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Abandoned: Freda, North Dakota

Abandoned: Freda, North Dakota

Freda, North Dakota is a true ghost town in Grant County about 35 miles southwest of Bismarck.  Freda started out as a Milwaukee Railroad town, and once had a population  of 50 plus its own bank. Troy LarsonTroy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy http://www.sonictremormedia.com

11 North Dakota Attractions You Can Visit for Free

11 North Dakota Attractions You Can Visit for Free

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…

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Nanson: A North Dakota Ghost Town

Nanson: A North Dakota Ghost Town

As we set out to photograph ghost towns in early May of 2012, we had Nanson in mind as our ultimate destination.  We’ve known about Nanson for quite some time but somehow we just never managed to make it there — it was time. After driving all day through an array of locations, we reached US Highway 2 and drove into Rugby for some lunch — huge double cheeseburgers at the Cornerstone Cafe (now closed). After lunch, we departed for…

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Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Griffin is a true ghost town in Bowman County, along Highway 12, about halfway between Bowman and Rhame, North Dakota. Although there are some working farms and ranches in the area, there’s barely a town any more, and no apparent residents in the actual townsite. A maximum population of 67 was reported in 1930, but the post office closed that same year and the town quickly vanished. This old schoolhouse is the most prominent remaining structure from Griffin. Above: a…

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20 True Ghost Towns: Population Zero

20 True Ghost Towns: Population Zero

Defining what exactly constitutes a “ghost town” can sometimes be tricky.  In our years of exploring North Dakota’s abandoned places, we’ve often encountered former towns where the townsite 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 church, but nobody actually lives Troy LarsonTroy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy…

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Nebo School on Borrowed Time

Nebo School on Borrowed Time

In Bowman County, about eleven miles south of Rhame, North Dakota, this place remains, if only on borrowed time. Known simply as Nebo School, this little structure is the ruin of a North Dakota country school. There is very little information on the web about this particular school, so if you have a connection to this little school, please post a comment below and maybe we can remedy that. Troy LarsonTroy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from…

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Memories of Silver City Ghost Town

Memories of Silver City Ghost Town

Ghost towns come in all varieties, and their abandonment happens for a multitude of reasons. Common on the upper plains are railroad ghost towns, places that vanished when the automobile became the norm. There are natural disaster ghost towns, like Mose, ND, and industrial disaster ghost towns like Picher, OK. Silver City, North Dakota is another variety of ghost town — a settlement abandoned at the completion of an infrastructure project which employed most of the residents. In this case,…

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Return to Deisem

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 returned. There it was, right along Highway 34, northwest of Edgeley, still standing but looking like more than two years had passed since our last…

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Thelen in Repose

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 the elevator as the primary remnants of Thelen. We were hiking out to this elevator, and just when we were in thigh-deep grass, we got…

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Grasslands Ghost Town: Trotters, North Dakota

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 grasses with blooms of yellow and purple rule the landscape. Trotters was settled in 1903 near the source of Smith Creek and Francis “Lee” Trotters…

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Ghost Town: Bluegrass, North Dakota

Ghost Town: Bluegrass, North Dakota

This is Bluegrass, North Dakota, 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. In his book “North Dakota Place Names,” Doug Wick says the last census figures in 1960 registered a population of 7. Troy LarsonTroy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer…

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Underwater Ghost Towns of the North Dakota Missouri River

Underwater Ghost Towns of the North Dakota Missouri River

The construction of Garrison Dam flooded the Missouri River Valley and created Lake Sakakawea, something we’ve covered before in posts about Sanish and Four Bears Bridge.  We’ve photographed both a church and a home that once stood in Elbowoods — structures that were moved to higher ground to avoid the flood. Troy LarsonTroy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy http://www.sonictremormedia.com

Sanish Rodeo and More

Sanish Rodeo and More

Sanish is no more.  It disappeared beneath the waves when the Garrison Dam created Lake Sakakawea and we’ve spent some time collecting photos of old Sanish when it still existed.  These photos were sent in by Don Hammer, scans he got from a friend’s scrap book years ago. These are mostly in the 1950 to ’53 era. Troy LarsonTroy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy http://www.sonictremormedia.com

Watrous: A Stop on the Milwaukee Road

Watrous: 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 Media LLC Get Notified Troy LarsonTroy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy http://www.sonictremormedia.com

The Last of 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 rural post offices where no development occurred, and another site visitor told us that nothing remained of DeSart, so we didn’t give it much more…

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Abandoned: 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 Names by Douglas Wick says August Brockmeyer ran the blacksmith shop in Thelen for years. Dave Thorson sent in these photos of the remains of…

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The Ruins of 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 the ruins of Lincoln Valley, North Dakota, population zero. Troy LarsonTroy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder…

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Omemee and the Batie Family

Omemee and the Batie Family

These photos were sent in by Cathy Zabel, a collection of things on Omemee, North Dakota, a true ghost town in Bottineau county. Omemee once had a population of 650 residents, and every kind of business one would expect from a prairie town of its size — a hotel, restaurant, grain elevators, opera house, even a newspaper — but today it has almost entirely vanished from the landscape, so we’re especially grateful for Cathy’s submission. It’s a chance to travel back…

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When Omemee Was a Town

When Omemee Was a Town

We first learned about Omemee, North Dakota, a ghost town in Bottineau County, through contributors Mark Johnson and Tom Tolman, who contributed photos of Omemee as it looked around the turn of the millennium.  Those images were all we had ever seen of Omemee until quite recently.  Despite all the time we spend rummaging around at estate sales and antique stores in our free time,  postcards and photos of Omemee just didn’t seem to pop up very often. So, Tim…

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Christmas in Sanish

Christmas in Sanish

These photos of Christmas in Sanish, North Dakota come from Staci Roe, who came upon them in a hospital rummage sale and saved them from the trash. They are from the estate of Marvin L Knapp and the photographer is unknown.  Photos of the construction of the footings for Four Bears Bridge were in the same collection. These photos were taken almost seven decades ago Troy LarsonTroy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and…

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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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Exploring Brantford, North Dakota

Exploring Brantford, North Dakota

We’ve known about Brantford, North Dakota — in Eddy County — for some time.  Mark Johnson contributed some winter photos a few years back, and we posted some postcards as well, but this was the first time we got a chance to actually visit. We saw only one home which appeared to be inhabited (it had a satellite dish on the roof), but we didn’t see a single person the whole time we were there.  There were half a dozen…

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Straubville, North Dakota: A True Ghost Town

Straubville, North Dakota: A True Ghost Town

We visited Straubville, North Dakota, a ghost town south of Jamestown, on a cloudy day in 2005 and found it totally abandoned. Unfortunately, we arrived a few years too late to capture the major remaining buildings when they were still standing.  We’ve been told that things have deteriorated since our last visit, so we’re hoping to go back to Straubville some time in the near future for an update. We were recently digging through our archive and realized we had…

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Sanger: No Longer a Ghost Town

Sanger: No Longer a Ghost Town

Nine years after our first visit to Sanger, North Dakota, we returned to see how things had changed. Imagine our surprise when we discovered Sanger is no longer a true ghost town.  There had been no population when we visited in 2004, but today, Sanger is inhabited by two men, Ron and Dan, who moved to Sanger about four years ago.  They have been renovating one of the existing homes in Sanger, and they’ve built several new structures as well….

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Arena: Nine Years Later

Arena: Nine Years Later

We first visited Arena in May of 2004.  Nine years later, we returned to this rolling spot on the prairie in Burleigh County and found things much the same, if somewhat weathered. St. John’s Lutheran church still stands, though the white paint has weathered considerably over the last nine years.  The cinderblock foundation on the east side of the church has continued to crumble, and will likely cause the church to topple into its own basement eventually.  The outhouse out…

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Autumn in Ghost Town Hesper, North Dakota

Autumn in Ghost Town Hesper, North Dakota

Hesper, North Dakota is a town that had been on our radar for some time but we never had an opportunity to check it out.  In the summer of 2012, Philip Tron emailed to tell us Hesper had officially become a ghost town and submitted a few photos.  After seeing them, we made it a priority to stop in and snap some shots. On arrival in Hesper, we were struck by the silence.  It was indeed a true ghost town,…

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Hesper, ND

Hesper, ND

Hesper, North Dakota is a true ghost town in Benson County, just west of Devils Lake — population zero.  Hesper is one of those towns that has been on our list for some time but we just never made it there due to time contraints.  We intend to make a visit soon. Philip Tron emailed to tell us that Hesper is officially uninhabited as of summer 2011, and sent along these photos.  His captions are included below. This house may…

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All That Remains of Deisem

All That Remains of Deisem

Since starting this website about North Dakota’s ghost towns and abandoned places in early 2004, suggestions about places to visit have been rolling in. One of the suggestions we’ve received on more than one occasion is a place called Deisem, North Dakota. So in July of 2012, with fellow photographer and GND co-founder Terry Hinnenkamp, we set out for Deisem. Driving through LaMoure County just south of Jamestown, we turned onto what can only loosely be described as a “highway”…

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Arena in 1992

Arena in 1992

Arena was only the second true ghost town we ever visited, back in 2004.  At that time, the school had already been torn down and we were never able to locate some large photos of it, until now. Thanks to these photos contributed by Dale Fisher, we can now see Arena as it looked in 1992.  There are a few interesting comparisons to be made with our photos from 2004: In the photo above, we can see a small home which…

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Return to Merricourt

Return to Merricourt

Merricourt is located in south central North Dakota, Dickey County, about twenty minutes from the South Dakota border, and it is a place we’ve visited on a number of occasions. Each time we’ve visited Merricourt, we’ve found the former Soo Line Railroad town hovering near the end, with just one family (and at least one dog) still living in Merricourt. As is the case with so many vanishing towns on the prairie, there are no businesses in town, no industry, and no…

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