Disappearing Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg is a central North Dakota near-ghost town, in Wells County, about eighteen miles east of Harvey. It was founded as a Great Northern Railroad town (Heidi Ermer contributed a photo of the old depot) and was originally called Viking. According to North Dakota Place Names by Douglas Wick, the name was changed to Hamburg by German residents, but later the Hamberg spelling was adopted as a compromise with the Scandinavian settlers in the area.

US Census Data for Hamberg
Total Population by Place

1940 – 154
1950 – 124
1960 – 64
1970 – 51
1980 – 41
2000 – 28
2010 — 21

Hamberg, North Dakota
During our visit in 2008, this school looked like it had very few years left in it. Unfortunately, it burned to the ground on April 1st, 2012, during one of the driest springs on record. A Facebook fan reports a controlled burn got out of control due to the wind and the dry conditions.

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

The traffic passes, but rarely stops.

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg’s Post Office.

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

A quiet Saturday morning in Hamberg.

Hamberg, North Dakota

See also: More Views of Hamberg
See also: Hamberg Flashback
See also: More Abandoned Hamberg

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media


44 Comments on “Disappearing Hamberg, North Dakota

  1. Nice photos of Hamberg. I visited the townsite on 7/2/09 and probably spent about an hour there. I’m an UrbEx-er and explored the church and the school, both located on a sort of public square sort of area. It must have been something to live there back when Hamberg was in its glory: the trains still stopping at the station that once stood on the southern edge of town, the church still operating, the school still open, the businesses still thriving.

    Now, the school stands as a hollowed-out testament to the prairie dreams that, like the school, are now so shaky that the first sizable calamity will send it collapsing headlong into a tragic pile of dried out rubble, the destruction forever erasing any semblance of its past structure.

  2. the picture below the post office the left window looks like a face in it do u know why it looks like that?

  3. Yeah, you’re right, Alyssa. That’s totally weird. In the second Post Office photo, both windows on the Post Office look like there are faces as well. Maybe I should check the photos I took and look for weird stuff.

    And no, I have no idea why they look like that.

    • Really cause I see shadows of trees in the post office windows.

    • i see the face in the one picture too. it could be a trick of light and shadow, but maybe not. either way, it adds to the creepiness of the ghost town photos. pretty cool!

  4. Great pictures! There used to be a bar in Hamberg, The Sunshine Inn, owned by Clarence Klindworth. It was a great little bar, but it ended up burning down a couple of years ago.

  5. I visited Hamberg every summer when I was a kid, it was an awesome town! I still remember the store being open…and we spent many hours with our parents and big families playing guitars and singing in Bozo’s bar. Now…there are more deer living there, than people. My dad went to there, as did my aunts and an uncle too, and cousins too, that town holds alot of great memories for alot of great people!

  6. I met that love of my life in that little town…during the Hamberg Diamond Jubilee, back in 1985 or so….probably one of the last street dances that town ever had.

  7. And that’s why I visit these towns and explore what’s left…to imagine the things that happened there long before my arrival and keep them alive.

    • My Grandparents owned the store in Hamberg, and my uncle “Bozo” owned the bar, and many of my other family lived there at one time or another. Those were the best summer days going to Hamberg to visit and getting to pick out an ice cream bar and sit at the counter in the store, once in awhile we even got to have a bottle of pop from Bozo’s bar. I also remember the Diamond Jubilee with the great street dance and parade, when the little town of Hamberg had so many people in it! Great memories- thanks!

      • By Dad is from Maddock ND! We had to drive though Hamberg to get there! My family always went to Bozo’s bar all the time, and always during umting season! I could not wait until I turned 21 so I could go also! Then one day it happened I was able to go and check this legendary bar that my family alway’s went to! I was so excited to go. We all arrived at the bar one by one and wow what a dump! i was like this is it? I wanted to leave right then and there! Of course my whole family made fun of me for thinking I was to good for this place. I ended up staying and had one of the best times of my life with the whole family there! My only regret now is I never made it back!

    • Are you talking about the Harold “Fritz” Scheer family? I lived south of Hamberg about 5 miles when I was young and knew them well. Lived 1 mile away from them for years.

    • The Scheer family lived next to us north of Bowdon in the late 50’s and early 60’s. John was my only playmate for years.

  8. I love Hamberg! I am 14 and I have lived there since I was little. There is not many people left in the town but, I sill enjoy it! My cousin and I would always be ghost hunters when our grandmother would watch us and walk around, visit everyone (and usally get candy and pop!) , and go by the school if we dared! Our parents would tell us that it and everything else in the quiet peaceful town is haunted by all the little kids that went to the school that have died.. Of course now we laugh about how we would get scared and run the the nearest house! Living there has helped me be a hard sleeper by learning to sleep with the noise of a loud train going by every 10 minutes! And they still do! Thank you for the pictures also they are fun to look at and remember what it looked like when I was little. You should come back and take new one the town has changed soo much! On July 23, 2011 there is a Hamberg 100th Year Celebration & Nerlien Reunion. Here is the link for the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=153436828012248 🙂

  9. my grand parents had a farm there, Walter was a mailman also.I can remember Bozo took us out to do some shooting about 50 years ago.

  10. My grandpa, Selmer “Sam” Kittelson (son of Melvin and Josephine [nee Rogelstad]), grew up in Hamberg. He was born in 1921 in ND and passed in 1996 in CA. There’s a Kittelson farm somewhere around there, though I’m not sure if it’s still in the family. I’ve never been up there, but my mom visited about 8 years ago or so. She has a picture of that same school where my grandpa and his siblings attended. Thanks for posting these pictures. I would love to get up there from NE sometime to see it all in person.

    • While touring ghost towns and abandoned railroad tracks in North Daklota several years ago, I had occasion to camp out in Hamberg. I did so down near the tracks in my mini-van so that I could watch any trains passing through(their were several during the night). Apparently camping out in Hamberg was somewhat of an unusual phenomena, and as such somebody tapped on the window of my mini-van in the middle of the night. It turned out to be the Sheriff and one of his deputies. After I provided ID and convinced him that my intentions were purely peaceful, he left me to finish my nite’s sleep. While in Hamberg I of course noticed the school building which dominated one end of main street(the depot would have been at the other end where I camped out). I especially noticed the old Greyhound Bus parked alongside of the schoolhouse I hope it wasn’t destroyed in the fire, but presume it was. Jim Malecki PS The Great Northern Railroad track thru Hamberg was built sometime after the original Great Northern mainline to the west which ran up from Fargo to Grand Forks, then west to Devils Lake and Minot. The line through Hamberg ran at a diagonal from Fargo, to Minot, and cut off quite a few miles. Most of the heavy freight tonnage still travels the Hamberg line, but Amtrak uses the line thru Devils Lake and Grand Forks to provide passenger service to those larger communities. There are no towns of any size on the Hamberg cutoff. Jim Malecki

  11. My wife and i where there Sept 2010, had a look round, nice
    Colin in UK

  12. Passed through Hamberg last year to visit my Dad’s hometown and stop by the cemetery to see where my great grandparents are buried. Sad to read the school is now gone – that was a huge loss, even though it has been vacant many years, you could almost hear the laughter of children surrounding it.

  13. I visited Hamberg a few months ago and had the pleasure to walk around the town and take in all the beauty from the past. As I go through “ghost towns” I often wonder about the past – people that lived there, made a life, died there. I took a lot of photos and while reviewing I discovered that I had zoomed in on a name of a man that lived in one of the houses. I searched records and such and found he entered a nursing home in 1981 and his estate was fought over after his death. It’s history like that tugs at my heart and makes me want to continue researching every single thing I can on these sojourns. 🙂 This town was beautiful and I hope that it will be many more years in the future.

  14. I’m Eugen berglund daughter in-law . His brother Howard Berglund live there and was severely burnt around the same time. He spent months in a burn unit in Minneapolis recovering. He is back at home now.

  15. I have never been to Hamberg, but my grandfather lived here. He taught at the school for a short time. My mother says several years ago, they were selling the school for $1.00 but my grandfather would not let her buy it. It’s a shame that it caught fire. I was happy to finally see pictures of this school I’ve heard so much about!

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  17. My Grandparents had a farm a few miles away from Hamberg, Mr. and Mrs. Hadley Haugen. My mom also attended this school. We loved going to Hamberg as kid and adults. We would always walk through all the old houses and buildings until they got too old. Also, attended the jubilee, it was fun even for us younger kids. Good memories.

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    • Hi:

      Next week I will be traveling from WIsconsin back to the Bremen/Hamberg area where I grew up.

      One thing I wondered if you knew about the two huge, cement elevators that now grace the landscape on the east side of Hamberg, which stand out like skyscrapers on the flat terrain!

      The way I understand it, is that the elevator in Fessenden had them built to allow more railroad cars for transporting wheat, etc. The grain is hauled by the elevator’s semi truck (s) to Hamberg. They built railroad tracks close to the line in a circle so the cars are filled and then can go back on the line. (There are two of these cement elevators in Fessenden built a number of years ago, but they are on the SOO Line and were having trouble getting enough rail cars to move the grain.

      I realize that this website is more about bygone days, but those two tall elevators change the look of the land there that you might want to swing by there some time on your travels. (Some of the information on how those cement elevators were built was interesting to me too, such as the cement was hauled from Carrington etc. I can tell you more about that if that is something you’d like to know.

      I am looking forward to being there about three weeks so will see family and friends there.

      Thanks for all you do to keep this website going! I have told so many friends about it too, and will continue to do so when we meet for our 50th class reunion in Fessenden!

      Kindest regards,

      Audrey Becvar-Mehlhouse

  20. Looking for information on this town’s history – it seems that this town had a light plant before they contracted with Fessenden Light & Power Co. in 1919.

  21. I grew up just a few miles from Hamberg and have many fond memories of this town. Going down to get the mail everyday before we got rural mail delivered to the farm.

  22. Hamberg has recently had a new elevator built as well as a new addition to the rail road system. Fessenden Co-op owns the elevators in Hamberg.

  23. Born in Harvey in ’46 and raised there as a toddler. Mother still owns a farm not far from Heimdal. Also remember the old hotel in Fessenden where my grandfather once stayed. Wonderful innocent times with beautiful memories. Wonder if the Clavens still live down the road there from the farm? A classic Bethel church and cemetery grounds are worth a visit a few miles outside of Harvey from the power plant.

  24. I was born n raised in Hamberg. 1956-1963 then moved to Maddock after my Dad died from burns at Bozo’s gas station. Our house is gone now but my Grandparent’s house still is there. Grandpa n Grandma had a General Store west of there house. Trygvee n Josey Severtson. Her Brother Henry Gunderson lived in that little house on pic w/school. My Mother Lillian taught at the school before I was born. Usta like goin’ to Bozo’s gas station for pop n candy n Klindworth’s Grocery Store. My dad Robert is buried at the cemetary w/ my grandparents. He was a butcher n a cop on occasions, Butcher shop burned down after he died. They opened a different one on main street that just closed i heard.

  25. Today is 30 Jul 2017 and we visited Hamberg and area yesterday. My husband’s grandparents were Martinus (Matt) and Sophia (Nilla) Hagen Haug. Their house is standing and appears to be lived in but is in much disrepair. Matt built the house. His signature on the homes he built was a “sunrise” in the peaks above windows and porches. We also visited the “Haug Farm” once owned by Erick and Lesa Hagen and then by Matt Haug. The house Matt built is still standing and lived in. Had a fascinating conversation with man who lives there. All in all a very good genealogy day!

  26. Forgot to comment that Matt Haug was the builder of the church in Hamberg which is still standing. I was able to look inside a door window that leads to the basement and it is in horrible condition. The exterior is not good but the church will probably stand for a good many years. It was built in 1925 so close to 100 years ago

  27. Lived in Hamberg from 1966 to 1972 as a teenager,

  28. My grandparents Oscar and Ethel Proefrock had a farm outside Hamberg and then retired and lived the rest of their days there. My father Myron grew up around Hamberg and Fessenden until he joined the USAF and traveled the world. I remember my sister and looking forward to visiting our grandparents and getting candy and ice cream at the green store in Hamberg the Summers that we could make it back.

  29. My family lived in this town in about 74 or so. My stepfather ran the elevator. We lived in a big house right as you pulled into town on the first street. That old 3 story school house was practically in our back yard. We actually went in it quit often and played. We would go to the store all the time and same with the bar, I loved the doors on that place. I remember our house had a big fence around it and the drive way led to the old garage(carriage house). We also had a outhouse in our yard. I’m almost positive that our old house was the big one pictured with caption below that says the traffic passes but never stops. That n old house had the coolest basement with a bunch of rooms. The upstairs he’d 3 bedroom, but the best part was one of the bedroom was were you had to step down 3 stairs and the closet went from one end to the next. There used to be a gas station there as you past through. We used to explore all the old abandoned places. Great town

  30. My grandparents were from Hamberg. My day Lyle nickname Ole Nerlien was from there and his parents were Olga and Ed. Ed worked at the blacksmith shop in Hamberg. My mom was Judith Nerlien and her maiden name was Tweeten and my mom was from Hamberg also. My two older brothers and myself have very fond memories of Hamberg.

  31. My grandparents were from Hamberg. My day Lyle nickname Ole Nerlien was from there and his parents were Olga and Ed. Ed worked at the blacksmith shop in Hamberg. My mom was Judith Nerlien and her maiden name was Tweeten and my mom was from Hamberg also. My moms mother was Sarah Tweeten. My two older brothers and myself have very fond memories of Hamberg.

  32. The picture with the 2 story house, with the little add on in the back. That was the house that we lived in for about a year in 1974 or so. It had a big carriage house in the back. You could tell that it was a added bathroom. It was at the back of the house off the kitchen. My father was working in the elevator, we loved the old family store. All the old abandoned houses were so cool to explore

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