Omemee, North Dakota, a ghost town in Bottineau County, has been a source of intrigue since we first became aware of it in 2005. We were initially made aware of Omemee by a North Dakota resident who alerted us that someone was trying to sell lots in Omemee to out-of-state buyers under questionable circumstances, an effort which amounted to nothing in the end. Later, Fargo resident Mark Johnson sent us some photos of Omemee taken around 2010, and we also received some correspondence and photos from people who had family roots in Omemee, too, but we had never visited Omemee ourselves until Easter weekend, 2017. …
This is a simple truth. There is no greater pleasure per penny than searching through a box of old postcards in an antique store. A little hard on the lower back if you’re wearing the wrong pair of shoes, but pleasurable none-the-less. Here are a few old postcards featuring scenes from Marmarth.
Year of the above photo is unknown but I’m guessing early 1930s. Look closely — on the left, behind the grassy median, several black sedans are parked. And on the right, a horse waits for it’s rider to return. This photo postcard provides some insight into the original location of the depot, and the 1st National Bank/Barber Auditorium building we photographed on our first trip to Marmarth is visible on the left.
A great slice of life from old Marmarth. Everybody’s dressed to the nines, the fountain is going, and there are trains in the background. The effort that went into this photo!
Above: Marmarth High School. It no longer stands.
See Also: Marmarth, North Dakota
Original content copyright © Sonic Tremor Media 2017
We’ve been collecting postcards and vintage photos for years with the intention of doing a book one day. Today, I discovered a couple postcards depicting vintage views of Devils Lake, and thought we should share these on the site. The quality of the first postcard was so good, we were able to zoom and bring out some interesting details.
This street scene depicts Fourth Street in Devils Lake, circa 1937. There was no postmark on the card, but I was able to date the photo based on the movie listed on the theater marquee. “Captains Courageous,” a movie based on the Rudyard Kipling novel, starring Freddie Bartholomew and Spencer Tracy, was released in 1937. The movie would be remade in 1977, and again in 1996.
The opposite side of the street is home to a Red Owl grocery store and Montgomery Wards.
Look at the beautiful art deco marquee on the Hollywood Theater.
In addition to the Fourth Street scene, I found this vintage postcard showing the State Deaf School in Devils Lake. Year of this view is unknown, but construction of this building began in 1892.
Original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media
In 1883, Bismarck had only been “Bismarck” for ten years, having existed first as a tiny frontier settlement called Missouri Crossing, then as Edwinton, until 1873. Bismarck assumed an important place in the history of the American west when it supplanted Yankton as the capital of Dakota Territory in 1883. Settlers were soon streaming in.
Here’s a vintage view of Bismarck circa 1883 in the form of a lithograph from the JJ Stoner Company of Madison, Wisconsin. The size of this photo is HUGE, so if you click the photo it may take a moment to load the full-size image.
Note the four landmarks in the corners — the NP Bridge across the Missouri, the Dakota Territory Penitentiary, Bismarck High School, and the original State Capitol. Update: In my original post, I neglected to mention that the Capitol building was not yet complete when this lithograph was done, and the building did not actually look like this when it was complete.
We stopped in Cogswell specifically to photograph the beautiful United Methodist Church, and to see if a church shown on our postcard from 1918 was still standing. In the process, we ran across another boarded-up church we didn’t know was there.
Cogswell is in Sargent County, about 60 miles west of Wahpeton. According to the 2010 Census, Cogswell has a population of 99 residents.
Pastor Steve Olson left a comment on our Facebook page to say the church “is still active with worship services on Sunday Mornings at 10:00 AM.” That might be worth a roadtrip.
We ran across this former church on the way out of town… boarded-up and clearly no longer in use. Please leave a comment if you know any more about it.
Update: Tina Larson, a visitor to our Facebook page, says “The church that is boarded up was the Church of Christ. When I lived in Cogswell, the Pastor was Steve Smith.”
These Cogswell churches were fatured in our book, Churches of the High Plains.
The postcard below was mailed in 1918 to a recipient in Minnesota. We came by the card in an antique store some time ago and we stopped in to see if this place was still standing, but we didn’t see it anywhere. Interesting to note, the photography lab apparently mixed up the Dakotas (if you’re a Dakotan, you know how common that is) and labeled the church as Cogswell, South Dakota, and the printer of the postcard corrected the mistake with the caption in the upper left. The postmark on the back was also stamped Cogswell, N.Dak.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
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. …
We visited Lostwood, North Dakota in 2010 and found, in addition to a few farms in the neighborhood, only a well-cared for church and a boarded up school as the only real remains of Lostwood.
However, Tim Steele recently sent us some photos with the following comments:
I have two photos of the Steele Store and Post office in Lostwood. Can anyone help me with dates or any info on the Post Office. These pictures came from my grandfather’s photo album. I know they are older than my dad and he was born in 1931.
Webmaster’s note: According to North Dakota Place Names by Douglas Wick, the first Post Office was established in 1907 with Samuel Steele as Postmaster. The Post Office was moved five years later in 1912. If you look closely, you can see an unweathered, unpainted section of wood around the front door, almost as if there was once an entryway attached to the front of this building. Pure speculation but it might be an indication that this photo was taken after the building was moved in 1912…?
Photos contributed by Tim Steele
Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
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 in time and see Omemee as it was, a thriving North Dakota community from the turn-of-the-century. Cathy’s comments are included below. …
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.
These two dramatically different views of Blabon, North Dakota vividly depict how quickly things changed for some small North Dakota railroad communities in the twentieth century.
The postcard above was sent to Olaf Andersen in Detroit on October 4th, 1916 with a message written in a foreign language. The photo by C.A. Sund reveals an entire townscape which has virtually vanished from the prairie with the exception of the two homes on the left.
In 2013, the two homes above are the only two remaining structures shown in the postcard above. The church, the grain elevator, and all the other structures (with perhaps the exception of the homes on the extreme left edge of the postcard) are gone today.
Photos by Terry Hinnenkamp except where noted.
Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
The space where Minot High School’s Central Campus now stands has a long history as home to several impressive schools, one of which also happens to be my alma mater. In 1893, a far-too-small schoolhouse was replaced with the building below – Central School, sometimes referred to as “Central Graded School” with the “d”.
By 1905, enrollment had outgrown Central School so the Central High School was built in a bookend position on the same city block. In the hand-colored photo postcard above you can see Central High School in the background, so we know this photo was taken after 1905.
This was Minot’s High School for thirteen years when, in 1918, enrollment had again outgrown capacity and the new Central High School was built, with the school shown above then being referred to as “Old Central.”
I was a kid in Minot when, in 1974, they knocked down Old Central. I have just the faintest memories of seeing this school from the back seat of my Mom’s car when we occasionally drove by it. So, unfortunately, both of the schools on this page no longer stand.
A gymnasium/cafeteria addition for Central Campus was built on the spot where Old Central stood. Ten years later, I would go to Central Campus myself for two years before moving on to the new, modern high school for my final two years. I enjoyed going to Central right in downtown Minot, but I also remember the school having a very mad labyrinth vibe due to the incredible number of renovations and additions which were done over the years — necessary for a school with very limited space in an non-typical downtown location.
And Central was full of rumors and legends too… ask any former Central Campus student about the little-known Central Campus swimming pool which was shuttered and hidden away in shame after a student drowned, and they will tell you that they know that story, and maybe more… — Troy
If you’re fascinated by history, you know postcards are really a simple pleasure. You can tease so many stories out of a few fine details when you look close.
This intersection in Fargo is significant in the history of our state as the place where Fargo literally rose from the ground after the NP Avenue Railroad Bridge was completed in 1872, less than a mile to the east. It was the first railroad bridge across the Red River at a time when this was still the Dakota Territory. The Northern Pacific stopped at the depot just out of frame on the right and thus, this city block became the first stop in Dakota for the majority of travelers from the east and was frequently the first time many had experienced what they perceived as “the west.”
Moody’s department store would have been just out of frame on the left of the scene below, and there are other interesting landmarks in this postcard, too. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the postcard.
I found this card when I was nosing around in a box at an antique store. It shows Front Street in Fargo, a street known today as Main Avenue, circa 1909, with Broadway intersecting in the foreground. As you can see, the card was in pretty bad shape, so I started by doing a quick restoration.
That’s not perfect, but a little better.
Dr. Mallarian had his offices right on the corner in the same building as the bank, which was founded in 1878 as the First National Bank. However by the time of this photo in 1909, the bank had changed hands and was known as Commercial Bank of Fargo.
Signs for Emery & Johnson Cycle Company and H.F. Emery Hardware.
I count three drug stores on this block, a dentist, an insurance agency, and whatever H.G. Edwards sold.
Two interesting stories here… on the left, the old DeLendrecie’s department store. At the time this photo was taken, it was only two stories (see photo top) but it would later have three more stories added. DeLendrecies moved from this building to the mall in 1973 and was purchased and turned into a Herberger’s store in 1998, ending a one hundred year run. The downtown DeLendrecies building has been redeveloped into the Block 6 apartment complex.
On the right, the Fargo Waldorf, a hotel that was ingeniously located directly across the street from the Northern Pacific depot. Like the DeLendrecies building, the Waldorf is yet to reach its full stature at the time of this photo — it’s four stories, but a fifth would be added later. The hotel was destroyed by fire on December 13th, 1951. Read more about the Waldorf at Fargo Moorhead Lost and Found.
Here’s the block as it looks today, occupied by trendy stores, coffee houses and a pizza joint. The street is considerably wider, and the former DeLendrecies building at the end of the block is now five stories. All things considered, it’s a small miracle that almost all of these buildings still stand.
If you have suggestions on historically significant North Dakota places that we should feature here, please feel free to contact us.
Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
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. …
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.
1. Heaton’s Main Street
2. Calvin Corinthian Lodge
3. Eastedge House
This house is one of only two structures remaining on the Eastedge townsite, and it won’t stand much longer.
4. Isabel School
Contributor Mark Johnson took a photo that allowed us to do the above animation of one of the few remaining structures in Omemee, North Dakota. It’s a true ghost town and the elements have been hard on this place. It won’t be around many more years.
6. Most of Straubville
Straubville is a true ghost town with zero population, and most of the buildings, if they haven’t already collapsed, are crumbling.
7. Fargo Waldorf
The Fargo Waldorf was in the perfect location — directly across the street from the Northern Pacific train depot. It was destroyed by fire on December 19th, 1951. Read more about the Waldorf in Fargo Moorhead Lost and Found.
8. Munster Schoolhouse
We set out to photograph this schoolhouse in October of 2012 at the end of the driest summer ever in the state, and when we arrived, we were shocked to see the school had recently burned. We visited two years later, and it had collapsed.
9. Falsen School
Just the facade remains of the Falsen School in Verendrye, North Dakota.
1o. Lincoln Valley gas station
The filling station, the post office, and several other buildings on the block are now gone in Lincoln Valley.
Bonus Place: Lincoln Valley church
We know very little about this church. Please feel free to comment if you know anything about it. There did not appear to be wreckage of this church lying around, which makes us wonder whether it was moved somewhere.
This is a vintage post card view of LaMoure County Courthouse while it was still under construction in LaMoure, North Dakota. The courthouse was constructed in 1907. Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The wikipedia entry for this courthouse reads, in part: The structure includes a highly-detailed, metal-covered dome with bull’s eye windows topped by a ball finial. An octagonal tower with columns and arched windows supports the dome. The front facade features four large Corinithian columns.
Note the construction workers up on the dome.
Although it was built in 1907, this postcard was sent on December 11th, 1911.
Nome School in Barnes County — 1919 and 2005.
Animation by Troy
Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
We found a couple of vintage Nome postcards at an antique store not too long ago, including a postcard of the now-abandoned Nome School in Barnes County which we snapped on a whim while passing through Nome in 2005.
We had to make some guesses on this card due to the handwriting — This postcard was sent on September 24th, 1919 from Laura Sigurdson to Miss Signe Bratt (who was a teacher herself in Northfield) in Lawton, North Dakota. It reads as follows:
Did you think I had forgotten you entirely? Oh no. Am teaching here at Nome, 1st grade, and like it fine. How are you anyway? Do you hear from [name illegible]? Where is she? Send me her address will you? Please write me [illegible] soon and tell me all about yourself. Yours forever, Laura Sigurdson.
In the same box of postcards, we also found this unmailed, undated postcard of Farmers State Bank in Nome.
Some dapper looking gentlemen right there.
Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
I found this postcard in a box at an antique store. It’s a postcard of San Haven Sanatorium in 1940. I was impressed that this postcard shows an overview of the grounds including the beautiful gardens and water feature which are now completely dry and overgrown.
This postcard was sent by someone named Olga, who must have been visiting a patient named Hilda, to Mrs. Harold Wendt in Columbia, Wisconsin on February 19th, 1940. It reads:
How are you all? Seems like I’ve been gone a month. We’ve seen so many people we hadn’t seen in almost 20 years. Hilda is so much better. Doesn’t look as though she had gone through an operation. I’ll be home soon. Olga
This is the former Balfour Public School. It was built sometime between 1899 and 1910. Other than that, we know very little about this school, or what happened to it. If you know more about this school, we would invite you to click on the photo below and add your comments on the ensuing page. Note the former Balfour church in the background.
We found this postcard going through some old files but we have no record of who sent it to us. Thank you, whoever you are.
We added a postcard of the Fargo Waldorf as it looked in 1911 a few days ago. Here are a few more looks at this long gone Fargo landmark. In the first postcard below from 1906 or ’07, the Northern Pacific Depot is center-left, and the Waldorf is the four-story building center-right. This view is looking southeast from the tracks at 8th Street North.
The postcard above was sent to Miss Margaret Kelly in Detroit, Michigan in February of either 1906 or ’07 with the following message:
Hello Margaret. I just got home from Fargo. Would send from there but did not have address. Now, even away, I think of you. Many thanks for the nice Xmas card. Will write you a letter soon. Hope you are well. Kindest regards from J. and myself. Write [something illegible] Don’t wait. Mrs. [first name illegible] Shea. Two Harbors. 2/22/06 (I believe she mistakenly wrote ’06 instead of ’07)
In the postcard below, from the same time frame, we get a look at the Waldorf from the opposite angle. This shot looks southwest from Front Street and Broadway. The Waldorf is at the end of the block, under the tree. Thanks to Jordan Doerr for the postcard.
Here we have two similar angles on the same scene, nearly ninety years apart. The postcard above is from around 1924. You can see the reddish Waldorf center-right, now a five story building due to the floor which was added sometime between 1907 and 1911. You can also see the DeLendrecies department store, the tan building in the center, which is now part of the scene, and the NP Depot on the left. In the shot below from 2011, the Delendrecies Building and Depot are still there, and the tall, skinny sign behind the lightpole with “LJA Architects” on it marks the spot where the Waldorf once stood.
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This is the long gone Fargo College in Fargo, North Dakota. The building shown in this postcard, Jones Hall, was completed in 1890. By 1915, there were two more buildings flanking this one, Dill Hall, and the Fargo College Library, a Carnegie Library which was dedicated by former President Theodore Roosevelt. The school shown here was located on the hill just south of Island Park in Fargo. All the open space you see in this postcard is now filled with homes and apartments.
The college, Fargo’s first, closed it’s doors in 1922 due to financial problems. There were plans to re-open the college, but the stock market crash and ensuing Great Depression ended those plans. In 1940, Jones Hall and Dill Hall were demolished, and the Carnegie library was torn down in 1964. The cornerstone is now at Bonanzaville in West Fargo. The only remaining structure from Fargo College is the former Watson Hall Conservatory of Music at 601 Fourth Street South, which is now the home of the Fargo Fine Arts Club.
Today, it is hard to imagine razing buildings of this size and historical/architectural significance. This is one more example of why we feel as passionately as we do about preserving our historic structures whenever and however we can.
The postcard below shows Fargo College after Dill Hall had been constructed right next to Jones Hall. Thanks to Jordan Doerr for the postcard.
Original Content copyright Sonic Tremor Media
I was rummaging through a box of old postcards at an antique store some time ago and I found this old damaged postcard of the Fargo Waldorf Hotel in 1911. I did a restoration job on the postcard and came up with this.
The Waldorf in Fargo was built in 1899, right across the street from the depot. For immigrants from the east, this was frequently the first stop in North Dakota for a lot of travelers fresh off the train. The Waldorf went through several owners over the years, and was also known as the Milner Hotel and the Earle Hotel. It was destroyed in a fire on December 13th, 1951.
This postcard was mailed on July 6th, 1911 to Miss Bess McCullough in Milton, North Dakota with the following message:
This is a view of the hotel in which I work. My room is five blocks away — Hal
This postcard was a fold-out card, and had the menu from the Waldorf kitchen on the inside. You can’t get a meal like this at a hotel these days without breaking the bank.
On the site of the former Waldorf Hotel today — a bank which was later converted to an architectural firm’s office. As of this writing, it is vacant.
Original copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Steve Ray contributed the following postcard of Stady. Steve writes:
It was mailed in June 1915 from Clara Leraas, who lived with her family a couple miles east of Stady, to her mother-in-law, Martha Leraas of Barrett, MN.
To see our main Stady Gallery with photos contributed my Mariah Masilko, click here.
Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Brantford was established in 1910, two years before the Great Northern railroad arrived. Brantford reportedly had 200 residents in 1920, but slowly lost population over the years until the post office was finally closed in 1973.
The following photos of Brantford today were contributed by Mark Johnson. His comments on the church shown below: “Church located immediately next to farm, note the steeple has been removed and is setting right in front of it. The location of this church is suspicious, especially looking at the aerial, it looks like it was moved to this farmsite.”
He goes on to say, “Definitely worth a return trip during non-snowy months to confirm what the summer residency is versus winter, and to get closer shots of these buildings.”
Inhabited as of 10/04
Blabon, ND is in Steele County, not far from another ghost town on this site, Sherbrooke, ND. Blabon is the first ghost town we ever investigated. It is presently inhabited by approximately 8 to 12 people. As many as three houses were clearly occupied and one trailer home had a satellite dish on the side.
Blabon was founded in 1896, named for Joseph Ward Blabon, a Great Northern Railroad official who visited the townsite in 1897.
We received an email from Norway that reads as follows:
Sending you some pictures of Blabon as it was about 1900. My great grandparents did own/run a grocery store/pool saloon. The moved back to Norway about 1915 i think. Nice site you’ve got here 🙂
Greetings from Norway!
CLICK PHOTOS TO ENLARGE
These Ghosts of North Dakota 4 x 6 postcards are professionally printed in the USA on premium, heavy cardstock, with a beautiful glossy finish. On the back, each card features a brief description of the place pictured.
These postcards come in packs of fifteen — three cards from each of the five scenes: St John’s Lutheran in Arena, Barton Country School #8, North American Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Sims and Brantford, North Dakota.
North Dakota Postcards 15-pack $12.95 in-stock.
Go Back to the Ghosts of North Dakota store.