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Schafer Jail, a Mass Murderer, and a Vigilante Lynch Mob

Schafer Jail, a Mass Murderer, and a Vigilante Lynch Mob

The events of 1930 could be considered a textbook example of “hard times” anywhere in America. The stock market crashed near the end of 1929 and ushered-in the Great Depression. Unemployment skyrocketed along with the price of imported goods. North Dakota and other rural states endured unprecedented drought that would eventually lead to the Dust Bowl. In the midst of these events, it wasn’t uncommon for families to pack up as many of their belongings as they could transport and…

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Legend of the Devils Lake Monster

Legend of the Devils Lake Monster

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know “ghosts” is a metaphor that refers to the ghosts of our past, and most of the time, that manifests itself here in the form of photos of our vanishing places. Sometimes though, we run across a story so interesting, a piece of forgotten history or local lore so fascinating, that we feel compelled to write about it. This is one of those instances Troy LarsonTroy Larson is an…

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Sanish Rises from Beneath the Waves

Sanish Rises from Beneath the Waves

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….

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The Legends of Tagus, North Dakota

The Legends of Tagus, North Dakota

Tagus was founded in 1900, on a rolling spot on the prairie, forty miles west of Minot, just off Highway 2. A railroad settlement town, it reached a peak population of 140 in 1940. It was originally named Wallace, but was later renamed Tagus to avoid confusion with the town of Wallace, Idaho. The origin of the name “Tagus” is still in dispute. It is now primarily abandoned with a handful of residents and numerous vacant structures. The Minot Daily…

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8 Terrible Fates Our Ancestors Faced

8 Terrible Fates Our Ancestors Faced

We’ve all heard the stories from our parents and grandparents about having to walk to school with no shoes, uphill (both ways), and there’s certainly an air of humorous exaggeration in many of those tales, but not too much exaggeration. The truth is, daily existence as a pioneer on the prairie was a hard life, and the people who came to the northern plains were taking their lives in their hands and facing dangers we can scarcely imagine today. Yes,…

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Legend of Miniwashitu: Missouri River Monster

Legend of Miniwashitu: Missouri River Monster

The pseudo-scientific field of cryptozoology deals with theories of creatures unknown to science, many of which have their origins in Native American lore. Stories of Sasquatch in the Pacific Northwest, and the Wendigo in Minnesota and the Great Lakes region, originated with native people. Even North Dakota has a mysterious but little-known monster 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

Doctor Dibb’s Lost Gold Mine

Doctor Dibb’s Lost Gold Mine

Some of the earliest European travelers through Dakota Territory were in search of gold. Stories of gold mines in Montana and Idaho drew prospectors from all over with the promise of wealth and prosperity. Dr. William Denton Dibb, credited by the Quarterly Journal of the University of North Dakota (Vol. 13, 1922) as the first pioneer physician in the Dakotas, wanted his share of the gold. Troy LarsonTroy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and…

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The Great Bismarck Fire of 1898

The Great Bismarck Fire of 1898

Like Fargo in 1893 and Chicago in 1871, Bismarck fell victim to a massive wind-whipped fire on August 8th, 1898. As was the case with so many pioneer-era cities around the nation, Bismarck in 1898 was a city constructed largely of wood. When coupled with a frequently unrelenting prairie wind, any unusual dry spell created extraordinarily dangerous conditions. 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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The First Tornado Ever Photographed in North Dakota

The First Tornado Ever Photographed in North Dakota

I ran across this photo while I was perusing the photos at the Library of Congress and I was totally blown away.  Clinton Johnson took this photo, captioned “North Dakota Cyclone,” in an unknown North Dakota town in 1895, just six years after North Dakota statehood.  It appears to depict a menacing tornado bearing down on a North Dakota town.  If you look closely, you can see some people standing around, watching, proving that even in the 1800s, people were…

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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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Building Four Bears Bridge

Building Four Bears Bridge

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.  Troy…

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Lost Beneath the Lake: Sanish, North Dakota

Lost Beneath the Lake: Sanish, North Dakota

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. 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

Ten More Lost North Dakota Places

Ten More Lost North Dakota Places

Sometimes we photograph a place and find out years later that it’s gone, sometimes the place is gone by the time we get there.  But the one constant is that the list of places is growing all the time. Here’s another list of ten more significant North Dakota places that have unfortunately lost their battle with time. When you’re done with this one, check out 10 Lost North Dakota Places, and 8 More Lost North Dakota Places. Troy LarsonTroy Larson is an…

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Ten Lost North Dakota Places

Ten Lost North Dakota Places

It’s always a thrill to see enthusiastic residents get involved in saving historically and culturally significant places in their communities, but in North Dakota’s vanishing small towns, the losses frequently outnumber the wins by a significant margin. It’s something we’ve seen time and again in over ten years of photographing North Dakota. What follows is our personal list, by no means exhaustive, of ten significant North Dakota places that have unfortunately lost their battle with time. Troy LarsonTroy Larson is…

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The Wolf Family Murders

The Wolf Family Murders

One of the worst crimes in state history occurred April 22, 1920 on a farm just north of Turtle Lake. It was a gray, overcast day and light rain had been falling. Local resident John Kraft noticed the neighbors, the Jacob Wolf family, had left their laundry on the clothesline overnight and their horses untended. He went to investigate and stumbled into what might be the most horrific crime scene in North Dakota history. Troy LarsonTroy Larson is an author,…

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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. 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

Blanchard and a Really Big Stick

Blanchard and a Really Big Stick

Blanchard is a small town in Traill county about a half hour north of Fargo.  Our Facebook fans warned us that there wasn’t much of a historic nature left to photograph, and they were right.  Linda Grotberg commented: “Blanchard, is another reason why your “ghost project” is so important! The two churches, Seim’s Store, Wally’s garage, Blanchard #1 (although the school bld is still there used as a house) Grandma Hazel’s house, the old bank building….all part of mine and…

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Standing Rock Hill Historic Site

Standing Rock Hill Historic Site

This is the Standing Rock Hill Historic Site, south of Kathryn and west of Enderlin, just up the hill from Little Yellowstone Park, right off Highway 46.  It is also just a short drive from Jensen Cabin at Wadeson Park.  Standing Rock Hill Historic Site consists of four Native American burial mounds, the largest of which is marked with the small standing rock shown below. There is a fairly serious grade up a minimally maintained road to get to the parking lot…

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Jensen Cabin at Wadeson Park

Jensen Cabin at Wadeson Park

This cabin 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. I stumbled upon this place while taking a drive near Kathryn. This is the Wadeson Park Spillway, right across the road from the Jensen Cabin. Photos by Troy Larson, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media…

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The Last Resident of Heaton

The Last Resident of Heaton

North Dakota has dozens of small towns approaching ghost town status. As the population declines, they tend to go through a transition period during which the population fluctuates. Aging residents pass away and young people go off to college. It’s not uncommon for a town to be abandoned, only to be re-inhabited for a time–drawing in those who are attracted to the solitude and the dirt cheap cost of living. Heaton is one of those towns. We had the pleasure…

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A Robbery in Merricourt

A Robbery in Merricourt

Host/Author/Producer Keith Norman was kind enough to share a story about a Merricourt robbery, from his book – ‘Great Stories of the Great Plains, Vol. 1’ Self Defense on the Back Roads Roy Michaelson listed his occupation as a professional Boxer from Minneapolis Minnesota. His record in sanctioned bouts was 1 win, 1 loss, and 1 draw. In all likelihood he fought in many unsanctioned fights across the Midwest in his brief stint in the ring. Troy LarsonTroy Larson is…

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Mose, North Dakota

Mose, North Dakota

Griggs County Vacant as of 10/04 Mose, North Dakota is a true ghost town in Griggs County, about forty miles southeast of Devils Lake.  It was also known as Florence and Lewis prior to 1904. On Halloween 1904, it was renamed Mose in honor of a local lumberyard employee. It’s peak population is said to have been 25. Mose was particularly hard hit by a tornado, hence the sign at the entrance to the town. Most of the townsite is…

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