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A Slow-Motion Disaster in Ghost Town Aylmer, North Dakota

A Slow-Motion Disaster in Ghost Town Aylmer, North Dakota

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…

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Bethel Lutheran Awaits Just One More Potluck

Bethel Lutheran Awaits Just One More Potluck

The cornerstone for this church along County Road 5 reads “Bethel Hauges Norsk E.V. Luth. Kirke, 1915”. Put more plainly, that’s Bethel Hauges Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church. The building is located in northern Wells County, about 10 miles east of Harvey, and although the cemetery is still active, the building stands abandoned and boarded-up. In the place where the Lord’s word could once be heard on Sunday mornings by 80 or 100 parishioners at a time, Bethel Lutheran awaits just…

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The Story of How Ghosts of North Dakota Began

The Story of How Ghosts of North Dakota Began

It occurred to me the other day that we’ve told the story about how Ghosts of North Dakota began in countless interviews over the years, but we’ve never posted it here, so for those who might be interested in how this project began, this is the tale. In 2003, myself and Terry Hinnenkamp, my roadtrip friend and fellow adventurer, were working at the same Fargo Top 40 radio station, Y94. Halloween was coming up and we had this goofy idea…

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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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True Ghost Town: Stady, North Dakota

True Ghost Town: Stady, North Dakota

Stady was founded in 1907 and was a stopping point on old highway 85. The peak population of 60 had dropped to 11 by 1940, after the highway moved. Stady is now a true ghost town — totally abandoned. MJ Masilko contributed these photos with the following comments: I’m sending you some pictures I took in May of 2006 of a ghost town called Stady. It’s in Divide County, 16 miles SSW of Fortuna. There didn’t seem to be any…

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This Lost Highway Leads to the Bottom of a Lake

This Lost Highway Leads to the Bottom of a Lake

We’ve visited a few lost highways before, like this one in Minnesota, or this flooded road near Devils Lake, but in my opinion, this is the most significant lost highway in the state of North Dakota, for reasons I’ll explain below. While there are many reasons a highway becomes lost — rerouting of the road, mining, and freeway construction, for example — this road fell victim to the greatest flood in North Dakota history, a man-made flood, and now, this…

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A Ghost Town Built from Coal and Bricks

A Ghost Town Built from Coal and Bricks

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…

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The Abandoned Kincaid Power Plant

The Abandoned Kincaid Power Plant

Kincaid Power Plant is about four miles south of Columbus, North Dakota, in Burke County, about seventeen miles southwest of Flaxton. It reached the end of its journey and was abandoned in 1966. The 1971 Burke County and White Earth Valley Historical Society book describes this plant as follows.

Grassy Butte, North Dakota

Grassy Butte, North Dakota

Grassy Butte, ND is in a very sparsely populated area of western North Dakota, in southern McKenzie County. It does not appear in any of the census records back as far as 1960, but it reportedly harbored 100 citizens at one time. Monica Hardy contributed these photos in 2010 with the following comments: The building that looks like a church in the background of the post office/museum pictures are of a private home. Someone renovated the home. There were other bldgs…

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The Quiet of Forbes, North Dakota

The Quiet of Forbes, North Dakota

Forbes, North Dakota is in Dickey County, about thirty miles southeast of Ashley, right on the South Dakota border. On nearly every trip, we go out looking forward to seeing a certain town, but on the way home, we realize another town was better or more fun.  In this adventure in June of 2011, Forbes was that town — the pleasant surprise.

Argusville High School

Argusville High School

Argusville is located right off I29 about fifteen minutes north of Fargo. It was founded in 1880 and dwindled to around 100 residents by the 1980’s, but experienced a population boom after the turn of the millennium. Argusville now has a population of 475. So this abandoned high school is a rare spot in an otherwise budding town. The last class graduated from this school in 1997 when it was known as Cass Valley North High School.

Postcards from the Edge of North Dakota

Postcards from the Edge of 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…

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The Remains of Minot Air Force Station

The Remains of Minot Air Force Station

When we ran our Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of our first book, we offered supporters the opportunity to name a location they would like us to photograph in exchange for their support. One of our supporters asked us to visit and photograph the former Minot Air Force Station, about 14 miles south of Minot. Minot Air Force Station was the first major Air Force installation in North Dakota, predating the other Minot and Grand Forks bases. It was…

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A Solitary Haynes Township School

A Solitary Haynes Township School

We photographed this solitary Haynes Township school back in 2013, and although we featured it in a video, we never posted the actual photographs until now. It is in Kidder County, Haynes Township, just off Highway 3, about 11 miles north of Steele, North Dakota. A little further north are a few other places we’ve photographed, including the Tuttle School, two Clear Lake Township schools (here, and here) and true ghost town Arena, North Dakota is about 15 minutes northwest…

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Ghost Town Lincoln Valley Revisited

Ghost Town Lincoln Valley Revisited

If we could magically travel back in time to photograph some North Dakota places, Lincoln Valley is one of the places we would choose to visit. We would go back to 1966, when Joe Leintz became the last resident of town. A church, store (really, an entire main street) and nine vacant residences still stood in Lincoln Valley at that time, and we would spend considerable time photographing it all. We would visit Joe and listen, enraptured, as he told…

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The Western Intrigue of Gascoyne, North Dakota

The Western Intrigue of Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne is in Bowman County along Highway 12 in southwestern North Dakota, about 15 minutes east of Bowman. It was founded in 1907 as a Milwaukee Road railroad townsite, originally known as Fischbein, named after an early settler. The former school is the most prominent abandoned structure in Gascoyne. It rests on top of a hill on the west edge of town, right alongside Highway 12. Update: a visitor to our Facebook page tells us this school was demolished in…

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San Haven Sanatorium in the 1930s

San Haven Sanatorium in the 1930s

Tuberculosis, frequently referred to as “consumption” in historical documents, was arguably the most serious endemic disease and health concern of the 19th and early 20th centuries. With no “cure” to come until 1946, those afflicted with TB were prescribed rest and fresh air as a treatment, and sanatoriums like San Haven were constructed to meet the need. Susan (Thingvold) Sande of Kalispell, Montana contributed these photos of San Haven in the tuberculosis era. The photos were taken by her aunt,…

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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.

Lonetree’s Ghost Cathedral

Lonetree’s Ghost Cathedral

Australian adventurer and photographer Gavin Parker sent us these photos of Lonetree, North Dakota, a place that just barely came to be. A settlement known as Lone Tree (two words) came into being in 1888 in the area that would become Ward County, Foxholm Township, in 1888, when this was still the Dakota Territory. A post office was to be founded that same year, but with Lone Tree’s fledgling status, officials thought better of it and canceled the plans. In…

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Little Muddy Creek Power House

Little Muddy Creek Power House

Angel Laws recently sent us some photos of a place outside Williston that we had never heard of. We asked visitors to our Facebook page for information, and we received a photo and some useful links that helped to reveal the history of this place. Someone sent us this photo of the place we’ll refer to as the Little Muddy Creek Power House and Irrigation Plant (if anyone knows the official name of this place, please comment below). The State…

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Ruso: Smallest Incorporated Town in North Dakota

Ruso: Smallest Incorporated Town in North Dakota

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…

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A Look Back in Time in Berlin, North Dakota

A Look Back in Time in Berlin, North Dakota

We recently received an interesting batch of photos from Paul Ensign regarding Berlin, North Dakota. It’s a place we first became aware of when Sabrina Hornung sent us some photos back in 2011, and which we visited for ourselves in 2012. Paul’s Great Grandfather was Wilhelm G. Lentz, proprietor of the Berlin Blacksmith & Wagon Shop around 1912, and the photos Paul sent along from his collection are very interesting. Beginning with the birds-eye view shown above, a photo from…

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Four Book Combo w/ a Free Shirt

Four Book Combo w/ a Free Shirt

Get all four of our books with a Ghosts of North Dakota 4-book combo: Ghosts of North Dakota Volume 1: Special Edition (softcover, featuring twenty pages of content not included in the original) Ghosts of North Dakota Volumes 2 and 3 in the original hardcovers Churches of the High Plains (hardcover) That’s 426 total pages, in four full-color books featuring some of the best photos from the Ghosts of North Dakota project — ghost towns, near-ghost towns, churches and abandoned places across the…

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All That Remains of Grand Harbor

All That Remains of Grand Harbor

This school house still stands, right off Highway 2, between Devils Lake and Rugby. If you make that drive, you’ll see it just north of the highway. To our knowledge, it is the only remaining original structure from the town that once was Grand Harbor, ND Grand Harbor was founded in 1882 on Teller’s Bay, Devils Lake, and moved one mile north to this location in 1897 to be near the railroad junction. Anything that might have remained in the…

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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. The…

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Lonely High Cliff Country School

Lonely High Cliff Country School

Don Collings sent us these photos of High Cliff School with the following comments: These are views of High Cliff School in Cow Creek Township, about 20 miles northwest of Williston. I attended this school with my brothers and sister (the Collings’ kids, along with the Haven’s, Barkie’s, Benth, Kjos and Brothers kids. The school reopened in 1953 and closed in 1961. To my knowledge it is still standing. Ghosts of North Dakota is a wonderful web site. Keep up…

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A Lonely Outpost: Hanks, North Dakota

A Lonely Outpost: Hanks, North Dakota

Hanks, North Dakota, in Williams County, about 33 miles northwest of Williston, is a lonely outpost on the prairie, just one resident away from being a ghost town. Hanks was the subject of some national media in 2008 when National Geographic published The Emptied Prairie (available at the link only with a subscription) by Charles Bowden, a polarizing piece roundly denounced by many North Dakotans in letters to editors, in the Dickinson Press for example, or the Bismarck Tribune. In the…

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Lost Bridge of the Badlands

Lost Bridge of the Badlands

Lost Bridge was on the Little Missouri River, about 23 miles north of Killdeer in Dunn County. The name “Lost Bridge” holds a coincidental double meaning in this case, since the bridge no longer exists. Above: An image from Google Earth. You can still see the missing swath of trees leading to the river’s edge, where the old Lost Bridge once stood. These photos were taken by the Historic American Engineering Record, and the notes from the file tell an interesting…

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The Haunting and Deserted Tyner Cemetery

The Haunting and Deserted Tyner Cemetery

Tyner’s derelict pioneer cemetery is all that remains of a rural settlement in Pembina County once known as Tyner.  Cemeteries are not something we usually feature as an entity all their own, primarily because there are plenty of websites out there which focus on cemeteries and family history already.  However, Terry visited Tyner Cemetery in August of 2012 to photograph the headstones for some of his wife’s family — the McCurdy’s — and was moved by the solitude of the…

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Werner, North Dakota and a Bridge to Nowhere

Werner, North Dakota and a Bridge to Nowhere

Werner, North Dakota is in Dunn County, about 13 miles east of Killdeer. We’re unsure of the exact population, but in 1971, when residents voted to dissolve the town, the vote count was 7-2 in favor of dissolution, so the headcount is quite likely in the single digits these days. Although we were really a couple decades late in photographing the town as it once was, we decided to visit and shoot Werner, North Dakota and a bridge to nowhere….

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Abandoned Wabek, North Dakota Saloon

Abandoned Wabek, North Dakota Saloon

This is Wabek, North Dakota, in Mountrail County, about 35 miles southwest of Minot. Wabek was founded in 1914 and we visited and captured these photos 100 years later, in 2014. According to North Dakota Place Names by Doug Wick, Wabek even had a radio station once, broadcasting with the call letters WABK. Wabek’s all-time high population was 46 in the 1930 Census, but today there appears to be only one occupied property on the town site. This saloon was the last…

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Driscoll Church… Like They Just Left Yesterday

Driscoll Church… Like They Just Left Yesterday

It’s always amazing when you run across a place like this rural Driscoll Church… like they just left yesterday. We were on our way to visit Arena, North Dakota in September, 2016, when we drove right past this place and decided to stop for a visit. Zion Lutheran Church is in Burleigh County, Harriet-Lein Township, and is described as “rural Driscoll.” In reality, it is about ten miles north of Driscoll, or eleven miles southeast of Wing, North Dakota. When…

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