Return to Deisem

Deisem, North Dakota

When we planned our trip in early October of 2014, we realized we would be in the area of Deisem and made plans for a return visit. Deisem’s former church, the lone remaining structure, was in such terrible shape last time we were there, we didn’t know whether it would even be standing when we returned.

Deisem, North Dakota

There it was, right along Highway 34, northwest of Edgeley, still standing but looking like more than two years had passed since our last visit.

Deisem, North Dakota

Once you get past the sadness for a place forgotten and left to wither in the elements, there becomes a certain magic to abandoned places like the church in Deisem; the last remaining structure from this tiny vanishing rural settlement. Angled rays of sunshine beam through the windows, and golden dust motes swirl in the light when your shoe scuffs a wood floor laid down by craftsmen nearly a century ago. The silence is deafening, and for a few more moments at least, the place still stands.

Deisem, North Dakota

The trains once came through Deisem, but the tracks were torn up long ago.  You can still see the telltale ridge of the railbed, running from southwest to northeast through this section of land.

Deisem, North Dakota

The building that was the Post Office and Store burned down on January 30th, 1943, and the loss spelled the end for the rural settlement that was once Deisem.

Deisem, North Dakota
Deisem, North Dakota

This church is featured in our book, Churches of the High Plains.

Deisem, North Dakota

You can definitely see how the floor on the left has sunk considerably since our last visit.

Deisem, North Dakota

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

6 Comments on “Return to Deisem

  1. Troy—
    Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your talent in helping us to remember places of the past in North Dakota. My great grandfather had a farm outside of Deisem and one of his children, Carl Wilke and brother-in-law Bill Boardman ran the store that burned down. My grandmother Frederica Wilke [Kufner] was the eldest of 6 children who lived and worked on the farm outside of Deisem. After the death of my great grandmother in 1903, my great grandfather married a german immigrant lady who brought 7 children to the United States.

    Could I purchase all the pictures of the Deisem church which you have taken in 8 x 10 size?

    • Dick Evans-Read your post about the town of Deisem in North Dakota. My grandfather owned that general store/post office and I have a photo of that store that was taken in about 1915. Are you by any chance on Facebook? I could maybe send you a photo if you are. I would also like to look up your great grandfather’s name in the census to see if he lived anywhere close to my grandfather. Karl Dallmann

      • Karl—
        I didn’t know that you had replied to my comments on the village of Deisem, N.D. on June 8, 2015. My great-grandfather, Ernst Carl Wilke farmed 160 acres outside Deisem from 1909 to 1930. His children were Freda [my grandmother], Marie, Carl Fred [the pilot and partner of Bill Boardman, Emma’s husband, Emma, Ernest and Ralph. Carl Fred and Bill Boardman were partners in a general store/postoffice which burned to the ground in 1939. I’m sure that the Wilkes and Dallmann’s knew one another.

        I don’t have an account on facebook but my e-mail address is and would greatly appreciate any information you might have on Deisem.

  2. these pictures move me; thanks to www I can even view them from Germany. I have a nostalgia for Ghost towns, because I imagine how many of my compatriots settled in these rural areas, struggled for a living, and finally found peace in foreign cemeterys. Thank you for preserving US history!

    • I think these pictures are quite moving too and I am happy I ran across this site on Facebook. I think your sentiment is lovely.

  3. Albert Dallman farm is just 1/2 mile N. Of Deisum. His house was built from lumber that was salvaged from the old dance hall that was in Deisum. You can still see the loading ramps the RR had built for loading cattle into the train cars. The tracks ran SE tto the NW..

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