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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18 True Ghost Towns: Population Zero

18 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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The Badlands of Old Marmarth Road

The Badlands of Old Marmarth Road

In July of 2015, we visited Marmarth, North Dakota and had plans to proceed from there to Ollie, Montana to photograph the former school (it was no longer standing) on the way to the prairie ghost town of Carlyle, Montana. Our route of choice was Old Highway 16, also referred to as Old Marmarth Road. It was a route that would take us through the Badlands north of Marmarth, where the views are fantastic. Although Old Marmarth Road is in…

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Return to Marmarth

Return to Marmarth

Marmarth is in the far southwest corner of North Dakota, in the Badlands of Slope County, about seventy miles as the crow flies southwest of Dickinson. It’s a town we fell in love with the first time we visited in 2007, because, although there are still over 100 residents there (136 in the 2010 census), there are also a number of very impressive abandoned structures to photograph. Unfortunately, Marmarth is also a town where we have not had very good…

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Dodging Thunderstorms in Heil

Dodging Thunderstorms in Heil

Our journey to Heil, North Dakota, in Grant County, about fifty miles southwest of Mandan, took place on an evening when the forecast said there was a chance of scattered thunderstorms in the area. We got more than we bargained for and ended up driving through a pounding thunderstorm with rain coming down in torrents. By the time we got to Heil, however, the storm had moved through and we were able to get a few shots of Heil for…

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The Majestic and Abandoned North Grand Church

The Majestic and Abandoned North Grand Church

The majestic and abandoned North Grand Church is in Adams County, ten miles southwest of Hettinger and just a mile north of the South Dakota border. It served this barely-populated part of the county for sixty years, from 1909 to 1969. I would describe this church as brick, although I’m not sure that’s the correct term. The blocks are larger than your typical brick and they have a textured surface that makes them particularly beautiful. If someone has some clarification…

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Leith, North Dakota After the Turmoil

Leith, North Dakota After the Turmoil

We first visited Leith, North Dakota, in Grant County, about fifty miles southwest of Mandan, in May of 2007. We had heard that it was a shrinking rural community with a few abandoned places to photograph, and we found that to be true, but we could not have known that Leith would become a place of conflict just a few years later when a white supremacist would move-in and thrust Leith into a national spotlight. We watched from afar with…

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Ghosts of North Dakota is Vanishing

Ghosts of North Dakota is Vanishing

If you’re one of the 114-thousand people who follow Ghosts of North Dakota on Facebook, you may have noticed that you’re not seeing us in your news feed much any more. There’s a reason for that, and it is prompting changes we’d like you to know about. Over the last two years, Facebook has implemented a new algorithm that “squelches” posts from Facebook Pages (not personal profiles) so that most followers don’t see them. The effect has been dramatic on…

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Tonset Lutheran: The Church on the Hill

Tonset Lutheran: The Church on the Hill

We got these photos of Tonset Lutheran Church, near Lignite, from Dave Ramsey, who says: Found this church near Lignite, ND. Open the door and walk on in. Sign a guest register and look around. The place was dusty and covered with dead flies. Other than that it looked you could hold a service there tomorrow. The cemetery was just as cool. So much history. The bell tower was struck by lightning in 2002 and it took a heroic effort…

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Inside Sheyenne River Academy

Inside Sheyenne River Academy

We visited the former Sheyenne River Academy, in Wells County just a few miles northeast of Harvey, in 2012. We were unable to find anybody at home when we visited, so we were unable to get permission to go inside. However, John Mosher recently posted some photos of the abandoned remains of Sheyenne River Academy to our Facebook page and graciously gave us permission to post them here. John says, “More pics of the Sheyenne river academy by Harvey ND…

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Order Churches of the High Plains

Order Churches of the High Plains

Churches of the High Plains is a 120 page, hardcover, coffee table book featuring photos of churches, both active and abandoned, across the High Plains of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Manitoba. Churches of the High Plains is part travelogue, part photo essay, and all history appreciation, and includes comments from the photographers, historical tidbits, stories from current and former church members and staff, and a lot more. A wide variety of faiths are represented in this volume, including Catholic, Lutheran,…

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President Roosevelt Visits Dust Bowl North Dakota

President Roosevelt Visits Dust Bowl North Dakota

The Dust Bowl was a contributing factor in the abandonment of farms and rural towns in North Dakota during the 1930s, a subject we’ve covered before. Western North Dakota was particularly hard hit, documented in these photos of Grassy Butte. In 1936, the American economy was struggling to recover from the Great Depression. The Depression hit bottom in 1933, but the recovery was slowed in rural states by droughts and grasshopper plagues, leading to crop loss and economic hardship. In…

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Doctor Dibb’s Lost Gold Mine

Doctor Dibb’s Lost Gold Mine

Some of the earliest European travelers through Dakota Territory were in search of gold. Stories of gold mines in Montana and Idaho drew prospectors from all over with the promise of wealth and prosperity. Dr. William Denton Dibb, credited by the Quarterly Journal of the University of North Dakota (Vol. 13, 1922) as the first pioneer physician in the Dakotas, wanted his share of the gold. In 1864, Dibb left Minnesota as part of a wagon train bound for the gold…

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Abandoned Fort Buford

Abandoned Fort Buford

Fort Buford dates back to the days of the Dakota Territory, decades before the map was crisscrossed by a spiderweb of railroad lines. Founded in 1866, Fort Buford was a strategically chosen point near the best highways of the day — the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. The original fort was reportedly constructed using some recycled parts from Fort Union and Fort William. The State Historical Society of North Dakota describes Fort Buford as “one of a number of military posts established…

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