In 1945, just five years after these photos were taken, it would be purchased by a funeral director transplant from the Twin Cities, Ben (B.J.) Thomas, and it became the Thomas Family Funeral Home.

I remember this place from my childhood in Minot, primarily as the place next door to the old Empire Theater. If you came out of a Saturday matinee and sat down on the grass to wait for your mom and dad to pick you up, someone would come out and ask you to get off the grass. Us darn kids.

Minot, Fall, 1940

In the image above, you can see the home changed substantially over the years in its life as a funeral home. The cupola and flagpole on the northwest side are gone. A room which once occupied the space between the columns is also gone, and several windows have been closed off, including the third story window over the front entrance. Image/Google Earth

Minot, Fall, 1940

This photo was labeled “Lutheran Church. Minot, ND.” I was unfamiliar with which church this is, so please leave a comment if you know.

Minot, Fall, 1940

Church was the social media of the day, and this photo is a good example. Everybody in their Sunday best, catching up with people they hadn’t seen all week.

Minot, Fall, 1940

See also: Minot Central High School

Photos by John Vachon, original content © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 4,557 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
The Abandoned Skyline Skiway, Devils Lake

The Abandoned Skyline Skiway, Devils Lake

This is a former Nordic ski jump, in Benson County, about 10 miles south of Devils Lake, or three miles east of Fort Totten, at the ski resort once known as Skyline Skiway. According to the December 1982 issue of Ski Magazine, this ski jump opened in 1928 and closed in 1936. The ski hill continued to operate on and off into the early eighties, and was home to the Lake Region Ski Club.

Update: A visitor to our Facebook page tells us most of this ski jump has blown down in a windstorm and there is very little left.

Skyline Skiway

Based on the view from the end of the ramp, we can conclusively say a jump from the end of this thing would have been terrifying. There’s some interesting information on this Ski Jump in this Dakota Datebook entry from 2008.

Skyline Skiway

The road to the jump is a very steep, pitted dirt road. In anything other than totally dry conditions, you’d be well advised to take a 4 x 4.

Skyline Skiway

We also featured this ski jump in our hardcover coffee table book, Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 1.

Skyline Skiway

Skyline Skiway

Skyline Skiway

Skyline Skiway

Sometimes getting the shot requires a little bad judgement.

Skyline Skiway

Skyline Skiway

Skyline Skiway

Skyline Skiway is the most significant remaining relic of a Nordic ski jump in North Dakota that we know of. The tower from a former jump near Mayville still stands (but the ramp itself is gone), and a jump that was once in North Fargo is completely gone. Do you know about any other Nordic ski jumps in North Dakota? Please leave a comment.

Skyline Skiway

Skyline Skiway

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

Join 4,557 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Oldest Standing Structures in North Dakota: Gingras Trading Post

Oldest Standing Structures in North Dakota: Gingras Trading Post

Long before the arrival of the settlers brought by the Homestead Act of 1862, this part of North Dakota was a center of commerce in the fur trade. The Metis people, a mixed-race culture of Native Americans and French, English, and Scottish explorers, lived and traded in this area throughout the 18th and 19th centuries (French explorer Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye, arrived in what is now North Dakota in 1738).

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Haunting Lignite Church

Haunting Lignite Church

For years, this church has been marked on one of my maps as “Haunting Lignite Church,” a descriptor I pasted on it due to its weathered exterior, devoid of paint, and the tall steeple that stands high above the prairie. I found out about it a long time ago, and knowing nothing about it, marked it as a place I wanted to photograph the next time I was in the area.

Haunting Lignite Church

In July of 2016 I finally found myself passing by and stopped to get a few photos.

Read More Read More

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church is in Pierce County, about five miles west of Rugby, North Dakota, or ten miles west of another place we recently visited, Meyer Township School #1.

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

This church is particularly beautiful, and you can see it from US Highway 2 if you find yourself traveling in the area. I’ve driven by it a dozen times and always said “I’ll stop next time.” This time, I finally did.

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

There is surprisingly little information available about this church, so if you know any of its history, please leave a comment.

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

There is a small cemetery out back, and the Pierce County Tribune ran a story in 2010 about a gentleman who was working to catalog all the graves. The old pump remains behind the church, too.

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

What a pleasant change of pace this was. I approached the door to see what the sign said, and I was very surprised to find it read:

“Welcome to Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church. This church was built in 1915 by Norwegian settlers to this area. No regular services were held after 1988. You are welcome to enter the church and look around. PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL. Secure the door when you leave. Thank you.”

I was very grateful that the property owner took the time to make this sign, and that I was able to go inside and look around.

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

I pushed through the double swinging doors which led to the sanctuary and my jaw dropped. Aside from a thick coating of dust, it looked like the parishioners just walked out of this place yesterday.

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Of all the pews in the church, this one in front of the piano appears to be a favorite sitting spot. I couldn’t resist the urge to plunk out the opening bars of “Let It Be.”

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Like prairie churches? Check out our hardcover book, Churches of the High Plains.

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

This church is still in such good condition, I really hope someone takes up the cause before it begins to deteriorate. The inside is largely dry, the windows are intact, and a new roof would go a long way toward extending the life of this place by decades.

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

After I finished photographing the main floor, I headed for the basement. The door at the bottom of the steps was unlocked, but it required a firm shove to open.

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

On the other side of the door, the darkened dining room. It was considerably darker than it appears in these photos, and I had to stand there for a moment to let my eyes adjust.

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

The fact that these items were still present and largely unbroken is emblematic of the respect with which previous visitors have treated this church. Let’s hope future visitors continue to treat this place with the same reverence.

Tunbridge Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

GET NOTIFIED

Join 4,557 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Nielsville Bridge Drone Flyover Video

Nielsville Bridge Drone Flyover Video

A while back we posted a blog about the Nielsville/Cummings bridge over the Red River between Cummings, North Dakota and Nielsville, Minnesota. The bridge has deteriorated significantly and is presently closed pending replacement by a new bridge.

Max Schumacher (YouTube Channel here) recently visited and sent us an email to share the drone video he captured. It’s amazing footage of this historic Red River crossing, and it’s available in HD too, so if you have the capability, stream it to your largest TV for full effect.

Video by Max Schumacher. Original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

GET NOTIFIED

Join 4,557 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Short Creek Church & Cemetery

Short Creek Church & Cemetery

Short Creek Church is in northern Burke County, a short drive southwest of Portal, North Dakota, and just over three miles from the US/Canada border. If I’m not mistaken, it was a Lutheran Church for its entire active life, and served a congregation of many Scandinavian immigrants, and settlers of German ancestry as well.

Short Creek Lutheran Church

I’m not sure when they stopped holding regular services in Short Creek Church. If you know, please leave a comment below.

Short Creek Lutheran Church

Short Creek Lutheran Church

The Short Creek Church sign shown above was donated by Susan Kay Swenson.

Short Creek Lutheran Church

In a time when most historic places like this are locked up tight to deter vandals, it was something of a surprise to find this church open for visitors. Let’s hope Short Creek Church can continue to be free from troublemakers so future generations can enjoy it, inside and out.

Short Creek Lutheran Church

I went up the stairway toward the bell tower, but the belfry was not easily accessible, so I settled for a photo looking down from the stairs, below.

Short Creek Lutheran Church

Short Creek Lutheran Church

The plaque on the wall left me a little curious for more details on this church. It says the church was organized in 1904 and completed in 1916, but the sign outside says the church was established in 1908. Who can clarify the details? Please leave a comment.

It was also interesting that another Swenson, Reuben, organized a restoration and re-dedication of this church in 1981. 35 years later, Short Creek Church is in need of another freshening. It’s a reminder of how quickly things can deteriorate without human intervention.

Short Creek Lutheran Church

In the sanctuary, a tattered American flag hung behind the altar, with several of the stars missing. It wasn’t clear to me how they were removed or why they were missing, but at risk of sounding dramatic, it reminded me of postapocalypse movies in which a worn American flag is meant to insinuate midnight in America.

I sat quietly in one of the pews for a moment and soaked in the ambience before taking the photo above.

Short Creek Lutheran Church

Short Creek Lutheran Church

The small cemetery behind the church has a surprising number of internments. See the full list on the Rootsweb page for Short Creek Cemetery.

Short Creek Lutheran Church

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

GET NOTIFIED

Join 4,557 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
The Derelict Beauty of Meyer Township School Number 1

The Derelict Beauty of Meyer Township School Number 1

It’s been closed since 1959, but Meyer Township School Number 1 still stands, right off US Highway 2, just a couple miles east of Rugby, North Dakota. It’s a frequently photographed place due to its highly visible location right next to the highway–just as I was leaving, someone else was pulling in to get some photos of their own.

Meyer Township School Number 1

Meyer Township School Number 1

This school, built in 1897, is one of the more unique ones we’ve seen with its asymmetrical layout, but the birds seem to love it.

Meyer Township School Number 1

A visitor to our Facebook page, Peggy Heise, says her grandfather was in charge of hiring the teachers for this school back in the day, and they lived together on a farm just west of the school.

Meyer Township School Number 1

With all the traffic that this place gets, it’s a little surprising that someone hasn’t fixed it up and used it as some kind of summer roadside attraction… I would definitely stop here to buy a postcard and a cold soda on a drive across the prairie.

Meyer Township School Number 1

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

GET NOTIFIED

Join 4,557 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
What Will Become of This Historic Bridge?

What Will Become of This Historic Bridge?

In May of 2014, I took a trip along the Red River to photograph a bunch of historic bridges for a potential future book, and found this place, a bridge I had never visited before.

Officially it is Traill County and North Dakota Highway Departments Project No. FAS 71A. Locals refer to it as the Nielsville Bridge, after Nielsville, Minnesota, the closest community to the bridge (Cummings, North Dakota is a few miles west).

Built in 1939, the bridge was in pretty bad shape when I visited in 2014–it had been repaired a number of times, and asphalt patches were visible in the road deck in several places. In 2015, a hole opened up in the deck and the bridge was closed. It has been closed ever since, and the question remains–What will become of this historic bridge?

Nielsville Bridge, Project FAS 71A

This bridge was completed in 1939. For historical context, it was the same year Lou Gehrig retired due to the illness that would later bear his name. World War II was just about to begin, and the sculpture of Theodore Roosevelt’s head was dedicated on Mount Rushmore.

Nielsville Bridge, Project FAS 71A

I paid particular attention to this bridge and several others on this trip because they are becoming more rare all the time. As the years pass, these steel truss bridges are being torn down in favor of modern highway bridges, which is good for transportation purposes, but bad for nostalgics who get a thrill from driving under the romantic arches of these relics from the industrial revolution.

Nielsville Bridge, Project FAS 71A

Nielsville Bridge, Project FAS 71A

Nielsville Bridge, Project FAS 71A

Last I heard, locals were trying to raise awareness about the need for funding to restore this river crossing, whether that be through a new bridge, or a restoration of this beautiful span. As it is, local farmers are forced to drive 8 miles one direction or 7 miles in the other direction to cross the Red River on the next available bridge.

Update: Plans are moving forward for a new bridge, which is not a good sign for this bridge.

Update 2: Shortly after we posted this, Max Schumacher sent us a link to drone video he captured at this bridge. See it here.

Nielsville Bridge, Project FAS 71A

Just around the corner from this bridge, on the North Dakota side of the Red River, is this rural church.

Nielsville Bridge, Project FAS 71A

Do you enjoy old bridges? Check these out: Historic Bridges of the Sheyenne Valley, More Historic Automobile Bridges, and the Rusting and Abandoned Klondike Bridge, on the South Dakota/Iowa border.

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 4,557 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.