Sunday Morning on the Prairie at Norway Lutheran Church

Norway Lutheran Church

Norway Lutheran Church is in Nelson County, forty-three miles southeast of Devils Lake, not far from the valley where the Sheyenne River carves its way through the North Dakota landscape. Terry and I were on an adventure to photograph old steel automobile bridges, but as always, we were scanning the countryside for other abandoned things and roadside curiosities to shoot. As we traveled down a gravel road, Terry spotted a weathered steeple sticking up above the treeline, and we made a short detour to this place.

Norway Lutheran Church

Norway Lutheran Church looks as though it has not been used in quite some time, but someone has taken the care to secure it from the elements by covering the former windows, and even took the time to paint them with faux-window frames for aesthetic purposes. Quite nice. The green shingles are peeling in places, though, and this church will need some TLC in the foreseeable future.

Norway Lutheran Church

It reached almost 60 degrees on this day in the second week of November. We couldn’t resist the urge to take advantage of the good weather.

Norway Lutheran Church
Norway Lutheran Church
Norway Lutheran Church

The cemetery is still well-cared for and regularly used. We saw some interments that were as recent as 2014. Quanbeck, a name that survives today with local landowners, was one of the more prominent family names in the cemetery. The cemetery is also listed at Find A Grave.

Norway Lutheran Church

UPDATE: In the spring of 2021 a visitor to our Facebook page told us this church is gone.

If you enjoy prairie churches like these, please check out our hardcover coffee table book, Churches of the High Plains. It makes a perfect gift, and every order helps us offset the cost of documenting these vanishing places.

Norway Lutheran Church

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

18 Comments on “Sunday Morning on the Prairie at Norway Lutheran Church

    • I’m wondering if ELCA has some sort of grant program that could be applied to as a way of partially financing roof repair/restoration. Fundraising events could be held — such as a kumla and ham dinner, auction of donated items, talent/variety show, in memory/in honor donations, etc. This beautiful country church is so worth our contributions and investment in order to ‘keep it watching over the prairies along the Sheyenne River valley.

  1. My grandfather was a pioneer pastor near Dahlen, ND. The church and parsonage are gone now but the cemetery is sstill used and well maintained. I have photos of the inside and outside, one where there were many horses and buggies present. Those pioneers were dedicated to their places of worship and went through so much to attend worship, probably one of the few social events in the communities. When I think of the hardships they lived with, it is amazing to me that they were able to build simple but beautiful churches. And look at the people who attended! Getting a family ready for church must have been difficult, trying to get everyone clean and ready in their Sunday best!! My grandfather served Lom Church, west of Larimore, quite a distance for him. In winter, he would leave Saturday morning with his horses and buggy, stopping about halfway at a friend’s house where he would have a warm meal, take a nap while his friend took care of his horses and then go the rest of the way. What a committment for him! Lom is closed now. I don’t know if you’ve been there to take pictures but it is a beautiful scene. I attended a funeral there not that many years ago. A farmer was there with his tractor and generator to warm the church and provide electricity. It was an amazing experience!

  2. That church has certainly been out of use a while for it to identify itself as part of the old American Lutheran Church – it was one of three Lutheran groups that merged to form the ELCA in 1988.

  3. There is a gentleman by the name of Doug Odegard who lives in Fargo. His family and step family live close as well. He may know the headstone you featured

  4. These posts would be *so* much more interesting if you would include the locations. I’m frankly astounded at this oversight. It would be so, so simple to include a Google map (or just a link). Even when you include the name of the town or community where a particular photo or series of photos was taken it’s frequently unclear specifically where the images were from. But in cases like this “forty-three miles southeast of Devils Lake”, the image is robbed of a critical part of the context. So disappointing.

    • Sorry to disappoint you, Wes, but you’ll have to live with it. We used to have a map on our website of every single location, but all we got was flak and lawsuit threats from people who claim we’re responsible for vandalism at their properties. We’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.

      • I agree with you Troy. Too many people would take advantage of all your hard work and miles of driving to see what can be “salvaged” or just plain stolen from these abandoned buildings. The purpose of your travels is to inform, update and take beautiful photos of these long ago no longer occupied buildings. I for one am glad you no longer post exact locations!

      • I’ve been reading your website several years and am not all that tremendously familiar with ND, but still it has never occurred to me to complain about lack of map/exact locations. I find the posts very interesting, and it has never occurred to me to think they, “would be *so* much more interesting,” with specific locations/maps. If I ever did think about it, I like the intrigue and mystery of not necessarily knowing exactly where things are by reading your posts, and if I wanted to find out, I would have to do a little bit on my own to find out. I like that it would make me feel like I’m figuring out something kind of obscure/mysterious, like a detective using clues. Your posts are GREAT! NOT disappointing!!!

    • In my experience, people who express disappointment that you didn’t include GPS coordinates or an “exact” location are lazy people, who want to visit a place themselves, but don’t have the motivation or the know-how to do the work on their own.

      Wes, I used the information in this post (there’s more at the Find-A-Grave link), along with a simple Google search, and found the exact location on Google maps in three and a half minutes. Don’t be a lazy asshole. Do the work yourself, or take your disappointment somewhere else.

      • And hey, what do you know… I just Googled Wes’ name and he is —- a PHOTOGRAPHER! Too lazy to find your own locations, Wes?

  5. The pictures of the Norway Lutheran Church were awesome!
    I used to be a member of the Hofva Lutheran Church, rural Finley, N.D. The church was torn down recently. The cemetery is still intact and the setting is beautiful. If you ever do a search on the cemetery, I have lots of pictures of the church.

  6. You fellas do such an amazing job and I always look forward to new posts and pictures. I have all the books you have published and I take them to the facility where my 96 year old dad lives. He grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, 10 miles out of Monango, ND. There is another gentleman living where my dad is that is also from ND. Interestingly, he doesn’t say much that is understandable until I bring out the books. Then he comes alive and will remember details and speak clearly. “Oh yes. I remember that town. It was 15 miles east and we would go there for dances”.

  7. My Mom and Dad, Oscar Sundquist and Lorraine Larson Sundquist were married in this church Sept 5, 1948. Dad milked the cows for my Mom on their wedding day so she would not have to. My Grandparents Ingvald and Laura Larson are buried their along with many other family members. It is sad to see a church not being used for others to hear the gospel.

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