If you didn’t know better, it would be easy to look at these photos and assume this place was struck by a powerful prairie tornado. Grain bins are ripped open, the roof of the former bar has caved-in, and the building leans at a precarious angle. Pieces of several structures have blown down and lie decaying in the grass some distance away with their rusty nails pointed skyward, waiting for an unsuspecting explorer to test their tetanus shots with an errant step. Nobody would blame you for believing Dorothy and Toto just blew away minutes before, but the reality is, it’s been a slow-motion disaster in ghost town Aylmer, North Dakota.
The slow-motion disaster is the weather that comes with the passage of time. We first became aware of Aylmer when Sara Schindler sent us some photos in 2011, and when you compare her shots with ours, it’s apparent that even six years of weather can have a dramatic impact on an abandoned place.
Aylmer (we’re told it’s pronounced Elmer, like the glue) is in Pierce County, less than a quarter mile from the McHenry County line, about thirty miles southwest of Rugby. It was founded as a Great Northern Railroad town sometime around the turn of the century, and although it once had as many as 45 residents, it never incorporated or had a post office. Today, although the original townsite is empty, there is a nearby farm with a resident or two, so it’s technically not a true ghost town… yet.
A look inside
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Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © Sonic Tremor Media