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.

Second Chances in Oberon

Second Chances in Oberon

Oberon, North Dakota is in Benson County, about ten miles southwest of Fort Totten. Two places we had been to previously, Josephine and Flora, North Dakota, are a short drive west. We happened to drive through Oberon when we were on our way to Minot in 2014 and we were surprised to see there were some good photo opportunities that we hadn’t known about. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time that day. So, our visit in the spring of 2015…

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Congrats Charles T. of Bismarck, Winner of this Gift Set

Congrats Charles T. of Bismarck, Winner of this Gift Set

Congratulations, Charles T. of Bismarck, winner of this Ghosts of North Dakota gift set! Didn’t win? Buy a gift set in the store. This Ghosts of North Dakota gift set includes: All three hardcover Ghosts of North Dakota books — that’s 286 pages of ghost towns and abandoned places in three beautiful coffee table books with historical tidbits, comments from the photographers and more. A pound of Prairie Morning Blend premium ground Colombian Coffee from Lakota Coffee Company A big, retro-style…

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Augustana Swedish Lutheran Church

Augustana Swedish Lutheran Church

Augustana Swedish Lutheran Church is in Eddy County, about seven and a half miles southwest of Sheyenne, North Dakota. Two other places we’ve photographed — Bremen and Hamberg — are just a short drive away. An obituary for Astrid Nelson Salmonson published in the Fargo Forum in 2002 reveals interesting details about Mrs. Salmonson’s young life in Grandfield Township, and the history of this beautifully constructed church. She was born on the prairie, February 7th, 1909. Her father, Anders Gustav…

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The Last Days of Brantford

The Last Days of Brantford

We first became aware of Brantford some years ago when our friend Mark Johnson sent photos of Brantford in winter. In the summer of 2013, we visited Brantford for ourselves and found a very quiet, near-ghost town with an impressive but crumbling public school, among other things.  These photos were taken in 2015 after we found ourselves looking for something to photograph when another location we had planned to visit didn’t work out. As we drove into Brantford this time,…

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Solitude in Brinsmade, North Dakota

Solitude in Brinsmade, North Dakota

Brinsmade, North Dakota was platted on October 7th, 1889 as the Northern Pacific Railway expanded progessively west, carrying settlers and their families to their eventual homes on the plains. It officially became a city in 1904. According to the 2010 Census, Brinsmade is now home to 35 residents in 13 households. Brinsmade’s most prominent features today are the abandoned grain elevators. Brinsmade is the central locale in Richard K. Hofstrand’s book, “With Affection, Marten,” a fictionalized account of his ancestor…

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The Ruins of Munster Country School

The Ruins of Munster Country School

This is the second time we’ve visited the Munster country school, in Eddy County, a short drive northwest of New Rockford. We originally set out to photograph this place in October of 2012 under the assumption it was still intact, but 2012 was one of the driest summers on record, and when we arrived, we found the school had recently burned. Almost three years later, we happened to be driving by after another potential site didn’t pan out. We weren’t…

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The Flooding of Grahams Island

The Flooding of Grahams Island

Captain Duncan Graham was a Scotsman who came to North Dakota after getting started as a fur trader for Hudson’s Bay Company. Graham believed there was profit to be made in the trading business, and he founded a trading post on the island that now bears his name. Though the date is in dispute, Graham is believed to have inhabited the island around 1810 to 1817; far earlier than the flood of homesteaders to come six decades later. Grahams Island…

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History Appreciation in Pembina

History Appreciation in Pembina

In Pembina, North Dakota, there are a couple of historic and significant places I particularly wanted to photograph — primarily, this beautiful Icelandic and Ukrainian Orthodox church. This church was the Icelandic Evangelical Lutheran Church from 1885 to 1937, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. John from 1937 to 1987. This church is featured in our book, Churches of the High Plains, available now. This church is now cared for by the Fort Pembina Historical Society. The slab from…

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Remembering Black Sunday

Remembering Black Sunday

April 14th, 2015 is the eightieth anniversary of Black Sunday, arguably the worst day of the Dust Bowl era. Dust storms that had plagued North America for a decade reached a terrible crescendo on that day, with dust clouds taller than the tallest buildings enveloping and blanketing Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and many other places. PBS’ American Experience describes the experience of one family who was caught traveling on that day as a Black Blizzard approached: Ed and Ada Phillips of…

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An Early Spring

An Early Spring

It is looking like an early spring this year, and you need no more evidence than these photos, taken on March 15th, 2015, in south central North Dakota. March 15th is the earliest in the season Terry and I have ever gone out on an official shoot.  Previously, the third week of April was the soonest we had ventured out. This spring weather reminds me of the warm winter followed by the drought and heat of 2011. Let’s hope that’s…

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Abandoned Lumberyard in Lake Williams, North Dakota

Abandoned Lumberyard in Lake Williams, North Dakota

Lake Williams, North Dakota is a small town, an unincorporated community, in Kidder County, about 30 miles southwest of Carrington. Lake Williams had a population of over 80 residents in 1930, but the town shrank slowly over several decades and the post office closed in 1971. We visited Lake Williams primarily to photograph this old store/lumberyard. Lake Williams is something of a hot spot for anglers, and there’s a water access ramp down the road from the elevator. It was…

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Spring in Jud, North Dakota

Spring in Jud, North Dakota

This is Jud, North Dakota, in Lamoure County, about 14 miles northwest of Edgeley. Jud is far from a ghost town — there were 72 residents according to the 2010 census, but we found out about Jud after someone suggested there was a school that might be a good photo opportunity, and upon further investigation, we were very excited to find this church on the edge of town. Doug Wick’s “North Dakota Place Names” says Jud was first named Fox,…

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Free Shipping on Orders $99 or More

Free Shipping on Orders $99 or More

Ghosts of North Dakota now offers free standard shipping on orders of $99 or more from our online store — hardcover coffee table books, retro tin signs, premium coffee, gift sets, postcards and more! (Priority and international shipping not included. Merchandise total must be $99 or more, not including tax.) Visit the Ghosts of North Dakota Store

Vintage View of Bismarck, Dakota Territory, 1883

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. Here’s a vintage view of Bismarck circa 1883 in the form of a lithograph from the JJ Stoner Company of Madison, Wisconsin. The size of…

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St. Joseph’s Catholic Church from 1895

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church from 1895

Terry has family in northeast North Dakota and managed to duck out of holiday festivities long enough to photograph this place in 2014 — 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. This church is featured in our fourth hardcover coffee table book, Churches of the High Plains. A small community center and auditorium. This area…

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Memories of Silver City Ghost Town

Memories of Silver City Ghost Town

Ghost towns come in all varieties, and their abandonment happens for a multitude of reasons. Common on the upper plains are railroad ghost towns, places that vanished when the automobile became the norm. There are natural disaster ghost towns, like Mose, ND, and industrial disaster ghost towns like Picher, OK. Silver City, North Dakota is another variety of ghost town — a settlement abandoned at the completion of an infrastructure project which employed most of the residents. In this case,…

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Forgotten Minot Church

Forgotten Minot Church

This vacant church stood at the corner of Broadway and 4th Ave NW in Minot, at the bottom of North Broadway, right across the street from Sammy’s Pizza.  It was locked-up and posted, so we weren’t able to go inside, but by all outward appearances, this place was largely forgotten. We photographed this place on the spur of the moment on a Saturday morning, and I found myself wondering and thinking about it for the rest of the day. In…

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