Hesper, ND

Hesper, North Dakota is a true ghost town in Benson County, just west of Devils Lake — population zero.  Hesper is one of those towns that has been on our list for some time but we just never made it there due to time contraints.  We intend to make a visit soon.

Philip Tron emailed to tell us that Hesper is officially uninhabited as of summer 2011, and sent along these photos.  His captions are included below.

This house may have been built by my maternal grandfather. It was across the street from his blacksmith shop, and my parents lived there before I started school.

This house, near the center of the townsite was built by Elmer Swanson, who was the manager of the grain elevator. It served as the elevator manager’s housing until the elevator closed. It was occupied more recently by Alan Brandvold, a first cousin of mine, and last by a man named Gene Young. When I was in grade school, I was impressed by the fact the house had a Murphy bed.

This house was last occupied by my uncle Alfred Brandvold. He was a small gentle man who suffered his whole life from battle fatigue earned in the trenches of WW1. The vacant lot east of this house was the location of the town’s church.

The street side entry of this house was the post office. My aunt Mable Brandvold, my mother, and lastly my aunt Sophie (Brandvold) Todahl served as post mistresses.

Photos by Philip Tron. Original Content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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19 thoughts on “Hesper, ND

      1. Many of my family is buried in the Hesper Cemetery: Frederick Hill, Carrie Hill, George Nelson Hill, Maggie Hill, Emma Virginia Slater. I have a plat map showing where their lots and homes were, but I can’t get visuals on the cemetery.


    1. You should get a copy of a ND map from the 1920’s. The State Heritage Center at the capital used to sell one. Look in their website, it may be possible to mail order one.
      The early steam locomotives needed to take on water every 7 miles or so. There was atown sitee near a slough about that far apart. Later steamers only needed water every 15 miles, so about half of the little towns dried up. When the railroad switched to diesel electric engines, more towns were lost. Another factor was the betterment of graded roads. In the ’20’s most roads were just trails in the mud. Raising and grading roads let people go to “town” to do their shopping, so more of the smallest towns were lost.
      Philip Tron


  1. This is spectacular. Ghost or not, the Brandvold house is throwing a great vibe. Something about this whole place feels good to me; under different circumstances we just might have to reverse the trend and make it Hesper, ND: population 1.

    North Dakota is one awesome place.


  2. My Dad owns the Quonset building across the street from Alfred Brandvold’s house. As kids we would be helping Dad unload grain trucks and other things there and Alfred would give us candy sometimes. He always struck me as a very kind man but a bit of a hermit. We never saw him much.


  3. My brother, Vernon Christianson, managed the grain elevator in Hesper in the 60’s. I was there the summer of 1963, when I was 16. I painted the bedroom and the kitchen, cabinets included. They had 3 children in that tiny house, the 3rd one being a baby that summer.


  4. My father, Rev. James Brunko used to preach at the Evangelical Free Church in Hesper in the late 50’s,early 60’s. He was pastor of the Alliance church, the Free church in Hesper, and a church in Esmond. My older brother and I would take turns driving for him each Sunday as he preached at each one.


  5. My Grandparents farmed just over the hill to the south of Hesper the Markestads, my Mom graduated from 8th grade in the hesper school the same year it was closed down. My family loves going to that area just to drive around and look at the country side. The Hesper area has great memories for me as a kid!


  6. Having lived right next to Hesper and going to school there, my Dad always loved to say he was from Hesper, never Maddock even if his address was Maddock. Years ago we had a cap made for him with Hesper ND as the logo. While proudly wearing it in a shopping mall in Albuquerque NM, he was approched by a man who asked him a question. “Say do Brandvolds still live in Hesper?” to which my Dad replied, ” There is now only one person still living in Hesper and he is a Brandvold!” That led to a 2 hour visit about Hesper, the surrounding area and the people. Had my Dad not been wearing his “Hesper” proudly, the man never wouldn’t have had a reason to ask his question.


  7. I was born in Hesper at my grandfathers house with my aunt Clara Tron in attendence. Lived there until 1948. Remember it well.


  8. I used to live in Hesper and went to the two classroom school there . We had 1st. through 4th grades in one room and 5th through 8 th in the other. I also remember having the best playground equipment, especially the giants. The older kids would always push the younger ones on it. It was so much fun.
    The gym was small ( compared to now ) but we had lots of fun in it plus all our Christmas programs were in there too. We ate our lunch in a room right off the classroom, and we had the best cook ever Gertie Brandvold. She was loved by everyone.
    I also remember having only 3 classmates, Dorothy Hill, Marvin Backstrom and Sharon Breuer. We used to study together in the library when the teacher was teaching a different class.
    We had a great basketball team and I was also a cheerleader for the Hesper Hot shots.
    Memories were made back then. NO ELECTRONICS needed.


  9. Allen Brandvold was my grandpa. Him and my grandma lived in that town as the only residents for quite some time. Spent alot of my childhood in that red house.


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