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Return to Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

Return to Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel

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.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
North American Bison of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

North American Bison of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

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.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
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.

Devils Lake house
An abandoned home along the shores of Devils Lake, “Lake of the Spirits.”

There are published accounts from as far back as 1894, and Native American legends going back much further, about a Loch Ness-style serpent in Devils Lake, North Dakota’s largest natural body of water, named in an approximate translation of the Lakota name, “Lake of the Spirits.”

Devils Lake-area residents are, of course, quite familiar with the legend, sometimes known as the Devils Lake Monster (not to be confused with a reported lake monster in Oregon of the same name) but there are surprisingly few modern references to a creature that has been reported for hundreds of years in Devils Lake.

One of the earliest accounts comes from the New York Sun, October 21st, 1894. It reads in part:

All descriptions of the serpent agree that it has alligator jaws and glaring red eyes. Its tail is about 80 feet long. The serpent usually appears in August and about sunset. The red glare of the sunset sky is often reflected in the eyes of the serpent like mirrors and the flashes of red light that go darting here and there as the serpent turns its head strike terror into the hearts of those on whom they fall. The serpent moves slowly along about a half mile from the shore, and in the course of a day or two makes the round of the lake. At times it lashes the water furiously with its tail and it leaves a simple shining wake as it pushes its way along.

The Sun article further describes the appearance of the serpent:

Its color is a slimy green, and it is easy to trace the waves of motion that begin at its head and follow along to its tail, three or four distinct waves being in evidence at the same time. It has ragged and enormous fins on its side and horny substances that project from its jaws, or directly behind them, and trail along in the water, but which, when it is angered, stick out in a horrible bristling attitude. Its scales sometimes glisten and sometimes lie so close to its back that they seem to be simply an ordinary snakeskin

Graham's Island, Devils Lake, ND
An abandoned road descends into Devils Lake

In July of 1895, The Bismarck Tribune published a story which told the tale of a fisherman who reportedly hooked the monster and got towed on a high speed joyride around the lake. These early accounts of the Devils Lake Monster are frequently dismissed as sensationalized accounts by newspapers seeking readers and/or local business interests trying to draw tourists and settlers on the freshly laid railroad line. Nevertheless, reports of a serpent in Devils Lake would continue.

In August, 1904, The Wichita Beacon published a story that would be reprinted in other newspapers around the nation for months afterward.

Mrs. C.F. Craig, of Leeds, Mrs. Edgar Larue and Mrs. Carr Cleveland, while strolling along the bank of Devils Lake, at Chatauqua grounds, were terribly frightened by an object that resembled a sea serpent, which was lashing the water into white foam about a mile from shore.

The party secured opera glasses, and on returning, were horrified to see on a close examination, that the serpent was swimming north across the lake, and was leaving a vast wake behind it, as with slow but powerful and irresistible motion, the monster threaded its way through the water, with its long sinuous folds which were like a weavers beam.

The serpent’s body was very thick, and covered with huge and horribly loathesome-looking black scales. Its head was of snake-like formation, with a flashing, darting tongue, and two angry eyes as big as goose eggs, glowed in the monster’s head.



Another published mass-sighting of the serpent occurred in 1915 with a number of eyewitnesses reporting their accounts separately, including E.M. Lewis, a businessman, who sighted the creature from a train passing near the shore of Devils Lake. From the Grand Forks Daily Herald, July 21, 1915:

That Devils Lake Sea Serpent Basks in Sunshine For Admiring Crowds; Now They’ll Hunt it

(Herald Special Service) Devils Lake, N. D., July 21. — Stretched out on the surface of the bay of Devils Lake, fronting Chautauqua, the monster sea serpent basked. In the delightful evening sunshine shortly before sundown last night, while residents of Chautauqua and Greenwood looked on in silent amazement. The serpent was viewed from several different points.

There was no mistake about it. The monster, that has figured in the legends of Devils Lake for half a century, when only the Indians inhabited the country, or a descendant which answers the earliest description, was seen by so many that no one disputes the fact that it lives in the waters of the lake.

E. M. Lewis and Chas. Pillsbury, well known business men, saw the serpent very distinctly, unknown to each other. It was stretched out on the water about a quarter of a mile from shore. It is described as between fifty and sixty feet long and between a foot and two feet in diameter. Captain Walter Fursteneau of the police force, accompanied by his wife also witnessed the sight.

The last time the serpent was seen was a couple of years ago by Rev. C. L. Wallace of the M. E. Church. At that time it was in the extreme east end of the lake. It happens that this section is separated from the section where the serpent was seen last night, by a bridge at the Narrows, which in reality is a dike, there being no water passage. How the monster got into the west-end of the lake is the present mystery. That it vaulted the bridge, or else that there are two serpents in the lake, is the conclusion reached today. In any event, it has been established beyond the question of a doubt that a monster lives in the lake and already there is talk of expeditions to get in closer touch with the freak.

The legend of the Devils Lake Monster is certainly a fanciful and interesting tale, an entertaining story to be told around a campfire on a summer night, but there are no photos of the creature that I could find, and it’s interesting to note that actual sightings of the monster seem to have died down in the last fifty years, perhaps due to the seeming scientific impossibility of the creature.

Devils Lake is a body of water with no natural outlet, disconnected from any larger sea, and skeptics frequently question where the serpent could have come from. While re-tellings of Native American legend say the creature was stranded in Devils Lake after the last glaciers retreated, that would necessitate a lifespan of 9,000 years or more for the beast.

We have visited sites around Devils Lake, and although we have sometimes found a haunting panorama of imagery which includes abandoned homes and inundated roads from a time when the lake level was much lower than today, we have yet to see anything that resembles a serpent in Devils Lake. Have you?

See also: The Flooding of Graham’s Island
See also: Legend of the Miniwashitu

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, original content copyright © 2017 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Built from the Earth: The Hutmacher Farmstead

Built from the Earth: The Hutmacher Farmstead

The Hutmacher farm is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is considered the midwest’s finest still-standing example of the earthen abodes built by Germans from Russia. Believe it or not, Alex Hutmacher lived here until 1979.

The Hutmacher farm has been undergoing restoration. You can get more information here. These photos contributed by Kim Dvorak.

More reading on the Hutmacher farm here and here.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
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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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Fort Abercrombie: Gateway to the Dakotas

Fort Abercrombie: Gateway to the Dakotas

The original Fort Abercrombie was constructed in 1858, and it was the first military settlement in what would become North Dakota. Fort Abercrombie was a relic of the first transportation boom in the Dakota Territory — riverboats. Before the railroads, riverboats were one of the most efficient means of hauling cargo, and the Red River became a highway between Fort Abercrombie and Winnipeg. Due to flooding concerns, the fort was rebuilt in 1860 on higher ground, at its present location.

Fort Abercrombie

The fort was besieged by the Sioux for more than six weeks in 1862, an event that came to be known as the Dakota War of 1862.  Four soldiers were killed and two wounded.

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

With the frigid Dakota Territory winter approaching, the fort was abandoned as a military outpost on October 23rd, 1877. The town of Abercrombie was officially established nearly seven years later, about a half mile west.

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

Fort Abercrombie was largely forgotten for decades, but started to come back to life when the WPA began reconstruction of the original fort in 1939 and 1940. You can read more about the history of Fort Abercombie here.

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

Two reconstructed blockhouses and the original guard house now reside at The Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site.  Fort Abercrombie is right on the Red River, about forty minutes south of Fargo.

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

Fort Abercrombie is featured in our new book, the softcover Special Edition of Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 1.

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

The Red River has shifted its track over the years and the land under part of the site was compromised.  This marker provides a nice reference point for getting your bearings on the site.

Fort Abercrombie, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Oldest Standing Structures in North Dakota: Gingras Trading Post

Oldest Standing Structures in North Dakota: Gingras Trading Post

Long before the arrival of the settlers brought by the Homestead Act of 1862, this part of North Dakota was a center of commerce in the fur trade. The Metis people, a mixed-race culture of Native Americans and French, English, and Scottish explorers, lived and traded in this area throughout the 18th and 19th centuries (French explorer Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye, arrived in what is now North Dakota in 1738).

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
International Peace Garden: Promise of Peace

International Peace Garden: Promise of Peace

The International Peace Garden, first opened in 1932, is a hidden treasure within the United States and Canada. Photographer Kari Barchenger brings her 35 years experience of capturing unique subjects to a new height in this journey through the International Peace Garden. Take a walk with her through the gardens and observe the beauty and splendor of it all. Experience through her lens the butterflies and bees and lush gardens. Roam the cacti and tropical gardens in the conservatory. Wander through the large variety of plants from around the world. You may be lucky enough to see one of the cacti in bloom during your visit.

Peace Garden

International Peace Garden: Promise of Peace, is an 88 page hardcover book, the first dedicated entirely to the International Peace Garden, and which features the flora and wonder of the International Peace Garden through the beautiful nature photography of Kari Barchenger.

Sale $29.95 Order today!








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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
6 More North Dakota Sites You’ll Love

6 More North Dakota Sites You’ll Love

We got an email request from someone not too long ago to do another “More North Dakota Sites You’ll Love” post (the original is here), so we’ve gathered up another handful of North Dakota-related sites you should check out.

Border Marker Project — We just discovered this one ourselves and it is really cool. The description of the Border Marker Project from their “About” page: In 1891 and 1892 the North and South Dakota state line was surveyed and marked with quartzite state line markers. Originally there were 720 of these marker placed every 1/2 mile from the Minnesota state line to the Montana border. Now less than half remain and are badly in need of restoration. It is the intent of our project to restore as many of the existing leaning markers as possible. In a few cases misplaced markers will be returned to their original location where possible. [facebook]

FMlostandfound.com — The website for FM Lost and Found is a look at the visual landscape of Fargo and Moorhead, yesterday and today, through classic postcards and vintage photographs, juxtaposed in many cases with current photographs taken from the same spot.  There are plenty of ways to waste an hour on this website if Fargo and Moorhead interest you, and much more in the book. [website]

North Dakota Badlands Horse — North Dakota Badlands Horse is a non-profit dedicated to the well-being of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. “North Dakota Badlands Horse (NDBH) is a nonprofit made up of people from around the country and the world who are passionate about these magnificent North Dakota wild horses. We were able to save all but 8 of the 77 horses sold in 2009 and all 103 of them sold in 2015. Now that NDBH has a Partnership agreement with TRNP we are able to help capture horses using low stress herding on foot. A few excess young horses selected by park staff are removed and adopted out to pre-approved homes so that they will be able to be trained and cared for the rest of their lives.” [website] [facebook]

Travel North Dakota — The official state portal for North Dakota travel. You’ve likely seen the advertising campaign commercials starring Minot-native and Hollywood actor Josh Duhamel, and the website is loaded with ideas for fun North Dakota travel excursions, plus accommodations and more. [website] [Facebook]

Preservation North Dakota — If you’ve been a GND fan for any length of time, you know we support Preservation North Dakota and the good work they do to assist in the restoration and preservation of North Dakota’s historic places. Their website has been redesigned since we last checked-in, so check it out. [website] [Facebook]

The Minot Voice — The Minot Voice is a frequently updated feed of North Dakota stories and sites. The Minot Voice is sometimes politics- heavy, but the site encompasses everything North Dakota-related, and you’ll occasionally see Ghosts of North Dakota articles pop-up on the Minot Voice, too. [website] [facebook]

Do you know of an interesting North Dakota-related site or community? Let us know about it in the comments.

Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Niagara, North Dakota: Former Home of a Serial Killer

Niagara, North Dakota: Former Home of a Serial Killer

Niagara, North Dakota is just off US Highway 2, not quite forty miles west of Grand Forks. It was founded in 1882 by settlers from Niagara County, New York. According to the 2010 Census, Niagara has 53 residents.

Niagara, North Dakota

Niagara, North Dakota is the former home of a serial killer, a man named Eugene Butler, a recluse who lived on the edge of town. Butler was committed to the State Asylum in Jamestown in 1904, and he died there in 1911. Four years after he died, an excavation at Butler’s home uncovered a hidden trap door leading to a crawlspace. Inside, authorities found the remains of six people. All had been bludgeoned to death with blows to the back of the head.

Niagara, North Dakota

Since Butler was already dead, he never saw the inside of a prison for his crimes. There weren’t any local people reported missing, so there are many theories about who the victims were–transient farmhands for instance. Their identities remain a mystery today.

An update on the mystery came from WDAY-TV in Fargo in February, 2016. Case files have been lost over the years, and an effort to perform DNA testing on the victims’ remains depends on the authorities ability to acquire bones stolen by looters in the aftermath of the discovery.

Niagara, North Dakota

The Butler murders are a chapter of Niagara’s history that many have forgotten. Today, Niagara has a nice historical complex in their town square but there is understandably no mention of Eugene Butler’s crimes.  Butler’s home was demolished and a workshop (not shown) stands on the site today.

Niagara, North Dakota

Niagara, North Dakota

Niagara, North Dakota

Just as we pulled into town, the wind started to really blow and a light drizzle began… so we didn’t spend quite as much time photographing Niagara as we would have liked. We’ll definitely go back sometime when the weather is better.

Niagara, North Dakota

Niagara, North Dakota

Niagara, North Dakota

There was once an impressive building on the corner of the intersection shown above.  It would have stood where the nose of the pickup is sticking out from behind the fire garage.

Niagara, North Dakota

Niagara, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
11 North Dakota Attractions You Can Visit for Free

11 North Dakota Attractions You Can Visit for Free

One of the things we’ve always loved about photographing North Dakota’s abandoned places and roadside attractions is that it feels like an alternative form of tourism–that is to say, most of these places are interesting and fun to visit, but there are generally no crowds and no admission fees.  However, when you have the kids in the car, or Grandma and Grandpa tagging along on a day trip, sometimes you need something a little more family friendly, with fewer rusty nails to step on (and cheap is always good). So, gas up the family truckster. Here are eleven North Dakota attractions you can visit for free.

Fort Abercrombie

Fort Abercrombie

The original Fort Abercrombie was constructed in 1858, and it was the first military settlement in what would become North Dakota.  Fort Abercrombie is a relic of the first transportation boom in the Dakota Territory — riverboats. Before the railroads, riverboats were one of the most efficient means of hauling cargo, and the Red River became a highway between Fort Abercrombie and Winnipeg.  Two reconstructed blockhouses and the original guard house now reside at The Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site.  Fort Abercrombie is right on the Red River, about forty minutes south of Fargo.

Gingras Trading Post

gingras-trading-post

Gingras Trading Post is northeast of Walhalla about four miles from the Canadian border. The trading post was established in 1801 as a center of commerce on a sometimes hostile frontier.  According to the State Historical Society: The buildings at Gingras State Historic Site are the oldest standing structures in North Dakota. They have been restored to their original appearance by the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Cartwright Tunnel and Fairview Lift Bridge

Cartwright Tunnel

Cartwright Tunnel and Fairview Lift Bridge, in McKenzie County, just a short drive southwest of Williston, is a two-for-one attraction–a lift bridge on the Yellowstone River (which was only raised one time), and North Dakota’s only railroad tunnel.  Both have now been converted to tourist attractions, and are free to explore.  Bonus: on a hot summer day, the Cartwright Tunnel features natural air-conditioning in a pitch black and blissfully cool tunnel.

Dakota Thunder and Frontier Village

frontier-village1

Dakota Thunder, in Jamestown, is billed as the World’s Largest Buffalo. It’s a concrete statue of a North American Bison which stands at the east end of Frontier Village, a replica frontier town with actual buildings from places around the state.  It’s free to get in, and for a few extra bucks, you can visit the National Buffalo Museum which is also on-site.

Standing Rock Hill Historic Site

standing-rock1

Standing Rock Hill Historic Site, not to be confused with Standing Rock Reservation much further to the west, is a scenic and sacred site south of Kathryn and west of Enderlin, in Ransom County.  Standing Rock Hill Historic Site consists of four Native American burial mounds, the largest of which is marked with the small standing rock shown here.  Getting to the site requires a fairly steep uphill drive on a minimally maintained road, and the trip should only be taken by the adventurous if the weather is bad.

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte is the highest point in North Dakota, in Slope County, near Amidon, and of the fifty state high points, one of only seven on private land. It’s a fairly strenuous thirty-minute hike to the summit. The property owners are known to be friendly to the climbing community as long as you’re respectful and pick up after yourself. The last time we visited, there was a porta-potty at the base, but there are no other services of any kind, and no admission fee.

Northern Pacific High Line Bridge #64

High Line Bridge

High Line Bridge 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. High Line Bridge is in Valley City, there’s a park at the base of the bridge, and plenty of restaurants and accommodations in town. No admission fee.

Painted Canyon

Painted Canyon

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.  While it costs a few bucks to get into Theodore Roosevelt National Park a few miles west, the Painted Canyon Overlook is free.

Jensen Cabin at Wadeson Park

jensen-cabin1

Jensen Cabin, in Barnes County, 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.  It’s a beautiful drive to get here if you drive the Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway from Valley City, and the placid and soothing Wadeson Park Spillway is right across the road.  It’s a nice history lesson, and it’s free.

Gassman Coulee Trestle

Gassman Coulee Trestle

Gassman Coulee Trestle is one of three very large railroad trestles we’ve photographed, the others being the High Line in Valley City and Sheyenne River Bridge near Karnak. Gassman Coulee Trestle, just west of Minot, is an attraction in the roughest sense–you can drive under it, photograph it, or just stand in awe of it, but there’s no visitor center or anything like that. It’s just a great place to be outside with your camera on a hot summer night.  There was once a ski resort under this trestle, and the former ski lodge is still there, but now it’s a private residence.

The site of Old Sanish

Sanish, ND

Old Sanish lies beneath the waves of Lake Sakakawea most of the time, but sometimes, if the water is really low, you can see the remains of Old Sanish.  With the water at normal levels, the ruins are submerged, but you can still visit Crow Flies High Butte, see the monument to Old Sanish which features photos of the town, and get a fantastic panorama view of Lake Sakakawea and Four Bears Bridge.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Video: White Butte — The Highest Point in North Dakota

Video: White Butte — The Highest Point in North Dakota

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.

Original content copyright © 2015 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Abandoned Fort Buford

Abandoned Fort Buford

Fort Buford dates back to the days of the Dakota Territory, decades before the map was crisscrossed by a spiderweb of railroad lines. Founded in 1866, Fort Buford was a strategically chosen point near the best highways of the day — the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. The original fort was reportedly constructed using some recycled parts from Fort Union and Fort William.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Cartwright Tunnel and Fairview Lift Bridge

Cartwright Tunnel and Fairview Lift Bridge

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.

Fairview Lift Bridge

There’s a campground in the shadow of this bridge where we intended to camp during our visit, but when we arrived, we found the place off-limits. We’re told some people had been abusing overnight camping privileges, so camping is no longer allowed.  We ended up in a jam and had to settle for last minute accommodations at a primitive campground some miles away.

Fairview Lift Bridge, North Dakota

Today, the bridge is a tourist attraction and a popular spot for watersports among locals. The bridge and tunnel are both handicap accessible. The gate shown above marks the west end, just above the parking lot.

Fairview Lift Bridge, North Dakota

The sky was clouded by smoke from forest fires on the day we were there.

Fairview Lift Bridge, North Dakota

Fairview Lift Bridge, North Dakota

This island is right in the middle of the Yellowstone river, which is one of the longest un-dammed rivers in the western hemisphere. William Clark devoted some time to exploring this river during Lewis & Clark’s return journey from the Pacific Coast. Just miles from here, it empties into the Missouri River.

Fairview Lift Bridge, North Dakota

Fairview Lift Bridge, North Dakota

Cartwright Tunnel

The decaying ruins of the Cartwright tunnel were shored up and reconstructed between 2004 and 2006 by the North Dakota Army National Guard and Friends of the Fairview Bridge.

Cartwright Tunnel

Cartwright Tunnel

 We did not realize how big this tunnel was from photos. When you’re there in person, it is huge.

Cartwright Tunnel

The hike, from end to end, took us about 8 minutes.

Cartwright Tunnel

A neighbor’s dog accompanied us on our hike.

Cartwright Tunnel

Cartwright Tunnel

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Northern Pacific High Line Bridge #64

Northern Pacific High Line Bridge #64

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.

High Line Bridge

There are sources with varying lengths and heights for this bridge, depending on where the measurements are taken from.  We’re using the plaque on the site of the bridge for these stats: the bridge is 3,886 feet long and 155 feet high.  Other sources say the bridge is 3,860 feet long and 162 feet above the river.

High Line Bridge

High Line Bridge

High Line Bridge

Hundreds of vehicles pass beneath this bridge every day while trains cross above.

High Line Bridge

High Line Bridge

The park beneath the bridge also holds a significant place in the history of the Boy Scouts.

High Line Bridge

High Line Bridge

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Maltese Cross Cabin: Theodore Roosevelt’s Mobile Home

Maltese Cross Cabin: Theodore Roosevelt’s Mobile Home

On Theodore Roosevelt’s first trip to North Dakota in 1883, before he made Elkhorn Ranch his home, he stayed in a modest frontier cabin about seven miles south of Medora at Chimney Butte.  It was still the Dakota Territory then and the future President was bolstering his rawhide credentials.  The National Park Service has a nice page on the cabin here.

Maltese Cross Cabin, Chimney Butte

Above, the Maltese Cross Cabin at Chimney Butte, circa 1904, photo by Jospeh Kitchin. The cabin originally had a steep, pitched roof but according to a report by the Historic American Buildings Survey, it underwent structural changes in 1884 or ’85 and again in 1897 or ’98. Other modifications to the cabin are also visible in the photo above.  You can make out the timbers that were used to patch the doorway in the wall. Compare to the photo at the bottom… the door has been restored today.

Maltese Cross Cabin, World's Fair 1904

During Theodore Roosevelt’s Presidency, the Maltese Cross Cabin began touring the country. It is shown here at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis and it was also shown at the Portland World’s Fair the following year.

Maltese Cross Cabin, World's Fair 1904

After traveling the country, the Maltese Cross Cabin came back to North Dakota and resided at what was then the State Fairgrounds in Fargo for a couple years before moving to the grounds of the State Capitol in Bismarck.

Maltese Cross Cabin, Bismarck

Above, the Maltese Cross Cabin when it was at the State Capitol in Bismarck, approximately 1909 to 1959.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Today, the Maltese Cross Cabin stands behind the visitor center at the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora and the original pitched roof has been recreated. Admission is free, there are guided tours and a very talented Theodore Roosevelt impersonator.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
More North American Bison

More North American Bison

We visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park in August of 2013 and photographed much of the scenery and the North American Bison that roam the park. This is just an additional batch of photos that we didn’t include in the original post.

North American Bison

These photos were taken in the south unit, near Medora, North Dakota. At the time of our visit, it was $10/vehicle to get into the park, and it occurred to us that you won’t find a better value for your money to experience the North Dakota Badlands.

North American Bison

North American Bison

This one had an itch that just had to be scratched.

North American Bison

North American Bison

“Hey! What are you looking at?”

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

North American Bison

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
The Badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The Badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

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.

There is a certain romance in the landscape of badlands, and North Dakota’s are no exception.  You can’t help but be reminded of the all the moments in cinema history where the badlands were the backdrop, from westerns to post-apocalyptic thrillers.

North American Bison roam this park as well as wild horses and other wildlife.  Camping is available, as well as hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, and more.

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Many of these photos are featured in our second book, Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 2.

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Scoria Point Overlook

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park

This is the Maltese Cross Cabin at the entrance to the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Theodore Roosevelt stayed here in 1883.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The cabin’s original location was seven miles south of Medora.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The Marquis de Mores’ meat-packing plant once stood here. Now only the chimney remains.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

This gentleman does a fantastic Theodore Roosevelt, right down to his turn of the century manner of speech.

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.
The Old West of Medora, North Dakota

The Old West of 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.

Medora is the epicenter of North Dakota Old West lore, boasting historic figures from Theodore Roosevelt, who came to Medora in 1883 to hunt bison, to General Custer, who spent some of his final days here.  Painted Canyon is just down the Interstate.  The badlands scenery in Medora is incredible, and there’s a little something for everyone, from the musical to the pitchfork steak fondue.  There’s another gallery of badlands photos here.  We will likely visit many more times, because there is waaaayyyy more to see.

Medora, North Dakota

Above: The Rough Riders (spelled with a space, like the sign above the door) Hotel in 2013. Below: that’s the same hotel, on the left, 99 years earlier in 1914.

Medora, North Dakota

Medora, 1914

Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt once rented the room upstairs.

Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Board sidewalks in Medora.

Medora, North Dakota

St. Mary’s

Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Marquis de Mores

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Badlands Part One: Painted Canyon

Badlands Part One: Painted Canyon

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.

Painted Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Painted Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Warning: Unstable Ground

Painted Canyon

Painted Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Painted Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Driving Through a Herd of North American Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Driving Through a Herd of North American Bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

On our recent visit to North Dakota’s southwest corner, we spent some time in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, and we were reminded of the magic of the Badlands.

For anyone who lives in eastern North Dakota in the flat lands which were once the bottom of glacial Lake Agassiz, it’s easy to forget that North Dakota is not entirely flat. As Terry and I entered the Badlands and caught our first look at Painted Canyon from the highway, we were literally bouncing up and down with excitement in the car.  We couldn’t wait to photograph the beautiful topography — gallery here.

Far and away, the highlight of our trip was getting to see the animal that brought Teddy Roosevelt to North Dakota in 1883 — North American Bison.  We mounted a video camera on top of my car and let it roll as we came upon the bison.  If you have a nice fast connection, make sure you check it out in HD, fullscreen.  There’s a photo gallery of the bison here.  Enjoy.

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
White Butte

White Butte

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.

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

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White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

 

White Butte

At the summit. The memorial at lower right is a tribute to the former property owner, Lawrence Buzalsky, who died in 1990.

White Butte

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.

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

White Butte

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.
Dresden, North Dakota

Dresden, North Dakota

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.

Dresden, North Dakota

Dresden, North Dakota

Dresden, North Dakota

Dresden, North Dakota

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.

Dresden, North Dakota

Dresden, North Dakota

There’s a collector out there who would pay good money for that truck.

Dresden, North Dakota

Dresden, North Dakota

Dresden, North Dakota

Dresden, North Dakota

Dresden, North Dakota

Luxury accommodations in this 1896 jail cell from Langdon.

Dresden, North Dakota

Photos by 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.
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.

Standing Rock Hill State Historic Site

There is a fairly serious grade up a minimally maintained road to get to the parking lot at the top of the hill, but in dry conditions, you shouldn’t have any trouble in the typical car.  Read more about it here.

standing-rock1

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
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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Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota.
Dakota Thunder and Frontier Village

Dakota Thunder and Frontier Village

Frontier Village is a tourist attraction just off Interstate 94 in Jamestown and includes a number of attractions including the “World’s Largest Buffalo” (a concrete bison statue named Dakota Thunder,) Frontier Village (a re-creation of a pioneer town featuring actual historic buildings which have been moved to the site from all over the state,) and the National Buffalo Museum.

The photo doesn’t quite do justice to the scale of Dakota Thunder… a tall person can stand beneath the two front legs of this statue with a couple feet to spare. It’s big, and really a thrill to see in person.

The store on the right is a working souvenir and snack shop with an ATM.

Do you have our hardcover coffee table book Churches of the High Plains?

There is no admission charge to get into Frontier Village or to see Dakota Thunder, and a small fee to the National Buffalo Museum, totally worth the price for the opportunity to see North American Bison in a family-friendly environment.  You can even get a ride in a real stagecoach. Next time you’re driving by on Interstate 94, stop in for a visit!

Photos by Troy Larson, 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.