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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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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The Great Bismarck Fire of 1898

The Great Bismarck Fire of 1898

Like Fargo in 1893 and Chicago in 1871, Bismarck fell victim to a massive wind-whipped fire on August 8th, 1898. As was the case with so many pioneer-era cities around the nation, Bismarck in 1898 was a city constructed largely of wood. Coupled with a frequently unrelenting prairie wind, any unusual dry spell created extraordinarily dangerous conditions. In fact, Bismarck had dodged a bullet eight years earlier when a fire in the Spring of 1890 nearly set off an inferno…

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Abandoned Fort Berthold Farm

Abandoned Fort Berthold Farm

We were on our way home from an adventure shooting abandoned places in the Bakken oil patch when we drove right past this place. Like usual, Terry spotted the place first and through the trees we saw three or four buildings, yellow prairie flowers, and a red roof, just off the highway. We made a quick diversion from our route home and thirty seconds later we had ducked down the overgrown former driveway into this little island of beauty, totally…

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Wells Homestead, Rural Elbowoods

Wells Homestead, Rural Elbowoods

During our trip in July of 2014 we had the opportunity to visit several places that once stood in Elbowoods, North Dakota, a town erased from the map when the Garrison Dam flooded the Missouri River Valley. Not far from the Susan Webb Hall Memorial Congregational Church, this homestead, settled by the Wells family, sits vacant. Diane P. commented about this place on our Facebook page and filled in many of the details. The homestead was settled by “the late…

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Abandoned Roadside Church

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, we just saw this church on the side of the road and made a quick pit stop to shoot it. There’s a small, overgrown plateau…

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Thelen in Repose

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 the elevator as the primary remnants of Thelen. We were hiking out to this elevator, and just when we were in thigh-deep grass, we got…

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Cartwright Tunnel and Fairview Lift Bridge

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 can read more about it at the MidRivers page, which has nice background on both Fairview and its twin, Snowden Lift Bridge. There’s a campground…

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Grasslands Ghost Town: Trotters, North Dakota

Grasslands Ghost Town: Trotters, North Dakota

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 grasses with blooms of yellow and purple rule the landscape. Trotters was settled in 1903 near the source of Smith Creek and Francis “Lee” Trotters…

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Sentinel Butte, North Dakota

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, North Dakota for lunch. Sentinel Butte is in Golden Valley County near the Montana border, just a few miles east of Beach, North Dakota, situated…

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Highland Township Country 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 a remarkable number of window panes still unbroken. Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Ghost Town: Bluegrass, North Dakota

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 Dakota Place Names,” Doug Wick says the last census figures in 1960 registered a population of 7. This building was once the gas station and general…

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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 way to Montana. We set out at the crack of dawn from Fargo and drove three hours and fifteen minutes west on Interstate 94. Access…

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