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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Beaver Township School

Beaver Township School

This is the Beaver Township Country School/Township Hall, on Mud Lake in Benson County, about 23 miles southeast of Rugby, just a short drive south of York, North Dakota. The location of this school, right on the water, is very beautiful, however, there were 40 mph wind gusts the day we visited, making it a very chilly visit, indeed. Terry and I were both reminded what it must have been like to attend school in a little building like this…

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Back to Balfour

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 to wait until another time, so it was nice to finally get back there. Most notably, Balfour has this abandoned church standing right along Highway…

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Two Minutes Until Winter

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 earlier pioneer settlement known as Genin. Josephine was named for Josephine Lindstrom Stickelberger, one of North Dakota’s first female physicians. It had a population of…

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Immanuel Lutheran Church

Immanuel Lutheran Church

As we ventured toward Minot for a book signing event, we decided we would try to sneak in some shooting time at a few different locations along the drive, but this was not a place we knew about beforehand — we just happened to drive right by it, on highway 30 in Albert Township, just north of Maddock, North Dakota and couldn’t pass up such a picturesque church. This is the former Immanuel Lutheran Church. Founded in 1887 and closed “in…

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Abandoned in the Sheyenne River Valley

Abandoned in the Sheyenne River Valley

This is an abandoned farmstead right along the Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway, just a few minutes south of Valley City, North Dakota. We passed this farm once before and we couldn’t get close due to a wet field. This farm is often visited by photographers. We’ve seen photos from lots of other people who have visited this place, likely due to it’s incredibly beautiful location nestled in the rolling hills of the Sheyenne River Valley, just off the scenic…

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Message from Above in Guelph

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 has been super-nicely renovated and looks like it would make a great place for a wedding. A remnant of Guelph’s legacy as a Great Northern…

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Grand Rapids School

Grand Rapids School

Grand Rapids, North Dakota is a town in Lamoure County that owes its existence to a lie. Captain Homer T. Elliot built the first homestead between Jamestown and Huron, Dakota Territory here in 1879. Not wanting to travel many miles to get his mail every day, Elliot reported to the government that a town called Grand Rapids had sprung up, and appointed himself Postmaster. It was a self-serving lie. A town named Grand Rapids did not yet exist. Nevertheless, a…

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Three Cogswell Churches

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 2010 Census, Cogswell has a population of 99 residents. Pastor Steve Olson left a comment on our Facebook page to say the church “is still…

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Return to Deisem

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 returned. There it was, right along Highway 34, northwest of Edgeley, still standing but looking like more than two years had passed since our last…

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Another Visit to Cayuga

Another Visit to Cayuga

In summer of 2014, I stopped in Cayuga on my way back from South Dakota and was shocked at the number of great photo opportunities. I was at the end of a long day and just snapped a few shots, making a mental note to come back. We were thrilled to discover it’s just as beautiful in the fall as it is in the summer. We spoke with a local businessman, Butch, a super-friendly gentleman who owns Cayuga’s bar, the…

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Remote and Abandoned: Albion Township Country School

Remote and Abandoned: Albion Township Country School

This is an abandoned country school in Albion Township, Dickey County, about eight miles northwest of Ellendale. There was a short stretch of gravel road that was pretty rough on the way to this place, but we got rewarded with the sound of nothing but prairie once we arrived — just crickets and the wind through the grass. We visited this school on the spur of the moment after we discovered a church we intended to visit nearby turned out…

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Nome, North Dakota

Nome, North Dakota

This is Nome, North Dakota, in Barnes County, about 20 miles southeast of Valley City.  I was delivering books earlier this week and stopped to shoot Sheldon, North Dakota since I was in the area, and the highway took me right through Nome as I was on the way home, so I pulled-in and grabbed a few shots. According to the 2010 Census, there are 62 residents of Nome, North Dakota. In 2005, Terry and I stopped in Nome to…

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Morning in Sheldon, North Dakota

Morning in Sheldon, North Dakota

I was on the road to deliver some books this morning and I decided to stop in Sheldon because I’d seen the old bank once before and I wanted to shoot it.  It’s not a ghost town, not even close, the population in 2010 was over 100, but I’m always on the lookout for good photo opportunities in small towns. Sheldon, North Dakota is in Ransom County, about 33 miles southeast of Valley City. I was ready to take off…

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