Arena, ND

Arena was founded with a rural post office January 23rd, 1906. It is said to have had a peak population of 150 around 1920, but had withered to 35 residents by 1930. It is now abandoned.

arena-schoolThe photo shown left is the former Arena School, photo contributed by Stephen Berg. As of our visit in 2004, the school was gone. This was the only photo we’d been able to locate of the school for quite some time, but in summer of 2011, Dale Fisher contributed a few shots of Arena in 1992.

Although there aren’t any residents in the immediate vicinity of the town, there is a yellow house on the townsite which had blankets hanging in the windows, suggesting someone used it for something relatively recently.

Marlon Leno commented at the bottom of our Arena in 1992 entry, and filled-in quite a few of the details.  Marlon said his grandparents lived in the yellow house as late as 1981, and that his cousin, George Pehl, demolished the school when it became a hazard.  Mr. Leno also informed us of the name of the church — St. Johns Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod.

The road leading south out of Arena is a short, scenic drive, bordered tightly on both shoulders by a couple of small lakes.


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

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27 thoughts on “Arena, ND

  1. Great site! Back around 1979, my aunt, uncle and my 3 cousins moved to Arena, I forget why, but they were only there a short time. They were the only familyin town, and if I recall correctly, they lived in the yellow house. We went to visit them once and I had a ball- a ghost town is a great place for a 10-year-old to explore. We went into the old school, it was full of papers and books from the 1950’s, also we played in that railroad car. There was also a general store sort of building with a vintage glass-topped gas pump, but it eventually burned down.


      1. Was there some kind of fire in Arena in 95? I know the smaller house near the road has some fire damage, but I assumed it was a small indoor fire because the outside seemed minimally damaged.


      2. My grandmother owned the Arena Store and was the postmaster there. It did not eventually burn down, it was broken into, burglarized and torched by the people that broke in.


      1. Not sure if this is useful, but there is a cemetery referred to by my Father In Law as the Langedahl Cemetery but also listed as Skudesness Lutheran Cemetery. It is east of the Arena town sight.
        This cemetery is just east of the county line between Burleigh and Kidder Counties. It is in Kidder County. To find this cemetery, travel two miles west of Tuttle on Highway 36. Turn left (south) on 22nd Avenue (a gravel road). Travel south for six miles, turn left (east) on 25th Street, SE. Travel one mile, turn right (south). Travel south about ½ mile, cemetery is on the left. At the time of our visit, there were power lines running east and west just north of the cemetery and there is a white frame building near the road. Cemetery is barely visible behind the building.
        Some of the names in the cemetery are Landedahl.


      2. I believe that the Langedahl townsite is located at the following coordinates. 47° 2’37.95″N, 100° 0’28.30″W.

        I found an old map online that shows the location of the post office.

        Hope this helps.

        All the best, Rik


  2. My buddy’s family named Arena– apparently the story is that some sons of the family used to brawl there all the time … so they named it Arena, as in a boxing / wrestling Arena.

    He had family in Bluegrass.


  3. Marc,

    I visited Arena in December 2008 and explored several buildings, including the yellow house. I found pages from the Bismarck Tribune from 1979 on the steps leading into the basement. Lots of furniture left behind in the house too.


    1. North Dakota is the too much state…….they built to many schools,churches,elevators,and railroads back in the day and this is why we have so many ghost towns today.


  4. It is economics, yes. Many of these small farming towns that were economically sustainable at one time were rendered economically impractical because of many policy decisions made in Washington, D.C. For example, when the Interstate Highway System was built, it made travel by four rubber tires artificially cheap. So did all the subsidies to the airlines. All of this undercut the railroads, which were the reason these towns existed in the first place. It no longer made economic sense for the trains to come to towns like Arena, and so those towns eventually withered and died.


  5. Hi, I am A Senior in North Dakota doing a project on ghost towns and I picked Arena because it looks interesting, and was wondering if anyone knows anyone people that would have information or even pictures of the town when it was booming


  6. Hello nice people, I am A Senior in North Dakota doing a project on ghost towns and I picked wheelock because it is interesting, and was wondering if anyone knows anyone people that would have information or even pictures of the town when it was booming! please help


    1. If you ever do find out who owns the property in Arena, could you please let me know because I am interested in buying some if not all of it. Thanks!


      1. My grandmother’s family lived in Arena. I was able to go back in 2006 for my dad to see it before he passed. We did meet the man that owned the property. We were visiting family graves at the nearby cemetery and he came by to check on us. I believe his last name was Edie.


  7. I was born in Arena in January, 1935 to Edna and Ralph Leach. My mom was a Josephson, farmers from south and slightly west of Wing. My grandmother’s maiden name was Ruth Heaton. My grandfather was Franklin Lambert, a man who lost an arm in a threshing machine accident. He was Postmaster,and my grandmother became Post Mistress of the Arena Post office. I was born in a house just a little up the hill and west of the Post Office. The house is gone now. Grandpa had the store and as I understand it, owned, along with a partner, the grain elevators. He died in about 1937. I have visited the area a few times in the past 80 years and have watched it deteriorate. When I went there in 1961 the school was very impressive. What a picturesque spot that little basin!
    Frank Leach St. George, UT 435-656-0950


  8. Terry and Karen Deehre lived in the yellow house in the late 1970 s terry worked for Capital Electric as a lineman


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