Abandoned: Freda, North Dakota

Freda, North Dakota

Freda, North Dakota is a true ghost town in Grant County about 35 miles southwest of Bismarck.  Freda started out as a Milwaukee Railroad town, and once had a population  of 50 plus its own bank.

Freda, North Dakota
Freda, North Dakota
Freda, North Dakota

Today it is totally abandoned with the remains of its depot crumbling in the elements. There is one other structure next to the depot, and the ruins of several other buildings on the town site. The depot originally stood about a half mile to the south, but was relocated here. There was also a grain elevator here at one time, but it was moved to Raleigh.

Freda, North Dakota
Freda, North Dakota

We spoke to an area resident who didn’t even know Freda still existed. If you don’t know what to look for, you’ll probably drive right past it. One interesting footnote: according to North Dakota Place Names by Douglas Wick, a meteorite fell in Freda in 1919 and is now displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

Freda, North Dakota

Above: Inside the depot.

Freda, North Dakota

The building above looks like it may have been a store or perhaps a post office at one time.  Update: user Ken Laches tells us it was a post office (see comments.) Below: a look inside tells us harsh weathering has been going on for decades, and it looks like someone has scavenged some rusty tin from the back wall.

Freda, North Dakota

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Freda, North Dakota

The foundation of the former church, on the east end of Freda.

Freda, North Dakota
Freda, North Dakota

This abandoned farm stands just about a mile or two north of Freda.

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

29 Comments on “Abandoned: Freda, North Dakota

  1. Freda…a mere speck on so many maps that I own…a fact that makes it all the more intriguing.

    I’ve wanted to visit it–and this part of ND–for a long time, but never had teh chance.

    The Freda depot is on the old Milwaukee Road branch line that split off at Mobridge, SD and terminated in New England, ND. The line was abandoned in the ’80’s when the fortunes of the entire Milwaukee Road tragically turned from bad to worse. The pride of the railroad for nearly a century, the Pacific Extension, was liquidated as the railroad tried to focus on being a regional railroad rather than one of the big transcontinentals. But years of mismanagement and poor accounting (it was found later on that the railroad was actually making money, but certain liabilities had been double booked) was more than could be overcome.

    The old Freda depot looks so out of place, as many of these buildings do, standing in the middle of the grassland, as if dropped there from the sky. BUt they continue to be living testiment to the people and ambitions of long ago and the confidence that believed that you could make something and get somewhere.

    How we need the return of this animal spirit.

  2. Pingback: Raleigh, North Dakota : GhostsofNorthDakota.com

  3. The red front building to the West of the Deport was a US Post Office. The Depot was moved about one half mile to the North from it’s original site along the Milwaukee tracks after the railroad was abandoned. There was a one room school house to the North of the current depot site that was either moved or torn down in the 60s or early 70s.

    The picture of the foundation labeled as unknown was a church. I don’t know the denomination.

      • My father says there was a two-room school and a one-room school. He lived in that depot and attended the two-room school. He says his older sisters attended the one-room school.

  4. It would be interesting to understand the ownership of these abandoned places. Like who owns the abandoned government properties, like a post office? In many places there may still be a working town, but in others where the town is no longer functioning, what happened to all the rights of ways, parks, school district properties, etc.

    • Public places like roads and post offices frequently revert back to the county when a place is abandoned, unless purchased by someone else. Even private properties do so when the owner fails to pay taxes on the property.

    • Most post offices I know of are actually owned by the city or a community organization of some kind, the USPS rents the space.

  5. My grandfather was born in Freda in 1917, his family farmed there for awhile. I am somewhat saddened to see that his birthplace is a ghost town. I was hoping to find more information about his family.

  6. My grandparents were the last residents of Freda and they lived in the old railroad depot. It had been moved away from the tracks. I remember visiting them as a child. The building beside the depot was a post office that my grandmother worked in long after the town was gone. To the north of the depot were the foundational ruins of the school and farther north of that was an old house that was still standing when I was a child. The adults told us that was the teacher’s house and that at one time, three teacher lived there.

    There were several ruins around that we explored as children. I remember my father, who grew up in Freda, driving us around the pastures telling us what buildings used to be where.

    I enjoyed seeing the photos and reliving the memories. I haven’t been back there in many years.

    • I my great grandparents lived there,I remember visiting there also,swinging on the tire swing,Grandma getting pecked by chickens while getting eggs,checking out all the buildings. Great times.

  7. We made it out to Freda last year. Amazingly, our GPS took us right to there. It’s quite peaceful and one of the more remote and beautiful places we visited. I always worry about trespassing, but nothing was posted.

  8. I’m not sure what year Andrew Lien my Great Grandfather moved to Freda from Wisconsin, but he died there in 1927. His son, my Great Uncle Alfred Lien moved to Freda in 1913 and lived there until 1938. If anyone has any information, I would enjoy hearing about them. Thank you!

  9. Reply to all: My mother and father-in-law, Elizabeth and Fred Fraase, were the last residents of Freda. The depot, their home, and most of the property around it will be sold by the county for unpaid taxes. I never knew who owned the post office. Because the lean-to on the back of the post office was used by Fred Fraase, Sr. as a spot to store the “treasures” he found at auction sales, I always assumed to belong to the to him. Anyone who is interested to find out who owns the remaining lots from the Freda towns ite can.contact the Grant county Auditor/treasurer. I hope this adds to the knowledge about this old town and its demise.

  10. Have you ever thought about visiting Fallon and Timmer? They are both south west of Mandan and in close proximity to Freda and Flasher. Fallon has a church, 1 other building and a few overgrown foundations left. Timmer has only 1 or maybe 2 buildings left and 1 or 2 torn down ones. Don’t credit me on this info cause I only got it from satellite view in google maps, but I plan on visiting these places (including Freda) within the next month or so.

  11. Terry;
    You do such a fantastic job of finding,photographing and reporting on the long ago remnants and abandoned North Dakota villages of years gone by. It definitely tells a story about the hearty pioneers that attempted to make a life for themselves and their families as my grandmothers family did in Deisem, N.D. in the early 1900s. I also think its great that you are publishing the pictures of these deteriorating villages. When you publish your next books, please include your written comments about the pictures.

  12. i am surprised that there are no Renken family mentions here….the cemetery in Freda is full of them. I snoop around and see that they were Lutherans…was this a Nordic, Swiss or German town?

    • There were two Renken families in the area (brothers). The dependents of one family still live not far from the cemetery.

  13. I am the youngest child of the last family to leave the townsite of Freda. During my time, the town contained a depot, a grain elevator, a stockyard, a loading bridge, a post office, a church (a roof over a basement), a grocery store, a mechanics garage, and a school complex composed of a two room school, a one room school, a teacherage, and a barn.
    Before my time I’ve heard of a bank, a lumber yard, a different grocery store, a city hall, and at least one home.

  14. Wow! I can’t believe it! I was explaining to my son about what I knew about my dads heritage. I knew grandma and grandpa (Fred and Elizabeth Fraase) worked at a post office and were one of it’s last residents that made it an actual “town”. I heard stories for ever about Freda “pronounced Freeeda”. I sort of remember driving around the area for “memories”. I was so young and barely remember the stories. It’s amazing to find more information about my dad’s family! Thank you! PS …I KNOW about Udells. It’s a name that has been spoken a few times. I think if I remember right, Frank and Alice? How neat is the internet?!

  15. My Great-Grandfather was the Postmaster in Pearce, North Dakota – which I believe later became Freda. His name was Asa Levis Pearce and he left there in 1910 for Alberta, Canada. My Grandmother was born there in 1906. I came across your beautiful pictures when researching and hope someday I can see the buildings in person!

  16. I grew up a mile N.E. of Freda, in the early 1960’s, -70’s,Fred & g’ma baby-sat us on occasions ,always a hot kettle of soup & fresh baked breads .they were very kind people who looked out for me on óther’ occasions- us kids would rummage through the ruins of buildings and left behind basements.there was alot to explore.

  17. Beautiful photos! My grandparents both migrated to Shields, ND- and as the story goes- met at a dance in Freda. Anyone have an idea of what building dances were held in? It would have been 1927- 1928.
    Thank you!

  18. Freda had a city hall located next to the basement church, the foundation of which can still be seen. Dances and basketball games were held in the city hall. As told by my mother, the city hall quietly burned down over night after a basketball game, sometime in the 1930’s. Other buildings that burned down over the years included a bank, a hardware store, and a grain elevator.

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