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Charbonneau: A Ghost Town Named for a Man of “No Particular Merit”

Charbonneau: A Ghost Town Named for a Man of “No Particular Merit”

When Lewis & Clark came to the area that is today North Dakota, they began to recruit men and women to join the Corps of Discovery. One of their new recruits was Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian fur trapper who had been living among the Hidatsa. He had taken two Shoshone women as his wives–Otter Woman and Sakakawea (Sacagawea). Lewis and Clark saw an opportunity in hiring Charbonneau, since he could speak French and some Hidatsa, and his wives could speak Shoshone. Charbonneau was hired as a translator for the expedition, but was judged harshly by members of the Corps, and by historians in later days. Charbonneau was found to be timid in the water, and quick tempered with his wives. Although some came to appreciate Charbonneau’s cooking, in particular, a recipe for sausage made from bison meat, Meriwether Lewis said he was “a man of no particular merit.”

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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.
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.
Ghost Town Charbonneau, North Dakota

Ghost Town Charbonneau, North Dakota

Charbonneau, North Dakota is in a very sparsely populated area of western North Dakota, in McKenzie County, about fifteen minutes west of Watford City. As far back as 1960, Charbonneau had already been de-listed from the Census, but according to North Dakota Place Names by Douglas A. Wick, Charbonneau was founded in 1913 and a peak population of 125 was reported in 1920. Charbonneau’s name was derived from nearby Charbonneau Creek, which was in turn named for the interpreter on the Lewis & Clark expedition, Toussaint Charbonneau.

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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.
The Twin Towers of Josephine

The Twin Towers of Josephine

Once upon on a time there was a pioneer settlement named Genin at this spot in Benson County, about halfway between Maddock and Oberon, North Dakota. That settlment was later renamed Josephine, but it never really became a town. The highest population ever recorded was approximately 30, and some of those were folks who lived in the surrounding countryside. The truth is, Josephine was really just a glorified railroad siding along the Northern Pacific Railroad. The remains of the town are gone, and only two crumbling grain elevators remain.

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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.
The Western Intrigue of Gascoyne, North Dakota

The Western Intrigue of Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne is in Bowman County along Highway 12 in southwestern North Dakota, about 15 minutes east of Bowman. It was founded in 1907 as a Milwaukee Road railroad townsite, originally known as Fischbein, named after an early settler.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

The former school is the most prominent abandoned structure in Gascoyne. It rests on top of a hill on the west edge of town, right alongside Highway 12.

Update: a visitor to our Facebook page tells us this school was demolished in late 2016. 

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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.
How Much Longer for Ghost Town Arena?

How Much Longer for Ghost Town Arena?

We first visited Arena, North Dakota, a ghost town in Burleigh County, about 35 miles northeast of Bismarck, in 2004, and we’ve been keeping our eyes on it ever since, with the assistance of some kindred spirit adventurers who check-in from time to time to let us know what’s happening.

Arena, North Dakota

We’ve been told the tiny one-room school shown above was originally somewhere else, and that it was moved to this location. A different building, Arena Public School, was torn down in the 90s, but we got some photos of it thanks to Dale Fisher.

Arena, North Dakota

Above: Looking northwest on Arena’s only remaining street. There is more here than can be seen in the photo. In the overgrowth on the far left, the home below slowly succumbs to nature. When we first visited in 2004, this place was not nearly so subject to nature’s encroachment.

Arena, North Dakota

One of the reasons we chose to revisit Arena is because someone had tipped us off that, just beyond the home shown above, something new had appeared in this prairie ghost town–the home shown below.

Arena, North Dakota

Someone has recently moved this home into Arena, where it now sits on cinder blocks and wood cribbing. Whether the owner intends to live in this location, or is just storing this home here, we don’t know. After being a ghost town for over three decades, could Arena be on the verge of becoming an inhabited place again?

Arena, North Dakota

We’ve been told this little yellow house was the last inhabited structure in Arena, and that a gentleman named Mike Forth was the last resident. The house had apparently been uninhabited for some time before he moved in and lived here for a short time in the 1980s.

Arena, North Dakota

Arena, North Dakota

The interior of the yellow house looks much the same as it did when we visited 12 years earlier.

Arena, North Dakota

The former St. John’s Lutheran Church is the most prominent structure in Arena, and one of our favorites. We featured it on the cover of our book, Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 3, and several friends have periodically updated us on the condition of this place over the years. When we first visited, one wall of the cinderblock foundation had collapsed. Today, things are much worse.

Arena, North Dakota

Both sides of the cinderblock foundation have now completely collapsed. It if weren’t for the row of columns supporting the center beam, this church would have imploded already into a heap of lumber. How long St. John’s can remain standing this way is still in question.

Arena, North Dakota

From a distance, it’s clear that gravity is beginning to take a toll on this old prairie church. How many more winters of heavy snowfall can it withstand?

Arena, North Dakota

Arena, North Dakota

Arena, North Dakota

Arena, North Dakota

Around back, the block chimney has collapsed like a stack of legos into the back yard.

Arena, North Dakota

Arena, North Dakota

We made a point to pause for a moment, to take a photo and one long look at St. John’s before we left, in case it’s no longer standing the next time we visit.

Arena, North Dakota

Distracted by the “Oh Wow” factor of the church, we never paid much attention to the grain elevators on our previous visits, but they are an attraction themselves.

Arena, North Dakota

It’s hard to imagine the days when train tracks split this landscape and locomotives rumbled through. You can see the remains of the railbed on satellite imagery, but on the ground, the elevator is the only clue that the railroad once served Arena.

Arena, North Dakota

With one school gone, and a church about to collapse, but a new home suddenly onsite, we’re unsure about the future of this place. How much longer for ghost town Arena?

Arena, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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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.
Visiting the Town That Never Was: Rival, North Dakota

Visiting the Town That Never Was: Rival, North Dakota

Years ago, Wylora Christianson sent us a photo of a grain elevator, the only remaining structure from a town that never was: Rival, North Dakota. She was under the impression that the elevator was to be torn down soon, so she felt compelled to photograph it.

The Rival Elevator is so named because, as a Soo Line townsite, it was intended to rival the nearby Great Northern Railroad town of Lignite, North Dakota. North Dakota Place Names by Douglas Wick says this site was the terminus of the Flaxton branch railroad line. A post office existed here for two years, from 1907 to 1909, with Chester Teisinger as the postmaster, but no settlement of any significance developed. 

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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.
A Sleepy Saturday in McGregor, North Dakota

A Sleepy Saturday in McGregor, North Dakota

The McGregor town site was established in 1910 and assumed the name of a nearby rural post office which had been established five years earlier. We visited McGregor, in Williams County about 45 miles northeast of Williston, in 2010, and we were somewhat surprised by the large number of vacant buildings.

McGregor, North Dakota

Although McGregor does not appear in the Census records (it’s an unincorporated community) a population of 250 was reported for 1920. We we roughly estimated the population at around 20 on the day we visited. We’re told McGregor got a lot more active in the two years following our visit, when the oil boom spurred a housing crunch in western North Dakota.

McGregor, North Dakota

During our visit we could see birds going in and out through the hole in the roof of the school.

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

A sleepy Saturday in McGregor.

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor is not far from several other places we’ve photographed — Bethel Lutheran rural Wildrose, Hamlet, and Appam.

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

The ruins of something long gone.

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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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.
The Town That Never Was: Rival, North Dakota

The Town That Never Was: Rival, North Dakota

Rival, ND is a town that never was. It was established with the intent of being a “rival” to nearby Lignite, hence the name. However, no development of significance ever took place. Rival’s post office opened in 1907 and closed only two years later in 1909. Wylora Christianson contributed this photo with the following comments:

All that is left of Rival is the elevator which is to be torn down soon, so went and got a picture of it.

Rival, North Dakota

It looks like this elevator was built entirely of wood (like this elevator in Roseville), and at some point in the past, the top was replaced with a more modern, galvanized metal roof. That roof likely extended the life of this place by a couple decades.

Rival, North Dakota

As of August, 2013, this elevator was still standing. If anyone has an update on whether this elevator has now been torn down, please leave a comment.

Photo by Wylora Christianson. Original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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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.
Passing Through Merricourt

Passing Through Merricourt

Merricourt is a very remote town in Dickey County, about fifty miles south of Jamestown. There are fewer than a handful of residents in Merricourt — just one family remains in this near-ghost town. We didn’t intend to visit Merricourt when we went on an adventure in October of 2014, but some last minute route changes took us right through town, so we stopped to snap a few shots, nine years after our first 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.
An Abandoned Port of Entry in Northgate, North Dakota

An Abandoned Port of Entry in Northgate, North Dakota

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.

Northgate, North Dakota

Above: The former Northgate Port of Entry building. The road to the east of Northgate is the highway which formerly functioned as the port of entry, but it is now closed and well-posted by US Customs and Immigration. The new border crossing is about a half mile west.

Not wanting to attract the attention of US Customs and Immigration by driving toward the border on a farm road, we took a long walk down the road to get pictures of the former Port of Entry building. We got within twenty feet of the Canadian border.

Northgate, North Dakota

As mentioned by a site visitor in the comments section below, the building in the background of the photo above is the former Canadian Port of Entry building, on the Canadian side of the international border. The road to the right of the building shown above was gated when the former border crossing was closed.

We visited another former border crossing in Noyes, Minnesota.

Northgate, North Dakota

Update: we’ve been told this building has now been demolished. The old Port of Entry is now gone.

Northgate, North Dakota

This is the view from inside the Port of Entry building.  The town outside is the original North Gate.

Northgate, North Dakota

The town in the background of the above photo is North Gate, on the site of the original town platted in 1910.  It is now in Canada.  It’s unclear how may people live there. We did not see any activity. We’ve been told the Canadian government was planning to demolish what’s left of North Gate, if they haven’t already.

Northgate, North Dakota

To get quite specific, in the photo above, the asphalt road in the foreground is US territory.   The grassy ditch just beyond the road (where the railroad crossbuck is planted, just on the other side of a barely visible barb-wire fence) is the US-Canadian border.  The dirt road and homes at the rear are in Canada.

Northgate, North Dakota

A couple years later, we visited another impressive abandoned border crossing in Noyes, Minnesota.

Northgate, North Dakota

Terry ventured onto the road to take this photo, but we escaped without any customs and immigration entanglements.

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

These elevators are along the now closed highway which originally crossed the border.

Northgate, North Dakota

There were a lot of places built in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century that were affected by changing policies at the international border. One of them, St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Caribou, Minnesota, was featured in our book, Churches of the High Plains.

Northgate, North Dakota

We met a not-so-tactful Northgate resident who first asked if we were lost, and then informed us they didn’t like strangers poking around in their town. All in all, an eventful visit.

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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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.
The Shadow of Lunds Valley, North Dakota

The Shadow of Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley is a beautiful near-ghost town nestled in a valley in Mountrail County, about fifty-four miles northeast of Williston.  It is one of those towns where we showed up a little too late, because there aren’t many of the original buildings still standing.  It is a mere shadow of its former self.

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley was considered a rural post office and the population of the town never exceeded 100.

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Terry’s photo of this elevator is featured on the cover of our first book, Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 1, and the affordable, softcover Special Edition, too.

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

This is the remains of the former Lunds Valley school, destroyed by fire. Wylora Christianson sent a photo of the school before it burned.

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Sidewalks remain, long after the buildings are gone.

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

We’ve seen references online where the name of this place is sometimes spelled as one word, Lundsvalley.

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

See also: Lunds Valley School before it burned

See also: More Lunds Valley

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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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.
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.

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

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.

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Above: a look inside the old schoolhouse.

Griffin was once the home to some of the biggest stock yards in southwest North Dakota, and reportedly had a store and lumber yard.  It was also a stop on one of America’s first cross-country highways–a route from Massachusetts to Seattle, marked in places by three foot stone markers painted yellow, known as the Yellowstone Trail.

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Griffin is just one of many true ghost towns we’ve visited in North Dakota, where the buildings still stand but the people are gone. See a list of true ghost towns, population zero.

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Griffin was a Milwaukee Road railroad town, and known as Atkinson until February 10, 1908, when the name was changed to Grifiin to honor H.T. Griffin, the Assistant General Passenger Agent for the railroad. What do you know about Griffin, North Dakota? Please leave a comment below.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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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.
Solitude in Brinsmade, North Dakota

Solitude in Brinsmade, North Dakota

Brinsmade, North Dakota was platted on October 7th, 1889 as the Northern Pacific Railway expanded progessively west, carrying settlers and their families to their eventual homes on the plains. It officially became a city in 1904.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

According to the 2010 Census, Brinsmade is now home to 35 residents in 13 households.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

Brinsmade’s most prominent features today are the abandoned grain elevators.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

Brinsmade, North Dakota

Brinsmade is the central locale in Richard K. Hofstrand’s book, “With Affection, Marten,” a fictionalized account of his ancestor Marten Hofstrand’s immigration journey from Sweden to North Dakota. It is an exceptional glimpse at what it was like to be a settler in the early days of North Dakota.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

For those interested in more history of Brinsmade, there is an out-of-print book by Susan Rolle Foy, “Memories of Brinsmade, North Dakota,” published in 1976. I have not read it, but I’ve been told it’s full of interesting information.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

The remains of an unknown structure.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

According to “North Dakota: Every Town on the Map, and Moreby Vernell and Louise Johnson, Brinsmade was named for Reverend S. Brinsmade, congregational minister of Beloit, Wisconsin. The town site was located on the original homestead of John Erickson.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

The remains of a sidewalk where there are no longer any businesses or homes to visit.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

The school did not appear to have been used for classes in quite some time. Update: Site visitor Kevin Lunde reports the school was built in 1959 and only used for ten years as the last class was excused in 1969.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

You can support our efforts to photograph North Dakota’s lost and vanishing places by ordering our latest hardcover coffee table book, Churches of the High Plains. Makes a stellar gift!

Brinsmade, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, 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.
Abandoned Lumberyard in Lake Williams, North Dakota

Abandoned Lumberyard in Lake Williams, North Dakota

Lake Williams, North Dakota is a small town, an unincorporated community, in Kidder County, about 30 miles southwest of Carrington.

Lake Williams, ND

Lake Williams had a population of over 80 residents in 1930, but the town shrank slowly over several decades and the post office closed in 1971.

Lake Williams, ND

We visited Lake Williams primarily to photograph this old store/lumberyard.

Lake Williams, ND

Lake Williams, ND

Lake Williams, ND

Lake Williams, ND

Lake Williams, ND

Lake Williams is something of a hot spot for anglers, and there’s a water access ramp down the road from the elevator.

Lake Williams, ND

It was March 15th when we visited and uncharacteristically warm… over 70 degrees. The rapid melt left access to a few places very wet, and we were forced to wait until next time to shoot a few more places we saw.

Lake Williams, ND

Some wiseguy painted a ‘B’ over the ‘G’ on the “Brain Elevator.”

Lake Williams, ND

Do you have our hardcover coffee table book, Churches of the High Plains?

Lake Williams, ND

Kim Ripplinger wrote us about this relic just south of Lake Williams. It is an unfinished cement barn. Kim says “Everything is made of cement… the stallion stalls, water and feed troughs, ….it has an amazing history and I feel so proud that it belongs to my family.”

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.
Two Minutes Until Winter

Two Minutes Until Winter

It was November 7th, 2014 and it was two minutes until winter in Josephine, North Dakota when we briefly braved forty mile per hour winds to get the photos you see here.

Josephine, North Dakota

I consulted Douglas Wick’s North Dakota Place Names book, which says Josephine, North Dakota was founded in 1901 on the site of an earlier pioneer settlement known as Genin. Josephine was named for Josephine Lindstrom Stickelberger, one of North Dakota’s first female physicians.

Josephine, North Dakota

It had a population of 30 once, but today, Josephine is a ghost town with only two elevators and the accompanying office remaining on site.

Josephine, North Dakota

We returned to Josephine in 2017 and got some photos from much closer. See them here.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2017 Sonic Tremor Media

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Message from Above in Guelph

Message from Above in Guelph

Guelph, North Dakota is in Dickey County, not far from Ellendale. In 1930, the census said Guelph had 158 residents and that’s as many as ever called Guelph home.

Guelph, North Dakota

Guelph, North Dakota

The old Guelph public school is now an antique and vintage-type business.

Guelph, North Dakota

Terry was photographing this school when he noticed a message from above.

Guelph, North Dakota

Guelph, North Dakota

Guelph, North Dakota

This church has been super-nicely renovated and looks like it would make a great place for a wedding.

Guelph, North Dakota

A remnant of Guelph’s legacy as a Great Northern Railroad town.

Guelph, North Dakota

Guelph, North Dakota

Guelph, 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.
Another Visit to Cayuga

Another Visit to Cayuga

In summer of 2014, I stopped in Cayuga on my way back from South Dakota and was shocked at the number of great photo opportunities. I was at the end of a long day and just snapped a few shots, making a mental note to come back. We were thrilled to discover it’s just as beautiful in the fall as it is in the summer.

Cayuga, North Dakota

We spoke with a local businessman, Butch, a super-friendly gentleman who owns Cayuga’s bar, the red building on the left. We were very surprised when he said our last visit actually brought business into his bar, and he connected with a cousin he hadn’t spoken to in thirty years through the Facebook comments.

Cayuga, North Dakota

Butch told us this building was the grocery store, and also a hotel at one time. When I visited Cayuga in June, this place still had windows. I neglected to ask what happened to prompt the plywood blinds.

Cayuga, North Dakota

The old post office is the tiny building in the middle, hiding in the trees.

Cayuga, North Dakota

 The brick building on the left was the International dealer.

Cayuga, North Dakota

Cayuga, North Dakota

Cayuga is in Sargent County, about 40 miles southwest of Wahpeton.

Cayuga, North Dakota

Cayuga, North Dakota

Cayuga, North Dakota

Cayuga, North Dakota

Cayuga, North Dakota

The fall colors were about a week from peak when we were there, but windy weather had already stripped many of the colorful leaves from their limbs.

Cayuga, North Dakota

Cayuga, North Dakota

The incredible church shown below is actually in neighboring Geneseo, but we photographed it and included it here because a) it’s amazing and b) because a number of Cayuga residents call this church home. We included it in our book, Churches of the High PlainsSts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Cayuga is still active, too.

Geneseo, 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.
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.

Thelen, North Dakota

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.

Thelen, North Dakota

We were hiking out to this elevator, and just when we were in thigh-deep grass, we got a little paranoid about rattlesnakes. We heard a few of ’em during our travels on this particular weekend.

Thelen, North Dakota

There’s more historical information on Thelen in the original post.

Thelen, North Dakota

Thelen, North Dakota

Thelen, North Dakota

Thelen, North Dakota

Our visit to Thelen was notable for a strange calm that fell across the landscape as we arrived. It had been windy all weekend, but as we started to explore this place, the wind calmed and the sssshhhhhhh sound from the blowing prairie grasses quieted in a strange contradiction. Coupled with the strange, smoke-filled skies, I found myself looking through the viewfinder longer than I normally would, searching for something in this kind of shadowy, illusory atmosphere where shadows weren’t crisp and sunlight was veiled… and it was quiet.

The stillness was contagious. Even after we left, when we were in the car, Terry and I were kind of quiet for awhile. It’s clear, Thelen doesn’t have many more years as a place you can visit.

Thelen, North Dakota

Thelen, North Dakota

Thelen, North Dakota

Thelen, 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.
Before the Flood: Leaving Sanish, North Dakota

Before the Flood: Leaving Sanish, North Dakota

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.

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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.
Whitman, North Dakota: Population 2

Whitman, North Dakota: Population 2

Whitman, North Dakota is in Nelson County, about thirty minutes east of Devils Lake. We had Whitman on our list when we visited neighboring Bartlett in 2011, but we had to cut it from our list that day due to time constraints.

Whitman, North Dakota

Whitman, North Dakota

Whitman got some national press for their centennial celebration in 2012. The population was reported as two. Judging by the lack of activity we saw the day we visited, that seemed accurate, and it put Whitman in a small club of places, just hanging on to their last few residents… places like Merricourt, Sanger, Hanks, and Heaton.  All have populations of two or fewer.

Whitman, North Dakota

Whitman, North Dakota

Whitman, North Dakota
Whitman, North Dakota

Looks like we were a few years too late to photograph whatever was once here.

Whitman, North Dakota

The banner on the garage is from the centennial in 2012 and it reads: “Dahlen on the Soo, Whitman in the Slough.  See you in two zero one two.”

Whitman, North Dakota

Despite the lack of residents, Whitman has an active, very well-kept Lutheran church in the center of town.

Whitman, North Dakota

Sarnia United Lutheran Church

Whitman, North Dakota
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2014 Sonic Tremor Media

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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.
A Stop on the Milwaukee Road

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.

Watrous, North Dakota

Watrous, North Dakota

Photos by Nate Reynolds
Original content 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.
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 Thelen, in Golden Valley County, about eight miles south of Beach.

Thelen, North Dakota

Thelen, North Dakota

Thelen, North Dakota

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Thelen, North Dakota

Thelen, North Dakota

Thelen, North Dakota

Thelen, North Dakota

Photos by Dave Thorson
Original Content 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.
More Lunds Valley

More Lunds Valley

Our Lunds Valley archive is spilling over with stuff we’ve never posted before.  These shots were captured in May of 2010 in Lunds Valley, Mountrail County, about 60 miles northwest of Minot.

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

This grain elevator in Lunds Valley is so photogenic, we featured it on the dustjacket of our first book.

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

There are several burned out structures in Lunds Valley.

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

That’s the remains of the school off in the distance in the photo above.

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

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Lunds Valley, North Dakota

The school was destroyed in a fire and all of the non-flammable artifacts still rest in the tall grass… these sinks; the metal frames from students’ desks.

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley, North Dakota

Lunds Valley, 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.
Verendrye in Black & White

Verendrye in Black & White

We’ve long hoped to run across some photos of the town that was once Verendrye, North Dakota. We drove by the crumbling facade of the school a few years ago and snapped a photo, but we hadn’t yet seen any photos of Verendrye when it still looked like a town.  So, we were thrilled when we got an email from Kathy Haynes with some photos and a drawing attached.  She was very informative, and her comments and captions are shown below.

Verendrye, North Dakota

My Aunt, Uncle, and 5 cousins lived in the white house that can be seen beyond the kids in the back of the school photo [below]. The last time I was there that house was just a foundation. I think the two photos of the school were taken about the year 1960 or 1961. I have to check with my brother to be sure on that. He would know since he graduated from the 8th grade there in, I believe, the last year it was open. I went there in the 2nd & 3rd grades until the school closed and we were bused to school in Velva.

Verendrye, North Dakota

falsen-school

Only the facade remains standing today. Photo by Terry Hinnenkamp.

Verendrye, North Dakota

This is an ink drawing composite and I’m sorry that it’s not very clear. I did the ink drawing several years ago using all the enclosed cafe photos as well as memory.

Verendrye, North Dakota

I lived in the restaurant building in Verendrye with my parents and 4 siblings in the 1960’s. My mother ran the restaurant for a couple of years but when the customers dwindled she closed it.

Most of the photos are of the restaurant/bar/garage/home that once stood near the railroad track. The side door faced the tracks & the front with gas pump faced the road that crossed the tracks. The restaurant was on the right-front, a bar inside to the left and on the far left a small mechanic’s garage with a grease pit. The bar and mechanic’s garage was not used when we lived there. We lived in the back part of the building that faced the tracks on the right side of the photo [below]… that separate garage on the right side of the photo was our car garage.

Anyway, down the street and to the left of the front (gas pump) of the restaurant was a hotel that was later moved to the Walhowe farm. Fred Walhowe’s sister and brother-in-law ran the hotel. (I can’t remember their names.)

Verendrye, North Dakota

These photos of the cafe were taken in 1966.

Verendrye, North Dakota

If a person where standing on the road at the railroad crossing (looking towards the school) you would see the cafe building in front of you & on your right. You would have the elevators behind you and on your left. Also the building that can be seen behind our garage [on the right, in the photo above] was a home also used for a US Post Office. The last time I drove through Verendrye that buiding was still there.

Verendrye, North Dakota

Verendrye, North Dakota

This last photo is of “the cabin” as we have always called it just a few years ago. There was a series of, I think 9, stories printed in the Minot Daily News, starting on June 10, 1967 written about 14 log cabins in a 15 mile area of the Mouse River near Verendrye. The cabin that we lived in (we added a kitchen & bedroom as well as putting in electricity) was log cabin #7 in this series. — Kathy Haynes

Original content 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.
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.

Hartland, North Dakota

Hartland, North Dakota

Hartland, North Dakota

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Hartland, 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.
Roseville, ND

Roseville, ND

Roseville, North Dakota is a former Great Northern Railroad station at the intersection of County Roads 11 and 16 in Traill county, about ten minutes southwest of Mayville.

Roseville, ND

Roseville was never much more than a loose collection of farmsteads surrounding a grain elevator. Today, the tracks have been pulled up and the grain elevator is crumbling. There is one other structure on-site, the white building shown below, which we’re told was the former township school, and was last used as the township hall.

Roseville, ND

Roseville, ND

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Roseville, ND

Roseville, ND

Roseville, ND

Roseville, ND

The condition of the base of this elevator doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. It looks like it will topple over if you ask me.

Roseville, ND

Roseville, ND

Roseville, ND

Roseville, ND

Roseville, ND

Photos by Troy Larson, 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.
More Bentley

More Bentley

These photos have been in our archive since we visited Hettinger County in 2007 and we are posting them here for the first time.  The church shown below has since partially collapsed.

Bentley, North Dakota

Bentley was founded by Arthur A. Bentley who, after moving from Eden Valley, Minnesota, started a photography business in Fargo in the 1890s.  In 1907 he moved to Hettinger County and founded the town of Bentley.  Someone has started a Bentley webpage where you can read more, and see the condition of the church now… see it here.  See the rest of our Bentley galleries here.

Bentley, North Dakota

Bentley, North Dakota

Bentley, North Dakota

Bentley, North Dakota

Bentley, North Dakota

Bentley, North Dakota

Bentley, North Dakota

Bentley, North Dakota

Bentley, North Dakota

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Bentley, North Dakota

Bentley, North Dakota

There were vehicles parked in front of this old school and we were unable to get a good shot.

Bentley, 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.
Ardoch, ND

Ardoch, ND

Ardoch is a town of around 60 residents in Walsh County.  We visited Ardoch once before to photograph the quite impressive Mondry Elevator, a visit during which we spent quite a bit of time looking for a phone lost in the tall grass.  Since I was in the area again, I decided to stop in for a better look.

Ardoch City Hall

There are an unusually high number of trailer homes in Ardoch, both inhabited and abandoned.  Most of the historic structures are now gone, with only a few exceptions.  I was somewhat shocked to discover a teenager burning leaves in a driveway right in the middle of town.  It was a breezy day at the end of the driest summer in decades… seems pretty risky in a town without a fire department.

Ardoch

Photos by Troy, 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.
Wellsburg, ND

Wellsburg, ND

Wellsburg is a small town in Wells County, both of which are named for the Edward P. Wells, a former legislator.  It was founded in 1910 and harbored a population of 150 in 1920.  According to Douglas Wick’s North Dakota Place Names, the population had dropped to 14 by by 1981.  Scenic Dakotas has a Wellsburg gallery too.

These photos were contributed by R. David Adams.  His captions are included below.

Only a few abandoned houses, most were lived in however many lots with no house left at all.

School now a house with a garage. nice!

Classic early turn of the century building in great shape due in part to occasional painting and fixing and TIN! I would have so much fun with this building were it mine!

Photos by R. David Adams
Original content 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.