Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy opened its doors on this site north of Harvey in 1904 and was in operation until the end of the 1976 school year.  It was a Seventh Day Adventist secondary school.  The new location known as Dakota Adventist Academy opened in 1977 near Bismarck.


Sheyenne River Academy

The present owner of the property is using the grounds and the buildings for horses and other livestock.  We knocked on a few doors at a nearby home in an attempt to get permission to go inside, but we were not able to find anyone around.  So we snapped a few quick photos and left, hoping to return some time in the future when we can get permission.

There are four buildings in the academy facility, but you can barely see it from the road. The main gate is fenced and no longer used.

Sheyenne River Academy

Someone has knocked out a window just to the left of the entrance to make it possible to park a vehicle inside the building.

Sheyenne River Academy

Do you have our hardcover photo book, Churches of the High Plains?

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy has a Facebook page here, and you can read more about the history of the academy here.

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Note the dirt ramp on the front steps.

Sheyenne River Academy

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

48 Comments on “Sheyenne River Academy

    • My brother went to SRA for his Jr and Sr year, graduating in 1976. He loved this school! I went my freshman year, 76-77 with my friend/roommate and she graduated 1977. We had a great time at this school even though we were many miles from home (MN). Thanks for sharing the pictures…great memories…time marches on

  1. It’s amazing how fast these buildings fall about. 1976 was only…..guess it has been awhile.

  2. Brick and mortar building cost millions to build and only a few thousand to replace a roof. Most of these type building have flat roofs that only last for about 10-20 years. To restore these may be too late for the interior damage now. If you see a building like this to restore put on a pitched roof and it will last like and old barn.

  3. It is amazing the places you folks find. Great to see the pics!

  4. I went to school here and it was an amazing place. So many wonderful memories and so sad to see what has happened. Thanks for posting. Inside the main building you will find some amazing art work from 1976. Memories!

    • Hi Gracie,

      My old ancestors settled in Northland township, Ransom county – near Sheyenne River – in the late 1800s. I believe the Place was called Bear Creek. She was a Norwegian lady, Sigrid Anna Ottersdatter, married to Severt Olson. Sigrid Anna is buried in Northland. Do you know more about families in that area?

      • Dear Holtet,
        To help you out, Ransom County is located in southeast North Dakota. This abandoned school that is featured is located in north central North Dakota.
        I would guess that Bear Creek is located in the Fort Ransom, ND area as it, too, is located on the Sheyenne River. Fort Ransom was predominately settled by Norwegian immigrants.
        Contact the Ransom County Gazette in Lisbon, ND and they may be of some help. There is also a historical museum in Fort Ransom that may be of some help.
        I always thought of Fort Ransom as a Norwegian cowboy town…it is very beautiful there.
        Hadet bra, Joanne

          • The Bear Creek is a small tributary of the James River. It empties into the James north of Oakes and runs on a northerly route to to nearly Litchville.

        • Joanne is correct. There is a Bear Creek south west of Fort Ransom on the prairie. Many Norwegian descendants in that area. I grew up a few miles north of there.

      • Holtet,

        I also went to Sheyenne River Academy for one year before it moved to Bismarck, ND. I do believe the area you are talking about in Northland township, Ransom County near the Sheyenne River is where my mother-in-law grew up. My mother-in-law is 88 years old now.

  5. grew up and left the Harvey area in 1976, it brings back many memories of these pictures.

  6. I went to Sheyenne River Academy and graduated in 1977…the last class to do so! It was a lovely campus and was a really fun place to go to school. Makes me sad to see it in this state.

  7. I entered SRA 1971 as an apprehensive, homesick 14 yr old and graduated as a confident 18 yr old ready to take on the world. We seldom had more that 100 students in grades 9-12 at any one time. Looking back I have many great memories and appreciate the staff and fellow students who supported each other as a small family. I have maintained lifelong friendships with many I met there. Future doctors, nurses, preachers, teachers and farmers walked those halls. We came from all walks of life and went our separate ways bound by the ties that only living in a small boarding school and a love for God can create.

  8. Rat, another place for you to stop is Courtenay and Kensal, just north of Jamestown. The people in Courtenay have put up a memorial on the corner of Hwy 9 and 20. Also Wimbledon has the Peggy Lee memorial at the Midland Depot where she lived.

  9. The current owner must not know that some bldgs are for humans and some for livestock. He should be sent to Jamestown for what he has done to the place. Many people are made sick by what others have done to SRA.

  10. Yes,….what a shame.SRA was a wonderful step for many of us. As kids, we prob did not apprehend the value of the entire adventure.

  11. All the alumni out there who are saddened to see what shape it is in should as a group purchase SRA back from the owner, redo the campus adding an SDA museum, small publishing house, ABC, lay evangelism center, wellness center, etc. The comment was made that doctors, lawyers, farmers, preachers and teachers graduated and are obviously successful. Do we all have the EG White message?

  12. I believe you all need a reality check.!!! Have you ever driven the rural roads of this state and observed the decline of most small rural towns, including the schools? Much consolidation has and is still occurring. Small towns are dying. The population is building in ND as a result of the oil boom, but is mostly concentrated in larger cities. Our own DAA has very limited enrollment, and has room for triple the students. To retain the viability of the old SRA site would cost millions of dollars. It is now private property and he can do whatever he wishes; to go on to the property is trespassing. Memories are memories, leave it there!

    • Thank you Janice for making it clear that you disagree with everything this website is about. Have a nice day.

      • It’s the lack of appreciation for history that dooms us to repeat it 🙂 If a private group wanted to buy and preserve the campus that is their right too.

      • I thought the website was about remembering places that are no longer in existence or very close to it. It’s history! If all these places were being utilized, you wouldn’t be publishing their stories.
        I have been to many of the places as I travel for a living. While it is sad to see the state of many of the places, they are in disrepair because the patterns of life have changed. If there were a use for the buildings, they would be maintained. Even 25 years ago there were tons of abandoned farm houses and now they are completely gone.
        I do thank you for documenting the history of many of these places, it won’t be long before they have completely disappeared.

        • If this website was about remembering places that are no longer in existence, there wouldn’t be any photos at all. I sense that you’re disagreeing with me, I just can’t see in what regard.

          This website is an attempt to document these places through photographs, thereby raising awareness of them and saving the ones that can be saved. If you don’t think the former Sheyenne River Academy should be saved, David, why not just come right out and say it? The patterns of life have changed, so… Ce’st la vie?

  13. after the school closed, was it rented out as a summer camp location? I have a very slight memory of this, but I think i was 6-7 at the time

    • I took an afternoon drive and went to take a look at the campus where I was fortunate enough to meet with the owner (who had purchased the buildings and lands about 42 years ago… nice guy. When he purchased the place, his goal was to run a Bible camp (lots of horseback riding) and he did – for several years. He was the driving force of this independent ministry and of course, these things require upkeep. When the roof of one of the buildings needed replacing, he said he didn’t have nearly the $$$$ it would’ve taken to repair properly. The camp was shut down and he lost what little income there had been off the buildings. With no other buyers, he watched as one by one the roofing let in water and became not useful to the plan he had in place when he first purchased the property. The main structures actually still look pretty good on the outside, and I think the pictures are a wonderful catalyst to reviving memories of an era 100 years ago.
      I am a relative newcomer to the Dakotas and I gotta say, Troy, I love the photography and write-up I see in “Ghosts…”
      Tis state has such a rich history.

  14. I don’t know if anyone can confirm or deny, but I’ve heard that the conference never even got paid for the property, at least not completely.

  15. My dad was the boys dean here in about 1954-55. I was 4 years old. Don’t remember much.

  16. I had the chance to explore and shoot the inside of the 3 main buildings yesterday. This place was amazing. Far beyond repair to say the least. Some sections of the floor were completely caved in but you could walk around about 90% of all the buildings.

  17. I graduated from SRA in ’73. Lots of memories. It’s a shame to see it the way it is now.

  18. I had two cousins graduate from SRA and a Aunt that taught there in its hay day so I used to visit a lot 55 to 60 years ago. It seemed like all the people that when to the school were happy all the time. It is sad to see anything go down to decay but not a lot of people to put things on the map again.

  19. I really enjoyed seeing these pictures! My Mother went to school here and she told me lots of stories. I always wanted to see what the place looked like. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  20. My brother lived in the house next to it after it closed for a couple of years. I thought it was great to play in the gym. all the sport equipment and basket balls were just lying there. there was books on the desks and notes on the chalk boards as if everyone had vanished and dropped everything where they were standing. Which made it a little freaky! Sad to see it has fallen apart so much,it was one of the memory’s of the Harvey area that I will not forget.

  21. There is and old town North West of Woodworth, ND Petersville. The only thing there now is an old Cemetary, Also east of Wooworth was an old town called Bashtie, also east of Woodworth is an old town that my friends live on now called Goldwin, and finally southwest of woodworth there’s a town that my friends parents began to build. I forgot the name though but there’s still remnants of buildings that once stood.

  22. I literally just got to go in the inside these buildings over Labor Day weekend less then a month ago!! They were amazing buildings!! Got permission to go in them! , but not going to lie got an ery feeling in the building that was farthest to the south……did anything bad ever happen here? Just got the feeling that something didn’t want us there! I have a freind that knows the owner of the property!! From Harvey, Nd

    • It is sad to know that many students that went there were deceived in a religion that was cultic. The doctrines were not biblical. A lot of things happened there were sad because they were trying to be something that no one could do. They needed the True Gospel, instead they believed in a False Prophet.

      • Wanda–Not sure where you got your info, but it’s not accurate. Please do some more research before going off on a tangent.

        • @ Sharon Poitra,

          The True Gospel is this: Jesus died, once and for all, and on the third day He rose and then “sat down” on the right hand of the Father. Adventists have him still standing in the “heavenly sanctuary” pleading on our behalf. Hebrews 1 states what Christ did when He returned to Heaven. When we believe this and accept the “free gift” of Grace, we are saved! Adventism does not preach this. I know, because I was one for 55 years. 🙂

          • People commenting here had wonderful school experiences, proper forum for that. I ask you to do the same.

  23. Spent four years in that school — you came out either fairly pious or fairly resourceful (sometimes both).

  24. People commenting here had wonderful school experiences, proper forum for that. I ask you to do the same.

  25. That is for sure — but we got an education; not just the three-Rs, but how to cope with life and enjoy one’s surroundings…

    — Class of `65

  26. I attended the litle one room elementry from 2nd grade to 6th grade ( 1966-72)nd returned a two years later as freshman (1974-75) that was my last year there as my family move to Ohio the summer after.

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