• bismarck-1883-2

    Vintage View of Bismarck, Dakota Territory, 1883

    In 1883, Bismarck had only been “Bismarck” for ten years, having existed first as a tiny frontier settlement called Missouri Crossing, then as Edwinton, until 1873. Bismarck assumed an important place in the history of the American west when it supplanted Yankton as the capital of Dakota Territory in 1883. Settlers were soon streaming in. […]

  • balfour-feature

    Back to Balfour

    We visited Balfour in November of 2014, nine years after our first visit, to get some photos of all the things we missed the first time. We actually tried to revisit Balfour in 2012, but a road construction crew had traffic at a complete stop on Highway 52, complicating our travel schedule, and we decided […]

  • josephine-feature

    Two Minutes Until Winter

    It was November 7th, 2014 and it was two minutes until winter in Josephine, North Dakota when we briefly braved forty mile per hour winds to get the photos you see here. I consulted Douglas Wick’s North Dakota Place Names book, which says Josephine, North Dakota was founded in 1901 on the site of an […]

  • Merricourt, North Dakota

    Passing Through Merricourt

    Merricourt is a very remote town in Dickey County with less than a handful of residents — just one family remains in this near-ghost town. We didn’t intend to visit Merricourt when we went on an adventure in October of 2014, but some last minute route changes took us right through town, so we stopped […]

  • guelph1

    Message from Above in Guelph

    Guelph, North Dakota is in Dickey County, not far from Ellendale. In 1930, the census said Guelph had 158 residents and that’s as many as ever called Guelph home. The old Guelph public school is now an antique and vintage-type business. Terry was photographing this school when he noticed a message from above. This church […]

  • Cogswell, North Dakota

    Three Cogswell Churches

    We stopped in Cogswell specifically to photograph the beautiful United Methodist Church, and to see if a church shown on our postcard from 1918 was still standing. In the process, we ran across another boarded-up church we didn’t know was there. Cogswell is in Sargent County, about 60 miles west of Wahpeton. According to the […]

  • Deisem, North Dakota

    Return to Deisem

    When we planned our trip in early October of 2014, we realized we would be in the area of Deisem and made plans for a return visit. Deisem’s former church, the lone remaining structure, was in such terrible shape last time we were there, we didn’t know whether it would even be standing when we […]

  • Thelen, North Dakota

    Thelen in Repose

    Thelen is a true ghost town in Golden Valley County, about eight miles south of Beach. We previously posted a gallery of Thelen photos sent in by Dave Thorson, but this was our first time visiting in person. We discovered some of the things Dave photographed are now gone, leaving this complex of buildings near […]

  • Ringsaker Lutheran Church

    Ringsaker Lutheran Church and School

    Someone suggested this place to us last fall, we waited all winter to visit, and it was worth the wait.  Ringsaker Lutheran Church and School are about seven and half miles north of Cooperstown, and they’re rich in history dating back to what is claimed to be the first Christian religious service in Griggs County, […]

  • Hesper, North Dakota

    True Ghost Towns: Population Zero

    Defining what exactly constitutes a “ghost town” can sometimes be tricky.  In our ten years of exploring North Dakota’s abandoned places, we’ve often encountered former towns where the town site itself is empty, but there’s a farm about half a mile down the road.  Sometimes a former town like Sims, North Dakota has an active […]

  • Grasshopper Plague

    The Grasshopper Plague

    The 1930s could be described as a perfect storm of hardship in America. The Great Depression devastated the national economy and job market, and a persistent drought compounded matters in the Midwest, contributing to the Black Blizzards of the Dust Bowl era. The skies from Texas to the Canadian plains were sometimes so dark, cities […]

  • Leroy, North Dakota

    St. Joseph’s Catholic Church from 1895

    Terry ducked out of holiday festivities long enough to photograph this place — St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Leroy, North Dakota. Leroy is in Pembina County, about ten miles northwest of Cavalier. Terry was told they stopped holding regular services here about a decade ago. A small community center and auditorium. This area is absolutely […]

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Central School, Minot

Minot Central High School

The space where Minot High School’s Central Campus now stands has a long history as home to several impressive schools, one of which also happens to be my alma mater.  In 1893, a far-too-small schoolhouse was replaced with the building below – Central School, sometimes referred to as “Central Graded School” with the “d”. By […]

Front Street Fargo, 1909

Fargo’s Front Street, 1909

If you’re fascinated by history, you know postcards are really a simple pleasure. You can tease so many stories out of a few fine details when you look close. This intersection in Fargo is significant in the history of our state as the place where Fargo literally rose from the ground after the NP Avenue […]

sanish-christmas-feature

Christmas in Sanish

These photos of Christmas in Sanish, North Dakota come from Staci Roe, who came upon them in a hospital rummage sale and saved them from the trash.  They are from the estate of Marvin L Knapp and the photographer is unknown.  Photos of the construction of the footings for Four Bears Bridge were in the […]

Building Four Bears Bridge

Building Four Bears Bridge

Mighty rivers require mighty bridges and several impressive examples have spanned the North Dakota stretch of the Missouri River.  The river valley near the former town of Sanish has been home to several.  First, the Verendrye Bridge, a steel truss bridge completed in 1927, crossed the Missouri at Sanish.  In 1934, the first bridge to […]

Sanish, North Dakota, 1926

Lost Beneath the Lake: Sanish, North Dakota

Old Sanish, North Dakota came to an end in 1953, when the river valley it occupied for over half a century became the bottom of North Dakota’s newest reservoir, Lake Sakakawea. Sanish’s residents left for higher ground, as did the residents of other low-lying towns like Van Hook and Elbowoods.  Buildings were demolished and the […]

Sims, ND

THE BOOK: Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 2

Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 2 is nearly identical in construction to the first book — 88 pages with a hardcover and beautiful dustjacket.  In Volume 2, we’ve chosen to emphasize the photos, and we’ve included places like Manfred, Barton, Bantry, Brantford, Roseville, Raleigh, Bentley, Freda and many more, frequently in full-page photos.  Ghosts of […]

Fortuna AFS

Fortuna Air Force Station: 1977

Steve Sampson is a former airman once stationed at the Fortuna Air Force Station, and he took the photos you see here.  He posted a comment regarding one of the photos elsewhere on the site, and it’s such a great story, we wanted to highlight it here. We contacted Steve to get permission to post these […]

plaque

Do You Have Photos of These Places?

Since 2003, our stated objective has been to document North Dakota’s vanishing small places before they’re gone.  In the years since, we’ve also tried to pay attention to places that were lost long ago, places where there’s nothing left to photograph, through postcards and vintage photos. Now, we could use your help to shine a […]

caledonia-feature

Crossing Caledonia Bridge

We first visited the Caledonia Bridge in 2006 and found it closed to all but foot traffic. We think it’s the second oldest still-standing bridge in North Dakota, having been built in 1895, and second only to the Viking Bridge near Portland. The Viking Bridge was built in 1885 and was restored in 2006, and […]

Straubville, North Dakota

Ten More Lost North Dakota Places

Sometimes we photograph a place and find out years later that it’s gone, sometimes the place is gone by the time we get there.  But the one constant is that the list of places is growing all the time. Here’s another list (the original is here) of ten more significant North Dakota places that have unfortunately […]