A Sleepy Saturday in McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

The McGregor town site was established in 1910 and assumed the name of a nearby rural post office which had been established five years earlier. We visited McGregor, in Williams County about 45 miles northeast of Williston, in 2010, and we were somewhat surprised by the large number of vacant buildings.

McGregor, North Dakota

Although McGregor does not appear in the Census records (it’s an unincorporated community) a population of 250 was reported for 1920. We we roughly estimated the population at around 20 on the day we visited. We’re told McGregor got a lot more active in the two years following our visit, when the oil boom spurred a housing crunch in western North Dakota.

McGregor, North Dakota

During our visit we could see birds going in and out through the hole in the roof of the school.

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

A sleepy Saturday in McGregor.

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor is not far from several other places we’ve photographed — Bethel Lutheran rural Wildrose, Hamlet, and Appam.

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota
McGregor, North Dakota
McGregor, North Dakota
McGregor, North Dakota
McGregor, North Dakota
McGregor, North Dakota

The ruins of something long gone.

McGregor, North Dakota
McGregor, North Dakota

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

44 Comments on “A Sleepy Saturday in McGregor, North Dakota

  1. I look forward to each album, and the photos bring back memories from 1966 when I went through these towns. You guys are GREAT!

    • I am so glad to see this site. For such a main stream community in its day. There is hardly anything left. In fact many of the buildings that are shown in these pictures are gone now. the railroad tracks were removed a few years ago. Just think a place that used to have 2 banks. I know of at least one cafe. A hardware store. A grocery stored and many other things Is now almost a ghost town. We lost the elevators just not too long ago. I do have a few pictures of them at sun rise that I am so glad I did get. I have lived in this small township for almost 24 years. I would love to learn as much about it’s history as I can.

      • I lived in McGregor from the time I was five years old until I left for college. Even back then, there were old foundations that would fill with water in the spring. One of those was just east of the old ball diamond. One year, I think it was autumn, there was a sheet of ice over the water. I got the brilliant idea that I wanted to pull a chunk of that ice out. As I leaned over to pick it up, I slipped and went head first into the water. I wasn’t in that water more than a few seconds but wow was it cold!!

        I knew that if I went home that way I’d be in big trouble. So we went back over to Imslands where I coud dry myself off and warm up.

  2. I spent a lot of time in my youth at McGregor as my grandma lived there. Haven’t been up there for years, but they will be celebrating there 100th this year in August. Thanks for sharing these pictures. it brings back may memories…:)

  3. I grew up in McGregor in the 50’s and 60’s. When I view these pictures, I see the buildings as they were then, and not in the sad way they look now. I loved growing up in a small town–you knew everyone and everyone more or less looked out for you. We–husband Gary and our four children– lived in McGregor for a couple of years, they loved the freedom and the quiet after living in Bismarck. Thank you stopping in McGregor on your adventure across North Dakota–Your pictures are wonderful! Our Centennial Celebration is Aug. 6,7 and 8.
    Everyone is invited!!

    • Gail – I forwarded on your comments to my mom – Sophie (Wold) Fuhrman and she told me your sister was in her class. She also told me that your dad was one of the guys who ran the grocery store that I just loved to go to when I was little. Always thought that was the neatest store. Had everything you could ever need…:) She said she spent a lot of time in the Winter at your house. It’s a small world. We are hoping to get up there for the celebration this year. Mom is on email, if you are interested in contacting her I know she would get a kick out of it. Just shoot me and email at debf@drtel.net.

  4. My dad grew up in McGregor and I spent many a happy summer there visiting my grandparents, Bub and Sena Barden. There used to be an old abandoned 50’s car parked behind the old school with a “For Sale” sign in the window . . . I tried several times to get my dad to buy it for me and fix it up, but he never gave in. I love seeing the old school building, though. I visited with my family last summer and while it was sad to see how run down things looked, I still love it. Thank you for including McGregor in your travels!

    • Bub was my great-uncle. Vernon, his brother, was my grandfather. I remember so many days visiting Great grandma Doretta, and great aunt Lenora. Playing on the crazy dangerous tiny merry go round at the school across the street from their house..

  5. Oh my gosh, I was born I and raisedd at mcgregor and being 82 years young you will know how long ago that was.
    It is so darn sad to look at all the buildings in total death. The old school has done great things to stand this long. I am not sure just how old the building is. I would have really like to attend the Centennial in August but as that is not possilbe will be thinking of all of you at that time.

    I see good old Erwin Hanson in the winter but there are not many of us my age left. Had a photo and letter from Marcella Rolaff and do hear from Jewell whom we all know every so often. I wrote Mary Ellen but not heard from her so hope she is doing fine.

    once again, think of you all and all the very best to you and have a wonderful Centennial


  6. My mom, Darla Shaw grew up in McGregor, I spent many summers there visiting my grandparents, Alyce and Martin Sathre. For my sisters and I it was the best part of summer vacation. Growing up in the burbs of Minneapolis. The freedom of McGregor was like heaven for us. Thank you for posting these pictures of my favorite place on earth…

  7. My Aunt, Donna Grubb Van Berkom, lived here for a few years and some of my cousins lived here. They later moved to a small town West of McGregor. I grew up a few miles East in Powers Lake, ND.

  8. Does anyone know who owns the buildings in McGregor, my husband and I would be interested in buying something to fix up to live in. Thank you

  9. getnoticedgraphics. Was your great grandfather’s name Bill King?

  10. My dad grew up on a farm in McGregor and went to school there. We have relatives all over and know lots of people there. Also, my husband, 18 year old daughter and myself used to go camping at mcgregor dam often. Nice quiet little place for a little one to run and fish and stuff…lol thanks for posting pics.

  11. “McGregor strangely does not appear in the Census records we’ve seen.”

    McGregor records can be found with the records for Sauk Valley

    • I agree! Buildings are being torn down and new ones are coming up. The town is more energetic now than its been for years.

      • Wish they would rebuild the old structures and preserve the valuable history. 🙁

  12. The pictures brought a lot of great memories back.And some not so good. We lost our home and a little Brother to a house fire.

  13. I’m living in a house in McGregor that once was a bank. I think it was robbed as the vault door was damaged.

  14. I remember the McGregor school which I attended my sophomore year, and I recognize the names Darla Shaw, Sophie Wold and Gail Halgrimson. My parents were teachers there, too. I have only a vague idea where our house was in relation to the school. I wonder if it is still standing. Thanks for the photos!

  15. Hello Patsy,
    My step-mom, Mary Ellen Ballard McGregor has spoken of you often. She would love to hear from you. She is living in Hanalei, Hawaii. I am living with her. She has spoken of her friend Patsy, so often. fondly,

  16. We stayed about 20 miles NW of McGregor with acquaintances (live long, 3rd generation settlers of the area) a couple of summer ago. It’s a beautiful place, that beauty being marred by the current oil boom.
    I spent the better part of two weeks that summer exploring the forgotten & abandoned places of this area. It is a treasure chest of them.
    I have many photos of the same sites shared here, although when we were there, part of the S & A Foods storefront had blown down, revealing much older lettering forming the words General Mercantile.. a fascinating view of layers.
    A small sampling of my photographic tour of this area can be seen here: http://ourfunwithfive.blogspot.com/2013/01/northwest-north-dakota-prairie-pothole.html

    • The composition of the photos on your blog of North Dakota places are beautiful. I was born in ND and love seeing pictures of the area. I grew up in Alaska. They are two different kinds of beauty and I love both places.

  17. my mother and family grew up in McGregor and some still live there to this day – many memories of that little town visiting my grandmother ( Mary Roloff) – was just in the church not to long ago!!! And remember all of these buildings, nice to see!!!

  18. I grew up in Jamestown. I don’t know if I’m related to the founders of McGregor, ND or not. Same true for McGregor, Minnesota.

    • Tom, did you buy my grandparents place, Herman and Elise Hermanson? Gunny was my dad, and we lived in Tioga.

      I spent many days visiting them and playing at the McGregor schoolyard, or hanging out with the Ensrud girls.

      Loved the peaceful feeling, sometimes silence with only the wind blowing the grasses. Once they babysat our dog who ran off. I think Scott Gudvangen told me 15 people came to help try catch him for my grandma who was all worried.

      Good people. Good place. Precious family memories!

  19. Thanks for the beautiful pictures. My mom grew up in Mcgregor. Ardella (Halgrimson) Miller. Her mom & dad were Oscar & Esther Halgrimson. Moms siblings were Jewel and Ellis Owen. Grampa owned the grocery store and the implement. I rememger going into the impemement and finding grampa and friends playing cribbage in the back room. Jewel later moved back to Mcgregor and turned the implement into ‘Now and Then Collectibles’. Grampa later sold the store to his brother Joe Halgrimson. I believe Gail would be a cousin to me. How fun to see the pictures read about this town I have many fond memories of.

  20. Hi Gail! What a delight to see your name, here! I spent our sophomore year of high school in McGregor (Edy Thompson, then) and am reminded of fond memories of you and other classmates. Are you on Facebook, by any chance? If so, you can find me there under above name.

  21. My wife and I taught in McGregor High during the 62-63 school year. We remember fondly many of the students there. Lived in Halgrimson’s basement apartment and shopped at their store. Good memories.

  22. Both of my parents went to school in McGregor- Ray Moberg and Connie Sillerud. I love seeing these pictures!

  23. This is my little home town. So many great memories there!! My mom (Mary Ann Roloff) grew up there, & it was the center of a major part of my life.
    It’s fun to see all of the comments by friends, former neighbors, and family! I love seeing all of these old buildings–have always marveled at the brick work on the old school. Wish I could purchase and restore it into something great!
    Someone mentioned living in a house that was the old bank. He was talking about our farm house. Part of the house was the old bank building, & the damaged vault door still stands in our basement. McGregor will always have a big chunk of my heart!

  24. Great pictures. Growing up nearby we would get to McGregor on occasion. Will you be adding it’s near ghost town neighbor “Battleview” to your list?

  25. I look back on all these towns..every now and then…I think of when the towns were flourishing..regardless how small….thank you so very much for the pics…

  26. I enjoyed the pictures so much. I grew up there and lived across the street from the school which I went to for 12 years.My dad had a grocery store as did an uncle.Another uncle had a garage the building wiith glass blocks in front was the town hall and used for many things -dances -movies etc. I took tickets for the shows all thru high school.Brings back many memories!

  27. Bob Holland–I played basketball for the Wildrose Roses and we were rivals back in the 1950’s–I had some very good friends on the Mcgregor Vikings basketball team, included a couple are,Leslie Fredrickson and Allen Thorson–I was a guard-forward and most of the games we played against each other my defensive duty’s was guarding Byron Bardon–He was so quick,he was like trying to catch a rabbit.

  28. Just visited last Sept from Sequim, WA. My husbands mother, Elene Hanson Duncan was born and raised there with her five siblings. Her mom, Minnie Hanson had the cafe on Main Street that all the kids had a hand in working at. Their grandparents ran the big farm on the hill (still farmed by the Hanson family today). I didn’t see the oil growth in McGregor last summer…I saw it in Tioga just down the highway. We stayed with Aunt Janice, she married Uncle Erwin Hanson now deceased. Erwin was the only sibling to return to McGregor…the rest, including mom and dad moved to Seattle in the 40’s. Aunt Clara and Uncle Art Hanson ran the general store back in the 30’s and Clara beckoned Erwin back home. I have pictures that I cherish of the chuck wagon feeding the farm hands back in 1911. Clara’s and Arts store striving in 1933…a life well lived and a history I try to share with our children.

  29. Thanks for posting this story and the pictures. I lived in McGregor for 1-1/2 years (1971 and first half of 1972) and will always cherish that time. Ran around, hunted and fished with Verdean Roloff and his brother Wilmar. Many basketball games with Verdean & myself against Wilmar & Byron Imsland. We had a lot of fun scavenging wood and materials from a house that was tore down on the west side of town to build a two story fort in the middle of town. Had so much fun just goofing off with the Roloff’s, Imsland’s, Thorson’s, McGregor’s, Fox’s, and Waterrud’s.

    That year and a half in McGregor takes up a BIG chunk of my memory bank! I need to take some time the next time I’m in the area to kick around in McGregor.

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