Ghost Town: Bluegrass, North Dakota

Bluegrass, North Dakota

This is Bluegrass, North Dakota, a true ghost town, population zero, in Morton County, about thirty-five miles northwest of Mandan. Bluegrass is a former rural community that had a population of 20 in the 1920 Census, a relatively small peak population, but not surprising considering the railroad never came to Bluegrass. In his book “North Dakota Place Names,” Doug Wick says the last census figures in 1960 registered a population of 7.

Bluegrass, North Dakota

This building was once the gas station and general store in Bluegrass. For a long time, it was the quickest place for area residents to pick up some goods when they didn’t feel like going all the way to New Salem, ten miles to the southeast.

Bluegrass, North Dakota

Bluegrass, North Dakota

Bluegrass, North Dakota

This house is really the primary residence on the Bluegrass townsite. The rest of Bluegrass’ reported population was loosely spread throughout the township, and there are likely area residents who still consider themselves residents of Bluegrass.

Bluegrass, North Dakota

Roads to the site are relatively narrow, loose gravel, and in the half hour we were there, we didn’t see a single vehicle pass.

Bluegrass, North Dakota

Visitors to our Facebook page have mentioned several family names as former residents of Bluegrass — Dachtler, Elwein, and Mindt, among others.

Bluegrass, North Dakota

Today, this part of the rural settlement that was once Bluegrass is totally abandoned, and it’s quite remote as well. The gas station/store burned down in 2014 leaving only the farmhouse and barn on-site. Our last update from Bluegrass came from a family member who told us the owner of the farmhouse was planning to donate it to the fire department, to be burned in a training exercise. Bluegrass will soon pass into history, if it hasn’t already.

Bluegrass, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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43 Comments on “Ghost Town: Bluegrass, North Dakota

  1. Would be interesting to see what the ‘price per gallon’ still shows on that old gas pump. Wonder if the total of ‘the last gas sale’ even reached $10. Wish those prices were here today.

    Lynn Mickelson

      • Thanks, Josie, for the response. Yeah, I have never been out in that area, but it, like so many other places in a much quieter and less hectic time, would certainly hold many interesting stories. Did you grow up around there? Where was the closest school? I just love this ND history, and this web site does so much to add to it.


        • Hi, Lynn.

          Most kids in that area went to the New Salem school. My grandpa graduated from Almont, which no longer has a school. Glen Ullin had the most beautiful people, I hear. Nowadays, you can almost hear the ghosts singing.

    • The price of gas on the pump was .37 cents. Had visited Blue Grass in 2007 and my dad had taken a picture of the pump. Just to show the price on the pump.

      • Thanks, so much!! Yeah, those were the ‘good ‘ol days’. I remember chasing around and ‘tearing up the streets’ in my old ‘B’ body Mopars back then (late ’60’s) around the Wahpeton, ND area. They would periodically have a ‘gas war’, and the prices would dip to 29.9. What fantastic memories!! I know the gas prices are on their way down now, but I know they will never get to this price again. Thanks, again, for responding.


    • the last sale on the pump says .20 cents could not make out the price per gallon though

  2. My grandfather, Raymond Maddox, moved to Bluegrass ND at the age of 16 to teach school there. I have one picture of him with his 7 students standing in front of the school and 20 letters from him to his sweetheart ( later his wife and my grandmother) back in Indiana. This September will mark the 100th anniversary of his move out there. He spent one year in ND then moved back to Indiana.

    • Hello, I was wondering if you could email me that photograph you’re talking about. My mother was born there and went to school there in the 1910s. Her name was Rose Schrenk (Schmautz). Thank you.

      • I would be glad to. My grandfather was there from September 1915 until spring 1916.

  3. My mother Elsie Sorge was born on the homestead near Blue Grass on 13 June 1912. She and her brother Fred attended Moltzen School, Dist. No. 11, Dell Twp, Morton Co. The store looked like the photo when we visited ND in 2008 to a cousin’s reunion. My grandson was born in June 2012, who is the 5th generation now. Elsie left and came to Canada in 1931, married my Dad, raised us 5 and is interred in SK, Canada. Lots of history from a lot of families can come out of ND.

  4. My great aunt (I think) grew up on a farm pretty far north of here, and would go here for basic necessities instead of new salem. Planning to vistit here sometime this month or next month.

  5. my family ‘s were the Eckart family the , Mindt and Herman family.Does any one have any information about these families?.My grandmother Bertha Mindt Herman had a sister Selma Mindt who died somewhere in N.D. born 1920 died 1932 went to school some where in N.D. I can not find any of them their mom was Katherina Boofmon married Stephen Hreman.sure wish to find any of these families burriel s or Anything .Please email me if you have any info . thankyou so very much
    Judy HermanOffermann.My mother was Alfield Eckart father Art Herman of Sidney Montana

    • The Gotleib Mindt’s had 11 children, the large family moved to Hazen when Gotleib died. Those children eventually went on to live in various states, three of them eventually ending up in Minot, ND and having families of their own (Lenhart, Gloria, Vernon). Two moved to Bismarck, North Dakoa (Myron and Bernice), and were later joined by their mother when she was older and wanted to move closer to family.


  7. My dad, Rev Arthur Klaus, pastored a church in Bluegrass in the late 1940’s and early 50’s. Interesting to see those pictures. The congregation eventually merged with what is now the Assembly of God Church in Glen Ullin. Thanks for going out of the way to find these pictures.

  8. A friend of mine visited in 2014 and said he was figures and his friends were thrown out of a room. He was locked in a room alone for 20 minutes and heard/saw things. He’s had bad dreams about this place recently. Like the people there saying they’re going to get him back and he’s not going anywhere. And he sees all of his friends and family dying in front of him a different way every dream. I need help

  9. I think this part of ND is beautiful in all seasons. I think the hills would tell us of the westward migration, and how man, beast and land worked in partnership to keep things from going Wrong Side Up.

  10. My grandmother was born in Bluegrass on March 13, 1903. Her maiden name was Emma Stauss, and she was the youngest child of Jacob Stauss and Christina (maiden name Wittmaier). They were Germans from Russia, who homesteaded in North Dakota around 1885. Jacob Stauss died in 1916, and my grandmother married Gustav Krause (of Hazen, N.D.) in 1922. My aunt and my father were born in Hazen. They moved out to Oregon in 1927, along with Gus Krause’s brothers, and the family is still in Oregon now.

    I went to Bluegrass about 10 years ago, and there was nothing there except these abandoned buildings. I tried to go to the family cemetery, but there had been flooding and I was afraid to get the car stuck in the mud, so I had to leave. But it was fascinating to see where my grandma had spent her childhood.

    –Darcia Krause

  11. Now that you showed a picture of an old gas pump and told everyone that the town was abandoned, I don’t figure the pump will be there long. Very sad!!

    • If you were paying attention, Tom, you would know this blog was originally posted in 2014, so, number one, you’re bitching about something two years old, and second, when the gas station burned down, the pump was damaged beyond repair. All things I learned from following these guys. So, find somewhere else to hang out if you’re gonna be an angry grump, and leave this site to those of us who love it.

        • Vandals or meth heads. Police said they found propane tanks in the basement. I live close to it and watch the property.

  12. Without this web site, and the dedication of those who maintain it, much of this would just vanish without a trace. Because of this website, we at least we have a few images of what was once there. The comments by former residents and family are also priceless. Thanks Troy! (Gotta buy one of your books soon…)

  13. My mother-in -law,Ann Zins was raised for part of her life by Bluegrass….Her father’s name was Florian Hoff…..

  14. I could visit and revisit your website. Thank you for all your contributions! My mom was born in Rosebud, I believe not far from here. Her twin sister passed away at age of 9 mos old (almost 91 yrs ago) and is buried at an unknown place. Oh yes, if only the area could talk.

  15. Many of the Germans from Russia Homesteaders farmed here and are Buried in the Rosebud Catholic Cemetery Like some of my people.

  16. The picture is of the Blue Grass Store,owned by the Conitz family. In the winter of 2014 vandals burned the store to the ground. All that remains is the house, a barn and a garage. It is private property and posted as such.

  17. I live on a Conitz farmstead. There was a landing strip on our property. Supplies and mail were flown in and taken to the Bluegrass Store. We also have a 3 room school house where local children attended. Our barn is one of the largest in Morton county. Built in 1941, it is 60′ x 80′ and still in service. At one time the Conitz family members lived on several farmsteads in Bluegrass. Some locals call county road 86 Conitz Road for all the families who were on it.

  18. Does anybody know of the Bethke family that lived about a mile south of Bluegrass?

  19. We are going to investigate bluegrass later next month…super excited.

    • There’s barely anything left there anymore. The store burned down, and last we heard, they were planning to burn down the house too. It might be gone already.

  20. My great x3 grandfather John and his parents George and Eva Permann lived there and are on the 1920 Census. Does anyone have any information on the Permanns?

  21. Frank & Anna Reb … Were my fathers grandparents and had a farm in Bluegrass. My father was born there in 1930. He also attended that school. I have been there and searched for the farm. I have a picture if anyone can identify it or provide a location

  22. My great great grand parents Settled in Bluegrass, Germans from Russia, Moos family. My great grand father was 1 when he arrived in 1871. My grandfather, John Peter Moos was born there . My mother was born there in 1930, Lois Moos and twin sister Leota. I recognize some of the names mentioned, Bethke and Conitz.

  23. My father had the airport at Washburn. Myron and Gordon Conitz both had airplanes and were regular customers. I think there was a third Conitz, possibly a cousin, who also had an airplane.

  24. After thinking about it for awhile, I believe the third Conitz Flyer was Clarence. At one time they each owned their own airplane.

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