During their historic journey to the Pacific, Lewis and Clark reported enormous herds of North American Bison in the midwest, so large that they “darkened the whole plains.” Wagon trains sometimes waited days for passage through herds numbering in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. But by the early 1900’s the bison were reaching their low-point. Over-hunting, drought, and encroachment on their natural habitat by humans and cattle drove the population of bison down to only several hundred animals (the actual number is disputed) — the bison were almost extinct. …
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 …
This is a former Nordic ski jump, in Benson County, about 10 miles south of Devils Lake, or three miles east of Fort Totten, at the ski resort once known as Skyline Skiway. According to the December 1982 issue of Ski Magazine, this ski jump opened in 1928 and closed in 1936. The ski hill continued to operate on and off into the early eighties, and was home to the Lake Region Ski Club. We visited in October of 2012 and captured these photos.
Update: A visitor to our Facebook page tells us most of this ski jump has blown down in a windstorm and there is very little left. …
Last summer, we had the opportunity to go back to White Butte for the first time since 2007, so we couldn’t resist the chance to go to the summit and get some GoPro video in HD.
White Butte is in Slope County, and of the fifty state high points, it is one of only seven that is on private land — North Dakota, Nebraska, Maryland, Louisiana, Kansas, Indiana and Illinois. The rest of the states’ high points lie mainly within state or national parks.
We opted not to include any narration on this one, just the beautiful view from the summit of North Dakota’s highest point.
Stream this one to your TV if you have the capability. It looks great on a big screen.
If you’re like us, you enjoy all things North Dakota. Here are five more North Dakota-related sites you should check out.
Wild In North Dakota: They might be the most followed North Dakota-oriented site on Facebook with over a quarter-million followers. Wild in North Dakota is a non-profit organization dedicated to the “promotion, education, and awareness of the wild horse herd” in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Facebook | Website
1897 Red River Valley League: This excellent site chronicles the 1897 Red River Valley Baseball League which featured teams from Fargo, Grand Forks, Moorhead, and Wahpeton-Breckenridge. “The league featured future major league players, local heroes, reckless characters, economic unrest, and spirited rivalries.” Facebook | Website
Dakota Death Trip: This fascinating site highlights the hardships our ancestors faced by examining the lurid. Through these stories of tragedy and misfortune, we learn a lot about the reality of life on the plains. Sometimes sad, other times humorous, you’ll get lost in Derek Dahlsad’s Dakota Death Trip for hours. Facebook | Website
Fargo Underground: An underground chronicle of the happenings and events in North Dakota’s largest city via a super-clean, easy-to-navigate website, constantly updated with photos and videos. If you want to know what’s happening in Fargo, this is a good place to start. Facebook | Website
Bismarck Cafe: Also known as BisMan Cafe and Bismarck Pride, this site features the latest news and happenings from the Bismarck/Mandan metro, plus historical data and photos from our state capital. Facebook | Website
In July of 2015, we visited Marmarth, North Dakota and had plans to proceed from there to Ollie, Montana to photograph the former school (it was no longer standing) on the way to the prairie ghost town of Carlyle, Montana. Our route of choice was Old Highway 16, also referred to as Old Marmarth Road. It was a route that would take us through the Badlands north of Marmarth, where the views are fantastic.
Although Old Marmarth Road is in fairly nice condition these days, it is not your standard scenic drive. …
The North Dakota Badlands cover the southwestern third of the state and are part of a larger range of badlands which stretch south to White Butte and into South Dakota’s Badlands National Park. These photos were taken in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, near Medora, North Dakota. …
Medora, North Dakota is the leading tourist attraction in the state, so perhaps it’s apropos the population is only 112. This is the biggest, most diverse little town you’ll ever visit — the hotel rooms outnumber the bedrooms in this town, and the streets are chock full — complete with antique and gift shops, saloons, museums, wildlife, scenery… the list is endless. But don’t expect the typical, there’s not a McDonalds or any other franchise joint for miles. …
Painted Canyon Visitor Center is right off the north side of Interstate 94, a few miles east of Medora. If you’re entering the Badlands from the east, this is your first chance to get a look at them from a scenic overlook, and it is amazing.
A more extensive gallery of the badlands as you see them from inside Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora is here. Further south is White Butte, the highest point in North Dakota, where hints of a similar landscape crop up in the middle of green farmland. …
White Butte is the highest point in the state of North Dakota at 3,506 feet above sea level. The peak is on private land and is not staffed. Of the 50 state highpoints, only seven are on private land — North Dakota, Nebraska, Maryland, Louisiana, Kansas, Indiana and Illinois. There is no development of any kind at White Butte. The closest town, Amidon, had a population of 26 in the 2000 Census, and is the smallest county seat in the nation as the seat of Slope County. According to the 2010 Census, Slope is one of only two counties in the state with a population density of less than one person per square mile… a lot of wide open space out here.
The hike to the top of White Butte is fairly easy if you follow the path up the ridgeline to the summit.
At the summit. The memorial at lower right is a tribute to the former property owner, Lawrence Buzalsky, who died in 1990.
There is a summit log notebook in this box. We signed it and left a stack of postcards in the box, but we have yet to hear from anyone who got one.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
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.
After we posted our photos of Stardust 17 Drive-In in Grafton, it became pretty clear that you were bitten by the Drive-In bug, because we got lots of comments, questions, and emails about Drive-In Theaters.
As we mentioned in that post, there are no remaining operating drive-in theaters in the state of North Dakota — the last was Lake Park Drive-In in Williston, which closed in 2012.
Here is a larger list which includes open drive-in theaters within reasonable driving distance of North Dakota. I’ve included official websites where possible. Many of these facilities have seldom updated websites, so please call or email ahead before you drive too far. If you have updated information to add to this page, please post a comment. …