Derelict Firehouse in Berlin, North Dakota

Berlin, North Dakota

Berlin, North Dakota is a small town in Lamoure County in southeastern North Dakota. Although many of the structures which once existed in Berlin are now gone (the school for one), there are some impressive structures still standing. Sabrina Hornung contributed a few photos of Berlin in 2011. In the summer of 2012 we were able to get to Berlin and capture these photos for ourselves.

Berlin, North Dakota

This old fire station is in quite good condition. Hopefully someone has plans to maintain and/or restore this because the old fire stations are rapidly disappearing from North Dakota’s dwindling small towns.

Berlin Legion Post 206

This is the former bar and service station.

US Census Data for Berlin
Total Population by Place

1910 – 137
1920 – 130
1930 – 135
1940 – 132
1950 – 124
1960 – 78
1970 – 76
1980 – 57
1990 – 32
2000 – 35
2010 – 34

The ceiling and the floor of Pete’s Ponderosa — both caved in.

The former blacksmith shop.


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Berlin, North Dakota

An old horse-drawn firewagon

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

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48 Comments on “Derelict Firehouse in Berlin, North Dakota

  1. Lovely photos! I have a history of Berlin dating 1976 in my library. When I have a chance I’ll be happy to give some commentary to correspond to the photos. I grew up 1/2 mile north of Berlin and attended 8 grades of elementary school there. My parents purchased and resided in the old Catholic rectory on the north edge of town in 1968 and lived there for 30 years. Perhaps you would also like a listing of resident surnames?

    • Carol, if you post that information and those surnames as comments, it would be appreciated and quite helpful. You’ll probably get some family history buffs showing up due to searches of those surnames. Thank you!

  2. I was born and raised in Berlin.My father, Glenn Ellingson owned the Gas Station from 1938 until his death in 2009! The Station is still open with Darryl Ellingson the owner. Good place to have called “home”. Diane Ellingson Freih

    • I worked on Myron Justs farm in 1980/1. I used to pop up to the gas station nearly ever day to buy soda. Loved it. I loved Berlin. I remember Glenn and Darryl. Happy days.

  3. Old fire station and blacksmith’s shop are really cool. This place struck me as the kind of place you can hear yourself think. I like it.

  4. Diane Elingson do you remember me? Carol, I do not remember you but I took your sister, Marcella to the prom and played baseball with your brothers and cousins Harold, Walter, Dennis, Clarence, Myron and Donald

  5. I was thru here a few years ago on our way to Lamoure from Mike’s salvage yard in Wishek,loved it…Terry and I stopped at an old service station that still had the engine bay (pit in the concrete floor)where they walked under the car,no lift,just a place in the floor to do the service work…Old style glass counter with candy and chips,old style racks for selling oil etc.,what a trip back in time,two guys were still running it,don’t remember if they still sold gas or not…Did you see that too?..

  6. Diane,it was your Dad and brother running the gas station now that you mention Ellingson….My best friend in H.S. in Adams,N.D. was named Dick Ellingson so the name did ring a bell..His brother Roger was married to a Dianne…both brothers are dead now….another friend named Wade Swenson was married to a Gayle from Berlin,thinkin’ her last name was Nelson,not sure tho.

  7. My mother, Beatrice Swenson, grew up in Berlin. Her parents Anton and Hannah Swenson spent most of their life in Berlin. My grandfather Anton was good friends with the, then to be, Senator Milton Young.

    I have an old post card that gives a bird’s eye view of the town. I can submit it to you if interested.


    • My grandpa Ivan Shockman was born in Berlin. I have been trying to find out more information where the farm was located. Any info helps.

      • there are a couple of Shockman families in the area – one about 1/2 to 1 mile north of town, plus others who may remember

      • I have some Shockman family history that I could share. Who was Ivan’s father? What’s your father’s full name and your mother’s?

        • My grandfather Ivan dads name was John.

          My father is Steven John Shockman.

          So great to get some information. Thanks!

          • I’d be happy to send info via e-mail about the Shockman family history (dating from Luxembourg back in 1860s). See above for my e-mail info.

  8. I visited that old blacksmith shop in the 50’s when my uncle Miles Horsager was the owner/operator.

  9. We lived in Berlin from 1999 to 2010 – a beautiful small town, excellent place to raise children. The gas station is still open, and what Glenn can’t fix Bob Cox might be able too at his new mechanics shop down the street.

  10. Sooooo…what happened to all the many original posts???

  11. in 1967 or so, maybe early 1970-71 my dad took us to Berlin for the fireworks.. 4th of july.. complete with roller skating in the big white building i think. a old fashioned 4th celebration. potluck bbq watermelon eating contest and the biggest fireworkd i had ever seen…. it stands out in my childhood memoroies.. there was an airfield close by there? or at least the field where the machines would have contests.. with the big belts.. arghh. i am getting old.

  12. I absolutely love what you all do! thanks for sharing ND history with us, this town really caught my eye having the old horse drawn carrage inside the old fire station – stunning! does any body have insite on why people just up and leave? I have explored dozens of abandoned homes around Jamestown/Montpelier area and, its like thye really did just up and leave, most of them still have year books, toys from children, food, tvs, ect… why leave all that behind? I have always wondered how some can just up and leave there home with all of there stuff still inside? Its heart breaking too see, My mind is so curious I just wanna know the story behind all of the abandoned buildings!

  13. I grew up on the Young farm across the railroad tracks. My dad was Duane (Toad) Young and my grandfather was Milton Young. The farm remains in the family and is beginning its 5th generation of farmers. Many of Berlin’s buildings were burnt down the year I was born – 1947, so I was told. I remember the old school house, and the spooky (and cold) tunnel between the school and the gym. I remember walking on the railroad tracks into Berlin to get the mail from Adele Horsager, and buy candy at Matt and Edith Rausch’s store. Mom once owed Matt over $300 one month for all the candy and pop her kids bought at his store! We were in trouble. The caboose was a fun ride into LaMoure from Berlin, or from Berlin to Edgeley.

      • Yes, I am one of Sen. Young’s grandkids.

        • My father , Paul Orness, grew up across from the Young farm; or nearby. Milt and Paul were boyhood friends. Milt’s granddaughter, Charmaine Young, roomed at my Mom’s house in Rolla, North Dakota. My father passed away at just 58 years old.

    • I was wondering if you knew Ivan Shockman who was born in Berlin? He was my Grandfather and I am tring to find out more about my family history. The Shockman’s owned a farm there early 1900’s

      • See my comment above to the other question about Ivan.

  14. Yes I remember going to the 4th of July celebrations as a kid and riding the kittycars and pony rides. Watermelon seed spitting contests and the cool fireworks. I grew up going to roller skating on Friday nights and met my Husband there. Riding to town in the graintruck with dad for pop and a candy bar was also a favorite of mine. I was there the day after the elevator burned ..My father helped build that elevator.

  15. Bob Zickuhr, I graduated from Berlin H.S. in 1957. We had one of the larger classes of 8. A couple of years later they consolidated with La Moure and Edgeley. I enjoyed the old pics. The Oasis, Glen Ellingson’s garage and Matt Rausch’s grocery store were places where people would congregate to catch up on the latest news as well as doing business. At one time I remember Berlin had a couple of grocery stores and a bank. My mother, Telva Kennedy worked there for a while.
    Great place for kids to grow up. No day care needed, as everyone knew everyone. If you did anything mischievous or out of line, your parents likely heard about it before you returned home.
    After my father retired from farming, he sold insurance, so he kept in contact with many friends and neighbors that way. Would not trade growing up there for anything, as it gave us a good work ethic and moral upbringing.

    • Thanks brother for the Berlin comments, I agree wholeheartedly it was a great place to grow up. I had some discussions with Delores Weber 20 years ago about buying the blacksmith shop. I had an idea of restoring it to match my memories but it had already lost many of its vital components so the idea quickly passed.

  16. Can anyone tell me more about Berlin and the old white two-story schoolhouse? My father, Kenneth Warner, did some custom harvesting around Berlin and my mother, Mary Ann Warner, my four sisters and I stayed in that schoolhouse that summer along with my father and several hired men. My mother cooked and we played school in the classrooms. The tunnel was dark and spooky! I believe there was a large winding staircase to the left as you came in the front door of the school. If anyone can give me more information about the school or the town in general, I would greatly appreciate it, or if anyone has a picture of the schoolhouse that they could post to this site or email to me, it would be wonderful to see it again. Or even get it published in the next “Ghosts of North Dakota” book! Is the old schoolhouse still there? My husband and I stopped by one evening, as we were near Berlin, to see if the schoolhouse was still there. I was convinced I saw it but it was dark and we tried to shine the car lights towards it but I’m not sure if it was the schoolhouse or another building in town. I was quite young the summer we spent in Berlin in the schoolhouse and this was many years later. The man who ran the gas station always had Tootsie Rolls in his pocket when he came every morning to fill our trucks and combines with gas! We could hardly wait for him to get there as we knew he would share the Tootsie Rolls! Some of my greatest childhood memories were of that summer spent in the Berlin schoolhouse! I will never forget that little town and hope to visit again one day.

    • Sadly the school house was gone by the time we moved there in late 99. You can try to contact Mrs Ellingson but my previous phone died so I don’t have her number any more. Anyways she may know who has any photos.

      We move out in 2011 during that time the old church was torn down, and another small home was also destroyed … it had only been used for storage for years but when it had a family … well old Mr Glenn Ellingson told me they raised over 10 boys and girls in a very tiny house – 2 bedrooms upstairs, bedroom and dining on main with the kitchen off to the side.

      The school’s gym lasted for several years but was also finally torn down just before we left. Nothing left of the schools. Glenn Ellingson & his bride of so many years both passed away, and his son Darryl ran the gas station until he also passed away in 2012 or 13.

      Most of what I have is sad news sorry to say, but there are a few pictures of the town dating back to 1914 or so. Someone at the grain elevator may have them or Mrs Ellingson.


      • I went to 1st through 8th grade in the Berlin school and I graduated from LaMoure High School in 1965. The Berlin school did have a winding stairway to the 2nd floor to the left as you entered the building. Tilly Leppert, the cook, made lunches in a very small kitchen to the right as you entered the front. The tunnel between the school and gym was always cold and a little spooky. The bathrooms in the basement were also a little spooky for a kid. Maureen Ellingson is a good source of Berlin history, as well as anyone in the phone book with the last name Young, Just, Shockman. The older they are the more memory they will have regarding Berlin history. ~ I have a picture of Berlin in the 1930’s showing the school, but I don’t know how to get it loaded in this message for anyone to view.

  17. Tim and PJ, thank you both so much for sharing your information with me. I’m very sad to hear that the school and the gym were both torn down. I so wish I could see the picture you have, PJ. Is Maureen Ellingson still living in the area? I may try to contact her if you don’t think she would mind. I remember the bathrooms in the basement. It was spooky down there! And the kitchen was to the right as you came in the front door. I thought so! Thank you both so much! You made my day!

      • Yes, Maureen Ellingson continues to live in Berlin as I see her name for the Berlin News in the LaMoure Chronicle. ~ I would love to get the 1930’s Berlin picture on this site because there were many buildings in town at that time, plus you can see at least one horse and buggy parked by one of the buildings. How about if you email me at and I will send it to you?

        • We live in southeast Colorado these days, don’t have contact info on Maureen at the moment … not sure what you’re asking, sorry.

  18. hi. Bob Ziegler in Minot. still learning my adoptive state (only been here 25 years, still a newcomer.) is the town pronounced ber LIN, like Germany? or BER lin? just curious. thanks.

    • Heh, I was in Germany and learned it as Ber LEEN (as in Hogan’s Heroes 😉 ) but I think most folks there just say it as BER lin

  19. ok, thanks. like Palermo. heard it pronounced two different ways by people who LIVE there, lol

  20. Boy, does this bring back old memories.

    I started first grade in Berlin in 1950. My farther and mother were hired hands on a farm one mile north of there.
    I can’t remember the name of the people that owned that farm, but I rember they lived across the road from us. They had a son my age and we used to play together when we were not fighting. He would be about 70 now. My parents have passed, so I can’t ask what there name was. If anyone knows, I would appreciate hearing from them. I would sure like to know what ever happened to that kid.

    Dave Peck
    Pasco Washington.

  21. I sent you an email. Any information would be great! Thank you so much.

    • I grew up on a farm south of Berlin, ND. Near Hy. 13. Went to a country school through 6th grade near our farm (Badger #1). Went to Berlin H.S and played basketball & baseball there. Went to college in N.D. and taught school in Valley City for one year, then left for Milwaukee and retired from teaching in ’96.

      • I started first grade in that little school. I believe that would have been in 1950. I Remember there was a big crabapple tree across the street from it. We used to sneak over and take some after school.
        My parents worked for Orville Shockman and we lived across the road from them.
        I remember playing with their son Doug. We were friends most of the time, but had our dustups also.
        After that, we moved to Pasco Washington, where I continue to lived. I spent most of my career as a mechanical designer working on radioactive waste projects at Hanford. If anyone lives near Doug Shockman, tell him I said hi.

  22. My great uncle Engelbert Kuehnel operated the blacksmith shop around 1905 for several decades. When his sister and her husband, John Schober and their children emigrated from Moravia in 1912 right before WWI broke out, they lived in the upstairs of the blacksmith shop until they were able to find a house to rent in Berlin. They later bought a farm in nearby Dickey.

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