• Rat Lake Township School

    Abandoned Roadside Church

    This abandoned country church is located in Rat Lake Township in Mountrail County, about fifteen miles southwest of Stanley. This church stands right alongside ND 1804 in a little-populated part of the county. The entire township has a population of 28 and the countryside is quiet, green and rolling. We hadn’t planned to stop here, […]

  • 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 […]

  • Cartwright Tunnel, North Dakota

    Cartwright Tunnel and Fairview Lift Bridge

    This is a small sampling of photos from our visit to Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel in July of 2014. If you’re interested in the history of this lift bridge, which was only raised once, you can check out our previous gallery featuring photos and captions from our friend R. David Adams, or you […]

  • Trotters, North Dakota

    In the Grasslands: Trotters, ND

    You’ll find Trotters nearly thirty miles north of Beach, North Dakota in Golden Valley County, just outside the official boundary of the Little Missouri National Grasslands — a boundary visible only on maps. On the ground it’s clear, this part of the prairie is nearly pristine. Trees are nearly as scarce as people, and prairie […]

  • Antelope Country School

    Antelope Country School

    This is Antelope Country School, in Stark County, about twenty-five minutes east of Dickinson. This school is right off Interstate 94, and we stopped to shoot it when we realized it was on the way to our next destination, Neuberg Congregational Church. When we visit schoolhouses like this, we frequently reflect on the winters our […]

  • Sentinel Butte, ND

    Sentinel Butte, North Dakota

    We set out from Fargo to photograph some abandoned places shortly after six in the morning on this day, so it was early afternoon by the time we found ourselves all the way out in Sentinel Butte. We were getting hungry and we decided to shoot a few quick things before heading back to Beach, […]

  • Highland Township School

    Highland Township Country School

    We just happened across this old country school in Highland Township, Hettinger County. It’s just west of the Neuberg Congregational Church, about thirty miles southeast of Dickinson. It’s not scientific, but we’ve found the general rule is: the more remote the place, the less vandalism we see. Terry and I both thought this school had […]

  • Bluegrass, ND

    Ghost Town: Bluegrass, North Dakota

    This is Bluegrass, North Dakota, a true ghost town, population zero, in Morton County, about thirty-five miles northwest of Mandan. Bluegrass is a former rural community that had a population of 20 in the 1920 Census, a relatively small peak population, but not surprising considering the railroad never came to Bluegrass. In his book North […]

  • Wabek, North Dakota

    Wabek, North Dakota

    This is Wabek, North Dakota, in Mountrail County, about 35 miles southwest of Minot. Wabek was founded in 1914 and actually had a Post Office for almost fifty years, from 1917 to 1966. According to North Dakota Place Names by Doug Wick, Wabek even had a radio station once, broadcasting with the call letters WABK. […]

  • Judson, North Dakota

    Judson, North Dakota

    This is Judson, North Dakota, a small town in Morton County, southwest of Mandan. I discovered this church one day while I was messing around with Google Street View, so we made plans to stop for a visit. Judson was the first stop on a trip in which we had planned to go all the […]

Watrous, North Dakota

A Stop on the Milwaukee Road

Nate Reynolds posted these photos to our Facebook page with the comments: Watrous, between Bentley and Mott, this is all that’s left. Watrous was a stop along the Milwaukee Road railroad line about 75 miles southwest of Bismarck, and had a population of 15 in 1920. Photos by Nate Reynolds Original content copyright Sonic Tremor […]

Buford, North Dakota

Buford, North Dakota

Kyle Stubbs sent in the following photos and comments on Buford, North Dakota. Thought I’d pass along for Ghosts of North Dakota a few photos I took in May of 2011 of what remains of Buford, North Dakota, on the western edge of the state in Williams County. Also included is what I believe is […]

DeSart, North Dakota

The Last of DeSart, North Dakota

In 2004, a visitor to our website suggested a list of places we should investigate in the southwest corner of the state, a list I recall mostly from memory — DeSart, Pierce, Shollsmade, Hume, Ranger, Mound, Bessie. Back then, we had very little luck finding much on many of these places. Most of them were […]

Thelen, North Dakota

Abandoned: Thelen, North Dakota

Thelen, North Dakota, sometimes spelled Thelan, is a blip on the historical record of our state. It was established in 1916 and had a post office for just a year, from 1920 to 1921, with Troy E. Beach as the postmaster. Thelen’s peak population of 20 dropped to 4 by the 1930s. North Dakota Place […]

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 […]

North Dakota Cyclone, 1895

North Dakota Cyclone, 1895

I ran across this photo while I was perusing the photos at the Library of Congress and I was totally blown away.  Clinton Johnson took this photo, captioned “North Dakota Cyclone,” in an unknown North Dakota town in 1895, just six years after North Dakota statehood.  It appears to depict a menacing tornado bearing down […]

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 and contributed to the Black Blizzards of the Dust Bowl era. The skies from Texas to the Canadian plains were sometimes so dark, […]

Grassy Butte, North Dakota

Dust Bowl Grassy Butte

Grassy Butte, North Dakota is a very remote Badlands settlement in McKenzie County near the Montana border, an unincorporated community with a population in the dozens. In the 1930s, Grassy Butte was one of a multitude of places where the locals who’d arrived in search of the American dream faced sad realities and hard choices. […]

Maltese Cross Cabin

Theodore Roosevelt’s Mobile Home

On Theodore Roosevelt’s first trip to North Dakota in 1883, before he made Elkhorn Ranch his home, he stayed in a modest frontier cabin about seven miles south of Medora at Chimney Butte.  It was still the Dakota Territory then and the future President was bolstering his rawhide credentials.  The National Park Service has a […]

Russell Lee, Highway Number 2, North Dakota

Dust Bowl North Dakota

Russell Lee was a trained chemical engineer who passed on a career in the field in favor of art. He is best known for the incredible number of photographs he took during the Dust Bowl for the Farm Security Administration.  Mr. Lee spent a good portion of 1937 in North Dakota photographing families, farms and […]