A Lonesome View on Barton Street

Barton, North Dakota

Originally called Denney, this unincorporated community was founded along the Great Northern Railroad in 1887.  The name was changed to Barton in 1893. Barton is in Pierce County, about twelve miles northwest of Rugby.  In the 2010 Census, it was listed as having 20 residents.

Barton, North Dakota

We chose to visit Barton after a vocal visitor to our Facebook page suggested it on more than one occasion.  It turned out to be a great suggestion — Barton has abandoned buildings on both sides of its former main street–Barton Street.

Barton, North Dakota
Barton, North Dakota

Update: We’re told the Barton Sportsman’s Club was torn down in Summer of 2013. If anyone can confirm, please comment below.

Barton, North Dakota
Barton, North Dakota
Barton, North Dakota
Barton, North Dakota

There was once a school in Barton, and the town had over two hundred residents at one time.  If someone can tell us what building these steps once led to, we’d love to hear it in the comments.

Barton, North Dakota
Barton, North Dakota

This old home reminded us of Little House on the Prairie.  You can almost imagine weathering a blizzard in this little place, with a fire in the wood stove and a kettle of hot soup to keep you warm.

Barton, North Dakota
Barton, North Dakota

We’ve heard from one resident of Barton who seems to have a problem with the use of the word “abandoned” in describing some of the buildings, preferring to describe the structures as being “in disrepair” instead. In our opinion, it’s splitting hairs.

Merriam-Webster Definition of Abandoned: left without needed protection or care

Abandoned is not intended to mean unowned. If a building is no longer used for the purpose it was originally intended, if its windows are boarded up, if its gutters have fallen and the roof has caved in, if it has weeds and grass growing up around it, or if its been vandalized and never repaired, then it’s not a big stretch to call it abandoned, whether things are stored in it, and whether someone owns it or not.  Abandoned also doesn’t mean people are welcome to walk right in, or take things.

Barton, North Dakota
Barton, North Dakota

This would be a great place to spend a peaceful moment waiting for a bus, if there were any buses running in Barton.  As it is, it looks as though someone had a bonfire here.

Barton, North Dakota
Barton, North Dakota

The owner of the outhouse had a good sense of humor.

Barton, North Dakota
Barton, North Dakota

At the time of our visit, this old shop was on its last leg.

Barton, North Dakota
Barton, North Dakota

Barton, North Dakota

This photo of Barton Lutheran Church was featured in our hardcover coffee table book, Churches of the High Plains.

Barton, North Dakota
Barton, North Dakota
Barton, North Dakota
Barton, North Dakota

Barton has a very impressive city park which hosts (or hosted) Haakenson family reunions every year for a time.

Barton, North Dakota

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

56 Comments on “A Lonesome View on Barton Street

  1. Aww…was hoping you’d put my parents house on there, but alas, its not abandoned. Alot of the buildings are used for duck hunters, although, not soo sure its healthy to stay in some of them. I am a member of the church there, its still in service, but in a co-op with Rugby, we still have services the 1st Sunday of the Month. I was confirmed there, and my son was baptized there. The old bar was pretty neat…the back addition has hundreds of signatures signed on the walls from people who had celebrated birthdays, reunions, or whatever there. I also remember a single gas pump being there, and the bar carried a few necessities for those that couldnt get to town, such as milk, cream, ect. The post office closed in the early 90’s and was made into a house addition. Too bad the building across from the bar is gone..that was a hot spot back in the day, it was a big hall and people had many dances there, and they also played basketball there.

    • I grew up on a farm SW of Barton and then later my parents bought a house in town. These pictures bring back so many memoires. I remember going to First Grade at the school before it was closed. I remember the Christmas party at the hall across from the bar…both the school and the hall are now gone. I also remember (barely) when there were TWO Lutheran churches in town before they merged. I’m thinking that’s my grandparents house is one of the photos…..the tiny one which is almost falling down. I also remember the grocery store which was run by the Dearduffs. The post office was in the store as well until it was moved into their trailer once the store closed. They had a huge dog (or he seemed huge to a little girl) that used to used to sprawl out in one of the aisles……he wasn’t the friendliest dog and always scared me. As well there was a little café run by the Duff’s. I LOVED to be able to go in there and buy candy or a cold soda whenever we came to town.My uncle had the little garage with a gas pump. He had a small peanut machine in the garage and I would love to get a penny from my dad for a handful of peanuts.

      I was back to Barton a few years ago for the 4th of July celebration! I live in Canada so I wanted to show my hubby and son where I grew up. They were both impressed that such a small community could put on such a wonderful event. Thanks for the sharing the pictures of Barton and other communities and what is left of some of them…..I’ve been spending time going through the blogs the past couple of days……

      • One more thing…..the playground equipment at the park in the photos? They used to be in front of the school and were moved to the park after the school was gone. That merry-go-round made me instantly go to the time I fell on it and chipped my two front teeth on those steel bars….LOL. My parents were not happy with me….LOL

  2. I was born and grew up on a farm west of Barton and went to school in Barton and graduated from high school
    there.It is so sad to see the way it looks now. Thanks for sharing.
    Bernice Schneibel (Olsen )

  3. The merry go round, I don’t think is from the school..at first the park just had the swings, slide and sandbox. Then probably early 90’s they added the merry go round and the new set of swings over by the outhouses. I just can’t remember if I was living in Barton at the time they added them or not, my family moved there in 91 or 92. I grew up in the house to the west of where the school was, the house is still lived in. If you go in the lot where the school was the cement where the flagpole was is still there.

    • Hi Robyn….you could be right about the merry-go-round. If it’s not the same one….it’s very similar. LOTS of those metal bars…..ha! .they may not be the safest by todays standards but it sure has stood the test of time. 🙂 along with the slide and swings too…… If you lived in the house west of the school, is that the one with the pillars on the outside? If so…..that is the one we lived in for a few years when my parents moved into Barton. We bought it from the Monsons. Dick Monson was the railroad conductor when Barton had a train station I believe.

      • Sorry I haven’t been back on this page in awhile, yes thats the house! They always called it the Monson House, I heard he worked for the railroad, but thats about all I remember. We bought it from a man with the last name of Skar.

      • Hi My mom was born in Barton in 1929. She was the youngest of ten Larson children. Their yard met the Munsons yards. Her grandparents owned one of the hotels

  4. My late father was Rev. Ejvind H. Nielsen. We lived in Willow City, ND and he served a 3-church parish which included a Lutheran Church in Barton. I remember Deardruffs grocery, and the big square house. It had porches then (both first and second floor). I think I was inside it, lots of nice woodwork, don’t remember anything about it having been a school.

  5. My mother, Margrethe Isaacson, grew up on a farm near here, so I had many visits as a child to this area visiting family. A favorite hangout in town was the Texaco gas station owned by my Uncle Arnie Isaacson. My Tolsby relatives have enjoyed a couple of reunions at the park and was so happy that there was a Barton Meteors Club that helped take care of that area for many years. If you knew Edwin, Lars, Arthur, Irene, or Eleanor, they were also part of my family. I also loved spending time with cousin Elaine Bye and her family….Muriel was definitely a favorite aunt! I have many pictures I’ve taken in Barton too in case there’s a way to add some of those.

  6. I am the youngest daughter of Gunder and Selma Olson. My brother and sister-in-law Art and Hazel Olson, my nieces Dianne Tuff and Denise Genre and my nephews Curt Olson and Laverne Olson. I went to grade school in Barton 1st through 6th grade. I have many good memories of Barton and the people there, Krefting Store, then the store and post office after Bert and Allen bought it.

  7. I am from the Olsen and Fosness family. Both families grew up in the Barton area. The last picture of the red house belonged to Dagmar Bye it was green for many years but has been bought and repainted by others. That house came from a Sears Catalog. My Grandmother Marie Fosness lived right next door to her. I remember the store and cafe while visiting there. My parents’ farm is west of Barton and is still in the family.

    • I knew Marie Fosness! She was one of my Dad’s parishioners, and we visited her many times. She baked the best sandbakkels (not sure of spelling) in the world! The Sears catalog houses are interesting. I’ve looked at some of the old plans on the web.

      • Who can forget Grand ma’s Sandbakkels they were the best. We got to go thru the Sears house a few years ago it’s been kept up very nicely.

  8. My mothers sister, Evelyn Thomas, taught school in Barton in 1940. I have a copy of the yearbook for that year. My uncle Robert Thomas also attended school there.

  9. My grandparents and also my dad used to own the bar in Barton. Spent lots of time there and have some good memories.

  10. My dad, Jenard Saude, grew up in Barton on a farm. He loved it there. He goes back every chance he gets. He is 80 years old now.

  11. I used to pass through Barton many times when I made the trip from Rugby to Willow City. I was the Missouri Synod Lutheran Pastor in those two places. I was invited in the winter of 1976 to give a presentation at the Lutheran Church in Barton during a family night. I remember it was full of people and we had a very enjoyable time. Very friendly people and welcoming.

  12. Hi
    I was going thru some of my grandmothers things- her name is Cordelia Olson form Albert Lea Mn
    I cam e across a 75th aniver book of the Barton Lutheran free Church dated 1962
    I am told I am related to some Haakinson from that area
    I was wondering if anyone was interested in the book- I will gladly mail to anyone who has an interest
    Please respond if you are
    Greg Ristau
    1108 6th St NE waseca mn 56093

    • To Greg. My dad remembers a Norma Haakinson. He was gone in 62 but the offer is nice for someone that was there at that time!

    • I would love a copy of the Barton Lutheran Free Church anniversary book. My great-grandfather was on the building committee. Email jahbarnes@msn.com or 2485 Heights Dr., Ferndale, WA 98248. Thanks!

  13. I have not visited this site for a long time – I am the daughter of Tony and Lilly Olsen and I grew up west of Barton on a farm. I went to school in Barton 1st thru the 8th grade. I was the only 7th grader and the only 8th grader – I believe the last couple of years there were only 7 of us in the whole school and Mr and Mrs Beck were the two teachers. The school closed and I went to my freshman year in Willow City then moved to Butte, Montana with my family.

  14. My grandparents (Roy and Emma Faucett) were residents of Barton and the Barton area for many years. They moved to MN in the late 40s. My father (Clinton E. Faucett) was born there in 1909. The Faucett home which could be seen from the highway, was recently torn down. It was over 100 years old.

    My dad often reminisced about his youth in Barton – playing baseball – catching the train to Willow City to romance his girl (Viola Rothgarn), whom he married. My family loved to come back to Barton whenever we were in the area. I brought my grown children and grandkids to visit just a few years ago when we were on an ancestry journey..

    • My grandfather, James or Maxwell Stewart,( we are not sure of which name he used there), lived with the Faucett’s, after he left home in Knox, ND. I was in Barton when the Faucett house was being torn down–I thought that it was a wrong idea to tear down such a house. I found Lillian Hamilton Stewart’s unmarked grave in the Barton Cemetery west of town.I have a picture of a Barton, ND basketball championship team photo; that I am seeking information on. James/Max would have been 26 years in 1912. I had no idea of any of my ND roots until my wife started on my genealogy. I thought the Stewarts’ were in IA.


    • My grandparents (Roy and Emma Faucett) were residents of Barton and the Barton area for many years. They moved to MN in the late 40s. My father (Clinton E. Faucett) was born there in 1909. The Faucett home which could be seen from the highway, was recently torn down. It was over 100 years old.

      My dad often reminisced about his youth in Barton – playing baseball – catching the train to Willow City to romance his girl (Viola Rothgarn), whom he married. My family loved to come back to Barton whenever we were in the area. I brought my grown children and grandkids to visit just a few years ago when we were on an ancestry journey.nd

  15. Dick Monson was the station Agent for the Soo Line Railroad. He was my father in law. We visited Barton several times until Dorothy Crowhurst Monson moved her parents to the Seattle area sometime in the sixties. Was very disappointed when the school was torn down. I had some books from the school and have put them in a museum close to Billlings, Mt. that had an old school building. I wanted to preserve them.

  16. Dick Monson was the Station Agent for the Soo Line Railroad. He was my father in law. We visited Barton many times until their daughter, Dorothy Monson Crowhurst moved them to the Seattle area where she lived.

    • my grandfather knute larson was in charge of the grain elevators at the end of the road. My mom’s yard was next to the Monsons. When we visited in i believe 1970, the Monson house was a big white house. My dad knocked on the door but no one was there.My mom’s home was still there. So was the school.

  17. That last picture of the red house is known as ‘Dagmers’ I have no clue how to spell it but there is something definitely wrong with that house.

  18. Fun to read these comments. For Cordelia’s grandson: Cordelia’s mother was a Haakenson. Her name was Hilda, I believe. She was a first cousin to my grandfather, Pedar Haakenson. Pedars father was Lars. Seler and Hilda Gulbrandson frequently visited Barton during my childheed, sometimes bringing their daughters, Pearl ad Cordelia, with them. I always loved it when they came to visit. About 20 years ago I went to Pearls auction sale. My sister was also there. She bought a lovely old mirror that still hangs in her home today. I also have a few mementos from that day.

    I went to grade school in Barton. I remember when they bought the slide that is now in the Barton Park. We played on it for hours. Now it just looks dangerous to me. I think the Merry go round is also the same one.

    Before Dearduffs ran the grocery store it was owned by Kreftings. I recall when you went in to the counter and just asked for what you wanted rather than shopping the aisles like we do now.

    Last thought: Dick Monson was my godfather, and my brother Sherwood is named after Dicks son. Sherwood Monson and my dad, George Haakenson, were good friends.

    • my mom was born in barton in 1929. She is the youngest of 10 larson children. She has told me about the Kreftings and the dearduffs. Small world..

  19. My great-grandfather was Carl Hilberg. He died before I was born, but I remember seeing the house as a kid where my grandmother was raised. I don’t know who owned it then. My grandmother was Inga Hilberg Sanda. I believe my Dad (Carl Sanda ) knew. My great aunt was Ida Monger. I remember visiting her as a kid. In her tiny house. Does anyone know if that is still standing? My dad’s cousin was Bertha Dearduff and also Hazel Olson. I also remember visiting the store when I was young. I was just visiting about Barton today with my cousin Shirley and she was telling me about where some of our relatives lived in relation to where Aunt Ida lived. Most had passed before I was born I think. I have a beautiful photo on the wall, taken in 1908 in front of Carl Hilbergs home.. My great aunt Ida gave it to my brother Alvin many years ago. The names on the photo were Carl Hilberg, Mrs. Carl Hilberg (I am assuming this was his second wife) My grandmother Inga Hilberg and there was an Oscar Willis in the photo. Does anyone have any insight for me who Mr. Willis was? Was he a local? I have a vivid memory of my aunt Ida, taking my folks and myself and my brother to the cemetery when I was small. She showed us where my great grandparents and great-great grandparents lay. I decided to try to do a little research today on Barton and came across this beautiful website. I was trying to find a photo on there that would jog my memories.

    • My great grandma was Inga Bye Hilberg. Carl hilberg was her second husband, they married in 1932. I was just wondering if you knew anything about my Inga and I would love a copy of that picture. I have only seen one grainy picture of her. Email pcarroll_68@yahoo.com

  20. I’m wondering if anyone knew of a hotel in Barton in the 1920’s? Evidently my great-grandfather, Olaf Thornby, bought or built a hotel, which was not successful. I don’t know if the building is still there. If anyone knows anything about the hotel or the Thornby’s, I would appreciate any information.
    Thank you!

    • My mother was born in barton in 1929 she remembers your great grandfather and hotel. Her grandparents owned the other hotel. She’s related to the fossers, petersons and her family the larsons

  21. I was just looking up the definition for ghost town in preparation for a poem I’ll be writing…and then I get a notification that Ghosts of North Dakota has a new post! How timely of you guys. 🙂 I have enjoyed it as always!

  22. My mother was Edna Florence Walker (married name Neuenschwander( grew up on a farm near Barton and I remember her talking about Barton, we had several relatives that remained in the Willow City Barton area. I believe there are some still on the home place.

  23. I grew up in Willow City, have many memories of fun times in Barton. We received a spoon from a friend that was engraved with “Here’s to a Good Mixer from Barton Liquor Store, Barton North Dakota” , also a bottle opener that has: ” Barton Liquor Store, Where Good Friends Meet, Barton North Dakota” . No dates on either one. Does anybody remember the Barton Liquor Store?

  24. I remember my Mother (Gertie Fosser Schwanbeck) putting my sister (twin) and me on the train at Bottineau (where we lived at that time) we rode the train to Barton where my Grandpa Fosser (Sigvart) and Aunt Edith Fosser met us–then got into the Eessex (sp) and went to the Krefting grocery store and Grandpa would buy us candy or a box of cracker jacks, then on to the farm (about 3 miles SW of Barton) where Grandma (Anna Pederson Fosser) had homemade bread and rhubarb jam waiting for us. A few years ago my husband and I rode motorcycle around Barton and the farmstead—nothing the same–Thank heavens for the great memories I have of Barton, the Fosser Farm while growing up.

    • My mother, Delores Larson and her nine siblings were neighbors of the Monsons. Their gardens met in the back yard. My mother remembers the Kreftings. My Great Gma, or Greatgreat Gma owned one of the hotels. It burned down. My Grandmother was Ella Josephine Larson, and my Grandfather was Knute E. Larson. He ra the elevators at the end of Main St. My Great Grandmothers name was Maren Christine Fosser. My Greatgreat Grandmother was Elizabeth Fosser. My mother was born in 1929 in Barton. She attended school there and went to the West Lutheron Church.

  25. Barton dances on Friday nights in the ‘5O’s………. Memories……..

  26. My aunt Inga Stromme lived in Barton when I was little, and she and my grandparents are buried there. I want to go back one of these days and see her old house and visit their graves. I think several on both sides of the family, Stromme and Thorp, are buried there. Wondering if I am related to anyone else posting on this, or if they knew my mom, Jean Stromme.

    • Janelle – I went to grade school (South Valley School) with your Mom, Jean. I knew your Aunt Inga well. Her fingers on the organ playing for church. Inga Thorp was my 3rd grade teacher. Maybe 20 or so years ago I was having breakjast in Perkins in Fargo. And had a chnace chat with Jean!!!

  27. I live in Wisconsin but my dad was from the Barton area. He was born and raised there until the mid thirties during the dust bowl, they then moved back to Wisconsin. My first trip out there was in 1968 and our directions were when we got to Barton turn left go down Main Street, cross the railroad tracks and go six miles and turn right and a half miles you will be at Wes Walkers farm, who was married to my dads sister.
    The only problem was they had moved the road to the other side of the town. It took us a little while to figure out what had happened. When we got going west we lost count of the miles and ended up at Paul and Sally Prellwitz’s place who would have been my dads cousin.
    I remember having a soda and snack in the grocery store one time when I was out helping Warren combine.

  28. I’m a Norwegian living in Norway. I’m 73 years old, and one of my interests is genealogy. I’m trying to draft the family history of my grandfather’s sister. She, her husband and their two children settled in Barton in 1905/06. They got two more children in the USA. The names are Arnt Julius and Anne Nelson, and the children’s John A, Gudrun, Nora and Thelma. Arnt was a blacksmith and had his own shop. Later on it was more a autoshop, and his son John A also worked there. I have followed the traces in USA through sources on internet, and I can now find descendants of Nora Brandt and Thelma Hedlund/Dehn. I believe John A had one son Donals C, and he had no children. Gudrun eventually settled in Culbertson, Montana and worked as a teacher. She married Wallace Miller and had one son Duane. He had four sons David, Ryan, Loren and Mark. I have found the obituary for Mark Miller. He died in Missoula in 2001. Does anyone knows anything about this family? Best regards

    • hi my mom was born in barton 1929. Her oldest sister Ethel larson was born in 1908 or 1909. I’ll ask my mom if she remembers any of your names take care. Nancy beal boise idaho

    • Arne Braten: I am a nephew of John A Nelson and I used to spend a lot of time in Barton in the 1950’s. John married my mother’s sister, Cindy Whitmore and they had a son Donald (they also lost infant twins) who I kept in contact with over the years. He just passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 91 while living in Palm Springs, AZ. He worked for Lutheran Brotherhood in Minneapolis for many years. His dad, John ran the garage on the east end of town, repair shop and sold cars. My dad bought a new 1953 Chevy from him. Another sister to my mom and Cindy was Maude Clark (Vern) and they lived on a farm south east of Barton. John died in the garage in 1955 and my dad was the one who found him. I have a ball cap in my garage from the Dew Drop Inn-Barton, ND that I got in 1994 on a visit back to Barton to show my son some of his roots.

      • If you look at the pictures above, the Dew Drop Inn was the building shown in pictures 6 and 7. (It was probably other names earlier) The garage my uncle owned is shown in pictures 17, 18 and 19 and was right across the street from the Lutheran Church shown next in the pictures. I vividly remember being around and in that garage many, many times. The front part was the office/show room, the large middle part was where he kept the new/used cars and the back portion was the repair area and it had a 6′ pit in it for changing oil, etc. I also am sure my grandparents/mother lived in the house with the mattresses on the front porch at one time. If not that house, one very much like it. It is a block or so north of main street I believe.

    • Arnt Nelson was my great uncle, married to my grandmother, Caroline Nelson.

  29. I went to first grade in Barton. I also went to second, part of third, fourth, fifth and sixth there, although parts of those grades were also spent in a little one room school house near my Grandfather’s farm, Peter and his wife Bertha built a 13 room house out of concrete. They had 13 kids so that’s one room for each kid. Of course they weren’t all bedrooms. Bonnie Olson

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