Silva, North Dakota

Silva, North Dakota

Pierce County
Inhabited as of 4/06

Silva was founded in 1912 as a Soo Line Railroad settlement. It reportedly reached a peak population of 125 in 1920 and has been on the decline ever since.

Silva’s most famous former resident would be Julius Thompson who at one time was the world’s tallest man at eight feet, seven inches. Thompson died in 1955.

In the late nineties, North Dakota State University did a study on statewide population decline and featured photos of Silva on the cover of the finished report. Unfortunately, the buildings no longer stand as they were burned due to infestation.

Present-day Silva appears to be home to a dozen or so residents, and perhaps 4 to 6 abandoned structures. The church, sans bell tower, stands alone on the east edge of town, with most of the remaining structures on the other side of the road leading into town.


Silva, North Dakota

Silva, North Dakota

Silva, North Dakota

Silva, North Dakota

The vault is the only remnant of the bank today.

Silva, North Dakota

Silva, North Dakota

Order Book Two

Silva, North Dakota

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

See also: More from Silva, North Dakota

24 Comments on “Silva, North Dakota

  1. I found an online newspaper article from the St. Petersburg Times, dated 30 Nov. 1941, about Mr. Julius Thompson. It sheds a bit of light on the man mentioned on this page. Enjoy.

    • My Grandfather, Michael Voeller, purchased the Thompson farm in 1915. It was 1 1/2 miles east of Silva. My father lived on the farm until 1990.

    • The tallest man’s name was actually Clifford Thompson. A life-sized replica and photos from his life are on display in Silva Consolidated School, which has been restored and is on display at the Prairie Village Museum in Rugby, N.D.

  2. I lived in Silva. It was fun to explore in the old abandoned houses. When I was little they had a postofficehotel, grocery store, grain elevator and school that were still operating.The school is now in Rugby at the museum. When they burned down some of the buildings, my dad took a picture from the hotel for a souviner. He thinks the spirits in the hotel went into the picture ,when they burned the hotel down. The picture hangs in his porch and sometimes freaks out the dog. He gets scared and wants to come in the house. The bank vault stands alone because there was a bank there and it was burned down and the vault is all that remains.

    • My grandmother owned the hotel. She ran the United States Post Office out of the front room of the hotel. The store next to the hotel was open when we were children. After it closed the building was used as a polling place at voting time. We always would run to the train track by the grain mill to wave to the train everyday. It was a great place to live.

      • Was your grandmas name Gladys Lunde? Audi was her husband, We would go there and sell them eggs.

  3. I worked as a farmhand near Silva in the late 70’s. One of the fellows I worked was Ted and I am not sure but I think the one story house in the picture was his. I am trying to remember the fellow who ran the “blacksmiths’ shop. I remember him often saying something about selling his place and moving back to Freindship, WI. Except for some incidents, I like living there and once in a while I wished I had never left. This is one of those days. There was a wholesome honesty about work there. I do not ever remember being bored. I did not own much, but I seemed to live well.

    • Are you talking about Ted Torgerson? The blacksmiths name was Gary Rierson, I own his house, he died there , so I don’t think he moved back to WI. Dad used to take me to the blacksmiths when I was little, he always tried to hook me with his cane, I was kinda scared of him.

  4. My husband and I, along with a friend, visited this place on the way home from another ‘ghost’ toen, and I must say, there isn’t much left. We saw a house/barn behind some very heavy foilage but couldn’t figure how to get closer. Also, there seems to be a problem with vandals because they like to graffiti a church outhouse. Just sad. New padlocks on the church doors and the best thing about Silva is the random ball vault that just sits. Lovely town.

  5. Does anyone have any information about the church that still stands? What was the name of it, is it still kept up, and any other interesting facts? I took a roadtrip today, and found Silva, and was completely amazed. I am curious about that church though…

    • My mother has a certificate of baptism from Trinity Ev. Luth. Church, Silva, N.D., June 18, 1913. She was born March 8, 1913. I am assuming this is the building as there doesn’t seem to be any other Luthern church in Silva. I also understand it was completed in 1913. If so, perhaps my mother, Helen Marie Hoff could have been first baptism. Would love to know more about it.

  6. A guy from out of state owns the church, He comes up in the summer, vacation home, I guess.My dad keeps and eye on the place for him. The school that was on the corner or town is in the museum in Rugby. The steeple to the church is in the Silva Cemetary, a mile and half east of Silva.Only 2 residents live there now, I own one house.
    There were more abandoned houses, the bank, the hotel/ post office. They burned them down a while ago.. When I was little there was a grain elevater, store , postoffice and school still running..I was sad when they burned the buildings down. Seems to be a trend with old towns.

    • My parents, Oliver and Elaine (Dokken) Solheim were the first couple to be married at the Silva Lutheran Church in December, 1941. My mother had lived in Silva with her parents and had many relatives in the vicinity. What I don’t know for sure is if the church pictured is the Lutheran Church. I was told that the steeple had been removed years ago, so it seems to match. Claudette

  7. My grandmother was born in Silva. Her name was Margaret Bertsch. It was in the late 20’s when she was born and I know they had a farm near there.

  8. My father (and his large family) grew up in Silva. There are two churches in the town. The Catholic church is made of river stones. The Lutheran church is made of wood. The town water pump still works. I have family buried just out of town in the cemetery along the side of the road.

  9. My father grew up in Silva, Oscar Hermanson. Anyone with information on his childhood or any info would be great. Lost my dad when I was 12 so don’t know too much about his side of the family except he had a brother named Morris, sisters Clara and Alice and their parents were Otto and Inga Hermanson.

  10. My mother, Helen Hoff, was born March 8, 1913. Her baptismal certificate (so beautiful) was from Trinity Ev. Lutheran Congregation, Silva, N.Dakota signed the 18th day of June, 1913. Is this the one that has the steeple in the cemetery? I would so appreciate an answer to this. In 2017 when I was there, it was surrounded with a field of soy beans (I think). Couldn’t get up to it. I believe it was opened the year 1913. My mom might have been the first baptism. ??

  11. My grandmother, Helen Scott was born and raised in Silva.

  12. My Mother (Patricia Romine) was the daughter of Gladys Sabbe who ran the hotel/post office in Silva. We used to play all around the town when were were kids. The general store was still open back then. My Grandmother (we called her Nanny) was married to Perry Romine who died in 1946 (he was a Silver Star recipient from his action in WWI). Gladys went on to marry Adolf (Ade) Lunde in 1947.

  13. The Census Record of 1940 of this place lists those who lived there. The names of families and occupations give wonderful insights to the area and its people. My grandmother’s sister Clara lived there, Her sister’s name was Lena and married a Dokken. I recognize many names while piecing together family histories. I’m sure Clara could have given great stories.

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