Fairview Lift Bridge is a place we’ve visited before, but the last time we were there, the sky was full of smoke from wildfires, so we promised ourselves we would go back again when we got another chance, and that chance came in July, 2017. We had just learned that the adjoining Cartwright Tunnel, the only railroad tunnel in the state of North Dakota, was in danger of implosion if funding couldn’t be raised for a restoration, so that became another excuse to visit this rusty beauty spanning the Yellowstone River. …
Sanish was a thriving North Dakota town until 1953, when residents began to evacuate to higher ground. The construction of Garrison Dam, a project to provide hydroelectric power and flood control, would turn the Missouri River Valley in this part of North Dakota into a large reservoir to be named Lake Sakakawea. Sanish succumbed to the rising waters soon after the Garrison Dam embankments were closed in April of 1953, and the townsite disappeared beneath the waves of Lake Sakakawea. …
Lost Bridge was on the Little Missouri River, about 23 miles north of Killdeer in Dunn County. The name “Lost Bridge” holds a coincidental double meaning in this case, since the bridge no longer exists.
Above: An image from Google Earth. You can still see the missing swath of trees leading to the river’s edge, where the old Lost Bridge once stood.
These photos were taken by the Historic American Engineering Record, and the notes from the file tell an interesting story:
The Lost Bridge is a three-span, riveted Parker through truss, bridge designed by the North Dakota Highway Department and constructed in 1930. The bridge is associated with the Great Depression and stood relatively unused until approach roads were constructed in 1953 and paved in 1963 (north side) and in 1967 (south side). Thus, the bridge is well known in the State as “Lost Bridge.”
In short, this bridge was built to employ workers during the depression, but without roads leading to it, it was left unused for decades.
Today, there is a sign along the highway that tells the story in more detail. It reads:
More than a few ranchers have probably had to look for a lost cow in this country, but few people would suppose that even the world’s most famous Badlands were a place where you could lose a bridge.
A new bridge was built just downstream from here in 1931. A grand opening ceremony was scheduled for July 4, timed to coincide with the Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo. The governor was to orate, military maneuvers held, and a small orchestra was to play for dancing on the bridge. But torrential rains forced postponement, and many people left before the festivities were held the next day (in a sea of mud).
Bad luck continued. The roads leading to the bridge were supposed to be paved, but the onset of the Great Depression left no money available for construction. Locals dubbed the modern highway bridge with only dirt roads leading to it “Lost Bridge”, and the name stuck. The approach roads were graded and graveled in 1953, then paved in 1968 (ed. note: this date is contradictory to the HAER information quoted earlier in this post). The original structure was replaced in the 1990s.
We don’t know the exact year these photos were taken, but the road appears to be paved on both sides of the bridge, so the photos must have been taken in 1967 or later.
Lost Bridge was built in 1930, and renovated or improved on a number of occasions in 1953, 1959, 1967, and 1970. The bridge was demolished in 1994 and a modern highway bridge now does the job.
This bridge was also called the Killdeer Bridge, Dunn County Bridge, and the Little Missouri River Bridge.
It’s a shame to see this bridge demolished, but there is a piece of the bridge that was erected alongside Highway 22 (below) after it was taken down.
Below: From the vantage point of the photographer, the old road would have stretched straight ahead into the distance. The new highway bridge has no superstructure above the roadway, but you can see it on the left.
Although there is no longer a romantic steel bridge to see at this crossing, the scenery going down into the river valley is amazing and highly recommended. What do you know about the Lost Bridge of the Badlands? Please leave a comment below.
Original Content © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media
Werner, North Dakota is in Dunn County, about 13 miles east of Killdeer. We’re unsure of the exact population, but in 1971, when residents voted to dissolve the town, the vote count was 7-2 in favor of dissolution, so the headcount is quite likely in the single digits these days. Although we were really a couple decades late in photographing the town as it once was, we decided to visit and shoot Werner, North Dakota and a bridge to nowhere.
Werner was a rare town in at least one respect — it was incorporated as a Northern Pacific Railroad town in 1917, but the Post Office wasn’t established until two years later. In most cases, the Post Office would have been established before, or concurrently with, a town’s founding.
The bridge shown here spans Spring Creek on the southwest edge of Werner.
We looked for a plaque on this bridge that would identify the builder, but we couldn’t see one anywhere. In the early days of North Dakota statehood, most bridges like this were built by out-of-state bridge builders like Gillette-Herzog Manufacturing Company out of Minneapolis, Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio, and the Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Works, but by the time Werner was founded, North Dakota bridge builders, like Fargo Bridge and Iron Company, had entered the market. If you know who built this bridge, please leave a comment below.
Visiting these places in modern day, sometimes nearly a century after they were built, it’s frequently hard to imagine how useful they were. This bridge spans Spring Creek as part of a road that doesn’t really seem to go anywhere, and its main purpose seems like it might have been to make access to the nearby fields easier.
Tire tracks in the long grass leading to this bridge made us think that someone occasionally still drives over this bridge–a brave someone. We got nervous just walking on it.
As for the town of Werner, it was like other places we sometimes encounter, where we were unsure if we were going to be seen as trespassers. On the west side of town, there were three deteriorating vacant homes down one seldom used “road,” abandoned so long ago that it was more like two rutted wheel tracks in the tall grass, and we weren’t sure if we could respectfully wander down the road without upsetting someone, so we stayed out.
The rest of Werner’s vacant properties are somewhat spread out around the town site, with open spaces in-between. When it had a population of over 200 residents, these vacant lots were full of homes and businesses. Werner even had its own newspaper at one time, the Werner Record. According to the out-of-print North Dakota Place Names by Douglas Wick, the last business in Werner was the service station, which closed when operator Arthur Kummer passed-on in 1970.
What do you know about Werner, North Dakota? Please leave a comment below.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media
A while back we posted a blog about the Nielsville/Cummings bridge over the Red River between Cummings, North Dakota and Nielsville, Minnesota. The bridge has deteriorated significantly and is presently closed pending replacement by a new bridge.
Max Schumacher (YouTube Channel here) recently visited and sent us an email to share the drone video he captured. It’s amazing footage of this historic Red River crossing, and it’s available in HD too, so if you have the capability, stream it to your largest TV for full effect.
In May of 2014, I took a trip along the Red River to photograph a bunch of historic bridges for a potential future book, and found this place, a bridge I had never visited before.
Officially it is Traill County and North Dakota Highway Departments Project No. FAS 71A. Locals refer to it as the Nielsville Bridge, after Nielsville, Minnesota, the closest community to the bridge (Cummings, North Dakota is a few miles west).
Built in 1939, the bridge was in pretty bad shape when I visited in 2014–it had been repaired a number of times, and asphalt patches were visible in the road deck in several places. In 2015, a hole opened up in the deck and the bridge was closed. It has been closed ever since, and the question remains–What will become of this historic bridge?
This bridge was completed in 1939. For historical context, it was the same year Lou Gehrig retired due to the illness that would later bear his name. World War II was just about to begin, and the sculpture of Theodore Roosevelt’s head was dedicated on Mount Rushmore.
I paid particular attention to this bridge and several others on this trip because they are becoming more rare all the time. As the years pass, these steel truss bridges are being torn down in favor of modern highway bridges, which is good for transportation purposes, but bad for nostalgics who get a thrill from driving under the romantic arches of these relics from the industrial revolution.
Last I heard, locals were trying to raise awareness about the need for funding to restore this river crossing, whether that be through a new bridge, or a restoration of this beautiful span. As it is, local farmers are forced to drive 8 miles one direction or 7 miles in the other direction to cross the Red River on the next available bridge.
Update: Plans are moving forward for a new bridge, which is not a good sign for this bridge.
Update 2: Shortly after we posted this, Max Schumacher sent us a link to drone video he captured at this bridge. See it here.
Just around the corner from this bridge, on the North Dakota side of the Red River, is this rural church.
Photos by Troy Larson, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media
Unfortunately, we have to do a post like this from time to time. As the years pass, many of the places we’ve photographed also pass… into history. Whether it be the wrecking ball, weathering, or disaster, many of the places we’ve photographed since 2003 are now gone. We documented some of the losses in 10 Lost North Dakota Places and 10 More Lost North Dakota Places, now, unfortunately, here are 8 More Lost North Dakota Places.
A visitor recently commented to tell us the Maza School apparently burned sometime in 2015 or 2016. As one of the few remaining structures from Maza, the end of this school effectively spells the end for Maza.
Bluegrass Store and Gas Station
Bluegrass, North Dakota, is 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. Sadly, this former store and gas station burned down in 2014.
Northgate Port of Entry
Northgate is a fascinating near-ghost town right on the Canadian border, about 70 miles northwest of Minot. It was originally founded one mile to the north, but moved one mile south to its present site. While the original town site retained the name North Gate (with a space) this town was renamed North Gate South, and then re-dubbed Northgate (without the space) when the post office was established in 1914. This building was once the Port of Entry Station, but was abandoned when a new Port was built. A person commented on our Facebook page to say the building has since been demolished.
Much of Leith, North Dakota
Leith‘s troubles have been highly publicized, so we don’t have to say much except that numerous vacant structures were demolished after a white supremacist bought up the property in an attempt to take over the town. This creamery is one of the buildings which no longer stands in Leith.
Lost Bridge was so named because in 1930 when it was originally constructed over the Little Missouri River, about 23 miles north of Killdeer, there were no quality roads leading to the site, and the bridge was seldom used. Paved roads came in the sixties, but Lost Bridge was demolished in 1994 and replaced with a modern highway bridge.
Brantford Public School
Brantford Public School still stands in this Eddy County ghost town, but not for long. One of the classrooms has collapsed and cracks can be seen throughout the exterior walls. Soon, Brantford Public School will be no more.
This church, known as Augustana Lutheran Church (and other names over the years) would have been a fantastic place for a business. It stood in a high traffic location, at the foot of Broadway, across from Sammy’s Pizza in Minot. Sadly, after years of dereliction, mold, and a close call in the 2011 flood, the church was demolished.
Most of Bucyrus
Bucyrus, North Dakota was struck by a wind-driven grassfire in 2010 and many of the abandoned structures in town, as well as a number of family homes, were destroyed. This home, on the west side of town, was one of the casualties. Thankfully, nobody lost their life in the fire, but Bucyrus will never be the same.
After being driven out of Leith, the same white supremacist allegedly tried to buy vacant properties in Antler, North Dakota. The city bought up a number of properties to prevent the takeover, and this former bank building was one of them. In early 2016, it was demolished.
Original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media
One of the things we’ve always loved about photographing North Dakota’s abandoned places and roadside attractions is that it feels like an alternative form of tourism–that is to say, most of these places are interesting and fun to visit, but there are generally no crowds and no admission fees. However, when you have the kids in the car, or Grandma and Grandpa tagging along on a day trip, sometimes you need something a little more family friendly, with fewer rusty nails to step on (and cheap is always good). So, gas up the family truckster. Here are eleven North Dakota attractions you can visit for free.
The original Fort Abercrombie was constructed in 1858, and it was the first military settlement in what would become North Dakota. Fort Abercrombie is a relic of the first transportation boom in the Dakota Territory — riverboats. Before the railroads, riverboats were one of the most efficient means of hauling cargo, and the Red River became a highway between Fort Abercrombie and Winnipeg. Two reconstructed blockhouses and the original guard house now reside at The Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site. Fort Abercrombie is right on the Red River, about forty minutes south of Fargo.
Gingras Trading Post
Gingras Trading Post is northeast of Walhalla about four miles from the Canadian border. The trading post was established in 1801 as a center of commerce on a sometimes hostile frontier. According to the State Historical Society: The buildings at Gingras State Historic Site are the oldest standing structures in North Dakota. They have been restored to their original appearance by the State Historical Society of North Dakota.
Cartwright Tunnel and Fairview Lift Bridge
Cartwright Tunnel and Fairview Lift Bridge, in McKenzie County, just a short drive southwest of Williston, is a two-for-one attraction–a lift bridge on the Yellowstone River (which was only raised one time), and North Dakota’s only railroad tunnel. Both have now been converted to tourist attractions, and are free to explore. Bonus: on a hot summer day, the Cartwright Tunnel features natural air-conditioning in a pitch black and blissfully cool tunnel.
Dakota Thunder and Frontier Village
Dakota Thunder, in Jamestown, is billed as the World’s Largest Buffalo. It’s a concrete statue of a North American Bison which stands at the east end of Frontier Village, a replica frontier town with actual buildings from places around the state. It’s free to get in, and for a few extra bucks, you can visit the National Buffalo Museum which is also on-site.
Standing Rock Hill Historic Site
Standing Rock Hill Historic Site, not to be confused with Standing Rock Reservation much further to the west, is a scenic and sacred site south of Kathryn and west of Enderlin, in Ransom County. Standing Rock Hill Historic Site consists of four Native American burial mounds, the largest of which is marked with the small standing rock shown here. Getting to the site requires a fairly steep uphill drive on a minimally maintained road, and the trip should only be taken by the adventurous if the weather is bad.
White Butte is the highest point in North Dakota, in Slope County, near Amidon, and of the fifty state high points, one of only seven on private land. It’s a fairly strenuous thirty-minute hike to the summit. The property owners are known to be friendly to the climbing community as long as you’re respectful and pick up after yourself. The last time we visited, there was a porta-potty at the base, but there are no other services of any kind, and no admission fee.
Northern Pacific High Line Bridge #64
High Line Bridge 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. High Line Bridge is in Valley City, there’s a park at the base of the bridge, and plenty of restaurants and accommodations in town. No admission fee.
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. While it costs a few bucks to get into Theodore Roosevelt National Park a few miles west, the Painted Canyon Overlook is free.
Jensen Cabin at Wadeson Park
Jensen Cabin, in Barnes County, was built in 1878 by Norwegian immigrant Carl Bjerke Jensen, made from hand-hewn oak. The cabin and the land were donated to the State Historical Society by the Wadeson family in 1957. This cabin was in pretty bad shape until it was restored in 1981. It’s a beautiful drive to get here if you drive the Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway from Valley City, and the placid and soothing Wadeson Park Spillway is right across the road. It’s a nice history lesson, and it’s free.
Gassman Coulee Trestle
Gassman Coulee Trestle is one of three very large railroad trestles we’ve photographed, the others being the High Line in Valley City and Sheyenne River Bridge near Karnak. Gassman Coulee Trestle, just west of Minot, is an attraction in the roughest sense–you can drive under it, photograph it, or just stand in awe of it, but there’s no visitor center or anything like that. It’s just a great place to be outside with your camera on a hot summer night. There was once a ski resort under this trestle, and the former ski lodge is still there, but now it’s a private residence.
The site of Old Sanish
Old Sanish lies beneath the waves of Lake Sakakawea most of the time, but sometimes, if the water is really low, you can see the remains of Old Sanish. With the water at normal levels, the ruins are submerged, but you can still visit Crow Flies High Butte, see the monument to Old Sanish which features photos of the town, and get a fantastic panorama view of Lake Sakakawea and Four Bears Bridge.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media
This is part two in our series about historic North Dakota automobile bridges. In part one, we focused on Sheyenne River crossings in southeast North Dakota. This time, we’ve photographed historic steel bridges in East-Central North Dakota, on the Sheyenne, Goose, and James Rivers.
Some of these bridges are closed and abandoned, others are still in use, and one has been restored, but they will all share the same fate without human intervention, so we’ve chosen to document them here.
Norway Bridge spans the Goose River in Traill County, about halfway between Hillsboro and Mayville, North Dakota. It’s a Pratt pony truss bridge constructed by Jardine & Anderson of Fargo and Hillsboro in 1912 at a cost of about four thousand dollars. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is considered significant because its construction by a local contractor makes it rare considering most bridges at the time were built by larger firms like Fargo Bridge & Iron Co. and other out-of-state bridge builders.
Norway Bridge was our first stop on this trip and we arrived early in the morning, when frost was still present on the timber deck. The bridge still gets frequent use — we saw several vehicles cross just in the few minutes were were there.
Viking Bridge is the oldest documented automobile bridge still-standing in North Dakota. It was built in 1885 by C.P. Jones out of Minneapolis and originally spanned the Goose River between Mayville and Portland, but in 1915, Jardine & Anderson were hired to move this bridge to its present location, about a mile and a half northwest of Portland, North Dakota, in Traill County. It served traffic until 2006, by which time it had deteriorated to the point that it was no longer safe.
In 2010, Viking Bridge was rehabilitated by architecture and engineering firm KLJ. Today there is a informative plaque on-site detailing the bridge’s history.
Washburn Township Bridge
This abandoned Washburn Township bridge was one of our favorite destinations on this trip. It spans the Sheyenne River at a spot in Griggs County, about four and a half miles east of Cooperstown, but today it has fallen into serious disrepair. There’s a dam just a few dozen feet to the southeast of this bridge, and the sound of rushing water coupled with the beautiful location make it the perfect spot to drop a line, or just dangle your toes in the river. It’s hard to imagine how someone hasn’t led an effort to turn this into a public park yet.
Tyrol Township Bridge
This Tyrol Township bridge is in Griggs County about nine miles northeast of Cooperstown. It is built from steel supplied by the Inland Steel Company of East Chicago, Indiana, a company which existed for 105 years from 1893 to 1998, when it was absorbed by a multinational. We don’t know the year of construction or builder of this bridge, so please leave a comment if you know more.
Nesheim Township Bridge
If you were to approach this bridge from the south you would travel a road that is now barely more than a tunnel through the trees as it descends into the Sheyenne Valley.
This Nesheim Township bridge (not to be confused with “Nesheim Bridge,” which is next) is in Nelson County, just over three miles south of McVille, North Dakota.
Nesheim Bridge was built in 1904 by Fargo Bridge & Iron Company, in Nesheim Township, Nelson County, about 2 1/2 miles southwest of McVille, North Dakota. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dayton Township Bridge
Dayton Township Bridge is a tiny steel bridge on the Sheyenne River in Nelson County, about 28 miles southeast of Devils Lake. It was built sometime in the 1910s by the Fargo Bridge & Iron Company.
New Rockford Bridge
The New Rockford Bridge, on the north edge of New Rockford, North Dakota in Eddy County, was once New Rockford’s main bridge across the James River. It was built by Fargo Bridge & Iron Co. in 1904. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, partly due to its Warren truss construction, which is rare in North Dakota. Unfortunately it is now closed to vehicle traffic and falling into disrepair.
We found the scenery of the marshy wetlands along this stretch of river beautiful, but we only had to look below the bridge to see bicycles dumped in the river. It would be really nice to see a rehabilitation happen here. As with several of the other closed bridges on this list, this could be a real attraction as a fishing bridge or public park if it was just given a little TLC.
If you’ve followed this site for any length of time, you know we occasionally like to photograph bridges, for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s for their historic significance (like Caledonia and Romness Township bridges), and other times it’s because the bridge is huge and awe-inspiring, as is the case with the High Line, Karnak, and Gassman Coulee railroad trestles.
In this case, we’ve decided to photograph most of the historic automobile bridges of the Sheyenne River Valley, some abandoned but many still in use, while they still exist. Just like the structures of prairie ghost towns, these bridges are endangered by time and natural events. Floods, weather cycles, and normal wear and tear take a toll on these bridges, and without restoration, they will be gone someday. Also, it’s hard to resist the urge to go out and shoot photos when it’s sixty-some degrees in November.
Just a final note, I’ve labeled these bridges geographically, or in accordance with how I’ve seen them referenced online. If you know the official name of any of these bridges, please leave a comment.
Walcott Township Bridge
The Walcott Township bridge is in Richland County, about a mile or two south of Kindred, North Dakota, twenty miles southwest of Fargo. It is closed to all but foot traffic.
Richland County Bridge
This Richland County Bridge is along a decidedly lonely and particularly beautiful stretch of unpaved road, about two and a half miles southwest of the Walcott Township bridge shown previously, or seven and a half miles directly south of Davenport, North Dakota.
This bridge is in Richland County in the small rural community called Barrie, about eight miles southeast of Leonard, North Dakota, or twenty seven miles southwest of Fargo. Barrie Congregational Church, established in 1889, has a beautiful building just down the road from this bridge.
Shenford Township Bridge
This bridge is in Shenford Township, Ransom County, about thirteen miles northeast of Lisbon, North Dakota. As I traveled to the site, I was overcome with the ambience of the harvest as I passed farmers’ trucks lining the unpaved roads. I could see four pillars of smoke on the horizon from those who were already burning off their fields, and the smell of rich earth and smoke washed-over me.
I arrived to find a beautiful, steel bridge spanning the Sheyenne River. This bridge was built by Hewett Bridge Company sometime between 1907 and 1911. A pickup rumbled over the span while I was there and it was thunderous.
Colton’s Crossing is a 128-foot pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge, and it is on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was built by Hewett Bridge Company of Minneapolis in 1907. They were the main bridge contractor in Ransom County at the time, and they were also responsible for the other Ransom County bridges in this post. Colton’s Crossing is the oldest surviving through truss bridge in Ransom County.
Martinson Bridge is in Ransom County, about thirty miles south of Valley City, in the Sheyenne State Forest. This bridge was built in 1920 and has undergone substantial reconstruction and improvement over the years. Of all the bridges I visited on this day, this one was probably in the best condition.
Little Yellowstone Bridge
At the east end of the bridge — once a pleasant little roadside attraction, now vacant.
I wonder if Mindy and Nathan are still together.
This bridge is in Little Yellowstone Park, on the border of Ransom and Barnes Counties, just south of Kathryn, North Dakota.
In part two of this series we’ll be sharing more bridges in the region north of Interstate 94. To get notified when we post a new installment, drop your email in the form below.
Photos by Troy Larson, © 2015 Sonic Tremor Media
We revisited Haley, North Dakota in July of 2015, eight years after our first visit in 2007. We had mentioned to a convenience store clerk that we were out photographing ghost towns and abandoned buildings, and she said, “You guys need to go to Haley.” We weren’t far away, so we stopped in for a visit and some photos, and discovered Haley had a population of two, going on three.
When we returned to Haley in 2015, we found it to be a little less “town,” and a little more farm. We had hoped to speak with the residents again, but we were visiting on a weekday this time, and they may have been busy at work because nobody seemed to be around. There were quite a few vehicles around, though, and it had a much more lived-in atmosphere than we remember in 2007.
Haley is in southeast Bowman County, just over a mile from the South Dakota border.
The drive through Haley is a blink and you’ll miss it kind of thing.
The one-room school in Haley looks a little more weathered than the last time we were there.
The Haley Lutheran Church is part of the Scranton Lutheran Parish. It was originally organized as a congregation in nearby Pennville, South Dakota, then moved to Haley, on December 4th, 1946. If you love prairie churches, please check out our book, Churches of the High Plains.
The sign in front of the church reads “St John’s Lutheran Church, Haley, ND. 8:00 AM Sunday Worship. Pastor Mary Peterson.”
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media
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 in the shadow of this bridge where we intended to camp during our visit, but when we arrived, we found the place off-limits. We’re told some people had been abusing overnight camping privileges, so camping is no longer allowed. We ended up in a jam and had to settle for last minute accommodations at a primitive campground some miles away.
Today, the bridge is a tourist attraction and a popular spot for watersports among locals. The bridge and tunnel are both handicap accessible. The gate shown above marks the west end, just above the parking lot.
The sky was clouded by smoke from forest fires on the day we were there.
This island is right in the middle of the Yellowstone river, which is one of the longest un-dammed rivers in the western hemisphere. William Clark devoted some time to exploring this river during Lewis & Clark’s return journey from the Pacific Coast. Just miles from here, it empties into the Missouri River.
The decaying ruins of the Cartwright tunnel were shored up and reconstructed between 2004 and 2006 by the North Dakota Army National Guard and Friends of the Fairview Bridge.
We did not realize how big this tunnel was from photos. When you’re there in person, it is huge.
The hike, from end to end, took us about 8 minutes.
A neighbor’s dog accompanied us on our hike.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Do you have our hardcover, coffee table books?
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media
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 church, but no two photos we’ve seen so far capture this time in our history as these two photos submitted by Don Hammer. …
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 the site of the bridge for these stats: the bridge is 3,886 feet long and 155 feet high. Other sources say the bridge is 3,860 feet long and 162 feet above the river.
Hundreds of vehicles pass beneath this bridge every day while trains cross above.
The park beneath the bridge also holds a significant place in the history of the Boy Scouts.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media
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 a beautiful place with gently rolling hills… just spacious and appealing.
The cemetery on the grounds is beautiful and well-kept, just like the church, with the abandoned one-room school just across the road.
Arthur Skramstad left his mark on the school.
A short walk south of the church and school leads to a closed road.
A short hike down the closed road leads to the abandoned and washed-out Romness Bridge. This bridge was built over the Sheyenne River in 1912 by the Great Northern Bridge Co. of Minneapolis. It is a pin-connected Pratt through truss design and it originally had a wood floor. Total cost of the bridge was $4,195.00. It is owned by Griggs County and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2017 Sonic Tremor Media
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 here, even if they’re not abandoned.
We’ve heard this one referred to simply as the Karnak bridge after the near-ghost town about a mile down the track. Though not as long as High Line Bridge in Valley City, I would argue this one is more beautiful in setting. It’s remote, wild, and incredible. This area is also part of the North Country Trail, an ongoing effort to create the longest scenic trail in the nation.
There’s one narrow dirt road that descends down to the west bank to a boat launch and a short nature trail.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2014 Sonic Tremor Media
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. …
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. …
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 Historic Places in 1997.
We returned for another visit in September of 2013 and found the bridge much the same, albeit with a few more weeds and overgrowth. Crossing Caledonia Bridge is peaceful, especially on a gorgeous late-summer night like the night of our visit.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Thank you to R. David Adams for submitting these photos of the Fairview Lift Bridge and the accompanying Cartwright Tunnel, between Cartwright, North Dakota and Fairview, Montana. This bridge is frequently confused with the Snowden Bridge, a few miles away in Montana, partly due to a similar history (each bridge has only been raised once) and construction. However, this bridge is distinct from the Snowden bridge when the Cartwright tunnel is taken into account. To our knowledge, the tunnel is the only train tunnel in the state of North Dakota.
As you’ll learn from Mr. Adams’ comments below each photo, this lift bridge was built to accommodate steamboat traffic on the Yellowstone River, but the steamboats stopped steaming the Yellowstone River before the bridge was complete. Thus the lift was only used one time. The last car crossed the bridge in 1955, and the trains ended in the 1980’s. Since the bridge and tunnel were so narrow, travelers were required to pick up a phone at one end and call to ensure no traffic was coming from the other side!
On ramp west end of Fairview Lift Bridge just a couple of miles East of Fairview Montana. This Bridge was finished in 1913 and was a bridge used for rail and automobile traffic until 1955.
Looking east as we walk on the rail bed. You can see the Cartwright tunnel at the end of the bridge.
Approaching the bridge support from the west looking east.
The center section or “draw” weighs in at 1.14 Million Pounds. At each end of the span large concrete counterweights are hung to assist in the lifting of the span.
Platform that contains a three cylinder kerosene engine that lifts the bridge span.
Closer look at the lift mechanism. this lift operated one time to test the bridge and never again. It seems that steamship travel on the Yellowstone ended during the construction of the bridge in 1912!
Looking up at one of the two counterweights. Held up by several 2 inch cables. I was thinking they have been there for almost a hundred years and decided to move… just in case!
On the east end approach showing the west tunnel opening.
Notice the size of the treated lumber used around the opening! Cars traveled across the top to gain access to the bridge on the right just behind where I was standing.
Inside the tunnel.
The road that used to allow cars to use the bridge until 1955. right behind me the road slopes down to the bridge and also branches off to get down to the bridge abutments.
Looking west from the tunnel to the bridge.
I climbed up the small hill on the south of the rail bed to get a better picture of the engine and tower houses that move the center span of the bridge up and down.
Just around the bend is the east entrance to the Tunnel but is now on private lands. Cartwright is just a mile to my back. To read more about this bridge, visit this site.
All photos by R. David Adams, copyright RDA Enterprises. Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Our May 2010 trip took us through Minot, so we stopped to take some photos of this — the Gassman Coulee Trestle in Trestle Valley, just outside of town. It’s not abandoned, but it’s a really nice place to be outside with your camera on a hot summer night.
The bridge is 1792 feet long and 117 feet tall at its highest point. When a train crosses, you can hear the rumble miles away.
Years ago, there was a ski resort in this valley called the Trestle Valley Ski Resort and this was the lodge.
UPDATE: Site visitor Jeff snapped these photos of the former lodge, today a private residence.
Trestle photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, original copyright Sonic Tremor Media
This is the Caledonia Bridge in Caledonia, North Dakota, in Traill County, about twenty miles east of Mayville. It is closed to all but foot traffic. It is one of the oldest bridges in North Dakota, second to the Viking Bridge in nearby Portland. Viking Bridge has been restored in recent years, and we believe that makes Caledonia Bridge the oldest unrestored bridge in North Dakota. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
This bridge was constructed by Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio, in 1895. The company built nearly five thousand bridges in the United States and Canada before it was consolidated into the American Bridge Company by JP Morgan in 1900.
There’s a noticeable tweak in the bridge deck.
Caledonia Bridge spans the Goose River.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2015 Sonic Tremor Media
Haley, North Dakota is a near-ghost town in Bowman County, southwest of Bismarck. We first visited Haley in 2007 after we talked to some locals at an area gas station. We told them we were photographing ghost towns and abandoned places and someone said, “You guys need to go see Haley.” Earlier in the day, we had struggled through a vehicle breakdown, and when we got our Jeep back from a repair shop in Bowman, we were eager to make up for lost time, so we were thrilled to get the recommendation to visit Haley, a place we had never previously heard of. …