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Visiting the Town That Never Was: Rival, North Dakota

Visiting the Town That Never Was: Rival, North Dakota

Years ago, Wylora Christianson sent us a photo of a grain elevator, the only remaining structure from a town that never was: Rival, North Dakota. She was under the impression that the elevator was to be torn down soon, so she felt compelled to photograph it.

The Rival Elevator is so named because, as a Soo Line townsite, it was intended to rival the nearby Great Northern Railroad town of Lignite, North Dakota. North Dakota Place Names by Douglas Wick says this site was the terminus of the Flaxton branch railroad line. A post office existed here for two years, from 1907 to 1909, with Chester Teisinger as the postmaster, but no settlement of any significance developed.

Rival, North Dakota
Image/Google Earth

Surprisingly, the Rival elevator still stands, and I happened to drive right by it on my way to Canada recently, so I made a note of it and returned for some photos on my way back home. I’m glad I did, because this deteriorating elevator strikes a compelling pose on the green prairie of northern Burke County.

Rival, North Dakota

The Rival elevator has a unique appearance, with a primarily wooden structure capped by steel. We’ve seen several of these wood elevators in which the top has collapsed due to weathering. It makes me wonder if this one endured some kind of collapse and had a steel roof added sometime later? If someone knows the story, please leave a comment below.

Rival, North Dakota

Rival, North Dakota

Rival, North Dakota

Rival, North Dakota

There were bricks laying around in the grass, and upon closer inspection, I found they were from North Dakota’s renowned Hebron Brick Company.

Rival, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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The Town That Never Was: Rival, North Dakota

The Town That Never Was: Rival, North Dakota

Rival, ND is a town that never was. It was established with the intent of being a “rival” to nearby Lignite, hence the name. However, no development of significance ever took place. Rival’s post office opened in 1907 and closed only two years later in 1909. Wylora Christianson contributed this photo with the following comments:

All that is left of Rival is the elevator which is to be torn down soon, so went and got a picture of it.

Rival, North Dakota

It looks like this elevator was built entirely of wood (like this elevator in Roseville), and at some point in the past, the top was replaced with a more modern, galvanized metal roof. That roof likely extended the life of this place by a couple decades.

Rival, North Dakota

As of August, 2013, this elevator was still standing. If anyone has an update on whether this elevator has now been torn down, please leave a comment.

Photo by Wylora Christianson. Original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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