Browsed by
Category: Points of Interest

Random Points of Interest

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.

Hutmacher Homestead

The Hutmacher farmstead is a good example of what immigrants were willing to endure for their chance at the American dream. With no trees available for building material, and purchased lumber out of their price range, many settlers on the prairie spent their first years in dwellings like this, built from the only material available — the earth itself. Many had left behind nice homes (and most of their worldly possessions) in Europe, to move to dwellings like this, where there were daily encounters with vermin and insects, and where the roof needed constant maintenance to stave-off leaks, but the promise of new opportunity was worth the hardship.

Hutmacher Homestead

Hutmacher Homestead

Hutmacher Homestead

Hutmacher Homestead

Hutmacher Homestead

Join 3,504 other subscribers

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.

Argusville, North Dakota

These photos were taken in 2011, but we returned in 2013 and found things had changed.

Argusville, North Dakota

Argusville, North Dakota

Argusville, North Dakota

Argusville, North Dakota

Argusville, North Dakota

Argusville, North Dakota

Argusville, North Dakota

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

Join 3,504 other subscribers

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:

During Williston’s emerging days, irrigation was thought to be a panacea for the farmers and a great effort was made to organize it under a new law passed by Congress. OUt of this grew the Williston Irrigation District encompassing about 15,000 acres of land along the Little Muddy Valley and the north bank of the Missouri River. Water flowed into the canals for the first time in mid-summer 1908 and for more than a decade and a half after. The 3,000 horsepower lignite fired electric power plant powered the irrigation project.

In 1913 the United States Department of the Interior published the “Eleventh Annual Report of the Reclamation Service, 1911-1912” and described the project like this:

The plan of the Williston unit provides for a series of motor-driven, centrifugal pumps on a barge in the Missouri River; a settling basin receiving the water from the barge, and a main canal of 100 second-feet capacity extending along Little Muddy Creek to the power plant, where two sets of steam-driven turbines operate centrifugal pumps to lift water 51 feet into E canal. From the main canal, about midway between the river and the power plant, electrically driven pumps raise 35 second-feet 28 feet into B canal, and from this canal 20 second-feet are raised an additional 28 feet into C canal. The main power station is located close to a 9 foot vein of lignite coal from which fuel is obtained.

In short, this was the power and pumping station that took water from Little Muddy Creek and directed it to neighboring crops. It was powered by coal which was mined in a nearby vein. Unfortunately it lasted fewer than 20 years and has been abandoned for the better part of 80 years, maybe longer.

Little Muddy Creek Power House

Angela Laws sent us her photos of this place. It is located outside of Williston, east of Little Muddy Creek, about a third of a mile west of the intersection of County Road 9 and 53rd Lane Northwest.

Little Muddy Creek Power House

Little Muddy Creek Power House

Little Muddy Creek Power House

Little Muddy Creek Power House

From the appearance of this place, it’s obvious that young people have been coming here for decades. It is just outside the fence of a neighboring farm, which Angel tells us was vacant and for sale at the time of her visit. It goes without saying that anyone with plans to visit should be careful and try to get permission from the property owner, whomever that might be.

Little Muddy Creek Power House

If you enjoy Ghosts of North Dakota, please help offset our substantial hosting and bandwidth costs with an order from our store. Your support is always appreciated!

Little Muddy Creek Power House

See more of the Little Muddy Creek Powerhouse:

Photos by Angel Laws, original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,504 other subscribers

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 3,504 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 3,504 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 3,504 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 3,504 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 3,504 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 3,504 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 3,504 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 3,504 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 3,504 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 3,504 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 3,504 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 3,504 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 3,504 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Is Minot’s Derelict Oak Park Theater Coming to Life?

Is Minot’s Derelict Oak Park Theater Coming to Life?

Oak Park Theater in Minot has been vacant almost as long as I can remember. I was born and raised in Minot, and I attended quite a few movies in this theater as a kid. I saw Jaws here (through my fingers, because my hands were clasped over my face every time that music started…. duuuuuuh duh), the forgettable ensemble movie Earthquake, Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and most notably, Stars Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, in 1977. By the time The Empire Strikes Back hit theaters in 1980, Oak Park Theater had fallen out of favor and Cine 5 at Dakota Square Mall was the new place to see a movie. For most of my young adult life, I remember this theater, and the strip mall in the same parking lot, as a vacant, derelict facility in somewhat sad condition.

The building has been used off and on over the years since then (as a church, a pool hall, and a discount theater), but has stood largely unused of late with only the memories of locals to color the tale — remembrances of the sparkling, lighted star atop the pole out front, and lines of people stretching across the parking lot, waiting to get in. After a showing, moviegoers in the balcony could exit out the door on the south side of the building, and it was always a shock to push open the door and emerge on the metal staircase into the cool night air.

Oak Park Theater

The era of the multiplex called an end to Oak Park Theater, but unlike the Empire Theater in downtown Minot (which was a paradise paved to put up a parking lot), the Oak Park Theater has managed to avoid the wrecking ball all these years, and now, nearly four decades later, this old lady might be poised for a comeback.

Oak Park Theater

According to the Minot Daily News, a Minot businessman has plans to re-open the Oak Park Theater in June of 2016 after a sizeable renovation and expansion. Plans include adding a second screen, and the renovated Oak Park Theater will become a theater for discount movies, indie features, film festivals, and onscreen gaming.

Oak Park Theater

Do you have memories of Oak Park Theater? Please leave a comment below.

Oak Park Theater

These photos were taken in November of 2014.

Oak Park Theater

Photos by Troy Larson, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,504 other subscribers

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

Lonely and Abandoned Wolf Butte Church

The Wolf Butte Lutheran Church is in a remote part of Adams County, North Dakota, about 45 miles south of Dickinson. It was once part of a Lutheran Parish that also included another abandoned church we’ve photographed, the North Grand Lutheran Church, south of Bucyrus. Regular services ended at the Wolf Butte location in 1988.

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church

The Wolf Butte church was unusual for its finish. The exterior appeared to be stucco, or some other kind of applied finish over a wood frame, with cedar shakes covering the upper portion. The bell had been removed from the steeple.

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church

The cornerstone had been removed from the church. I mentioned it to Terry, and after we left, we spent some time discussing where it might have gone. It wasn’t until we got home and examined our photos that we realized it had been placed in the memorial that stood outside the fence of the cemetery, and neither of us had noticed it. I’m not sure why it was removed, but if I had to guess, I would say it’s because the cemetery might remain long after the church has crumbled? If someone knows for sure, please leave a comment.

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church

The church was locked up tight and nobody was around to get permission to go inside, so we settled for photos through the windows.

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church and Cemetery

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church and Cemetery

The headstone for Oscar Roe was replaced sometime recently with a marker made of sheet metal with cutout letters. It was quite unique, and I was impressed that someone had taken the effort and expense to give Mr. Roe, who was born nearly one hundred sixty years ago, a new, original marker.

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church and Cemetery

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church and Cemetery

Terry photographed a small marker of a precious Harvey family baby, Clyde, who didn’t make it to his first birthday.

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church and Cemetery

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church and Cemetery

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church and Cemetery

If you enjoy prairie churches, both active and abandoned, please check out our book, Churches of the High Plains, or ask for it at your favorite local book store or gift shop.

Wolf Butte Lutheran Church

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

Join 3,504 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Backoo’s Lonely One Room School

Backoo’s Lonely One Room School

Backoo, North Dakota was founded in Pembina County in 1887 along the Great Northern railroad line, about five miles northwest of Cavalier, but little development occurred and the population never exceeded fifty. This lonely one-room school stands alongside the highway, just miles from the incredible beauty of the Pembina Gorge.

Backoo, North Dakota

Although it was an unincporporated community, a post office in Backoo operated from September 26th, 1887 until October 11th, 1988. This schoolhouse now sits among a loose cluster of farmsteads and rural businesses. It is prominently posted “No Hunting.”

Backoo, North Dakota

Backoo, North Dakota

Backoo, North Dakota

Backoo, North Dakota

Backoo, North Dakota

Backoo, North Dakota

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

Join 3,504 other subscribers

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

Vintage Views of Devils Lake

We’ve been collecting postcards and vintage photos for years with the intention of doing a book one day. Today, I discovered a couple postcards depicting vintage views of Devils Lake, and thought we should share these on the site.  The quality of the first postcard was so good, we were able to zoom and bring out some interesting details.

Devils Lake, North Dakota, 1937

This street scene depicts Fourth Street in Devils Lake, circa 1937.  There was no postmark on the card, but I was able to date the photo based on the movie listed on the theater marquee.  “Captains Courageous,” a movie based on the Rudyard Kipling novel, starring Freddie Bartholomew and Spencer Tracy, was released in 1937.  The movie would be remade in 1977, and again in 1996.

Devils Lake, North Dakota, 1937

The opposite side of the street is home to a Red Owl grocery store and Montgomery Wards.

Devils Lake, North Dakota, 1937

Devils Lake, North Dakota, 1937

Look at the beautiful art deco marquee on the Hollywood Theater.

Devils Lake, North Dakota, 1937

In addition to the Fourth Street scene, I found this vintage postcard showing the State Deaf School in Devils Lake. Year of this view is unknown, but construction of this building began in 1892.

Devils Lake, North Dakota, 1937

Original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,504 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Video: White Butte — The Highest Point in North Dakota

Video: White Butte — The Highest Point in North Dakota

Last summer, we had the opportunity to go back to White Butte for the first time since 2007, so we couldn’t resist the chance to go to the summit and get some GoPro video in HD.

White Butte is in Slope County, and of the fifty state high points, it is one of only seven that is on private land — North Dakota, Nebraska, Maryland, Louisiana, Kansas, Indiana and Illinois. The rest of the states’ high points lie mainly within state or national parks.

We opted not to include any narration on this one, just the beautiful view from the summit of North Dakota’s highest point.

Stream this one to your TV if you have the capability. It looks great on a big screen.

Original content copyright © 2015 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,504 other subscribers

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

More Historic Automobile Bridges

This is part two in our series about historic North Dakota automobile bridges. In part one, we focused on Sheyenne River crossings in southeast North Dakota. This time, we’ve photographed historic steel bridges in East-Central North Dakota, on the Sheyenne, Goose, and James Rivers.

Some of these bridges are closed and abandoned, others are still in use, and one has been restored, but they will all share the same fate without human intervention, so we’ve chosen to document them here.

Norway Bridge

Norway Bridge

Norway Bridge

Norway Bridge spans the Goose River in Traill County, about halfway between Hillsboro and Mayville, North Dakota. It’s a Pratt pony truss bridge constructed by Jardine & Anderson of Fargo and Hillsboro in 1912 at a cost of about four thousand dollars. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is considered significant because its construction by a local contractor makes it rare considering most bridges at the time were built by larger firms like Fargo Bridge & Iron Co. and other out-of-state bridge builders.

Norway Bridge was our first stop on this trip and we arrived early in the morning, when frost was still present on the timber deck. The bridge still gets frequent use — we saw several vehicles cross just in the few minutes were were there.

————————

Viking Bridge

Viking Bridge

Viking Bridge

Viking Bridge

Viking Bridge is the oldest documented automobile bridge still-standing in North Dakota. It was built in 1885 by C.P. Jones out of Minneapolis and originally spanned the Goose River between Mayville and Portland, but in 1915, Jardine & Anderson were hired to move this bridge to its present location, about a mile and a half northwest of Portland, North Dakota, in Traill County. It served traffic until 2006, by which time it had deteriorated to the point that it was no longer safe.

In 2010, Viking Bridge was rehabilitated by architecture and engineering firm KLJ. Today there is a informative plaque on-site detailing the bridge’s history.

————————

Washburn Township Bridge

Washburn Township Bridge

Washburn Township Bridge

This abandoned Washburn Township bridge was one of our favorite destinations on this trip. It spans the Sheyenne River at a spot in Griggs County, about four and a half miles east of Cooperstown, but today it has fallen into serious disrepair. There’s a dam just a few dozen feet to the southeast of this bridge, and the sound of rushing water coupled with the beautiful location make it the perfect spot to drop a line, or just dangle your toes in the river. It’s hard to imagine how someone hasn’t led an effort to turn this into a public park yet.

————————

Tyrol Township Bridge

Tyrol Township Bridge

Tyrol Township Bridge

This Tyrol Township bridge is in Griggs County about nine miles northeast of Cooperstown. It is built from steel supplied by the Inland Steel Company of East Chicago, Indiana, a company which existed for 105 years from 1893 to 1998, when it was absorbed by a multinational. We don’t know the year of construction or builder of this bridge, so please leave a comment if you know more.

————————

Nesheim Township Bridge

Nesheim Township Bridge

Nesheim Township Bridge

If you were to approach this bridge from the south you would travel a road that is now barely more than a tunnel through the trees as it descends into the Sheyenne Valley.

Nesheim Township Bridge

This Nesheim Township bridge (not to be confused with “Nesheim Bridge,” which is next) is in Nelson County, just over three miles south of McVille, North Dakota.

————————

Nesheim Bridge

Nesheim Bridge

Nesheim Bridge was built in 1904 by Fargo Bridge & Iron Company, in Nesheim Township, Nelson County, about 2 1/2 miles southwest of McVille, North Dakota. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

————————

Dayton Township Bridge

Dayton Township Bridge

Dayton Township Bridge

Dayton Township Bridge is a tiny steel bridge on the Sheyenne River in Nelson County, about 28 miles southeast of Devils Lake. It was built sometime in the 1910s by the Fargo Bridge & Iron Company.

————————

New Rockford Bridge

New Rockford Bridge

New Rockford Bridge

The New Rockford Bridge, on the north edge of New Rockford, North Dakota in Eddy County, was once New Rockford’s main bridge across the James River. It was built by Fargo Bridge & Iron Co. in 1904. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, partly due to its Warren truss construction, which is rare in North Dakota. Unfortunately it is now closed to vehicle traffic and falling into disrepair.

We found the scenery of the marshy wetlands along this stretch of river beautiful, but we only had to look below the bridge to see bicycles dumped in the river. It would be really nice to see a rehabilitation happen here. As with several of the other closed bridges on this list, this could be a real attraction as a fishing bridge or public park if it was just given a little TLC.

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

Join 3,504 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Sunday Morning on the Prairie at Norway Lutheran Church

Sunday Morning on the Prairie at Norway Lutheran Church

Norway Lutheran Church is in Nelson County, forty-three miles southeast of Devils Lake, not far from the valley where the Sheyenne River carves its way through the North Dakota landscape. Terry and I were on an adventure to photograph old steel automobile bridges, but as always, we were scanning the countryside for other abandoned things and roadside curiosities to shoot. As we traveled down a gravel road, Terry spotted a weathered steeple sticking up above the treeline, and we made a short detour to this place.

Norway Lutheran Church

Norway Lutheran Church looks as though it has not been used in quite some time, but someone has taken the care to secure it from the elements by covering the former windows, and even took the time to paint them with faux-window frames for aesthetic purposes. Quite nice. The green shingles are peeling in places, though, and this church will need some TLC in the foreseeable future.

Norway Lutheran Church

It reached almost 60 degrees on this day in the second week of November. We couldn’t resist the urge to take advantage of the good weather.

Norway Lutheran Church

Norway Lutheran Church

Norway Lutheran Church

The cemetery is still well-cared for and regularly used. We saw some internments that were as recent as 2014. Quanbeck, a name that survives today with local landowners, was one of the more prominent family names in the cemetery. The cemetery is also listed at Find A Grave.

Norway Lutheran Church

If you enjoy prairie churches like these, please check out our hardcover coffee table book, Churches of the High Plains. It makes a perfect gift, and every order helps us offset the cost of documenting these vanishing places.

Norway Lutheran Church

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

Join 3,504 other subscribers

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Langberg’s Church That Became a School

Langberg’s Church That Became a School

This place is the Langberg country school, in Bowman County, just down the road from Nebo and Adelaide Schools, and only four miles from the border with South Dakota.

Langberg Township School

We’re told this place was originally a church and later became a school, and someone told us it was actually a residence for a time as well. If someone can fill in the details of that transition, we’d love to hear it in the comments below.  Today, it stands with its door open, waiting for someone to come along and rescue it from the sad fate that awaits all abandoned structures on the prairie.

Langberg Township School

Langberg Township School

This part of the state is very sparsely populated and antelope run wild on the prairie.

Langberg Township School

Langberg Township School

The ladder leads up to the loft in the bell tower.

Langberg Township School

Langberg Township School

Langberg Township School

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

Join 3,504 other subscribers

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

Nebo School on Borrowed Time

In Bowman County, about eleven miles south of Rhame, North Dakota, this place remains, if only on borrowed time. Known simply as Nebo School, this little structure is the ruin of a North Dakota country school. There is very little information on the web about this particular school, so if you have a connection to this little school, please post a comment below and maybe we can remedy that.

Nebo School

The topographic setting of this little school is right on the western edge of the North Dakota prairie. A few more miles to the west, the landscape turns rugged as you approach the Montana border.

Nebo School

Nebo School

We stopped to photograph this place as we were headed to South Dakota, which we would pass through on our way to photograph a few places in Wyoming. It is just down the road from the Adelaide School. This was our first time in this extreme southwest part of North Dakota and we were somewhat surprised at how remote this area is as you travel south. Gas and food stops have to be well-planned because restaurants and gas stations are few and far between in the region.

Nebo School

Nebo School

Nebo School

Nebo School

Imagine the day — attending school in a prairie setting like this, having that view just outside the window all day.

Nebo School

Chalk drawings that look as though they could have been done yesterday are actually three decades old.

Nebo School

Note the ladder in the corner of the room. Someone has been salvaging materials from inside this old school, although it is admittedly hard to tell the difference between salvage work and vandalism at times. Based on the water damaged ceilings and the encroachment of nature, this school is on its last leg.

Nebo School

Nebo School

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

Join 3,504 other subscribers

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