• bismarck-1883-2

    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. […]

  • balfour-feature

    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 […]

  • josephine-feature

    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 […]

  • Merricourt, North Dakota

    Passing Through Merricourt

    Merricourt is a very remote town in Dickey County with less than a handful of residents — just one family remains in this near-ghost town. We didn’t intend to visit Merricourt when we went on an adventure in October of 2014, but some last minute route changes took us right through town, so we stopped […]

  • guelph1

    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 […]

  • Cogswell, North Dakota

    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 […]

  • Deisem, North Dakota

    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 […]

  • Thelen, North Dakota

    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 […]

  • Ringsaker Lutheran Church

    Ringsaker Lutheran Church and School

    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, […]

  • Hesper, North Dakota

    True Ghost Towns: Population Zero

    Defining what exactly constitutes a “ghost town” can sometimes be tricky.  In our ten years of exploring North Dakota’s abandoned places, we’ve often encountered former towns where the town site 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • Leroy, North Dakota

    St. Joseph’s Catholic Church from 1895

    Terry ducked out of holiday festivities long enough to photograph this place — 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. A small community center and auditorium. This area is absolutely […]

Subscribe to this blog.

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 […]

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. […]

Watrous, North Dakota

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Hesper, North Dakota

True Ghost Towns: Population Zero

Defining what exactly constitutes a “ghost town” can sometimes be tricky.  In our ten years of exploring North Dakota’s abandoned places, we’ve often encountered former towns where the town site 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 […]

North Dakota Cyclone, 1895

North Dakota Cyclone, 1895

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 […]

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 […]

Grassy Butte, North Dakota

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. […]