Ambrose, ND

Ambrose is just north of Highway 5 in the northwestern corner of the state, just three miles from the US-Canadian border.

Ambrose had been on our radar for some time. It is a well-known town in ghost town circles and has been the subject of numerous media reports for a variety of reasons, most notably it’s dwindling population.

We knew Ambrose would be beautiful and there would be good photographs to be taken, but honestly, we were caught unprepared. We were three-quarters of the way through a two-day, one thousand mile ghost town trip, and when we rolled into Ambrose, honestly, there was almost a feeling of dread… because there were so many photos to take.

Ambrose is a large town as near-ghost towns go, covering some twenty square blocks. It is also much more wooded than we expected (due in part to the effort of early residents), requiring a lot of ‘adventure’ so-to-speak.

So this gallery is a small sampling of the photos we were able to take. Suffice to say, if you’re gonna photograph Ambrose, allow an extra day.  See more photos of Ambrose, contributed by Laura Enerson Castro, here.

US Census Data for Ambrose
Total Population by Place

1910 – 320
1920 – 389
1930 – 334
1940 – 294
1950 – 286
1960 – 220
1970 – 109
1980 – 60
1990 – 48
2000 – 23
2010 – 26

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

41 Comments on “Ambrose, ND

  1. Thank you so much-these are great pictures. I wish the trees were all in full bloom-then the real beauty of Ambrose surfaces. Such wonderful memories-thank you again.

    • Yeah, they’re wonderful! I’ll have to take some more and put on Facebook one of these days! Your grandpa sure made the town beautiful with all the trees!

      • Thanks, Laura, I have always been proud of Grandpa for planting such a beautiful little town-basically, he built the town with the trees and the rest came later-ha. The story I heard was he
        loved Ambrose but was frustrated because of the lack of trees and flowers so he took it upon himself to plant, plant, plant!!!
        Its too bad you weren’t able to grow up in our generation-the population around that time was
        283 and we had so much fun-we didn’t need computers, video games,etc. to keep us happy.
        We always found plenty to do even if it was just riding our bikes to town in the summer to get a
        popsicle. That was before all the fires that took our little town, building by building. I’m sure you have
        read about the fires in the Ambrose history.

        • Hi Shirley, you mentioned your grandfather and planting trees in Ambrose. My grandfather (Ludwig Palm) lived in Ambrose from 1908 until about 1918. He had owned a nursery in Cottonwood, MN but it burned in 1908 and Ludwig lost everything. He then moved to Ambrose and continued selling nursery products including trees and shrubs. Do you happen to know or have any information about him? He also was the first Sons of Norway president of the lodge which was formed in 1913. At some point he shifted and began selling insurance. Thank you, Brian Tanning (

  2. Thanks for the pictures of Ambrose. I was both glad & sad to see them. I grew up in Ambrose & attended school there. It was a wonderful town with plenty of residents but as Shirlee wrote, fires took much of the main street businesses. Thankfully, there are still people who refuse to let the town die.

    Jr. Olson

    Väddö, Sweden

  3. Jr. Olson is my second cousin……..and I played with Shirlee Anderson when I was little.
    We moved to Nebraska but I still consider Ambrose as my hometown. Would love to
    own a lot with lilac bushes!!
    Looks like the weather was gorgeous for photography

    Velma Ness Lassen
    Lincoln NE

    • Are you by chance related to Joe and Minnie Ness?

      • Sorry I am not but my grandmother was Anna Stenseth. My grandfather was Charles Hilton aks.John Edward Callahan.He owned the livery stable and bar for a time in early 1905-09 somewhere in that time. I have no idea how I can trace them. ??

        • Hi! My grandfather homesteaded at Ambrose and my mother was born in the hospital there in 1911. Great seeing the photographs of the hospital there. Her mother was a Callaghan (from Canada) — she was Lillian Callaghan Farrell (married to William T. Farrell; he homesteaded and worked at a bank in Crosby). Does anyone remember hearing of these pioneers?

      • Melissa – those names don’t sound familiar to me. I visited Ambrose in the late 16950s when I was 5 or 6 years old. My Great Grandmother lived there at the time with her Daughter, Hilda (Kris) Fegre. I also had Cowley cousins (actually my mother’s cousins) who probably were in HS during your time there. There were several great aunts and uncles in town at that time. Kris’ store on the main street burned down and took most of main street with it in the early 1960s; after the fire there was no longer a business district.

        • I am from Minneapolis. I when I was young. I loved visiting my grandparents Emil and Minnie Hanson, on their farm outside of Ambrose. This farm was the place where my Mother, the former Lucille Hanson, grew up with her 5 brother’s.

          When I was about 11 yrs old, my grandparents bought the old
          Hammond house and moved into town. The summer of that fire, my brother, Bob Johnson and I were visiting our grandparents in Ambrose when Chris Fagre’s store burned down. Axel’s store burned at the same time. I will never forget Bob and I standing together accross the street and watching the rageing fire. Those two stores went down pretty fast.

          After that, I think that an abbreviated grocery store moved into the implement store. The other business that I think were still open at the time were: the post office, the gas station, the locker, the bar and Hillsteads Cafe (remember the delicious hamberburgers? . There was also a Masonic building, but I don’t know if it was still in use. The school was still open. Such a wonderful place! And the hospital was being used as a nursing home. The grain elevators were still in use. I wonder if they still are?

          Ambrose was a lovely little town with a nice park, treelined streets and sidewalks. My grandmother’s flower garden surrounded her house. So many important family events tied to the Ambrose Lutheran Church.

          Joan (Johnson) Berthiaume

  4. spent many summers in ambrose my grandpa and grandma run the grocery store many many happy times

    • Mike- we probably share Great Grandparents, Thomas and Anna Cowley, who settled in the Ambrose area In the 19 teens. My grandmother is Margaret Ellen Cowley Flagen. She was born in England, then immigrated with her parents. They ran the hotel in Ambrose for a while. At one time several homes in town were occupied by Cowleys. I think Vincent was probably the last.

  5. The little brown house once belonged to my greataunt and uncle-“Auntie and Omer”. It was white, then; the yard was perfectly neat with flowers and a Church bird house. Auntie made the best donuts ever! Omer ran the locker plant in Ambrose.

  6. These photos are great! Can you see why people love ND? Look at the beautiful skies! I’m having a hard time identifying some of the homes. I can tell which was Grandpa Rud’s, Enoch Andersen and as for Auntie & Omer, (everyone in town called her “Auntie”!) I remember her for her delicious white sugar cookies & friends & families gathering at their place for big birthday celebrations. I assume for Auntie. I always love going back for visits & driving around the streets, trying to remember who lived in particular houses etc. My sister & I would often walk to my Grandma Moen’s for dinner during the school year. On the way back to school, her neighbor, Mrs. Sherick, would often call us over for a piece of homemade divinity! Carefree days & good memories.

  7. I was just looking at the Ambrose pictures again tonight, Feb. 16th and thinking “Where else are the skies so blue and beautiful?” Yes, Auntie had the best homemade sugar cookies -everything she cooked was
    absolutely wonderful & everyone loved Omer & Auntie as their own grandparents. What wonderful
    memories we have of growing up in such a beautiful little town. I would not trade those memories for

  8. Thanks for the pictures and to who ever took all the pictures of the cemetery did a super job. The pictures and the looks of the cemetery shows the people have a warm heart.

    • Thank you for the great pictures. Haven’t lived in North Dakota for almost 40 years, but try to get back every few years. Dad graduated from Ambrose High School. When I was a kid, we would go out for ” a drive” and often go to Ambrose. Dad would point out favorite places.

  9. Great pictures! They bring back memories of my time there .. 1999-2001.

  10. ambrose- a small town population about 23 office and a grain elevator. very pretty town with nice people. obtained this information from a Mary. S officer in charge of ambrose po. zip code is 58833. she sent me a post mark from this location.

    • Thanks, Ria-I grew up in Ambrose and IS a pretty town with the nicest of people!! I miss it a lot but sadly, it isn’t what I remember it to be when I was growing up.

  11. WAS THERE AS A KID IN THE 50’S….Great Uncle Bert Nelson lived there then,wonder if any of their children remember us or maybe great grandchildren

  12. I think Im related to velma. Im kjell ness son. I spent every summer in the 1980’s in ambrose with my cousins will and travis ness, Dillon lewis and eric standing in the road. these pictures remind me of summer. so many great memories. i used to hate the end of summer when I would have to go back to san francisco.

  13. I was born in Ambrose but lived in Crosby until about 1940 and then we moved to Bottineau so I remember very little about the area. Did go back to Crosby with my family and drove right to the house where we used to live – my kids couldn’t believe we had such a small house – think it had one bedroom. Have many pictures of it. I don’t imagine Ambrose is too deserted at this time with all the oil boom. My husband’s cousin has a gravel truck working in that area and he said they are living in Ambrose!!

  14. I was born in the Ambrose hospital. My name is Marlene [hagen] Fuller Martin and I now live in Ponca City, Okalhoma. Sure did enjoy the pictures! My father was Roy Hagen of Alamo.

    • Alas, the picture is gone (along with the website), but if you’re looking up info on O. Ingemar, who was father of Patsy Irene, he moved out to California at some point. I believe he’s buried at Forest Lawn.

  15. Anyone recall a Ole O Frosaker. Homesteaded 163N-102W-Sect: 04 in 1906. He is buried in the Ambrose Cemetery. He was born: May 18, 1879 and died: Feb 10, 1933. He emigrated from Norway to Walcott, ND as a child with his parents in 1882. Ole O. Golberg and Birgit Olsdtr Frøysok-Frosaker Birgit died a year later in 1883.
    His father remarried a Marie Lund. Ole evidently took his mothers maiden name-Frosaker. Ole had a nephew, Ole G. Frosaker whose father Guttorm was a brother to Birgit. This Frosaker family and descendents lived in Minot, ND stating in 1921, It currently is not known if Ole O Frosaker had a wife or any children. if so, it would be of interest to find any descendents. There is no record in the 1930 US Federal Census. Any Divide County records would be of interest.

  16. There was a Ole G Frosaker that owned Frosaker Motors in Minot back in the 40’s/50’s ?? Might be the nephew you mentioned. I think he sold Chevy’s at one time

  17. Your work is just awesome and interesting. You should consider expanding to Ghost Towns of Saskatchewan, it is so similar to North Dakota. Across from Ambrose in Saskatchewan, is a town called Torquay. Churches can hold more then twice the towns population to serve as a reminder of how things use to be, after years of decline and the school shutting down, Torquay is now in rebound mode with the oil boom. Many have moved back or are moving to Torquay, especially those who work in Estevan.

    Maybe Ambrose has some hope to grow again, after all!

  18. Great looking back at Ambrose, my grandfather William and Mable lund lived in Ambrose and as a kid I spent every summer there. Bill my grandfather had a service station in Ambrose. Great memories

  19. I am trying to find history on my grandfather. His name was Charles Edward Hilton and he owned the livery stable ,, butcher shop, and the saloon in 1908(?) He married Anna Stenseth who had a diner, of some sort,. He was not a real nice man and got into some trouble in Ambrose. I am not sure what exactly. Is there any where that I could research early Ambrose? Thanks for any and all your help.

  20. My first years were spent in Ambrose as my dad was the Lutheran minister in town. He was there from 1944 until 1954 (I was in 1st grade in 1954). When we moved then for the first of several moves we would make. When my dad retired (1976) I asked him what was the best place he had served. He lived in northern Illinois at that time and it was a summer day in June. He leaned back in the lawn chair and said, “the people in Ambrose were the best.”

  21. I was in Ambrose several times with my mother and dad to visit with Vincent & Borghild Cowley (Beverly, Gene, Yvonne). Borghild was mother’s sister (Marion Eide Hall). I also remember Axel Palm as my dad would do business at his store.

  22. Fellow Ambrose Folks {& Kin};
    I’ve viewed this site numerous times over the past few years & tho’t I’d finally join the Ambrose Party!
    I attended Ambrose Pub School thru the 7th Grade (& Yes, Gordy, I remember YOU). As Proud Grad of Crosby High in 1966, I’m also Very Proud of Our Collective Small Town Heritage. Seeing the World thru the eyes of having been a Navy Vet for 24 years, our folks raised us in a very Safe Environment. {At least that’s how it now seemed.}
    Now that I’m approaching Seniorhood (jk!), I’ve become more aware than ever how GREAT it was 2 B a Fellow North Dakotan. My folks were Bud & June Hanson & from These Eyes; they were most Definitely Part of the Greatest Generation.

  23. I worked near Ambrose thru out 2015 and met a lady named STEVIE that was living in the old Ambrose hospital.
    Does anyone know if she still resides there or where has she moved to

  24. Doing some research, I discovered that the Soo Line made Ambrose the end of the Flaxton line from 1906 to 1913. Was there a reason for the delay and it restarting? I am curious, because WWI essentially ended railroad building in Montana, yet the Soo continued for a few more years. Thanks!

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