Berlin, North Dakota, 2011

Berlin is located in a sparsely populated region of south-central North Dakota, about 50 miles south southeast of Jamestown. Sabrina Hornung contributed these photos of Berlin. (In 2015, Sabrina became the Editor of the High Plains Reader in Fargo. Tweet her via HPR here.)

“I have included photos from Berlin ND. According to Wikipedia there were 35 people living in Berlin according to the 2000 Census. I stumbled upon an old blacksmith shop and everything was in tact except for the belt that connected the bellows. I also included a couple of photos from the old firehall. I thought that it was interesting that the remains of the fire wagon were still intact and in the building. One of the other buildings I came across was an old Legion building and I snapped a photo through the window. I have a cousin that lives in Berlin Germany that is always begging me to visit, so I sent her a photo of me in Berlin ND. She definitely got a kick out of that!”


We visited Berlin ourselves in 2012 and were thrilled at the photo opportunities. Not only is the fire station a great shot, but there’s an old blacksmith’s shop too.

Photos by Sabrina Hornung. Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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40 Comments on “Berlin, North Dakota, 2011

  1. I used to play on those swings behind the old blacksmith shop (used to be operated by Jackie Webber if I remember correctly) back in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. My grandparents were Alvin and Florence Lacina who lived about 5 miles south of Berlin.

    • Spent many days in Berlin, wonder if the old gym is still around.

      • I used to go roller skating in the gym in the early 1970’s and remember watching Fourth of July fireworks in Berlin

  2. I have fond memories of growing up in Berlin, ND, playing on the swings in the school
    yard and skating on a frozen pond behind Matt Rausch’s local store in the winter. (1950-54)
    Also, living across the street from my grandparents, Anton and Hannah Swenson was wonderful, too. Gramma Swenson always brought out her fresh bread, jam and sausage when we
    stopped by for a visit. Wonderful memories. Carol Van Ornum Current

    • Our family lived here from the spring of 1955 to about March of 1956. I was a 6th grader. I had a friend, Van Ornum, but not coming up with his first name. Also seems like there was a Claude Van Ornum. I believe my friend’s dad was one of the Elevator managers. My Dad, Chris, was the depot agent and we lived in the quarters above the Depot. I played baseball on the Legion team (as a 6th grader) and my Dad played on the Amateur team. We had previously lived in La Moure. Was his name Terry?? Others I remember were Harold and (I think) Marvin Just, Greg Jenson (his dad was the other elevator manager). I think it was John Rausch who pitched on the Legion team. I remember one time we beat someone 8-0, I played centerfield, and after the game we all went to Rausch’s store for free treats.

      I can remember skating, and I believe playing hockey on the ice you mentioned. As I remember it was in the corner of the block, I think NE corner. I remember an Artesian Well. Probably where the ice came from.

      I was crushed when we had to leave Berlin. I was back several years ago to look around. The old ball diamond was all overgrown, but I was able to locate the pitcher’s mound. The School House was gone. We moved to Jessie, ND, then Binford, and then in Nov of 1959 came to West Fargo. Where I found Greg Jenson, and a guy named Harold Sproul who I had gone to school (2nd/3rd grade) with at Buffalo. Since my dad worked as an agent-telegrapher for the NPRY, we moved alot, I went to 8 different schools in 12 years. Ugh!

      • I think my friend’s Dad’s name was Vern (Van Ornum), maybe the son was named Vern too, just can’t quite remember.

        Of course the Depot and our old home are gone too.

  3. Lora Lee Van Ornum/Senske–Wow-without Berlin I would not be here. Wonderful place to have lived and been rasied up in. Gardening in Berlin was a breezze to places I have tried to garden in
    recently, Great Friends-fun-family. Lots of wonderful memories.

  4. Thank you for posting the photos of the blacksmith shop, it used to belong to my father Miles Horsager. Seeing it again brought a tear to my eye.

  5. I am proud to be a Van Ornum. I dont have all the beautiful memories of all of you. But when My parents Jim and Audrey Van Ornum would drive back from california my brother and I always have fun andloved going to Berlin. My parents were married there and I thin k went to school there.

    • Your mother was my Godmother when I was baptized. My Godfather was Walter Bender Ken Leppert

  6. You are correct, Verne Van Ornum worked at the elevator, and Verne Jr was his son. My dad was Claude Van Ornum who did plumbing and heating around the area. I was also wondering if anyone know the where abouts of any of the family of Benedicta Millner. They were Rose, Alex, Eugene, Alois, Benedicta and Lawrence. I believe she is still alive and is in a nursing home in Roseau. I spent many hours at Glenn Ellingson’s Standard Station and also watched them do welding and plow sharpening at the blacksmith shop which was first owned by Miles Horsager and then Jackie Weber.

    • Thanks Clarence. Does anyone remember ‘Skeleton Cave’?? LOL…and in the pasture just across the ditch and fence to the west of Skeleton Cave was a low area, maybe a small slough, but what I remember about it was that there was lots of clover, 3 leaf and a high percentage of 4 leaf clovers.

      • If I remember right “Skeleton Cave” was a big culvert under the road by the Lutheran Church on the way to the cemetery. My grandfather Barton Van Ornum used to take us out to a deserted house out that way and then tell us ghost stories. It was mostly the children of Verne Van Ornum, Glenn Ellingson and our family if I remember correctly.

      • This site is screwy, there was no way to reply to your reply of the 17th. So I’ll reply here to my own post and see if it posts above or below your post.

        Well I don’t remember a church, but Skeleton Cave was a big culvert under the N/S gravel road just a little ( I don’t know, maybe 1/8-1/4 mi) WNW of town. Use to try to flock shoot blackbirds on the fly with my BB gun down there. If I’m looking north in the photo of the big sign ‘Welcome to Berlin’, it should be right down there in that low spot I think. But it’s been soooooooo many years. Over a half century ago ((56 years).

        • The Lutheran church was at the intersection of the road that went west past the dump ground and the road that went north to the cemetery. Your memory of skeleton cave is correct. I think that that pasture land belonged to Julius Just who had the farm just about a mile or so directly north of the school. I think his son Myron has the farm now.

      • I can’t remember the Lutheran Church, but I remember the dump ground…lol. Yes I remember that Myron lived on that farm north of the school and I think Harold lived on the farm you said was Julius’. So I’m guessing Julius was Harold’s Dad. Myron was riding on the back fender of my bike one time in town and I went around a corner where there was a low spot where water collected when it rained and the drop along with the extra weight on the fender caused the rear tire to blow out.

        Seems like it was one of the older Just boys, maybe Myrons older brother and an older girl who, in two cars, drove our class to Edgeley one night in the fall of 1955, to see the movie: Battle Cry.

        • Harold was the son of Reinhold Just, whose farm was right across the road to the northwest of the cemetery. Julius Just had 3 boys, Donald, Myron and Walter, Also Marcella and another girl whose name I can not remember. Reinhold Just had two sons. I think the oldest one was Clarence and then Harold whom I think has that farm now. I was at the cemetery two years ago as my parents and grandparents are buried there along with Verne and Inez Van Ornum.

          • I was just researching on and I found Inez buried in the Berlin Cemetery, under her maiden name Swenson, but can’t find Verne buried there.

          • Reinhold had 3 sons. Clarence, Dennis who lives on the farm and Harold. Julius’s youngest daughter is Carol who also lives in Minneapolis. Hope you don’t mind me in on this.

        • I think now that Reinhold had 3 sons, Clarence, Dennis and Harold. I do not know for sure about Clarence but know for sure of Dennis and Harold.

      • Well now I’m a little mixed up. It was either Walter or Myron who was riding on my bike with me. He was a classmate so it would be the one born in 1944, and would turn 68 this year. I just remember that Harold lived west of Myron or Walter, whichever it was and seems like he lived close to the N/S road. I think on the west side.

        Another thing I remember was that my dad, the Depot Agent, got a plywood duck boat in that had been damaged in shipment, and was declined by the buyer (this is how I remember it, but it could have been a kit). At any rate, Van Ornum and Jensen, at the elevator, bought it and either repaired it or built it. They did this in the furthest west elevator, almost right across from the Depot. In the elevator office. One night I was over there watching them fit and glue and they were listening to the boxing match between Rocky Marciano and Archie Moore on the radio. September 21, 1955.

        • It would have been Walter as Myron was older than me. Harold and Walter were in the same grade, they were first cousins.

      • Ok, thanks Clarence. It would have been Walter. Yes Harold was in my grade too and I knew/remembered that they were cousins. Seems like Harold had some malady, like diabetes or some such.

    • I was looking for information on my grandpa Alois Millner (Benedicta’s husband) when I came across this website. My father is Eugene Millner. All of my aunts and uncles and my dad are alive and doing well.

    • Hi,
      I am Rose Millner(Goeser). We live in Moorhead for 13 yrs now. We lived in Langdon, ND for about 17 years. We were in a bridge card group along with Sandra (Van Ornum) & her husband while in Langdon. We still keep in contact. All of us kids live in MN. I have 4 half brother & sisters. One of my half sisters passed away at the age of 41 because of cancer. Mom passed away 3 yrs ago at the age of 95. My stepdad died 9 yrs ago at the age of 88.
      Where are you living? Sandra had let me know sometime ago that your wife had passed. I talked to Cleola on the phone quite sometime ago. How is she doing?
      I’ll never forget when I went over to your place to cut the heads off some chickens cause no one could do
      I just happened to come across this page by accident. Keep me updated on your family. Rose

  7. Does anyone remember the George Wagner family that lived there in 1880’s and what happen to them?

  8. Does anyone remember the George Wagner family that lived there in 1880’s and what happen to them? Families on the June 19, 1880 censes was: Fred Teiler (?),Maratin Korboska(?),Julius Westfall,Wm Sleede,August Baling, and David Leubenow.
    The pictures are great and thanks for sharing them.

    • I cannot remember any of the names you have listed except Wagner. I do not know for sure
      but one of my best friends in Berlin was Jerry Wagner. His dad was “Wimpy” Wagner, I do
      not know his real name who worked for John Young who was one of the sons of Senator
      Milton Young who was from Berlin. In regards to my last post I have since learned that
      Benedicta Millner Kotta died in November at the age of 95. All of her children were listed
      in the obituary so I now know that they are all still living and where they now live.

  9. I had a wonderful visit with Alex Millner at Hinckley a week ago. He is still in good health and the other Millner children are all alive and doing well.

  10. My family, The Louis and Helen Manns family lived in Berlin in the 1920s. They were “Bible Students”, now known as Jehovah’s Witnesses and met with a quite large congregation of Bible Students in the Legion Hall. It’s great to see a picture of that place preserved. My family left Berlin in about 1929. (See the Lamoure County Chronicle). I have a couple of pictures of groups of their friends about 1925.

  11. I am seeing this site for the first time! Yes, the pictures are familiar as I still make it back to Berlin several times a year. My dad is Duane (Toad) Young, who died in January 1995. My mother Gwen (Chappell) Young is living in St. Rose Care, LaMoure, ND.

    The old school house is gone. The blacksmith’s name was Jackie Webber. The Rausch brothers loved their baseball! My family loved Grandpa and Grandma Swenson (Inez Van Ornum’s parents.) The community was filled with familiar names: Young, Van Ornum, Just, Shockman, Lacina, Long, Horsager ~ and many have family members who still live in this area, or own land in this area. The Young farm started in the late 1800’s and continues to be operated by a Young in 2013.

    • Hi Paddy I just found this site. Fun to read the comments on Berlin. Hope to see you some day. Going for my 50th next week at La Moure.

  12. We use to go to Berlin for the fireworks display on Independence day. We lived 3 miles east of Dickey on 35.

    • forth of July stopped after 1975 mishap of (wet) damp powder charge went up about 40 feet to the side landing on a pontiac bonneville and exploded on hood three cars away from us . all the area farmers would help with the consesion stands . very family day event

  13. I remember a hardware store on main street. I think between Ellingson’s Garage and Rausch’s store. I was at the age where I was just starting to be interested in guns and hunting. I remember when you walked in the store, the guns were immediately to the left and down aways, and I remember the exhilarating smell of Hoppe’s 9 solvent.

    I shot my first shotgun at the west elevator, on the west exit ramp, where some townsmen would get together and shoot clay pigeons. The gun I shot was a 28 gauge that one of the men had. Also the first hunting license I bought was in 1955 (still have it) and I borrowed Vern Van Ornum’s over and under .410.

  14. My name is Cathy Silk and I live in Barre Vermont. My family is on the Berlin fire here in Vermont and we were wondering if as of now…is the North Dakota Old Fire Station still standing?

  15. I am Ken Leppert number 2 son of Tillie and Kermit. I was raised and lived my first 18 years of my life in Berlin. I was a graduate of the Berlin School which was at 8th grade. We had our choice to go to LaMoure or Edgeley for high school. At one time we had Matt Rausch’s store , The Oasis Bar run by the Bosch family. The legion hall was once a hardware store owned by Ephram Just. This building was moved from its position east of the grocery store to the area where the Berlin Bank was located and which was at one time a plumbing shop and even a cafe run by Claude VanOrnum We had Ellingsons gas station as well as the Johl Brothers on the west end of main. The post office and a popular gathering spot was the railroad depot which we often helped unload freight and get a free pop.
    Jack Webber had the blacksmith shop and as I grew up I spent many hours helping Jack The school which is completely gone was the main draw to Berlin along with the Berlin Grain Elevator. School was closed in 1970 or 71. My mom cooked there for years and my dad was the bus driver/custodian I remember the school events especially basketball games and had one of the nicest gyms in the county. I remember Halloweens and the brutal cold and especially the blizzard of 1966. Coldest I ever saw was -52 degrees below zero. You could throw a glass of water up and it froze instantly. There were close to 125 people in Berlin at that time. Always proud to be from Berlin and glad to hear from you.

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