Inhabited as of 5-07
Marmarth, ND is a Badlands town in Slope County in the extreme southwest corner of the state.
Marmarth is one of the more populous towns we’ve photographed with 130 people according to the 2010 Census, but minimum conveniences. Marmarth has lost 190 residents since 1960.
There’s an exhilarating old west ambience in this part of the state… Montana is only five miles west and it’s just a three hour drive to Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. The landscape is a harder, chalkier badland than the more pastoral lands to the east and radio signals sometimes elude the car radio as the highway winds past the occasional butte. There’s a gas station, a bar/steakhouse (with excellent food), and a railroad bunkhouse where you can rent a room with a double bed for $15 per night. At the time we visited, we were told they had dial-up internet in Marmarth, and satellite was the only way to get TV programming.
The most prominent abandoned structure in Marmarth is Barber Auditorium. It’s actually two buildings, Barber Auditorium and First National Bank of Marmarth.
The train depot has been cut in two pieces and relocated to a stretch of grass along the highway as you enter from the east.
CLICK PHOTOS TO ENLARGE
The 1st National Bank and Barber Auditorium in downtown Marmarth, built in 1918.
In the basement of Barber auditorium.
The red velvet theater seats still wait in the murky black.
The staircase on the main floor of the auditorium.
A former storefront, now only storage.
The former Mystic Theatre
These were the first two jail cells ever installed in Marmarth.
The Pastime Bar has cold drinks, and the food in the steakhouse at the rear is excellent.
One former filling station.
Another former filling station.
The depot has been moved.
It now rests on blocks alongside the road in downtown Marmarth.
A boarded-up school.
We rented rooms at this former railroad bunkhouse for $15 bucks a night.
See more photos of Marmarth here.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
21 thoughts on “Marmarth, ND”
Was Marmarth a railroad “crew change” point at one time? Just curious as the bunkhouse is of pretty good size. Who operates this yet? How did the town get it’s name? Does any railroad still operate through town yet? I thought for many years as I see all the long abandoned buildings, if “they could talk”, what stories could the buildings tell us. Of their beginnings, memorable events such as storms they survived, families that owned them, laughter/happiness and the sadness they feel being alone now.
Thank you for this wonderful site!
My dad grew up in that area of the world. He said the town got its name from someones two daughters: Mary and Martha.
From “North Dakota Every Town on the Map and More” by Vernell & Louise Johnson, Marmouth was named for Margaret Martha Fitch, the grand-daughter of the president of the railraod ( the Milwaukee Road most probably) in 1907. From Google Earth you can see the foundations of what looks to be a 12 stall enginehouse and a wye for turning around. Since ther weren’t any branchlines here I would assume it was a crew/power change stop. The last info I have says that BNSF owns the line, but I don’t know how active it is.
Amber Lecoe Battest runs the Bunk House Motel/Apts… Population is small, but hopes with the Oil Activity the town may make a small comeback. I believe most of the old buildings are in sound condition if anyone should decide to come and restore them. A very good 4th of July Celebration every yr, and biker rally, and Santa Claus Day…
The town just got the go ahead for a 1million dollar renovation of the School in town for upgrades. They have an awesome volunteer fire department as well and a first responders unit and an Ambulance.
yes, Marmarth was a crew change point, and the railroad does still run through there
From 1932 to 1952 a couple named Steve and Elizabeth “Cassie” Casabar operated a small restaurant/ drugstore/ ice cream parlor in the old 1st National Bank space at the corner of the Barber Auditorium. Can anybody tell me who took over that small restaurant in 1952? I loved going there as a kid on vacations. Might there be a photo somewhere of the ice cream parlor from the 1950s?
My brother told me that our parents took over the restaurant in the late 50s early 60s Irene and Lawrence Meland. He was also the depot agent.
Sorry. I think I got the location wrong for Casabar’s restaurant. I am told it was in the building across the street that housed the Post Office. In the old First National Bank space was a cafe first operated by Clara and Floyd Boyce. Gloria “Sparky” and Alfred Sparks later ran this cafe. It was a favorite place to visit for ice cream when my family visited Marmarth in the 1950s.
looks like it hasn’t been such along time since people lived there. it’s to bad!
People still live there. It’s just shown here because there are a lot of empty buildings.
In the years 1948-50, we played basket ball on the second floor of the auditorium. That was when Marmath had a high school and we were the visitijng team from Bucyrus
I grew up in Marmarth as my dad ran the standard station where the post office is now located. It is not as bad as it looks from these pictures. I believe the current population is about 120. It has a great bar/cafe(the Pastime). It also has gas station and another cafe/beauty shop. Also a town center building for meetings etc. The catholic church is open. It has a car museum. The old railroad bunk house is open for renting rooms. During the summer the population swells as “bonediggers” come to dig for dinosauer bones.
The school in Marmarth got 1 million dollars to add on to the building.
I attended ND Law Enforcement Academy with the police chief of Marmarth in the 80’s. Lost contact with him a few years later.
In the 80’s,I attended ND Law Enforcement Academy with the Marmarth Police Chief. Lost contact with him over the years. Maybe he visits this site.
My father, Bob Martin, was an engineer for the Milwaukee RR and layed over at the bunkhouse many years. My sister and I stayed there one time. I am facinated with the RR history.
My dad worked for the Milwaukee RR too. When was your dad there?
I lived here when II was a baby. Does anyone know what churches were in town 50 years ago? I didn’t see any pictures and can’t find any info on churches online. My dad is still alive at 98 and he told me that a pastor drove my mom to Miles City when I was born.
Did the Barber Auditorium host operas, musical theatre, concerts or shows after it was built in 1918? If so, please, what were some of them? Did Marmarth have its own town band and/or orchestra?