Fairview Lift Bridge is a place we’ve visited before, but the last time we were there, the sky was full of smoke from wildfires, so we promised ourselves we would go back again when we got another chance, and that chance came in July, 2017. We had just learned that the adjoining Cartwright Tunnel, the only railroad tunnel in the state of North Dakota, was in danger of implosion if funding couldn’t be raised for a restoration, so that became another excuse to visit this rusty beauty spanning the Yellowstone River. …
We visited Hamberg, North Dakota, a near ghost town in Wells County, about 18 miles east of Harvey, for the first time in 2008, to photograph an old school which has since burned in an accidental fire.
Thanks to Heidi Ermer, we can now take a brief look at Hamberg as it appeared in yesteryear when there were residents numbering in the hundreds, as versus the approximate 20 residents who live there today. Heidi sent us the following postcards. The exact year of these photos is unknown. …
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. …
If you didn’t know better, it would be easy to look at these photos and assume this place was struck by a powerful prairie tornado. Grain bins are ripped open, the roof of the former bar has caved-in, and the building leans at a precarious angle. Pieces of several structures have blown down and lie decaying in the grass some distance away with their rusty nails pointed skyward, waiting for an unsuspecting explorer to test their tetanus shots with an errant step. Nobody would blame you for believing Dorothy and Toto just blew away minutes before, but the reality is, it’s been a slow-motion disaster in ghost town Aylmer, North Dakota. …
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
Ruso, North Dakota is in McLean County and had a reported population of 4 in the 2010 Census. A claim from an unknown source that we’ve seen around the web says Ruso is the smallest incorporated town in North Dakota. Several unincorporated towns are even smaller, like Hanks (pop. 1), and Merricourt, and ghost towns with zero residents.
Kelsey Rusch visited Ruso in 2010 and contributed these photos with the following comments:
Right off highway 41, south of Velva, you will find Ruso. Though it has ten or so abandoned buildings, there appear to be three residences as well, making it inhabited, but probably for not too much longer.
It is located just south east of the borders of McLean, Ward, and McHenry counties in a very beautiful yet desolate part of the state.
According to the North Dakota Place Names book, “The post office was established on December 1, 1906 with Edwin J Burgess as pm. The village incorporated in 1909 and by 1910 reported a population of 141, with a doctor, newpaper, and many other luxuries often missing in new townsites.” The Place Names book (first published 1988), claims the zip code was 58778 and was still open at the time. However, a sign outside what I assume was the post office suggests that it closed in 1981.
As far as the name “Ruso,” the Place Names book says the name either is a Russian word meaning “south of us,” or, as others say, it was coined from the words SOuth RUssia, which was the homeland of many of the area settlers.
The town is in a very peaceful location. The sole road passes one residence right next to the highway before leading to several abandoned ones. The post office, now a home, sits in the middle of town, next to a collapsed building and across from an empty and overgrown field. From what I can gather a section of the field used to be a baseball diamond. If only the kids who used to play there saw it today.
Further down the road sits what was once a pretty nice sized school but now is used as a residence. Around the corner and down the road sits what was once a beautiful church. Two outhouses sit to the east of the church, and to the west a flax field is planted almost all the way up to the doors of the church, which faces west. The grounds surrounding the church, unfortunately, are a mess. There is a junked bus sitting outside, as well as two or three junked pickups. Numerous other things are scattered around and it is obvious the few remaining residents do not take care of the church any more.
There were a few other abandoned buildings hidden in the trees surrounding the city but they were either posted or too overgrown to get to. If anyone has any other information about Ruso, especially about history or as to why there is a large bus that says “Huntley Project Red Devils” parked outside of the church, I’d definitely love to hear more about this place. It was very calm and serene and is in a beautiful location in the state.
Photos by Kelsey Rusch, original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media
Sims, North Dakota is a beautiful near-ghost town, founded in what was at the time a somewhat remote spot on the prairie of Dakota Territory, about 35 miles west of Mandan. The Northern Pacific arrived in 1879 and extra boxcars were set aside to be used as businesses and shelter until a proper town could be constructed. The original settlers were attracted to coal that was easily mined here, and several early names of the town were “Baby Mine” and “Bly’s Mine.” …
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.
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.
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.
Update: we’ve been told this building has now been demolished. The old Port of Entry is now gone.
This is the view from inside the Port of Entry building. The town outside is the original North Gate.
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.
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.
A couple years later, we visited another impressive abandoned border crossing in Noyes, Minnesota.
Terry ventured onto the road to take this photo, but we escaped without any customs and immigration entanglements.
These elevators are along the now closed highway which originally crossed the border.
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.
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.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media
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 was considered a rural post office and the population of the town never exceeded 100.
This is the remains of the former Lunds Valley school, destroyed by fire. Wylora Christianson sent a photo of the school before it burned.
Sidewalks remain, long after the buildings are gone.
We’ve seen references online where the name of this place is sometimes spelled as one word, Lundsvalley.
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
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 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.
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.
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
This is a small sampling of photos from our visit to Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel in July of 2014.
If you’re interested in the history of this lift bridge, which was only raised once, you can check out our previous gallery featuring photos and captions from our friend R. David Adams, or you can read more about it at the MidRivers page, which has nice background on both Fairview and its twin, Snowden Lift Bridge. …
High Line Bridge in Valley City is the longest railroad bridge in the state and like the Gassman-Coulee Trestle in Minot and the Sheyenne River Bridge near Karnak, we chose to photograph it and feature it here due to the railroads’ pivotal role in settling North Dakota. All three of these bridges are still used daily. …
This is the Sheyenne River Bridge, a railroad trestle at the north end of Lake Ashtabula, in the marshy transition between the lake and the Sheyenne River. Built in 1912, it is 2,736 feet long, making it a little shorter than High Line Bridge in Valley City and a little longer than the Gassman Coulee Trestle in Minot. Railroad bridges played such a crucial role in the settlement of our state that we’ve chosen to occasionally feature some of them here, even if they’re not abandoned. …
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
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.
Dresden is a small town in Cavalier County, home to the Cavalier County Museum at Dresden, about six miles northwest of Langdon. The museum is housed in the former Holy Trinity Church, an incredible field-stone structure erected in 1936.
Dresden is home to numerous historic structures in varying states of restoration, including the Dyer School which was moved to the site from Milton, the former Langdon Jail, and more. The crew at the Cavalier County Historical Society is doing quite a job up there. They have their own blog where you can learn a lot more about Dresden and the attractions.
Hopes for a boom spurred by the railroad were a longshot for many communities near the Canadian border. Many of the railroad lines just petered out without actually crossing into Canada.
There’s a collector out there who would pay good money for that truck.
Luxury accommodations in this 1896 jail cell from Langdon.
Photos by Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Knox is a rarity as near-ghost towns go — it is located right off a major highway — US 2, between Rugby and Devils Lake. According to the 2010 census, Knox is home to 25 residents, has 13 occupied households and 13 vacant households. Knox was founded in 1883 and reportedly had a peak population of 330 in 1910.
We drove into Knox and realized there are a lot of impressive vacant structures, not the least of which is the grain elevator. It was very quiet in Knox, with very little activity for a Saturday afternoon. A local resident told us the predominantly elderly population of Knox was temporarily relocated several winters ago due to heavy snowfall and the inability to find anyone who would clear snow from the town’s roads.
We ran into a gentleman who had an interesting story to tell while we were photographing Knox. He was a traveling gospel singer who had arrived in Knox three days earlier. He was a soft-spoken man with a noticeable southern drawl due to his Texas heritage, and he told us he didn’t have a home — he spent his days traveling the country in a minivan, stopping at little towns, bartering his gospel performances for food and lodging. He’d been traveling for eight years. Imagine the things he’s seen and the places he’s been.
The former Knox Post Office
A resident told us his stepson is in the process of dismantling this home.
There were a few homes like this one where it wasn’t totally clear whether anyone was still inhabiting them.
This flyer was hanging in the display case in front of the now abandoned Post Office.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Pingree is a small town in Stutsman County, northwest of Jamestown. According to the 2010 Census, Pingree is home to 60 residents. Pingree was founded in 1881 and reached a peak population of 268 residents in 1920.
We didn’t have plans to visit Pingree, but we saw a few photo opportunities from the highway and decided to stop. On the day we visited, several local residents were busy towing cars from the townsite. There is a sizable auto repair/salvage operation in Pingree.
This church is beautifully well-kept and still in use.
The former Pingree depot and gazebo.
Relics of Pingree’s railroad heritage are prominently displayed in town.
Inside the caboose.
The former Pingree Jail — two cells.
Photos by Troy and Rat, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Bartlett is about twenty miles east of Devils Lake and is about as close as you can get to ghost town without actually being totally abandoned… there is perhaps one occupied property, and we saw the remains of several crumbling homes. The former town site is quickly getting overrun by nature — the roads are shaded even on a bright day like this one. As we drove into town, untrimmed branches reached into the road to greet us, nearly touching the sides of the car.
The Andreas Historical Atlas of Dakota (pre-statehood), published in 1884, describes Bartlett like this:
This place, located near the east line of the county, on Section 25, Town 153, Range 61 was commenced in the fall of 1882, upon the completion of the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway to that point, and for a number of months had a wonderful growth and business, the population, at its maximum, reaching 1,000. there were 250 buildings in the place, and the people had high hopes that its boom would be a permanent one. But the laying out of Lakota, in Nelson County, four miles east of Bartlett, and the establishment of the county seat at the new town, resulted in the removal of the bulk of its business to Lakota and the city of Devils Lake. One hotel building was taken down and removed to West End, in Benson County, where it was metamorphosed into a number of cottages. There remains at Bartlett two hotels, several stores, and altogether some twenty five or thirty buildings.
A population of over one thousand in 1884 had become just 120 residents by 1910.
US Census Data for Bartlett
Total Population by Place
1910 – 120
1920 – 98
1930 – 67
1940 – 78
1950 – 51
1960 – 39
1970 – 19
1980 – Delisted
The railroad tracks just outside of Bartlett were the site of a terrible railroad accident in April, 1907. The Great Northern Oriental Limited derailed just after 1am, rolled down an embankment, and caught fire when a gas tank exploded, an explosion so loud it was heard in Lakota, four miles away. Three died, including mail clerk Harry Jones who was killed instantly when the car he was riding in was telescoped by another, and an unknown Greek laborer who burned to death, trapped in the wreckage.
There were reports that the tracks had been tampered-with, a suspicion perhaps bolstered by a derailment that had happened less than a year prior, on the same stretch of track, just 100 yards away.
When you’re the only resident left in town, there’s nobody around to object when you rename N. 24th Street to Bartlett Rd. with a paint brush.
Thank you to R. David Adams for submitting these photos of the Fairview Lift Bridge and the accompanying Cartwright Tunnel, between Cartwright, North Dakota and Fairview, Montana. This bridge is frequently confused with the Snowden Bridge, a few miles away in Montana, partly due to a similar history (each bridge has only been raised once) and construction. However, this bridge is distinct from the Snowden bridge when the Cartwright tunnel is taken into account. To our knowledge, the tunnel is the only train tunnel in the state of North Dakota.
As you’ll learn from Mr. Adams’ comments below each photo, this lift bridge was built to accommodate steamboat traffic on the Yellowstone River, but the steamboats stopped steaming the Yellowstone River before the bridge was complete. Thus the lift was only used one time. The last car crossed the bridge in 1955, and the trains ended in the 1980’s. Since the bridge and tunnel were so narrow, travelers were required to pick up a phone at one end and call to ensure no traffic was coming from the other side!
On ramp west end of Fairview Lift Bridge just a couple of miles East of Fairview Montana. This Bridge was finished in 1913 and was a bridge used for rail and automobile traffic until 1955.
Looking east as we walk on the rail bed. You can see the Cartwright tunnel at the end of the bridge.
Approaching the bridge support from the west looking east.
The center section or “draw” weighs in at 1.14 Million Pounds. At each end of the span large concrete counterweights are hung to assist in the lifting of the span.
Platform that contains a three cylinder kerosene engine that lifts the bridge span.
Closer look at the lift mechanism. this lift operated one time to test the bridge and never again. It seems that steamship travel on the Yellowstone ended during the construction of the bridge in 1912!
Looking up at one of the two counterweights. Held up by several 2 inch cables. I was thinking they have been there for almost a hundred years and decided to move… just in case!
On the east end approach showing the west tunnel opening.
Notice the size of the treated lumber used around the opening! Cars traveled across the top to gain access to the bridge on the right just behind where I was standing.
Inside the tunnel.
The road that used to allow cars to use the bridge until 1955. right behind me the road slopes down to the bridge and also branches off to get down to the bridge abutments.
Looking west from the tunnel to the bridge.
I climbed up the small hill on the south of the rail bed to get a better picture of the engine and tower houses that move the center span of the bridge up and down.
Just around the bend is the east entrance to the Tunnel but is now on private lands. Cartwright is just a mile to my back. To read more about this bridge, visit this site.
All photos by R. David Adams, copyright RDA Enterprises. Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Kloten is in Nelson County, situated about forty miles south of Highway 2, about halfway between Devils Lake and Grand Forks. Accurate population figures are difficult to find. Kloten’s population was reported at a suspiciously round number of 150 for many years, however our census records going back as far as 1960 do not include population reports for Kloten.
Nathan Mastrud contributed these photos of Kloten with the following comments:
Sign leading to Kloten reads “Dead End” but it still carried us through town. Maybe around 6-10 households remain in Kloten. Some of them were hard to tell if the were inhabited or not because most of the the yards were mowed …even the yards of houses that appeared abandoned. Also few of the remaining ones appeared to have a never ending yard sale.
The Kloten grain elevator still looms over the west side of town and a church still remains.
A Fire Hall bell was begging to be rung but a few dogs and the fear of shotguns advised otherwise.
Photos by Nathan Mastrud & Punchgut Studio, original content © copyright Sonic Tremor Media
According to the 2000 Census, Overly is home to 19 residents. James Johnson contributed these photos with the following comments:
I came to Overly with a goal of finding whatever remains of the old roundhouse. A satellite photograph of the town showed shapes in consistent with roundhouse layout just south of the town. You will have to walk in tall grass to find a turntable and old foundations of the roundhouse. Be extremely careful because you could trip over and be injured! In my review of the foundations I determined there were four service bays in the roundhouse. …
Our May 2010 trip took us through Minot, so we stopped to take some photos of this — the Gassman Coulee Trestle in Trestle Valley, just outside of town. It’s not abandoned, but it’s a really nice place to be outside with your camera on a hot summer night.
The bridge is 1792 feet long and 117 feet tall at its highest point. When a train crosses, you can hear the rumble miles away.
Years ago, there was a ski resort in this valley called the Trestle Valley Ski Resort and this was the lodge.
UPDATE: Site visitor Jeff snapped these photos of the former lodge, today a private residence.
Trestle photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, original copyright Sonic Tremor Media
Bucyrus, ND is along Highway 12 in southwestern North Dakota, east of Bowman. It was founded in 1907 as Wolf Butte, and was also known as Dolan for a time. Bucyrus is just down the road from some other places we’ve visited, like Gascoyne, Haley and Griffin.
US Census Data for Bucyrus
Total Population by Place
1920 – 113
1930 – 124
1940 – 117
1950 – 111
1960 – 60
1970 – 42
1980 – 32
1990 – 22
2000 – 26
2010 — 27
Bucyrus fell victim to a wildfire on October 17th, 2012. The town’s residents were evacuated, but numerous homes were lost to fire.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media
Crystal Springs was founded in the Dakota Territory in 1873 and the Post Office opened with the name “CRYSTAL SPRINGS” in 1884–named for nearby Crystal Springs Lakes.
We were cruising west on the interstate one day and the Crystal Springs school, perched beautifully atop a hill along the highway, practically jumped out at us, and we stopped to get a few shots. Now arriving at Crystal Springs, North Dakota. …
A farm post office for Merricourt was established in October 1883. North Dakota Place Names by Douglas Wick lists Merricourt’s peak population at 153 in the 1940’s.
During our visit to Merricourt, we saw one home which was occupied, right in the middle of the townsite. We also heard someone calling for their dog, so we didn’t stay in that area long. There are quite a few abandoned structures, as well as some buildings which are still maintained. The surrounding miles of farmland are dotted with crumbling farms in every direction. Population loss was hard on this part of the state. …
Juanita was founded along the Great Northern Railroad Line in 1911, about fifteen miles northeast of Carrington, North Dakota. It was originally named “Wanitah”, a Native American word of unknown meaning, but later renamed by town planners with the Spanish spelling. It reached a peak poulation of 150 in 1920. When we visited in 2004, it appeared to have a population around five to ten.
Juanita did have a fairly impressive stone school building, however it appeared to be in use by one of the town’s residents and we chose not to photograph it for privacy’s sake. There was also a big dog running loose which made our visit a quick one.
There were quite a few empty homes in Juanita and the landscape is severely overgrown. From one home, only the chimney was visible through the trees. Other than the homes, the school building was the only structure still standing in Juanita.
Do you have an update on what’s going on in Juanita these days? Let us know in the comments.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media
Inhabited as of 5/04
Heaton was founded in 1899 as a Northern Pacific Railroad town, named for George Heaton, the manager of land sales for the railroad. Population figures include 400 in 1930, 62 in 1960, and approximately 5 when these photos were taken in 2004. In 2012, we spoke with the final resident of Heaton.
Heaton, about twenty miles west of Carrington, ND, is an interesting town. There were three or four houses which looked occupied, but a ton of vacant homes. The whole time we were taking these photos, we could hear kids playing nearby.
Site visitor Brandon Miller, who grew up one mile north of Heaton, wrote to tell us it was his Grandfather’s opinion the tornado which ravaged Heaton in 1907 was a big reason for the town’s eventual decline.
In it’s heyday, Heaton played host to a post office, a lumber yard, gas station, bank, hardware store, two hotels, and three churches.
**Source Material – North Dakota Place Names – Douglas Wick
Wanna see what we found when we returned to Heaton six years after this visit? Check it out here.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC