Building Four Bears Bridge

Building Four Bears Bridge

Mighty rivers require mighty bridges and several impressive examples have spanned the North Dakota stretch of the Missouri River.  The river valley near the former town of Sanish has been home to several.  First, the Verendrye Bridge, a steel truss bridge completed in 1927, crossed the Missouri at Sanish.  In 1934, the first bridge to be known as Four Bears Bridge was built downstream near the town of Elbowoods.  They served North Dakota dependably through the thirties and forties. 

Lost Beneath the Lake: Sanish, North Dakota

Lost Beneath the Lake: Sanish, North Dakota

Old Sanish, North Dakota came to an end in 1953, when the river valley it occupied for over half a century became the bottom of North Dakota’s newest reservoir, Lake Sakakawea. Sanish’s residents left for higher ground, as did the residents of other low-lying towns like Van Hook and Elbowoods.

Fortuna Air Force Station: 1977

Fortuna Air Force Station: 1977

Steve Sampson is a former airman once stationed at the Fortuna Air Force Station, and he took the photos you see here.  He posted a comment regarding one of the photos elsewhere on the site, and it’s such a great story, we wanted to highlight it here. We contacted Steve to get permission to post these photos, and of his time at Fortuna, he said: I was a rotating shift worker back then, so the time went pretty fast, because everything…

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Crossing Caledonia Bridge

Crossing Caledonia Bridge

We first visited the Caledonia Bridge in 2006 and found it closed to all but foot traffic. We think it’s the second oldest still-standing bridge in North Dakota, having been built in 1895, and second only to the Viking Bridge near Portland. The Viking Bridge was built in 1885 and was restored in 2006, and we definitely think Caledonia Bridge should be high on the list for a restoration in the near-future. It was added to the National Register of…

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Ten More Lost North Dakota Places

Ten More Lost North Dakota Places

Sometimes we photograph a place and find out years later that it’s gone, sometimes the place is gone by the time we get there.  But the one constant is that the list of places is growing all the time. Here’s another list of ten more significant North Dakota places that have unfortunately lost their battle with time. When you’re done with this one, check out 10 Lost North Dakota Places, and 8 More Lost North Dakota Places. 1. Heaton’s Main Street Heaton…

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Ten Lost North Dakota Places

Ten Lost North Dakota Places

It’s always a thrill to see enthusiastic residents get involved in saving historically and culturally significant places in their communities, but in North Dakota’s vanishing small towns, the losses frequently outnumber the wins by a significant margin. It’s something we’ve seen time and again in over ten years of photographing North Dakota.

The Wolf Family Murders

The Wolf Family Murders

One of the worst crimes in state history occurred April 22, 1920 on a farm just north of Turtle Lake. It was a gray, overcast day and light rain had been falling. Local resident John Kraft noticed the neighbors, the Jacob Wolf family, had left their laundry on the clothesline overnight and their horses untended. He went to investigate and stumbled into what might be the most horrific crime scene in North Dakota history. Jacob Wolf and two of his…

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The Tappen Visitations

The Tappen Visitations

In the summer of 2006, the tiny town of Tappen, North Dakota briefly became the center of the UFO community when the Briese family experienced some unexplained events. In April of that year, 16 year-old Evan Briese reported a triangle-shaped UFO on the family farm.  According to a story published in the Fargo Forum on Oct. 27, 2006 [reporter Dave Olson], Evan and his dog Buster were tending to the cows during calving season when they saw an intermittent glow.  Upon…

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Return to Sherbrooke

Return to Sherbrooke

Sherbrooke, North Dakota is in Steele County and it is a true ghost town with no population.  Sherbrooke was the first totally abandoned town we ever visited back in 2003, at a time when we didn’t even have proper cameras — we just videotaped a walkthrough and then took screen capture photos.  A decade later, nature has continued unwaveringly to reclaim this place. When we moved south of the main road through Sherbrooke, we realized we had not paid close…

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Blabon: Ten Years Later

Blabon: Ten Years Later

In October of 2003, we visited Blabon, North Dakota, a tiny near-ghost town in Steele County with a handful of residents, and it was the first stop on what would become a ten-year exploration of North Dakota’s ghost towns and abandoned places.  In 2013, we returned to Blabon after ten years to snap some photos and reflect on one of the stories sent to us by a very early fan of our website. Where there was once a small town…

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Hamilton, North Dakota

Hamilton, North Dakota

Hamilton, North Dakota is in Pembina County and is home to the Pembina County Fair.  It still has a substantial population and is in no danger of becoming a ghost town any time soon — according to the 2010 Census, there are 61 residents.  But there are some cool abandoned structures to photograph, most notably, the Hamilton Baptist Church. We visited Hamilton on a day when the skies were filled with haze which diffused the otherwise bright summer sun and…

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Finley Air Force Station

Finley Air Force Station

Finley Air Force Station is an abandoned radar base outside Finley, North Dakota.  Closed in 1979, the site now functions as a landfill.  Similar to the Minot and Fortuna Air Force Stations, Finley AFS was a ground control intercept facility tasked with detecting and dispatching intercept aircraft in the event unidentified aircraft threatened to penetrate American air space. Just like what we’ve seen in other abandoned military bases in the state, the salvage rights to the base were sold, and…

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The Badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The Badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The North Dakota Badlands cover the southwestern third of the state and are part of a larger range of badlands which stretch south to White Butte and into South Dakota’s Badlands National Park.  These photos were taken in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, near Medora, North Dakota. There is a certain romance in the landscape of badlands, and North Dakota’s are no exception.  You can’t help but be reminded of the all the moments in cinema history…

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The Old West of Medora, North Dakota

The Old West of Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota is the leading tourist attraction in the state, so perhaps it’s apropos the population is only 112.  This is the biggest, most diverse little town you’ll ever visit — the hotel rooms outnumber the bedrooms in this town, and the streets are chock full — complete with antique and gift shops, saloons, museums, wildlife, scenery… the list is endless.  But don’t expect the typical, there’s not a McDonalds or any other franchise joint for miles. Medora is…

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Badlands Part One: Painted Canyon

Badlands Part One: Painted Canyon

Painted Canyon Visitor Center is right off the north side of Interstate 94, a few miles east of Medora.  If you’re entering the Badlands from the east, this is your first chance to get a look at them from a scenic overlook, and it is amazing. A more extensive gallery of the badlands as you see them from inside Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora is here.  Further south is White Butte, the highest point in North Dakota, where hints…

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Haymarsh, North Dakota

Haymarsh, North Dakota

Haymarsh is a rural community near Glen Ullin, North Dakota, about 50 miles west of Mandan.  It was originally founded in 1890.  The community, a cluster of three or four homes and nearby farmsteads, surrounds St. Clement Catholic Church and the former school of the same name. During our visit to Haymarsh, just as we were getting ready to leave, some young people rode up on an ATV, followed by the Priest on another ATV.  As he rode by, wearing…

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North American Bison of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

North American Bison of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

During their historic journey to the Pacific, Lewis and Clark reported enormous herds of North American Bison in the midwest, so large that they “darkened the whole plains.”  Wagon trains sometimes waited days for passage through herds numbering in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions.  But by the early 1900’s the bison were reaching their low-point.  Over-hunting, drought, and encroachment on their natural habitat by humans and cattle drove the population of bison down to only several hundred animals…

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Sims, North Dakota

Sims, North Dakota

Sims, North Dakota is a ghost town in Morton County, about 35 miles west of Mandan, just a few miles south of Interstate 94 — a place so hauntingly beautiful, we chose the photo above for the dustjacket cover of our second book.  Sims is a place people have been telling us to visit for nearly ten years, but it took us this long to find a way to work it into the schedule. Several structures remain standing in Sims —…

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Driving Through a Herd of North American Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Driving Through a Herd of North American Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

On our recent visit to North Dakota’s southwest corner, we spent some time in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, and we were reminded of the magic of the Badlands. For anyone who lives in eastern North Dakota in the flat lands which were once the bottom of glacial Lake Agassiz, it’s easy to forget that North Dakota is not entirely flat. As Terry and I entered the Badlands and caught our first look at Painted Canyon from the highway,…

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Hartland, ND

Hartland, ND

Hartland is a tiny rural settlement in Ward County, about 25 miles northwest of Minot.  Unfortunately, much of what remains of Hartland is now fenced and posted “no trespassing,” so we were unable to get closer to the two abandoned homes shown here.  We saw one inhabited home on the site of Hartland. The nearby (and often-suggested by our visitors) town of Aurelia is equally as sparse.  We did not visit Aurelia for a lack of structures to photograph. Photos…

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The Pastoral Remains of Coulee, North Dakota

The Pastoral Remains of Coulee, North Dakota

Coulee is a tiny unincorporated town in the far northeast corner of Mountrail county, about 40 miles northwest of Minot.  Our Savior’s Scandinavian Lutheran Church, a few miles west of Coulee, is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Unfortunately, we didn’t find out about it until after our visit.  We’ll get it next time. Coulee is actually the second town to wear the name. There was another Coulee in Pembina County, which later became Hallson, and it is now…

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Exploring Fortuna Air Force Station

Exploring Fortuna Air Force Station

This is just a bit of our exploration and shoot at the abandoned Fortuna Air Force Station which is scheduled for demolition in late-summer/fall of 2013.  According to the caretaker, after asbestos remediation, all the structures above ground will be demolished and scrapped, with the exception of the concrete radar tower which will be left in place. Click Here to check out our photo galleries of Fortuna AFS. Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Bethel Lutheran Church, Rural Wildrose

Bethel Lutheran Church, Rural Wildrose

On fourth of July weekend, 2013, we found ourselves ahead of schedule on our two day photo shoot.  In the town of Fortuna, we found the church we wanted to photograph had oil workers camping out on the property and big trucks parked in front of it.  We moved on to another location which also turned out to be a bust, so we set out for Powers Lake to get some lunch. As we drove along highway 50 between Alamo…

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A Last Look at the Abandoned Fortuna Air Force Station: part II

A Last Look at the Abandoned Fortuna Air Force Station: part II

This is our second gallery for the abandoned Fortuna Air Force Station.  It was demolished in the summer of 2015.  Click here to start at part one. Stairway to nowhere. Terry ventured into the bowels of a structure at the top of the hill and came across this vivid reminder that the men and women who worked here were putting their lives on the line every day and facing a grim future if relations with the Soviets went the wrong…

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A Last Look at the Abandoned Fortuna Air Force Station: part I

A Last Look at the Abandoned Fortuna Air Force Station: part I

Fortuna Air Force Station is an abandoned Air Force radar station located in Divide County, about 6 1/2 miles from Canada and 8 miles from Montana.  Like the Minot Air Force Station, Fortuna AFS was a GCI (Ground Control Intercept) base designed to detect unidentified aircraft and coordinate interception.  Originally opened in 1952, the mission evolved over several decades to suit changing technology until it was partially deactivated in 1979.  It was closed for good in 1984. The radar dishes and…

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Vanishing Antler 2013

Vanishing Antler 2013

We’ve wanted to visit Antler for several years but it never quite fit into our travel plans until 4th of July weekend, 2013.  Antler is a very small town in Bottineau County, just two miles from the Canadian border.  The 2010 Census pinpoints Antler’s population at 27, although local residents claim a population of 35.  Local residents have fought valiantly at times to keep the population figure from dwindling, including an effort by two local residents in the 1980s to…

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Landa, ND

Landa, ND

Landa, North Dakota is a small town in Bottineau County, about seven miles south of the Canadian border.  According to the 2010 Census, Landa is home to 38 residents, down from a peak of 150 in 1920. When we first drove into Landa, we saw a lot of inhabited homes with children playing and people out doing yard work, and we worried we might not find much to photograph. Upon a little exploration we discovered some good photo opportunities, including…

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Roth in 2013

Roth in 2013

We weren’t expecting a lot when we visited Roth since it’s a very small town site, west of Bottineau, but we left disappointed after discovering a combination of factors would keep us from getting the photos we’d hoped.  Much of the town is now heavily overgrown, hiding some of the vacant structures, and there are No Trespassing signs posted as well. We’ve heard from others that there might be three or four families in Roth, but we only saw one…

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Hamar, North Dakota

Hamar, North Dakota

Hamar, North Dakota is in Eddy County, not far from Tolna, about a half hour southeast of Devils Lake.  We met a local resident named Troy Gleason who gave us quite a bit of information on Hamar — the population is six, including a family of  three, two widows, and Troy. This former school still hosts meetings on occasion. Hamar didn’t seem particularly remote compared to some of the places we’ve visited, so I was somewhat surprised to discover cell…

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Inside Brantford Public School

Inside Brantford Public School

Exploring the abandoned Brantford Public School in Brantford, North Dakota.  This was Troy’s first time wearing the GoPro camera, and the moment he put it on, he forgot he was wearing it, so please ignore the ramblings and excuse the stomach-turning fast panning.  We’ll do better next time. Note: this video is available in HD.