An Abandoned Port of Entry in Northgate, North Dakota

An Abandoned Port of Entry in Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate is a fascinating near-ghost town right on the Canadian border, about 70 miles northwest of Minot. It was originally founded one mile to the north, but moved one mile south to its present site. While the original town site retained the name North Gate (with a space) this town was renamed North Gate South, and then re-dubbed Northgate (without the space) when the post office was established in 1914. Above: The former Northgate Port of Entry building. The road to…

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Abandoned: Freda, North Dakota

Abandoned: Freda, North Dakota

Freda, North Dakota is a true ghost town in Grant County about 35 miles southwest of Bismarck.  Freda started out as a Milwaukee Railroad town, and once had a population  of 50 plus its own bank. Today it is totally abandoned with the remains of its depot crumbling in the elements. There is one other structure next to the depot, and the ruins of several other buildings on the town site. The depot originally stood about a half mile to…

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8 Terrible Fates Our Ancestors Faced

8 Terrible Fates Our Ancestors Faced

We’ve all heard the stories from our parents and grandparents about having to walk to school with no shoes, uphill (both ways), and there’s certainly an air of humorous exaggeration in many of those tales, but not too much exaggeration. The truth is, daily existence as a pioneer on the prairie was a hard life, and the people who came to the northern plains were taking their lives in their hands, and facing dangers we can scarcely imagine today. Yes,…

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A Lonesome View on Barton Street

A Lonesome View on Barton Street

Originally called Denney, this unincorporated community was founded along the Great Northern Railroad in 1887.  The name was changed to Barton in 1893. Barton is in Pierce County, about twelve miles northwest of Rugby.  In the 2010 Census, it was listed as having 20 residents. We chose to visit Barton after a vocal visitor to our Facebook page suggested it on more than one occasion.  It turned out to be a great suggestion — Barton has abandoned buildings on both…

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11 North Dakota Attractions You Can Visit for Free

11 North Dakota Attractions You Can Visit for Free

One of the things we’ve always loved about photographing North Dakota’s abandoned places and roadside attractions is that it feels like an alternative form of tourism–that is to say, most of these places are interesting and fun to visit, but there are generally no crowds and no admission fees.  However, when you have the kids in the car, or Grandma and Grandpa tagging along on a day trip, sometimes you need something a little more family friendly, with fewer rusty…

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Raleigh, North Dakota, Population 9

Raleigh, North Dakota, Population 9

Raleigh is a secluded little town in Grant County, just a short drive southwest of Mandan. The population is nine, and there are exactly two businesses in operation. The grain elevator does a brisk business, and the local tavern is called The Dogtooth — named after the hills which cut a ragged swath through the township. We visited Raleigh at the suggestion of Karla, the owner of the Dogtooth, Raleigh’s only watering hole, and we’re glad we did. There are…

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Nanson: A North Dakota Ghost Town

Nanson: A North Dakota Ghost Town

As we set out to photograph ghost towns in early May of 2012, we had Nanson in mind as our ultimate destination.  We’ve known about Nanson for quite some time but somehow we just never managed to make it there — it was time. After driving all day through an array of locations, we reached US Highway 2 and drove into Rugby for some lunch — huge double cheeseburgers at the Cornerstone Cafe (now closed). After lunch, we departed for…

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The Shadow of Lunds Valley, North Dakota

The Shadow of Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley is a beautiful near-ghost town nestled in a valley in Mountrail County, about fifty-four miles northeast of Williston.  It is one of those towns where we showed up a little too late, because there aren’t many of the original buildings still standing.  It is a mere shadow of its former self. Lunds Valley was considered a rural post office and the population of the town never exceeded 100. Terry’s photo of this elevator is featured on the cover…

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13 People and 3 Churches in Kief, North Dakota

13 People and 3 Churches in Kief, North Dakota

Kief is a near-ghost town in McHenry county, and is home to the first Russian Baptist Church ever established in the United States. Although only listed as having a population of 13 in the 2010 census, the amount of activity we saw on our visit to Kief seemed to suggest a larger population, perhaps twenty?  Kief has a bar which was open for business on the day we visited. Update: we’ve been told the bar has since closed. Kief has a…

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Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Griffin is a true ghost town in Bowman County, along Highway 12, about halfway between Bowman and Rhame, North Dakota. Although there are some working farms and ranches in the area, there’s barely a town any more, and no apparent residents in the actual townsite. A maximum population of 67 was reported in 1930, but the post office closed that same year and the town quickly vanished. This old schoolhouse is the most prominent remaining structure from Griffin. Above: a…

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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. 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…

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9 Questions with Artist Mariah Masilko

9 Questions with Artist Mariah Masilko

Mariah (MJ) Masilko is a talented artist and photographer, a kindred spirit who has shared a number of places with us over the years, including ghost town Stady, North Dakota, the end of the Masonic Lodge in Calvin, and others. We caught up with Mariah in between artist and mom activities, and she was kind enough to give us some insight on her work. Q: Where do you live, and what is your connection to North Dakota? I’m currently in…

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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. This street scene depicts Fourth Street in Devils Lake, circa 1937.  There was no postmark on the card, but I was…

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8 Questions with Photographer John Piepkorn

8 Questions with Photographer John Piepkorn

Ghosts of North Dakota has been lucky over the years to make the acquaintance of a number of talented artists and photographers who share our passion for the history and austere beauty of the prairie. One of those artists is John Piepkorn, who has contributed photos of Hanks, North Dakota (population one), the Hamlet School, and the Wheelock School, among others. John took a few minutes from a busy schedule of photography, fat tire biking, and holiday festivities to answer…

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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…

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Legend of Miniwashitu: Missouri River Monster

Legend of Miniwashitu: Missouri River Monster

The pseudo-scientific field of cryptozoology deals with theories of creatures unknown to science, many of which have their origins in Native American lore. Stories of Sasquatch in the Pacific Northwest, and the Wendigo in Minnesota and the Great Lakes region, originated with native people. Even North Dakota has a mysterious but little-known monster. A legend of the Dakota nation tells the story of Miniwashitu; a Missouri River monster of terrifying appearance and effect.  Author Melvin Randolph Gilmore, one-time curator for…

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Video: Driving the Badlands of Old Marmarth Road

Video: Driving the Badlands of Old Marmarth Road

We’ve visited Marmarth, North Dakota on several occasions, but it wasn’t until this past summer that we had the opportunity to drive the badlands of Old Marmarth Road, also known as Old Highway 16. We took quite a few photos while we were there, and shot some GoPro video too. This is our look at a scenic drive you just won’t experience by sticking to the interstate and the standard scenic overlooks. We found the change in landscape between the…

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Say Goodbye to the Sanger County House

Say Goodbye to the Sanger County House

We first visited Sanger in 2004 and quickly fell in love with the County House. Someone had told us it was the former post office in Sanger, but we visited again in 2013 and an area resident told us it was known as the County House — the remnant of a boarding house from the horse and wagon days. Back then, it was a two day journey between Minot and Bismarck, and the County House’s location in Sanger was a…

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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….

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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…

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Historic Bridges of the Sheyenne Valley, part one

Historic Bridges of the Sheyenne Valley, part one

If you’ve followed this site for any length of time, you know we occasionally like to photograph bridges, for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s for their historic significance (like Caledonia and Romness Township bridges), and other times it’s because the bridge is huge and awe-inspiring, as is the case with the High Line, Karnak, and Gassman Coulee railroad trestles. In this case, we’ve decided to photograph most of the historic automobile bridges of the Sheyenne River Valley, some abandoned…

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17 True Ghost Towns: Population Zero

17 True Ghost Towns: Population Zero

Defining what exactly constitutes a “ghost town” can sometimes be tricky.  In our years of exploring North Dakota’s abandoned places, we’ve often encountered former towns where the townsite 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 church, but nobody actually lives on the town site.  And still other times, we will hear objections from people who feel as though we’ve misrepresented their town,…

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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. 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…

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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. The topographic setting of this little school is right on the…

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Five More North Dakota Sites You’ll Love

Five More North Dakota Sites You’ll Love

If you’re like us, you enjoy all things North Dakota. Here are five more North Dakota-related sites you should check out. Wild In North Dakota: They might be the most followed North Dakota-oriented site on Facebook with over a quarter-million followers. Wild in North Dakota is a non-profit organization dedicated to the “promotion, education, and awareness of the wild horse herd” in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Facebook | Website 1897 Red River Valley League: This excellent site chronicles the 1897 Red River Valley Baseball League…

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The Murdered Family

The Murdered Family

The Murdered Family (softcover, 347 pages) by Vernon Keel. Based on a true story about the mass murder of the Wolf family, The Murdered Family raises questions about the guilt of the man convicted of the crime. A wave of fear sweeps across the barren prairies of central North Dakota in April of 1920 with the tragic news that seven members of a farm family and their hired boy have been brutally murdered at their home just north of Turtle…

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Gascoyne, Eight Years Later

Gascoyne, Eight Years Later

Gascoyne is on the east edge of Bowman County, in southwest North Dakota, about fifty-five miles south of Dickinson. The town, not far from the South Dakota border, was first called Fischbein, after a family who settled the area, but the name was changed to Gascoyne in 1908. According to the 2010 Census, there are 16 people still living in Gascoyne.

Abandoned Country School in Adams County

Abandoned Country School in Adams County

This Adams County country school is one of hundreds simply withering away in the elements across the plains of North Dakota, having served its purpose in educating the children of the earliest settlers. Most township schools like these, a single room structure constructed to conform with standard plans, were 18 x 32 and were staffed by a single teacher with students from first through eighth grade. Consolidation and elimination of one-room schools began in 1908 when President Roosevelt appointed the…

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Revisiting Tiny Haley, North Dakota

Revisiting Tiny Haley, North Dakota

We revisited Haley, North Dakota in July of 2015, eight years after our first visit in 2007. We had mentioned to a convenience store clerk that we were out photographing ghost towns and abandoned buildings, and she said, “You guys need to go to Haley.” We weren’t far away, so we stopped in for a visit and some photos, and discovered Haley had a population of two, going on three. When we returned to Haley in 2015, we found it…

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Little School on the Prairie

Little School on the Prairie

This little school is in Adelaide Township, Bowman County, just off Rhame Road, just a few miles south of Rhame, North Dakota. It is a particularly beautiful example of a two-room prairie schoolhouse in a very sparsely populated part of the state. We’ve found it somewhat rare to find a little school on the prairie like this where the bell tower is still in good condition. Frequently, they have toppled by the time we arrive to shoot some photos. We photographed…

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