Oberon, North Dakota is in Benson County, about ten miles southwest of Fort Totten. Two places we had been to previously, Josephine and Flora, North Dakota, are a short drive west.
We happened to drive through Oberon when we were on our way to Minot in 2014 and we were surprised to see there were some good photo opportunities that we hadn’t known about. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time that day. So, our visit in the spring of 2015 was a second chance.
In the 2010 Census, Oberon’s population was listed as 105; a pretty populated place compared to many of the small towns featured on this site. There was a photogenic combination of vacant places and creative reuse going on in Oberon, however, and we wanted to share a few places.
The Community Center on the corner of A Street and Main Avenue had neatly maintained grounds. Maybe it was a bank at one time? Perhaps someone can comment.
This town was first known as Antelope; a moniker authors Vernell and Louise Johnson say came from the settlement’s location at “the northwest end of the famous Antelope Valley, where antelope were plentiful.” The town was renamed Barker when the post office was established in 1885, but in 1886 Postmaster Vernon Matthews changed the name to Oberon, a reference to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and the town was platted.
The Oberon School looked like it was still a fully-active, functional school, and we had no reason to photograph it, really, other than the fact that it’s a big, beautiful brick building, and that temptation is hard to resist.
If the alternative is letting an old church wither in the elements until it caves in, we’re thrilled to see beautiful old sanctuaries like the one in Oberon get some creative reuse. We saw another church in 2014 in Wabek, North Dakota that someone had turned into a home, and someone appeared to be moving into an old Post Office in Sentinel Butte. It’s so cool to see old places, steeped in history and heritage, getting second chances.
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Another place we couldn’t resist shooting. Calvary Lutheran Church.
Services are Sunday at 9:30.
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. @NorthDakotaTroy