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Duck Inn and Waddle Out of Venturia, North Dakota

Duck Inn and Waddle Out of Venturia, North Dakota

Venturia, North Dakota is located in McIntosh County, just north of the South Dakota border, forty-five miles east of the Missouri river, about nine miles southwest of Ashley, North Dakota. Like most shrinking rural communities across the state, Venturia was founded as a railroad town, but today the tracks are gone.

We visited Venturia on an overcast day of intermittent sprinkles, and we were excited by the photo opportunities but we needed a break from the rain. It took us a few minutes of sitting in the car, waiting for the rain to pass, before we realized the neon sign on the bar behind us was lit — OPEN. We decided to go pay a visit.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy

The “City” of Leal, North Dakota

The “City” of Leal, North Dakota

Leal is a small town in Barnes county, an hour northeast of Jamestown, or 73 miles northwest of Fargo.  It was founded in 1892, and incorporated as a village in 1917, but in 1967, North Dakota eliminated the “village” and “town” incorporations in the state, making all incorporated places “cities.” So, today, Leal is a “city” with a population density of 142 residents per square mile. Sounds like a hoppin’ place, right? Not really. The population density figure is a mathematical quirk of a city with an area of .14 square miles and a population of 20 in the 2010 census.

Our stop in Leal was quick and we found just a little to photograph… a few select buildings and an abandoned farmstead outside of town.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy

Back to Balfour

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 to wait until another time, so it was nice to finally get back there.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy

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 created a somewhat dreamy effect.

Hamilton, North Dakota

Hamilton, North Dakota

Hamilton, North Dakota

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Hamilton, North Dakota

Hamilton, North Dakota

Hamilton, North Dakota

Hamilton, North Dakota

Hamilton, North Dakota

Hamilton, North Dakota

Hamilton, North Dakota

Hamilton, North Dakota

Hamilton, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy

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.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy

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 give away free land to families who would agree to move to Antler.  It worked in the short-term, with 6 families receiving land.

Antler, North Dakota

Antler has a rich and colorful history as a former Port of Entry, not to mention one-time World Record Holder for the World’s Largest Quilt.  There is a fascinating website dedicated to Antler’s history at AntlerND.com — a word of caution however, you will get lost in that site for hours.

We stopped for a beer at the I Have No Idea Bar & Grill (also known as The Cabin) while we were there… not the friendliest place to outlanders like ourselves, but they had good cold beer and the prices were reasonable.  You can see their Facebook page here.

Antler, North Dakota

This is the former Custom House for international travelers. It has also functioned as the Bank, Post Office, and Telephone Office.

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

This was also a bank, older than the Bank/Custom House in the center of the town square. The AntlerND.com site has photos of this building when it was still surrounded by other structures. We featured this building in our book, Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 3, and we’re glad we did, because in the spring of 2016, they tore it down after a white supremacist attempted to buy it, allegedly with plans to take over the town.

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

On the left, the former firehouse and jail. On the right, the International Order of Odd Fellows hall.

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

Vince Azzarello sent in a photo gallery of Antler in 2012 which you can see here.

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

Tiny Tim once performed at the Antler Public School during a tour to support small schools.  Antler’s school is also featured in our third book.

Antler, North Dakota

This school was built in 1907. Hidden in the trees on the left, a quonset hut gymnasium built in 1949. On the right, a modern addition with extra classroom space, built in 1964.

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

The Antler school closed in 1976.

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

Antler, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy

The Great Fargo Fire of 1893

The Great Fargo Fire of 1893

June 7th, 1893 was a typical Wednesday in Fargo, sunny but windy.  Fargo’s six thousand residents were going about their lives, carrying out their business from mostly wooden storefronts and traveling from place to place in horse drawn carriages and wagons.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy

Antler, ND

Antler, ND

Antler is a small town in Bottineau county, just two miles south of the Canadian border.  The 2010 Census tallied 27 residents, but a local resident says there are 35.  We’ve been meaning to get to Antler for some time, but we just never made it.  Thankfully, Vince Azzarello recently sent in these photos for your enjoyment.  Vince’s comments are included as captions below.

This is a front view of the former Antler Bank (also known as the Customs House), where an American flag and a Canadian flag are still waving. Glenn Tennyson, the proprietor of the local auto shop and gas station, informed us that the town still has 35 inhabitants. This bank is in the center of town, with a road circling around it. It was also used as a Post Office, Rooming House, and Telephone office.

A look at the rear of the building located at the center of the town square. This building was also used as a rooming house and telephone office, as well as a bank

There are 2 former banks featured in this shot. This is a view from the rear of the bank in the town square, and a front view of the other former bank building. I believe the bank in the center of town to be slightly newer than the former bank in the distance.

This bench is situated in front of the old band, which is in the center of town. The blue bench is painted with the dates “1905” and “1984”, making it one year shy of their 80th anniversary.

This is the original entrance to the school, before the addition was built. The white structure in front of the brick building was also added after the brick building was completed.

An excerpt from www.Antlernd.com: “In 1907 a contract to build a brick, four room school went to Jas. Finnin of Devils Lake for $7,219.03 without a heating plant. The school was ready for use by late 1907.” Several additions were added on throughout the years, including a gymnasium in 1949-50, and a “science room, a commerce room, a library, a dining room, a well-equipped kitchen and an office” in 1964. This was the last addition to the school. High school classes were held in the new addition until 1976. Then, the grade children in kindergarten through sixth grade used the new addition until the closing of the entire school in 1987. That is the same year the school district was dissolved. “The older school is now occupied by the Antler Historical Society as a museum. The newer addition, at present, is owned by the City of Antler”. That was printed in 1989.

I took this photo from inside the school building on a staircase leading up to the higher floors. To the left of this shot would be the main entrance of the school.

This classroom is located on the 2nd floor of the original school building. As you can see, part of the 3rd floor caved in on it.

Another shot of a different classroom, also found on the first floor of the school building. This room is quite empty compared to the previous classroom.

My friends and I walked into this classroom in the school, and this is what we saw. A couple of desks still remain, containing several books still inside. This classroom is on the first floor of the 3-story school building.

This is a picture of the cafeteria in the school. On the left of this picture you can see the opening where the kitchen was located. This was part of the addition to the original school. The addition was built in 1964. The floor is littered with broken glass.

This is a shot of the basement in the old school building, located northwest of the town square. It was pitch black in that basement, so in order to see clearly what was down there we needed to take pictures and investigate more closely later.

The original Fire hall, built in 1907 on the east end of the town square.

A view from the town square eastward.

A look at the firehall and IOOF building. The Firehall was built in 1907, followed shortly by the Odd Fellows Hall.

This building is also known as the Odd Fellows Hall, and is located next to the Firehall just east of the town square.

This was the former First National Bank building, located to the west of the town square.

Many people don’t know that at one point in time, Antler, ND was the home of the World’s Largest Quilt. Here is an excerpt fron www.Antlernd.com: “Antler, North Dakota, birthplace of the largest quilt in the world. First certified by the Guinness Book of World Records July 14, 1988. 85 feet by 134 feet. The project was coordinated by Leona Tennyson, Executive Director.” I encourage you to check out the website and read the entire story behind this magnificent quilt.

I included these pictures because they give a detailed history of the town, printed in an Antler school yearbook dated 1928. The yearbook was called “The Screech Owl”, and commencement was held on Thursday, May 31, 1928.

This is known as the Antler Community Church, and is still in use today. This church has been around since 1906, and has changed denominations several times.

Photos by Vince Azzarello, all rights reserved.
Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy

Derelict Firehouse in Berlin, North Dakota

Derelict Firehouse in Berlin, North Dakota

Berlin, North Dakota is a small town in Lamoure County in southeastern North Dakota. Although many of the structures which once existed in Berlin are now gone (the school for one), there are some impressive structures still standing. Sabrina Hornung contributed a few photos of Berlin in 2011. In the summer of 2012 we were able to get to Berlin and capture these photos for ourselves.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy

Knox, ND

Knox, ND

Knox is a rarity as near-ghost towns go — it is located right off a major highway — US 2, between Rugby and Devils Lake.  According to the 2010 census, Knox is home to 25 residents, has 13 occupied households and 13 vacant households.  Knox was founded in 1883 and reportedly had a peak population of 330 in 1910.

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

We drove into Knox and realized there are a lot of impressive vacant structures, not the least of which is the grain elevator.  It was very quiet in Knox, with very little activity for a Saturday afternoon.  A local resident told us the predominantly elderly population of Knox was temporarily relocated several winters ago due to heavy snowfall and the inability to find anyone who would clear snow from the town’s roads.

We ran into a gentleman who had an interesting story to tell while we were photographing Knox.  He was a traveling gospel singer who had arrived in Knox three days earlier.  He was a soft-spoken man with a noticeable southern drawl due to his Texas heritage, and he told us he didn’t have a home — he spent his days traveling the country in a minivan, stopping at little towns, bartering his gospel performances for food and lodging.  He’d been traveling for eight years.  Imagine the things he’s seen and the places he’s been.

knox7

The former Knox Post Office

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

A resident told us his stepson is in the process of dismantling this home.

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

There were a few homes like this one where it wasn’t totally clear whether anyone was still inhabiting them.

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

Knox, North Dakota

This flyer was hanging in the display case in front of the now abandoned Post Office.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy

Berlin, North Dakota, 2011

Berlin, North Dakota, 2011

Berlin is located in a sparsely populated region of south-central North Dakota, about 50 miles south southeast of Jamestown. Sabrina Hornung contributed these photos of Berlin. (In 2015, Sabrina became the Editor of the High Plains Reader in Fargo. Tweet her via HPR here.)

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy

Palermo, ND

Palermo, ND

Palermo is in Mountrail County, and quite populous compared to most towns you’ll see on this website, but there were a good number of abandoned structures that made for some great photo opportunities.

Palermo, ND
Palermo was founded in 1901 as a Great Northern Railroad town made up of primarily Norwegian settlers. It’s name was a tribute to the Italians who worked on the area railroads.

The school pictured here was built under the Works Progress (later ‘Projects’) Administration program and a site visitor reports it was used until the ’89-’90 school year.

Palermo, ND

The school is an impressive brick and stone building with art deco touches.

Palermo, ND

Palermo, ND

The small white building pictured here is the former Palermo Firehouse and Jail. There’s a story going around that Palermo welcomed transients and allowed them to use this structure as a place to bed down, but the town later changed their minds and ran off all the vagrants due to fear of vandalism.

Palermo, ND

US Census Data for Palermo
Total Population by Place

1960 – 188
1970 – 146
1980 – 97
2000 – 77
2010 — 74

Palermo, ND

One of Palermo’s notable former residents would be Miss North Dakota 2001, Michelle Guthmiller.

Palermo, ND



Palermo, ND

Palermo, ND

Palermo, ND

Palermo, ND

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy