• sra-feature

    Inside Sheyenne River Academy

    We visited the former Sheyenne River Academy, in Wells County just a few miles northeast of Harvey, in 2012. We were unable to find anybody at home when we visited, so we were unable to get permission to go inside. However, John Mosher recently posted some photos of the abandoned remains of Sheyenne River Academy […]

  • churches-dust-jacket-feature

    Order Churches of the High Plains

    Churches of the High Plains is a 120 page, hardcover, coffee table book featuring photos of churches, both active and abandoned, across the High Plains of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Manitoba. Churches of the High Plains is part travelogue, part photo essay, and all history appreciation, and includes comments from the photographers, historical tidbits, […]

  • fort-buford-feature

    Abandoned Fort Buford

    Fort Buford dates back to the days of the Dakota Territory, decades before the map was crisscrossed by a spiderweb of railroad lines. Founded in 1866, Fort Buford was a strategically chosen point near the best highways of the day — the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. The original fort was reportedly constructed using some recycled […]

  • munster-feature2

    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 […]

  • Trotters, ND

    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 […]

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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, 1936

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. […]

Maltese Cross Cabin, Chimney Butte

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 […]

Russell Lee, Highway Number 2, North Dakota

Dust Bowl North Dakota

Russell Lee was a trained chemical engineer who passed on a career in the field in favor of art. He is best known for the incredible number of photographs he took during the Dust Bowl for the Farm Security Administration.  Mr. Lee spent a good portion of 1937 in North Dakota photographing families, farms and […]

Nekoma Safeguard Complex

Building a Nuclear Defense in Nekoma

Long before the Star Wars Missile Defense Shield was a thing, the US Government deployed a nuclear anti-ballistic missile system in Nekoma, North Dakota. It was the only operational facility of its kind. You can read more about it in our previous post, here. These photos are from spring and summer of 1971, taken by […]

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

The Ruins of Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota is in its last days.  The structures that remain standing are largely in tenuous shape, might stand another few decades at best, and they’re far outnumbered by places long gone.  Browsing through our Lincoln Valley archive, we realized we had a lot of photos we’d never posted before, particularly photos of […]