Lonely Juanita, North Dakota

Juanita, North Dakota

Juanita was founded along the Great Northern Railroad Line in 1911, about fifteen miles northeast of Carrington, North Dakota. It was originally named “Wanitah”, a Native American word of unknown meaning, but later renamed by town planners with the Spanish spelling.  It reached a peak poulation of 150 in 1920. When we visited in 2004, it appeared to have a population around five to ten.

Juanita did have a fairly impressive stone school building, however it appeared to be in use by one of the town’s residents and we chose not to photograph it for privacy’s sake. There was also a big dog running loose which made our visit a quick one.

Juanita, North Dakota

There were quite a few empty homes in Juanita and the landscape is severely overgrown. From one home, only the chimney was visible through the trees. Other than the homes, the school building was the only structure still standing in Juanita.

Juanita, North Dakota

Juanita, North Dakota

Juanita, North Dakota

Juanita, North Dakota

Do you have an update on what’s going on in Juanita these days? Let us know in the comments.

Juanita, North Dakota

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

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67 Comments on “Lonely Juanita, North Dakota

  1. My grandparents owned the farm next to the old school house. I think it was (south). Spent my summers ther in the 50’s and 60’s. If my memory serves me I think that yellow house was also the Post office at that time.
    If anyone has memories or anything from or about Juanita let me know.

    • I have been told that my Grandfather was from Jaunita before his family moved to WI. His last name was Harrington

      • There is a Harrington family living in Rolling Prairie Twp, Foster County, on the 1925 North Dakota Census.

    • I think when you walked into the Store, the post office(po boxes) were straight ahead and you took a left into the store… It’s been so long I can’t be sure anymore.

    • I lived in Juanita around 1950 when my Dad was building the Peavey Grain Elevator. I attended school there as well and was in 2nd grade. I remember learning to spell “Juanita”
      Ann Netland McLarty

  2. I was raised on a farm six miles south of Juanita, and my family were members of the Juanita Methodist Church. I have many wonderful memories of Juanita. I really wish the church was still there since I attended Sunday School and Bible School for many years. I remember the store/post office; in my mind I can still see the big gumball machine that sat on a shelf.

    • Debbie, how are you related to Chester Nelson?

      I remember the big glass cooler towards the back of the store (on mainstreet) where you could look at the pop inside at about eye level for kids. The cooler doors had those heavy freezer handles. If I remember correctly the postoffice/mailboxes were on the left as you walked into the store. Of course we always bought our .22 shells for shooting gophers at Francis Ressler’s store.

      • Hey Deb, I had several visits with your Dad there on the farm. He told me how he found the Remington cap and ball revolver in the pasture and I’ve been around there two or three times over the years with my metal detector (Gen Sibley’s old campsite, Forbes). The last time I was there your mother was living there alone and I took some photos of the revolver. I’ve wondered if the pistol was taken care of, and is still in the family or in a museum. I’ve stopped there a couple of times at the farm in recent years, but found no one around. Was it your sister who was there one time I visited, a nurse I think?

      • John, I’m so happy to hear that you were acquainted with my parents. Dad enjoyed showing that gun to people, and, yes, the gun is still in the family. You probably talked to my sister, Natalie, at the farm, but she isn’t a nurse. A grandson, wife and children now live at the farm. Would it be possible for you to email me copies of the photos and any information you remember my dad telling you about the gun?

    • My dad Herald Marvin Nelson was born in Juanita. Could he be any relation to Chester Nelson?

  3. My family lived in the mid 50’s in an old victorian house on the south end of Juanita right next to Jim McDonald’s property. I do remember attending events (I believe basketball games) in the old school. I think Cora Spickler taught at that school. My family lived on the Spickler Ranch for the next several years and eventually moved into Carrington. I clearly remember the houses pictured in the photos shown and visiting store/post office. Pleasant memories of a simpler time!

    • If it’s the house I’m thinking of, we got a labrador puppy there around 1957.

      I found a 50 cent piece there with my metal detector a few years ago. Did you lose it?? 😉

      • I do believe that you may have gotten a labrador puppy from us. We had one that gave birth to 12 puppies when we lived there. I’m not so certain about the 50 cent piece….that was alot of money back then! lol

    • Karen a much better time I think I had to move because of work and I like were I came from better than were I work (money)

    • His name was Jim McDaniel…not McDonald. My brother Gary was the one to correct me on this!

      • Karen, as a kid I lived in the same house on the south side of Juanita that you did. We lived there from 1954 to 1956. We called it the old Green house. The only running water was the hand pump that I believe my dad (Francis Resler) installed on the kitchen counter. It connected up to a larger hand pump outside. My grandma (Juel) & grandpa (Lou) Resler also lived in Juanita. It’s gone now, but their house was on the corner just south of the school and across the street from the Larson’s. When grandma died in 1956 we moved from the Green house to live with Grandpa and stayed there until 1958 when Dad sold the store and we moved to Seattle. Grandpa continued to live in Juanita and married Della, who he had known in his youth.
        I think your family moved into the Green house not too long after we left. I remember in the summer of ‘57 your family had a small plastic inflated pool in your yard. When no parents were around, us boys (your brother Gary, my brother Gary and myself) came up with what we thought was a great idea of turning the pool into a big batch of Kool Aid. We got into BIG trouble for that.
        I have many fond memories of life in Juanita. I loved our school and was proud to be in the biggest class in the school (there were 6 of us in my grade; 25 kids in the whole school I believe). When we left, my brother Gary was in the 4th grade, I was in the 3rd grade, and my brother Kirk was in the 1st grade; all of us had the same teacher and were in the same classroom (SE corner of the school). The blackboard was still on the south wall a few years ago.
        My parents were Francis & Donna Resler. Dad grew up in Juanita and attended the same school we did. As I recall the lettering above the school entrance said Dewey Elementary (but Dad’s graduation papers say he graduated from Juanita High School in 1944. (all 3 of my kids graduated from Juanita High School but in Kirkland, WA). Mom grew up on my Grandma (Lilly) & Grandpa (Reuben) Topp’s farm near Grace City.

        • I remember playing with you, Gary and Kirk when we were living in Juanita . Our mom’s used to have coffee together almost every day. The house we lived in is gone now . Jon Stangeland’s house is now nearby. I remember sneaking into the school house after it closed, I still have some school books from that school, some desks are at our old house by McHenry. I remember my Mom kept in touch with yours for many years after you moved to Seattle. I remember Kirk coming to stay with the Edland’s for a summer in the 60’s. I thought he was so cute! I’m in Bakersfield ,Ca now. #661-396-1763 call me if you are ever in the area, would be fun to reminisce. My mom and dad were Solveig and Russ Thompson, grandparents were Karen and Trygve Stangeland (Juanita)

          • Our parents have passed away but all eight of us Resler kids still live in the Seattle area. Every so often (most recently last Friday) I get together with Kirk & Gary to reminisce about life in Juanita. When we got together last fall, George & Kaye (Otto) Topp joined us by speakerphone. The live near Grace City. If you are interested, it would be fun to have you join us by phone or Skype in our next get together.

  4. I was born in our family home in Juanita on Easter Sunday April 17, 1927 to Rose and Albert Loder. I had an older brother Donald and a younger sister, Barbara. We lived there until June of 1935 when we moved to Cooperstown. I went to the first two grades of school. We lived across the street from the Church. After high school and college I practiced law in Minot for 35 years and now live in Tucson, AZ.

  5. I lived in a small white house in Juanita on the south side before moving to the farm I then grew up on west of Juanita. We lived close to the railroad tracks and I can still see the big black engines with the black smoke passing through town and the sound of the steam whistle. We would walk up to the train depot with Mom to visit Vivian Anderson, the depot agent. I remember the main street of Juanita before the grocery store and hardware store burned. Mom would take a crate of eggs to the grocery store to trade for groceries. The yellow house in the pictures became the post office and gorcery store. I attended first grade in Juanita and the following year the school was closed. My first grade classmates were Colleen Stangeland, Kirk Ressler and Debbie Maisel. Our teacher was Mable Peterson. Good Memories!

    • Vivian was my aunt. My dads sister. We used to hang out at the depot all the time.

      • I loved that depot. Still remember how it smelled…the wagons with the cream cans…the big benches to play on…the telegraph and megaphone…and how it would shake when the trains came by. Also the mailbag that Vivian would hang on the pole for the guy in the mailcar to grab as the train went by. Ahhhh…the gold old days! Life was so simple and fun.
        It’s a shame all the depots and grain elevators that have disappeared.

  6. I grew up on a farm over the bluffs to the west of Juanita, which may have been Harrington’s farm at one time.
    My dad bought it from Schumacher’s in the 50’s. As a child I used to walk up on top of the bluffs to look at Juanita Lake. My family would go there to picnic and swim. I recognize the names of the people that have made comments, as went to school in Grace City. Barbara, my sister Alice and you were friends and, I was friends with your sister Judy. I always wondered where Judy is. My name is Terri Wagner Gressett and I now live in Holdrege, Ne. Oh, by the way, Merlin House bought our farm in 1962, so I suppose Francis still owns the land, There is no farm there, but lots of memories and a painting of it in my daughter’s gallery.

    • Teri, I remember you as one of the older girls in high school when I was still in grade school. Judy Black’s sister Marge must have been friends with your sister Alice. I am Judy’s cousin and I graduated from Grace City in 1969. Didn’t you graduate with Bev House and Phyllis Fousek? I remember where your farm was and it was a big white house with a big porch. Judy’s younger sister is Mary and was in the same class (1968) with my older sister, Becky.
      Becky and I, along with our sister Donetta and brother Kevin grew up on the farm a mile and a half south and east of Lake Juanita. My parents Bill and Leona still live there today and my Brother Kevin and his Son Shane now do the farming.
      Cousin Judy lives in Montana.

  7. My grandma’s house is the 2nd house pic in the list after the RR tracks pic. Probably the same shingles that I helped my dad put on when I was about 14(1979)… Wow.

    • My Brother John sent me this about Juanita also…

      Incidentally, that house of Grandma’s is no longer in Juanita. Around 4 years ago, someone bought it and moved it to Juanita Lake, completely remodled the inside, and use it as a cabin.

      I remember as a young boy, riding into Juanita with Grandpa and Harold on Friday night. That’s the night when everyone went into town. Grandpa (the grownups (men)) would go to the beer joint to play cards and the kids would buy candy and pop at the two other stores and play games in the street. Gravel of course and the parking was diagonal in the middle of the street. These buildings were on main street, and the two stores, which were connnected to one another, burned down in the late 50’s. The beer joint lasted a few years longer. Today there are no buildings on main street. After Roy and Georgia Nelson’s store/post office burned they moved the store and post office to their home (the yellow house in the pics). Francis Ressler owned the other store on main street, which was a hardware and sporting goods store.

      Dad (grandpa Chris) started school in the original wood frame school the fall of 1927 and a couple of months later they all moved into the new brick school immediately on the south side. That school still stands and is being used by Doug Stangeland as a machine shop and granary. The Stangelands have owned and used it in this manner for many years. I have pics of both schools. At the time it was the most advanced and modern schoolhouse around. When you walked in through the front doors, you walked first into a cloak room and then in on the hardwood basketball floor. The stage was on the opposite (north) end and all the classrooms were off both sides of the basketball floor. It was a single story school with a basement that was used for locker room and furnace. I don’t think there were any classrooms down there, but I’m not entirely positive. After the school closed around 1958 the kids went to Glenfield or McHenry. I still have a memory and a picture in my mind of sitting on the stage (where the seating for basketball games was) for an independent basketball game, which my dad (grandpa Chris) was playing in. This would have been around the fall or winter of 1948. Possibly the early spring of 1949. We left the farm the fall of 1949 when dad went railroading.

      Back in its hayday, the town had several businesses, including an auto garage, light plant, lumber yard, elevators, depot, Methodist Church, bank, etc. The church sat diagonally across the street to the NE of grandma’s house. We were in that church for Colleen and Les’ wedding sometime in the early ot mid 70’s. Grandpa died in Oct 1968 and grandma moved into town in 1971 or 72. So she lived in that house for 20 years.

      • I still remember Grandma talking about Georgia! I use to go to that store and buy suckers…
        The smell… Oh the smells… The smell of the wood and bread and produce… Once in a blue moon a smell hits you and takes you back to these exact buildings… The exact time! Same goes with the old RR depots… God I love the smell…

      • LOL@Galen posting my email to you. First, should have been ‘remodeled’ in my email regarding Grandma’s house at the Lake, my bad. Of course the Grandpa I was referring to who we went to town with was Trygve, and Grandma was Karen Stangeland. They lived on the farm approximately 2 miles ESE of Juanita.

        Aunt Solveig told me once that one of the cheers the cheerleaders or fans did was: J-u-a-n-i-t-a…..Juanita, yeah, yeah, yeah.

        Of course I remember the depot and elevators. The big one is the one in Glenfield now, if they haven’t torn it down yet. At one time, I was told, there was a baseball diamond just behind (west) of the stores on mainstreet. And there was at least two other sites around the edge of Juanita where there were baseball diamonds over the years.

        Georgia Nelson just passed away, I believe she was over 100 years old.

        • My Dad built the Peavey Elevator in Juanita after the first one burned…This was in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s I think. I was in 1st grade and my sister was in 3rd grade. I remember having to learn how to spell’Juanita”. One of the teachers used to come to school by horse and hay wagon. I remember she had very big “choppers’ [mittens] and liners….Her husband would bring her in the winter when the weather was bad. I think she was the 3rd grade teacher.

  8. I lived in Juanita from 1926 until I graduated from high school in 1944. Yes in the red brick building all 12 years. My family had a store with my Uncle Lou Resler. The name was Knutson & Resler. I had a brother Vernon and a sister Delila,they are both deceased. I joined the navy the day after graduation and served in the south pacific until june of 1946. Attended the Univ of Montana and and moved to Los Angeles. Became a CPA and now own a manufacturing Company.I don’t think any of you remember the outdoor Saturday night movies in the lot on main street ,except LeRoy Loder Hi LeRoy.
    Ellsworth Knutson

    • I’m trying to confirm info regarding my great-grandfather, Henry Farris, who lived in Juanita when he passed away in Dec. 1931. Does that name sound familiar to anyone? He would have been about 44 at the time he died. His wife was Julia Farris, who would have been about age 39 in 1931. They had several kids: Mabel, Florence, Ernie, Myrtle, Glen and baby Albert. The youngest three kids, Myrtle, Glen and Albert, were all born in Juanita between 1923 and 1931. Albert was only 10 months old when his father Henry died. They were terribly poor and always told us stories about saving their pennies to buy one orange for baby Albert for Christmas. After Henry died, the next known location for Julia and the children was McHenry at the time of the 1940 census.

      • Henry Farris, his wife Julia and family are shown living in Rolling Prairie Twp, Foster County, on the 1925 North Dakota Census.

        • John, I wonder if you could tell me how to access the census info you noted. My Grandpa was born there in 1921 and would like more info.

  9. I forgot to mention that the yellow house that several of you have mentioned as Georgia’s store was originally the town meeting hall where the monthly community meetings were held with square dances and in the winter the outdoor movies were moved into the hall.

  10. I remember riding my bike into town and getting a pop and candy bar. Great site, and I love the pics. My pop pop lived in Juanita, I wpuld go there for summers.

  11. My grandmother, Hazel Rood and her friends, Grace and Hildora Aarestaad were teens @1915-1919 and would go swimming in Juanita Lake. Pretty sure I have some photos of groups swimming there. My great-grandfather was a blacksmith in Grace City (Sever Rood). I have lots of photos that I’ve been trying to identify from my grandma’s belongings!

  12. To debbieloun
    Deb Your Father Chester used to stay at our house when he was going to school in Juanita and the weather was bad

    • Hi everyone. I grew up on a farm south of old highway 7 now 200. We were neighbors to the Nelson’s and to the my aunt and uncle, Henry and Mabel Pedersen. I remember going to Juanita with my parents often to shop and later on visiting our relatives Kenny and Norma (she is daughter of Henry and Mabel) Stangeland. I went to township grade schools in Rolling Praire township. One was just in walking distance when I went there until 3rd grade and then that one closed and I went to one just near Debbie’s grand parents. I was only one in my grade in both schools. Then that grade school closed and I went to Glenfield grade and high school. I remember my Dad telling about Chester finding the gun in his field.

      • Sherman, it was fun to read that you remember your dad talking about the gun my dad found. Thanks!

    • I did not know that, Ellsworth. Thank you for the information!

    • Um…if you screw the code word(s) up, your comment is sitting there waiting for a second chance….only unbeknownst at the bottom of the stack rather than where you originally tried to post it. Grrrrr.

  13. This second house after the RR tracks looks just like the pictures I have of the house my grandparents and their three children lived from 1920-1926. My mother’s brother was born in this house…if it is the same house. Grandpa, Paul Christiansen, sold farming etuqipment for International Harvester when they lived in Juanita.

  14. My grandparents, Amy & Oscar Sandvold used to live in the old two story. They used to have an old red
    Water pump outside & even had a small pump in their kitchen. I remember the two corner china cabinets in the dining room & the old scary heater, that I ran past each time. Grandma Amy had a stroke on her right side & sat in a special made wood chair. As a small child I remember her giving me a ride on the shelf below! She was an amazing woman, she sewed using a treadle machine for years & made me many things.
    Vivian Anderson, was my aunt also. She was my dad’s sister. (Clayton & Dorothy Wold) The last of the Wold family, my Uncle Ellsworth died this last year. Aunty V, as I called her, was a hoot! She always had painted nails & lots of jewelry, when I saw her. Uncle Helger, was such a sweet man, & so loved to tease us. 🙂

  15. I lived there until 52 or 53. My Dad is the one that had the garage, but had to get out of it because no one would pay their bills. My thought that the school system was better in Carrington, so that is when we moved to Carrington. We lived on a knoll o9n the west side of town, had the water pump, out door toilet and another building for storage. The garage did collapse and there was a 1957 Chey stored in it. I haven’t been there for many years, but I am sure the house is gone, a Stangland bought all the property when my dad died in 1980. I do remember, when the elevator burned, my dad had to pour water on the roof the house as cinders were flying over us. Waved at the railroad workers in the cabose. Sampson had a farm south of us next to the railroad. There was a blacksmith next to our property and I think his last name was Nelson. Of course, there was worry about kids in them days and if my Mother couldn’t find me in the yard, I was at the blacksmith or at my Dad’s garage. Below the knoll there was water and i almost drowned in it. We walked down town and parents did shopping while we played on main street. Where are all the pictures, I only see the yellow house?

  16. My mom lived in Juanita. She graduated from the high school around 1954. Her name is Donns Lou Hoffman. Her parents were Christian and Christine (Morlock) Hoffman. Both of her parents were from Neudorf Ukraine

  17. Early in the 1950’s I believe that Peavey Elevator burned and my Dad was foreman of the crew that came to Juanita to rebuild the elevator I Juanwas about 6 o7 years old and my sister and I attended school in Juanita. My family lived in a “trailer house” right by the elevator site. I think the rest of the crew may have rented a house near there. We lived in Jaunita until the elevator was rebuilt. I think that elevator was later moved to another town near by. I may hav some old photos of the elevator and I wonder if there are existing pictures of the old school…

    • It was 50 or 51 my family lived there. My dad was carrying water on the roof of our house as cinders were blowing over. The elevator that was rebuilt has been moved to Glennfield which is east

  18. My birth certificate lists Juanita as my birthplace, but I was born (during a Jan. blizzard) in the Anderson family farmhouse in Rolling Prairie township. I started first grade at the same school Sherman Pedersen mentioned. Lillian Ellingson was the teacher and she soon married Gordon Pedersen who lived on the corner… they were Sherman’s parents. My dad, Lester Anderson, went to that same school, and lived on the farm where I was born from 5 years of age until his early 40’s when he bought a farm in Eastman township and we moved just a few weeks after I started school. My mother, Isabelle McDaniel (sister of Jim and seven other brothers) was born in the living quarters behind the hardware store in Juanita, and went all 12 years to school in Juanita. Her parents, Jim & Fern McDaniel, lived on various farms around Juanita for most of their married life. When I was little my mom would put me on the train (the dinky) in Glenfield and I would go all by myself to Juanita where Grampa would meet me! Quite an adventure! My sister, Patti Topp, still lives fairly close to Juanita… much closer to Grace City.

  19. Just read your post about living in Juanita. I remember you and Patti. Nice to see all the posts since I last looked on here. I get emails whenever they update this ghost town webpage. If you remember my Mom, she is living in nurse home in Carrington and just turned 95 in June. There were a number of Stangelands and Ellingsons there. Alf is in nursing home also as well as my aunt Marvel.

  20. My grandmother was Georgia nelson benson. I too have many fond memories of juanita. Her house (the yellow store/post office)is still there but In bad shape. Georgia did pass away at the age of 101.

  21. Juanita is a corruption of Wanata which is a misspelling of Waanatan (Wa = noun marker, anatan = to rush forward) The Charger. Chief of the Sisseton Dakota at Ft. Totten. His father Waanatan 1 owned all the land from the Red River to the Missouri and from Canada to way down into South Dakota. Look for him in the history book.

    • I saw the stone for Baby Chris Sampson in the Jim River Church story. My Great Great Grandparents The Hollands are buried there. It is so interesting to read these posts. My Grandpa was born on a farm in 1921 in a house closer to Grace City but the birth credit went to Juanita to improve the postal service. I am trying to find it.

  22. It is so nice to hear all those comments but sad to see that Juanita is a ghost town.
    My mother would tell me the story of how her father Joseph John Greenheck and his brother ( Ben?), founded the town of Juanita. I don’t know if they ever lived there. This was about 110 yers ago. That would make it around 1910 more or less. My grandfather would have been about 18. He and his brother left home (Wisconsin) , they would go to North Dakota on horseback to heard wild horses, and sell them! They decided then to establish the town of Juanita. I used to imagine that was the name of a sweetheart they may have had at the time….

  23. Anyone know of Andrew and Martha Swart? My friend Lawrence passed recently at 97 and they were his parents. Don’t know if there were any other children.

  24. Does anyone have interior and or exterior photos of Juanita’s main street businesses in the mid-50’s?

  25. Kaye Otto Topp
    Does anyone have interior and or exterior photos of Juanita’s main street businesses
    in the mid-50’s? If so, please contact me. Thank you. Kaye

  26. My name is James Nelson. My dad Harold Nelson was born in Wanita in 1919. His dad‘s name was Julius Christian Nelson who was born in sand born North Dakota. My dad‘s mom name was Francis Charlotte Nelson Chermak. They moved to Saint Paul Minnesota around 1922 or 23. I am going to Juanita North Dakota on June 19, 2021. Would anyone have any information about where they lived in Juanita?

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