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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Neuburg Congregational Church

Neuburg Congregational Church

This is Neuberg Congregational Church, in Hettinger County, rural Mott.  The church, which is quite remote, nearly 25 miles from the nearest town, was built in 1925 and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. We visited Neuberg Congregational Church in July of 2014. The sky was thick with haze from forest fires (in Washington, Oregon, or Canada, depending on who you ask) which lent some weirdness to the look of the sky. The light…

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Underwater Ghost Towns of the North Dakota Missouri River

Underwater Ghost Towns of the North Dakota Missouri River

The construction of Garrison Dam flooded the Missouri River Valley and created Lake Sakakawea, something we’ve covered before in posts about Sanish and Four Bears Bridge.  We’ve photographed both a church and a home that once stood in Elbowoods — structures that were moved to higher ground to avoid the flood.

Sanish Rodeo and More

Sanish Rodeo and More

Sanish is no more.  It disappeared beneath the waves when the Garrison Dam created Lake Sakakawea and we’ve spent some time collecting photos of old Sanish when it still existed.  These photos were sent in by Don Hammer, scans he got from a friend’s scrap book years ago. These are mostly in the 1950 to ’53 era.

Cayuga, North Dakota

Cayuga, North Dakota

This is Cayuga, North Dakota, in Sargent County near the South Dakota border. It was founded in 1887 in the Dakota Territory, two years before statehood. I had been in South Dakota photographing some places, like White Rock and Brown Earth Church and I made a quick stop in Cayuga on the way home to get some photos. I was blown away by the number of abandoned places there were to shoot, but due to time constraints, I was only…

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Before the Flood: Leaving Sanish, North Dakota

Before the Flood: Leaving Sanish, North Dakota

We’ve posted several galleries dedicated to Sanish, North Dakota, the former Missouri River town that was dismantled timber and brick and dispersed to higher ground when the Garrison Dam was erected, flooding this part of the Missouri River Valley.  There’s a gallery dedicated to the construction of Four Bears Bridge, our visit to the crumbling remains during historic low water levels in 2005, a Christmas in Sanish gallery, and a look down the street in front of the school and…

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Oil Boom Reviving Tiny Prairie Towns

Oil Boom Reviving Tiny Prairie Towns

The AP did a story in April about the oil boom and Ghosts of North Dakota supplied one of the photos of Appam, North Dakota. Watch the video from the AP’s Martha Irvine.

The End of the Calvin Masonic Lodge

The End of the Calvin Masonic Lodge

We visited this Masonic lodge, AF & AM Corinthian Lodge, Number 78, in 2006 in Calvin, North Dakota, and got photos with no idea that it would soon be gone.  Mariah Masilko took these photos in 2012. Sometime between our visit in 2006, and Mariah’s shots in 2012, the upper floor had collapsed. See this lodge when it was still standing. While the rest of the lodge had collapsed, the piano would not yield. The ruins of this lodge stood…

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Northern Pacific High Line Bridge #64

Northern Pacific High Line Bridge #64

High Line Bridge in Valley City is the longest railroad bridge in the state and like the Gassman-Coulee Trestle in Minot and the Sheyenne River Bridge near Karnak, we chose to photograph it and feature it here due to the railroads’ pivotal role in settling North Dakota. All three of these bridges are still used daily. There are sources with varying lengths and heights for this bridge, depending on where the measurements are taken from.  We’re using the plaque on…

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Whitman, North Dakota: Population 2

Whitman, North Dakota: Population 2

Whitman, North Dakota is in Nelson County, about thirty minutes east of Devils Lake. We had Whitman on our list when we visited neighboring Bartlett in 2011, but we had to cut it from our list that day due to time constraints. Whitman got some national press for their centennial celebration in 2012. The population was reported as two. Judging by the lack of activity we saw the day we visited, that seemed accurate, and it put Whitman in a…

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School’s Out in Kempton, North Dakota

School’s Out in Kempton, North Dakota

We were on a trip to explore some spots in east central North Dakota when we ran across Kempton. It was a place we had taken note of previously, with the intention of visiting some day, and here we were, just passing through. This old schoolhouse was converted to a garage at some point in the past, but it still looks good. Kempton was founded in 1884 and opened a Post Office three years later, but the population never rose…

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Grace City, North Dakota

Grace City, North Dakota

Grace City was on our list of places to visit when we stopped in nearby Mose and Juanita in 2004, but we headed off in pursuit of other attractions and didn’t make it to Grace City until May of 2014. Grace City is in Foster County, about twenty minutes northeast of Carrington, and it had 63 residents as of the 2010 Census. The intersection of Main Street and N Railroad Ave has been relocated to this former pump island.  …

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Abandoned Karnak Farm

Abandoned Karnak Farm

We spotted this farm on the way to Sheyenne River Bridge and made a point to circle back when we were done there.  This farm is very austere and quiet, and largely un-vandalized, too.  It is at coordinates 47.269772,-98.038936, just east of the near-ghost town of Karnak, North Dakota. Sometimes, when you’re in a place like this, when the wind blows and the trees rustle, you can hear them… echoes of voices from the past. They’re the ghosts of North…

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Ringsaker Lutheran and Romness Bridge

Ringsaker Lutheran and Romness Bridge

Someone suggested this place to us last fall, we waited all winter to visit, and it was worth the wait.  Ringsaker Lutheran Church and School are about seven and half miles north of Cooperstown, and they’re rich in history dating back to what is claimed to be the first Christian religious service in Griggs County, in 1879 or 1880. Ringsaker Lutheran Church in Romness Township. The site of this church and school reminded us of Sims, North Dakota — it’s…

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Sheyenne River Bridge

Sheyenne River Bridge

This is the Sheyenne River Bridge, a railroad trestle at the north end of Lake Ashtabula, in the marshy transition between the lake and the Sheyenne River.  Built in 1912, it is 2,736 feet long, making it a little shorter than High Line Bridge in Valley City and a little longer than the Gassman Coulee Trestle in Minot. Railroad bridges played such a crucial role in the settlement of our state that we’ve chosen to occasionally feature some of them…

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Shepard View, 1905

Shepard View, 1905

As we drove north along County Road 19 about four miles south of Cooperstown, I was blabbing on about something when Terry suddenly pointed. “What’s that?” We had just passed the junction of 19 and 22, and atop a small hill on the east side of the road, a large brick structure was barely visible through the trees.  I pulled the car into the driveway, and we found ourselves thirty feet from the highway but almost completely shielded from view…

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Abandoned Barnes County School

Abandoned Barnes County School

This abandoned school was not a planned stop, but we happened to drive right by it and decided we should stop to shoot it. This abandoned country school is in northern Barnes County, about five miles southwest of Sibley, North Dakota. If anyone knows the official name of this school, please leave a comment below. Update: a visitor has identified this school as Weiland’s St. Mary’s School Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

A Stop on the Milwaukee Road

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 Media LLC

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 a picture from a family album of my great-great grandmother with downtown Buford in the background, circa 1910 when she lived in nearby Hardscrabble Township….

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The Last of 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 rural post offices where no development occurred, and another site visitor told us that nothing remained of DeSart, so we didn’t give it much more…

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Abandoned: 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 Names by Douglas Wick says August Brockmeyer ran the blacksmith shop in Thelen for years. Dave Thorson sent in these photos of the remains of…

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The First Tornado Ever Photographed in North Dakota

The First Tornado Ever Photographed in North Dakota

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 on a North Dakota town.  If you look closely, you can see some people standing around, watching, proving that even in the 1800s, people were…

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The 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, contributing to the Black Blizzards of the Dust Bowl era. The skies from Texas to the Canadian plains were sometimes so dark, cities would light their streetlamps in the daytime. Crops had already failed due to the drought, causing families to relocate, businesses to close up, and populations…

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Dust Bowl Grassy Butte

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. The population was in the hundreds then, and knowing that, you now understand the choice that many eventually made.  They left. 

Maltese Cross Cabin: Theodore Roosevelt’s Mobile Home

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 nice page on the cabin here. Above, the Maltese Cross Cabin at Chimney Butte, circa 1904, photo by Jospeh Kitchin. The cabin originally had a…

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