Ghost Town Lincoln Valley Revisited

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

If we could magically travel back in time to photograph some North Dakota places, Lincoln Valley is one of the places we would choose to visit. We would go back to 1966, when Joe Leintz became the last resident of town. A church, store (really, an entire main street) and nine vacant residences still stood in Lincoln Valley at that time, and we would spend considerable time photographing it all. We would visit Joe and listen, enraptured, as he told stories of what it was like to be the only resident of town in the winter when a blizzard blew in, closing the roads and leaving Lincoln Valley cut off from the rest of Sheridan County.

Unfortunately, we were four decades too late for that, and by the time we visited Lincoln Valley for the first time in 2004, Joe, and most of the town, had vanished. So barring the invention of time travel, we have only old newspaper articles, like Leonard Lund’s story in the Saturday, August 22nd, 1970 edition of the Minot Daily News, to take us back in time. It was from Mr. Lund’s story that we learned about Joe Leintz and his status as the last resident of Lincoln Valley.

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

We revisited Lincoln Valley in May of 2010 and took the photos on this page, and we found things quite similar to our last visit, with the obvious exception of the Opp house, which is no longer standing. The field just to the northeast of Lincoln Valley where it once stood is now entirely farm land and no evidence of its existence remains above ground.

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

Due to a gathering of Lincoln Valley folks which took place recently, we found the tall grass on the town site nicely trimmed. The building shown above, the former bar and ice cream parlor, is in much the same condition as it was when we visited in 2004, but you can see it is slowly sinking on its foundation.

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

Lincoln Valley was an unincorporated town, and although it had electricity, it never had a municipal water system. Nearly every residence had its own well, and there was a community well, too. On a related note, there are open holes all over the townsite and it would be very easy to fall into one, especially on days when the grass is not as nicely mowed as it was on this day. The first time we visited, the grass was waist high, so if you visit Lincoln Valley, be careful.

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

Above: Looking in the front window of the old bar and ice cream parlor. Below: A shot from the side as we walked around to get a look in the back.

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

Lincoln Valley was founded around 1900 by Conrad and Abraham Reiswig, and they sold land to the Great Northern Railroad for a potential line extension from New Rockford, but the railroad never came. If it had, things would likely be much different in Lincoln Valley today.

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

Above: Looking in from the rear of the bar and ice cream parlor.

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

The home above, which we affectionately call the Hobbit House, looks about the same as it did last time. Visitors to our site have told us this home was actually owned by Rose Opp, mother of the Opp family who lived in the now-demolished Opp home on the northeast edge of town.

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

There are still a handful of abandoned residences scattered about the Lincoln Valley townsite, with vacant lots and crumbled structures in-between. Joe Leintz believed the peak population of Lincoln Valley was approximately 110 residents around 1940.

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

Above: If you were to crawl in one of those windows to get a look inside, your first step would be a lulu, as shown in the photo below. The floor of this old home is entirely caved-in, and the structure is very unstable.

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

Last one out of Lincoln Valley, turn off the lights.

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

Below: It must have been a big family.

Lincoln Valley, North Dakota

What do you know about Lincoln Valley, North Dakota? Please leave a comment below.

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

25 Comments on “Ghost Town Lincoln Valley Revisited

  1. I just love the photos of the outlets. I work for an electric cooperative – makes me wonder what it was like to shut the switch off for the last time.

    • when you turned off the Electricity well you did a good job doing that because if you don’t do it you would have been hurt so you did a good job. from Wendy Sells

    • Depending on which portion of the Lincoln Valley history book is correct, there were either individual light plants around town or one located in the local garage in the town’s earlier years.

      What is certain, however, is that Verendrye Electric Cooperative built a line into Lincoln Valley in 1950, making it one of the last towns in the state to get 24-hour electric service. I’d imagine that the Lincoln Valley distribution system hadn’t quite paid for itself by the time Joe Leintz left in December 1972.

      • I was about in the 7th grade when we got electricity north of Lincoln Valley, which would have been about 1957. Verendrye Electric is a co-op, and all patrons as stock holding members received annual dividend checks. The original coal fired generating plant is in Velva. I remember going to their annual stockholders meetings, which was a big family event.

  2. Thanks for posting the pics and visiting Lincoln Valley. I grew up NW of there about 6 miles or so but was a kid when the last business closed, Leintz Implement. My Dad sold cream there back in the day and talked about the parties on Wednesday and Saturday nites. He said there was hardly any space to park on those nites. 🙂

  3. The second to the last photo is a picture of the town bar. My father (who was born in Lincoln Valley) rode a horse into that bar when he was a teenager! My great-grandparents homesteaded just north of Lincoln Valley and the house still stands.

  4. I hear rumors of a Lincoln Valley reunion on June 3,4, and 5 of 2011. Any news on this?

  5. These pictures are breathtaking. I grew up about 2 miles NE, of Lincoln Valley along Hwy 14, and as a little girl I remember going to Lincoln Valley and having a coke with my dad and brothers while waiting for parts from a repair shop. We visited this town alot while growing up, and have many memories and makes me homesick just thinking of those days.

  6. My Grandma Philomena Helm and Uncles lived in Lincoln Valley. I remember going with my parents to visit My grandmother and Uncle George and Aunt Elinor Helm. My uncle Louie had the pool hall and bar next to grandma’s house. The last time I saw Lincoln Valley was about 2000, when my oldest sister passed away. She was from Bremen and Harvey. I remember many stories my mother told me of growing up by Lincoln Valley. I would like to buy Uncle Louie’s bar, just for the tin roof.

    • I am the Grandson of your Uncle Louie , My Dad was Wesley Louis Helm Sr . I have seen Lincoln Valley only twice . Long time ago. I have no idea who owns my Grand Pa’s property . I would like a piece for family history . I know the people you talk of I meet Uncle George and Aunt Elinor I believe I met them at least once . If you read this feel free to try to contact me .

    • My dad was Wesley Helm. His dad was Louie. He owned the bar! He had lots of stories of Lincoln Valley. How was Philomena related to Louie?

      • Louie was Philopena’s son. I spelled her name wrong in earlier post. So she would be your great grandma. I also knew Vehona McKeefe and Violet.

  7. I absolutely LOVE the photo of the electrical outlet with the mosaic wall. GREAT composition and color!

  8. I was born and raised NW of Lincoln Valley in the mid 40’s, and my grandfather lived in LV. I have many memories of going there on Wednesday nights to sell the eggs at the store, and cream at Roberts’ Cream Station, and to get some groceries. At the front of the pool hall and bar was a confectionary where you could get an old fashion 25 cent hamburger and ice cream. It was a real treat as a boy to get a hamburger as a reward for a special reason. Meanwhile, the men were all in the back talking farming and politics while drinking beer. The boys liked to tease Conrad C “KK” Reiswig, until he would come out of his house to chase them away. Many people went to Margaretta “Grandma” or “Mutter” Fry with their medical ailments. They thought of her as the “Little Doctor”. Her father was a doctor in Russia, but she had no medical training. Many more memories – – – -.

  9. I am wondering why are all these tows abandoned? I thought North Dakota was having an economic boom of sorts. Beautiful, haunting photos.

  10. The North Dakota boom has only happened in the last couple of years or so. These very small towns became abandoned way before the boom. When I was young, a farmer could make a living off of 250 acres, milking a few cows, raising a few pigs and chickens like our family did. As times changed, the big farmers bought up the small farms, the old folks died and the younger people moved out of those areas where there were jobs.

    • I don’t remember a Nick Leintz. Joe was the well known one because he was the implement dealer. He had a son Galen with who I went to Anamoose High School.

      • Nick and Magdalena Leintz were Joe’s parents. We tried to find their home in 2005 when McClusky had their big reunion. Saw some of Joe’s relative at the Leintz reunion in Fargo this last August 2016.

        Al Hesse

  11. Beautiful pictures, Grew up hearing about my dad life in LV

  12. I’ve never been in ND. My great grand father’s brothers Conrad and George Reiswig were Russian German settlers of much of ND wheat farms. My ggfather moved on to BC Canada then California.

  13. a woman committed suicide on march 4th, 1993 east of highway14, about 3 miles southeast. obit in minot daily news, march 7th, 1993.

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