Dodging Thunderstorms in Heil

Our journey to Heil, North Dakota, in Grant County, about fifty miles southwest of Mandan, took place on an evening when the forecast said there was a chance of scattered thunderstorms in the area. We got more than we bargained for and ended up driving through a pounding thunderstorm with rain coming down in torrents. By the time we got to Heil, however, the storm had moved through and we were able to get a few shots of Heil for the first time since our initial visit in 2007.

Heil, North Dakota

I had forgotten what a nice little town Heil is. Aside from these few vacant properties, Heil is a very nicely kept town where the property owners take pride in their appearance.

Heil, North Dakota

Like prairie churches? Check out our book, Churches of the High Plains.

Heil, North Dakota

Heil wasn’t officially founded until 1911, considerably later than many of the towns we’ve photographed. According to North Dakota: Every Town on the Map and More by Vernell and Louise Johnson, an early settler named William Lawther opened a post office on his farm in 1910 and named the settlement Lawther. A real estate developer and storekeeper named William Heil acquired the land one year later and renamed the town, Heil.

Heil, North Dakota

Someone painted the school since our last visit.

Heil, North Dakota
Heil, North Dakota

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

15 thoughts on “Dodging Thunderstorms in Heil

  1. I love your posts and look forward to them. I was born, reared and educated in Fargo; lived in Grand Forks, Cando and Dickinson. My dad ran the Sears store from 1948-West Acres


  2. Troy & Terry—
    I just want to tell you how fantastic your photographs are. I have purchased all of your books and am looking forward to future ones to come.
    My German grandmother was raised in Deisem, North Dakota along with her 5 brothers and sisters and her 7 step brothers and sisters. My wife and took a trip to the Deisem area several years ago and the only remnants of the village was a decaying church.



  3. Love the pics! Lived in the Garrison area for a few years and still feel like it is my second home area.


  4. I grew up on a farm 2 miles N. of the church pictured and attended the school in Heil through 8th grade.

    The following story about Heil, ND was written by Regina (Heil) Edinger. “Michael Heil, an immigrant from Rohrbach, Russia, helped build the Heil church. Our post office was in Elm, N.D (located on the farm mentioned above). I think it was in 1908 or 1909 that the Northern Pacific railroad was surveyed and work was started. In October 1910 the first train pulled in to where the town of Heil now is.”

    In the 1940’s there was a depot (A Northern Pacific train traveled back and forth to Mandan daily taking the local farmer’s cream to the Cloverdale Dairy) also a grain elevator, garage, post office, bar & grocery store. Bowery dances were held in the lot on the south side of the grocery store. The Lutheran church located on SW edge of town was struck by lightening in the 50’s and burned down.

    The crop on my farm received hail damage the day the photos above were taken. You lucked out there.


  5. Thanks Troy. I really love looking at your great photographs of ND. Aside from the nostalgia factor they are quite beautiful. Being a dyed in th wool cheapskate I haven’t bought any books yet, but I’m starting to weaken…


  6. Have you considered visiting fallon, and timmer, south west of Mandan? There is not much in these town but it could make for a short quit ghost town trip. I plan to visit these including Freda, heil, leith, Bentley, and Brisbane within the next year or so.


  7. Have you checked out about a town named Kaiser about 3 miles s/e of Elgin?
    Still waiting for my town Old Leipzig.


  8. Hi Troy!
    My Grandfather owned the General Store in Heil in the 1920’s and 1930’s. His name was Carl Silver. My dad went to school at the school house then took the train to a boarding school for High School in Elgin. My sister and I visited Heil after my dad passed to experience his childhood community😊👍


  9. My father grew up in Heil. He was born in 1920. My Grandfather opened the General stir in town. His name was Karl Silver. He moved there from Russia. My sister an I visited there a few years ago and got to see the house he grew up in and the school he went to.


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