Ardoch, ND

Ardoch is a town of around 60 residents in Walsh County.  We visited Ardoch once before to photograph the quite impressive Mondry Elevator, a visit during which we spent quite a bit of time looking for a phone lost in the tall grass.  Since I was in the area again, I decided to stop in for a better look.

Ardoch City Hall

There are an unusually high number of trailer homes in Ardoch, both inhabited and abandoned.  Most of the historic structures are now gone, with only a few exceptions.  I was somewhat shocked to discover a teenager burning leaves in a driveway right in the middle of town.  It was a breezy day at the end of the driest summer in decades… seems pretty risky in a town without a fire department.


Photos by Troy, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

25 Comments on “Ardoch, ND

  1. A couple of years ago (?), I sent you a photograph of my grandmother’s family – in front of their home – in Ardoch, ND. Grandmother was about 6-7 years of age at the time the photo was taken – which would date the photo about 1895. It was the Kerr homstead, in the Dakota Territory – before statehood.

    • Karen, thanks for the reminder. I just re-categorized that post so it will now appear under the Ardoch category when you click on ‘Ardoch, ND’ under galleries on the right side of the page. Thanks again!

  2. Hey Guys,

    Should have stopped in Grafton where we live. Would be great to have a visit. Also could have shown you a few of my images.


  3. The empty lot to the right of the red and white building used to have Smokey’s Steakhouse on it. It was a fine establishment. Many years after that it was a bar.

    • My dad, Florian (Smoky) Schultz, was born in Ardoch, and owned and operated Smoky’s Bar and Lounge in Ardoch, ND, for many years until he retired. My mother, Barbara (Kennedy) Schultz, was an accomplished musician and accompanied many of the bands that played umpapa/old-time music in their dance hall on weekends. My mom and dad served smorgasbord on Saturday nights following the dance, and on Fridays they served Walleye and Northern Pike, lobster, and steak at their famous fish fry. Dad is 95 years old and lives in Grand Forks, independently, and is in good health. My mom, sadly, transitioned nine years ago. I last visited Ardoch in 2009. Ardoch Hall City Hall is right across the street from what was our family home that burned. My dad sold Smoky’s to a Fargo restaurateur who was required to change the name from Smoky’s to Smokey’s (with an e). The photo of what you identify was once located next to Smoky’s is what I believe is the original Smoky’s built prior to my dad’s expansion of the business around 1960.

      • Althea, I really enjoyed eating at Smokys back in the late 80’s – I was a student at UND and my room mate from Park River (Pisek, actually) took me there a few times. You can tell your Dad that was about the best steak dinner you could find. Not only that, It was within a college student’s budget!
        I recall reading at some point, there was a problem with the water or sewer within the town, and it sadly closed. Thank you and your Dad for wonderful memories!

        • I remember Smokey’s very well. I used to go there quite a bit while I was stationed at GFAFB. It was then the home of the 52oz steak. I never got past the 32oz myself, but on one of my visits, I saw a guy half my size finish off his entire steak and sides in the 45 min. get his name on plaque, a T-shirt that proclaimed his victory and his meal was free. I have loved that place ever since and sad to know that it’s gone

        • I’m sorry it’s taken so to reply. I just now read your message. Both my dad and mom both worked very hard to maintain high standards while operating Smoky’s. My mom, sadly, passed away about 10 years ago, but my dad is still living on his own in Grand Forks. He’ll be 97 in January 2015. I’ll see him in a couple of months when I make the trek back and I’ll share your comments with him. It will make him very happy to know people still remember him and the old family business.

  4. As someone who loves vintage trailers as much as ghost towns, don’t hesitate to include some photos of old and abandoned trailer homes too!

    I wonder if the large number here, were do to some past boom like some other towns in the region have recently experienced?

  5. I used to teach in Minto and passed by Ardoch hundreds(maybe thousands) of times on my way to Grand Forks. The Mondry elevator was definitely a landmark. I ate at Smoky’s several times. Always good food. On the weekends the town was packed with cars from the Smoky’s customers. It was kind of amazing to see that many people show up in a quiet town of less than 50 people.

      • Not al all. We were often quite busy on weekends. Years earlier, my folks served smorgasbord after their weekend dances and those evenings were often quite busy too. On Fridays, for years, they served Walleye and 10-ounce lobster tails and steaks on Friday nights. People came year ’round, often on snowmobiles in the winter, to eat in Ardoch. My dad still guards his secret Walleye breading recipe. It’s top secret. And if any of us (his kids) just happen to know the recipe, we are sworn to take it to our graves.

    • I’m sorry it’s taken so to reply. I just now read your message. Glad you enjoyed the food. As I wrote earlier, both my dad and mom both worked very hard to maintain high standards while operating Smoky’s. I worked in the restaurant for years before moving from North Dakota and can confirm we were often QUITE BUSY on the weekends. Thanks for your comments.

      • Althea, so happy to find this site. I have such fond memories of Ardoch and your folks who held the teen dances. I always thought Smokey and Barbara tried to give us “kids” something to do in that little town. Again thanks for remembrance’s of time past.

        • Is this my childhood friend LaVonne? OMG! I just now saw your comment. My dad, Smoky, passed away less than a week ago. His service will be at St. Michael’s in Grand Forks on Saturday, December 17. Are you on Facebook. I would love to reconnect.

  6. As a UND Aviation student, I fly over and around Ardoch weekly. It’s great to see pictures of it on the ground!

  7. One of my best friends Joey Pederson and Obid Williamson opened up Smokey’s in the fall of 1985. It was a great restaurant. Great food, never left hungry, and beer was a buck. Had a lot of great times there. Played on their softball team in 1986. They also had a few street dances in the summer. All in all a lot of great memories.

  8. My first son was born in Grand Forks while I was stationed there at GFAFB. On his first birthday in August of 1987 my parents came to town help celebrate the event. I took them to Smokey’s and my dad fell in love the place! He polished off a 32 oz steak and declared it the best he had ever had. Some guy, who we all assumed was the owner played some ragtime piano during our meal and it was fantastic! We all loved the place and it hurts me to think that it is no more.

  9. My Father John Kenneth Scott and his siblings were born in Ardoch. Their parents were Maria “Jennie” Berrigan and Charles Scott. Jennies parents were Maria Leahy and Patrick Berrigan. Jennie and Charles owned a harnes shop, grocery store and later a garage. Dad stopped in Ardoch several years ago and stopped to see Smokie. They had known one another. My husband and I stopped in Ardoch a few times. Smokies was then the Ardoch .Country Club. How time flies. All of the Scott siblings have died but not their memories

  10. I was stationed at Grand Forks, My Wife and myself and Base friends would go there about once a month. Everything was so good. Steaks were out of this world. It was always a blast to go there and see the pictures of the 52 oz steak winners on the wall. What a great place, your parents did a great job. We live in up state NY now. Tell Dad, Thanks for the memories.

  11. My grandmother, Viola Abercrombie, was born in Ardoch in 1890 to James and Maggie Abercrombie, both of whom are buried in the Ardoch Cemetery. I have a photo of the old homestead at about that time. Maggie died of consumption when my grandmother was just two years old. James remarried and had four sons. He remained on the same farm to the end of his life. Viola left to teach school near Wolford, ND. She met my grandfather, married and lived in Wolford and Rugby until moving to California during WWII.

  12. We ate at Smokey’s all the time. My family is Slominski and the Lunski family. So we have many ties to this town and the surrounding area. To bad the town isn’t kept up, it’s pretty trashy now.

  13. Hi Althea, just happened to stumble on this site.
    Don’t know if you remember me or not (JoAnn Gerszewski) but I used to “babysit” for your mom and dad (and you). So sorry to hear about Smoky passing away. Last saw him at his independent living apartment in Grand Forks before my mom, Bernice Gerszewski, passed away in 2007.
    Interesting to hear folks talk about “Smoky”s” and amazing to me how many people we have met over the years that “knew of” or had “eaten at” the restaurant! I feel as though I grew up living near a North Dakota legend.
    Hope you’re doing well,
    JoAnn “Gerszewski” Depew

    • JoAnn: I don’t log on to this site very often so I apologize for not responding more quickly. Of course I remember you. And I saw your mom at the residence in Grand Forks before she passed. Although I chuckled when I read your comment about “a North Dakota legend,” I meet people here in Arizona who knew my mom and dad. It’s a small world. I’m doing well and I hope you are too.

  14. Just ran into this site looking up information for family history. My Grandmother came from near Ardoch. My Great Grand Father came down from Ontario and started farming along the Red River Of The North in 1883. He married Clara Bushaw in 1885 had four kids and helped build the Episcopal Church in Walsh County. That building was sold to Walshville Township for a town hall. My Great Great Grandmother Anna Caldack died and was buried in Ardock, North Dakota in 1907. I believe the Gowan’s are still farming in that County.

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