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Category: Sims, ND

Morton County
Vacant as of 8/13

A Ghost Town Built from Coal and Bricks

A Ghost Town Built from Coal and Bricks

Sims, North Dakota is a beautiful near-ghost town, founded in what was at the time a somewhat remote spot on the prairie of Dakota Territory, about 35 miles west of Mandan. The Northern Pacific arrived in 1879 and extra boxcars were set aside to be used as businesses and shelter until a proper town could be constructed. The original settlers were attracted to coal that was easily mined here, and several early names of the town were “Baby Mine” and “Bly’s Mine.” In 1883 the town was renamed Sims, in honor of a railroad official, and soon, settlers were arriving. A brick plant was constructed, and multiple stores sprang up, too. Some have said Sims boasted a population of 1,000 at its peak, but photos of Sims during its peak years are apparently scarce.

The population began to decline by 1886, and by 1906 the count was around 300, and down to 86 in 1910. The bricks from the brick plant were reportedly of poor quality, and coal was more plentiful in other places. Sims was slowly coming to an end.

Sims, North Dakota

The railroad eventually pulled up stakes in Sims, and today there is one church which is still in use, and a farmstead on the east edge of town. When we last visited Sims in 2013, we neglected to photograph several things, beginning with the concrete bridge over Sims Creek.

Sims, North Dakota

At one time, the railroad line, which ran through Sims from the southeast to the northwest, crossed Sims Creek in this spot. Judging from the street signs that were later erected, this bridge became a narrow, one-lane crossing for vehicles after the railroad had gone.

Sims, North Dakota

We walked north along this bridge and continued down the former railbed/road.

Sims, North Dakota

At the other end, looking south toward the bridge, the sign reads “Weight Limit 6 Tons”. It’s hard to imagine a time when this sign would have been necessary considering the old road is barely visible anymore.

Sims, North Dakota

As we approached the old building at the north end of this road, we saw several remnants of structures which once stood here. The depot, the depot agent’s house, the water tower for filling steam locomotives, and the pump house all stood in this area.

Sims, North Dakota

We had to wade across Sims Creek to get a few photos of the places on the other side. It wasn’t immediately clear if there was ever a small bridge here.

Sims, North Dakota

Perhaps I’m wrong, but according to this map on the Almont history page, I believe the crumbling building shown above was the Horlitz store. There would have been another store right next to this one at one time, the Wadeson Store.

Sims, North Dakota

Barring intervention by someone, the front portion of this place will not stand much longer.

Sims, North Dakota

Sims, North Dakota

Sims, North Dakota

This building would be in the approximate area where the aforementioned map indicates Cecelia Jacobson’s residence would have been. It was behind a fence, so we did not go over to investigate.

Sims, North Dakota

Even the trees bear the burden of time’s unrelenting weight.

Sims, North Dakota

Looking down from the cemetery on Sims’ most photographed landmark, the Gray/Anderson House. When we arrived, two people on a weekend daytrip were here, walking their dog and photographing the house. There was another area resident in a truck nearby, watching the goings-on. So, if you visit, expect supervision and be respectful of this place.

Sims, North Dakota

The house was once nearly covered in red brick, but today most of that facade has crumbled.

Sims, North Dakota

There was once a covered porch in the area where the red brick remains in the photo above, but it collapsed long ago.

Sims, North Dakota

Above: Looking in the front window of the house. Below: The opposite view, looking out.

Sims, North Dakota

Sims, North Dakota

Sims, North Dakota

Just to the north of the house, only these stairs remain in the spot where the Sims school once stood.

Sims, North Dakota

What do you know about Sims, North Dakota? Please leave a comment.

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

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Sims, North Dakota

Sims, North Dakota

Sims, North Dakota is a ghost town in Morton County, about 35 miles west of Mandan, just a few miles south of Interstate 94 — a place so hauntingly beautiful, we chose the photo above for the dustjacket cover of our second book.  Sims is a place people have been telling us to visit for nearly ten years, but it took us this long to find a way to work it into the schedule.

Sims, ND

Sims, ND

Sims, ND

Several structures remain standing in Sims — the old house you see here, plus the still-active Sims Scandinavian Lutheran Church and accompanying parsonage.  There are two more structures just to the north of Sims, but they’re on the other side of a now closed bridge, and posted “No Trespassing.”

Sims, ND

The Sims town site is abandoned — that is to say nobody actually lives there, although there are residents in the area, and the church is a landmark.  There is a comprehensive website dedicated to Sims and nearby Almont here.  Make sure you check out the publications — fascinating reading in pdf format.

Sims, North Dakota

Sims, ND

Sims, ND

Sims, ND

Sims was featured in our second book, Ghosts of North Dakota Vol. 2.

Sims, ND

Sims, ND

Sims, ND

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The view from the cemetery, looking down on the Sims town site.

Sims, ND

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