Duck Inn and Waddle Out of Venturia, North Dakota

Venturia, North Dakota

Venturia, North Dakota is located in McIntosh County, just north of the South Dakota border, forty-five miles east of the Missouri river, about nine miles southwest of Ashley, North Dakota. Like most shrinking rural communities across the state, Venturia was founded as a railroad town, but today the tracks are gone.

We visited Venturia on an overcast day of intermittent sprinkles, and we were excited by the photo opportunities but we needed a break from the rain. It took us a few minutes of sitting in the car, waiting for the rain to pass, before we realized the neon sign on the bar behind us was lit — OPEN. We decided to go pay a visit.

Venturia, North Dakota

Inside, we met Don, the owner of the “Duck Inn,” a bar (on the left, above) that could also double as his living room. We had a beer and he showed us his 104-year-old pool table. Don told us he was born and raised in Venturia, then left to see the world before returning home to become the town barkeep. Although we were the only people in the place, he said he was expecting a good crowd of people from surrounding towns since it was Memorial weekend. Terry bought a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Duck Inn and Waddle Out.” According to Don, there were 21 people in Venturia. According to the 2010 Census, the tally was 10.

Venturia, North Dakota

The former Venturia depot was on Main Street, about a block and a half south of the tracks.

Venturia, North Dakota

Inside the depot. “Yes, I’d like a ticket to anywhere, please.”

According to “North Dakota: Every Town on the Map and More,” by Vernell and Louise Johnson, a disagreement over what to name the town was resolved when a pioneer builder proposed the name “Ventura,” a moniker he saw on the side of a railroad box car. The villagers added the ‘i’ and the town became Venturia.

Venturia, North Dakota

Venturia, North Dakota

Above, the Venturia Fire Department and Community Hall, also known as “The Doghouse” (see comments).

Venturia, North Dakota

Venturia is a community founded primarily by immigrants, Germans from Russia.

Venturia, North Dakota

Venturia, North Dakota

In a busier town, someone would have sold the doors shown above for a pretty penny by now.

Venturia, North Dakota

The now abandoned Venturia Lumber Company.

Venturia, North Dakota

Venturia, North Dakota

The old grain elevator still stands next to the former railbed, but the tracks are long gone.

Venturia, North Dakota

It’s always cool to see the remnants of infrastructure, like a fire hydrant, peeking out of the tall grass.

What do you know about Venturia? Please leave a comment below.

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

67 Comments on “Duck Inn and Waddle Out of Venturia, North Dakota

  1. That was so cool! I enjoyed reading about this town. Loved the Duck Inn slogan. What I wanna know – was the beer cold and did Don know of any “ghosts” in town? LOL

  2. My great great grandfather used to run, maybe own the lumberyard in Venturia. I love McIntosh county. Both of my parents are from that area and I have spent A LOT of time there as well. This area means so much to me and it is truely a very unique and special plac

    • I know this area well. My great-grandparents settled in McIntosh Co. My father grew up in Ashley. A place to get away from it all.

    • I get so comfortable reading these and the pictures just mellow me out. I don’t get out to travel and your stories with photos just release any uneasiness. Thank you so very much. Fortunate people who have experienced the life like that.

    • My grandfather owned the Venturia lumberyard. My cousin Wayne would spend summers with Grandma and Grandpa and summertime was fun to play in Venturia. To keep us busy and probably out of trouble we had to “count ” the nails in a big barrel. I think we actually started then realized people bought them by the pound!

  3. One Christmas I snowmobiled across the snowy fields to stop for a warm drink at the Duck Inn. My family is from Ashley, ND so Venturia was a perfect snow ride away.
    Keep up the wonderful story telling of North Dakota. A wonderful place and great people.

  4. How many concrete municipal buildings are there like that in ND? There’s one in Hensel too.

  5. Back in the late 1980s and early 90’s the “armory” or city hall was purchased for $600 by an Ashley resident named Bob Delzer (who still lives in Ashley). Bob is a rock music encyclopedia (especially if you want to know anything about KISS) and was also an amateur promoter and used to book some kick-ass bands to play the hall. These events always drew a large crowd from across the region (to the point that you could hardly move because the place was so packed) and on several occasions were visited by the local State’s Attorney and the county sheriff’s department, who tried to shut the place down for what they called “violation of the fire code.” The real reason was because a local minister didn’t like the music or the fact that the area young people were being “adversely influenced” by the place. The Duck Inn always did well on those nights too!

    • I still have a t-shirt that says ‘Venture to Venturia & party at the Dog House’. lol

    • “The Dog House”!!!!! I went to a concert there once and Zwarte ROCKED sooooo hard the ceiling tiles were falling off!!

  6. This town is a awesome town. a good chunk of immediate family lives here and Forbes as well. really surprised you guys wrote about these places.

  7. The rail station in Venturia has got to be an identical twin to the one in Egeland, ND which is on the complete opposite side of the state! Color scheme and everything. I was in Egeland last October. They must have had a few standard floor plans, but I don’t know off the top of my head if these cities were on the same rail lines (IE NP, GN). Interesting….anyone have any insight?

    • Both Venturia and Egeland were on the Soo Line. Yes, the railroads had set plans for their buildings. For depots, they would have like 3 or 4 plans depending on the size of the city/town. They would be Class 1, Class 2, etc. The building plans tended to be identical within a Class. However, that said, I think with the larger depots (Class I ?) there tended to be much more leeway in the design, at least on the outside appearance. I think on the NP, and probably other railroads, they also had a ‘Passenger Station’ classification. And these larger depots were probably all somewhat different. But I’m guessing that with the Class 2 and 3 depots they pretty much looked the same.

    • I believe that may have been a soo line depot as the area was served by the railroad for the time that i lived in Ashley. You are correct plans for depots were all the same just a few differences…ie passenger, freight,combination,single floor,two story.

  8. I remember being a new teacher out here in 1988 when the city hall was host to some great concerts. It is very sparce with people out here, so it was quite a shock to see so many kids come out from the woodwork.

  9. My mother grew up in Venturia in the early 1930’s. It was a booming town back then with 2 grocery stores, the lumber yard, the depot, 2 elevators, 2 bars, city hall, numerous churches, an elementary school, and at least two gas stations. There were always activities going on at city hall.
    My uncle, Art Tesky and his wife Pauline, had a butcher shop and also owned the Chevy garage which has since fallen down. It is the building that has fallen next to city hall.
    I spent many days there during my childhood.
    A number of my uncles played for the town’s softball team.
    The Jacob Tesky family held their family reunions at city hall for many years.
    As kids, in the 60’s, we used to love to go through the old abandoned houses to see what treasures we could find.
    My father grew up in Greenway, SD, just south of Venturia. On Friday nights the Bertsch boys would head to Venturia and light up the town.
    Lots of great memories from Venturia.

    • Amost all small towns (as well as large and larger towns) had amateur baseball teams up until around 1960, when softball, especially slow-pitch softball started taking over.

    • My great grand parents (Christian Diede) lived in Greenway SD. I visited there a couple of times in grade school. The last time was in 1959 at her death. their oldest daughter, my grandmother, lived in Wishek ND.

  10. I was in one of those bands that played at the Dog House MANY times… it was so much fun – I will never forget it… the best had to be the fact that after the show, the party went to the basement of the Dog House and that was when the fun began … the party never stopped….. Once the sun came out, everyone went back to Bob’ house in Ashley and crashed in his basement – oh the good times!!! Bobs the Greatest, Venturia is the Greatest, and I remember Don ALWAYS had the best Jag…. lol

  11. Do you remember my name John Miller from Ashley. How about 3 day weekends we would do the same things on Sunday night as well

  12. I grew up in this wonderful little town where my Dad managed the elevators that you see in the photos above. I have the best childhood memories of being raised here…Desiree (above) mentioned her uncle, Art Tesky, and his service station. I can’t even count the number of Pepsi’s with peanuts I drank on the little bench in front of that station with friends as we took our breaks from tearing up the town on our bikes. Many years ago, the little general store owned by Mike & Maggie Ritter was right across the street from the station. That store had everything! My brother and I attended school there with 13 other kids in grades 1 – 8. Some grade levels didn’t have any students, a few had only 1 or 2, but my class was one of the largest with 3…and one of them was my cousin! We spent hours and hours exploring that little town. I knew many of the old buildings shown in the photos like the back of my hand. My brother is great friends with Donny from the Duck Inn. I knew the bar mostly from earlier days. If those walls could talk, what stories they’d tell!! Thank you for this great little trip down memory lane!

    • Leah, your mom is my cousin. My parents Edward and Anna Diede owned the restaurant/creamery for many years. If I remember right your family lived in our restaurant after my parents moved. Your grandparents had a farm on the outskirts of town where your Mom grew up then your uncle lived there later. What fun to see these pictures. I could not recognize the restaurant. What a surprises to see the pictures and comments.

      • what fun if we could see the old 1950 times. my relatives go way back to 1889, Bernhard Kaseman.

  13. Why no pictures of the beautiful church that is still meeting there?

  14. Was there in August 2011 traveling in the area for work. Stopped by to look around and much to my surprise the open sign was on. We stopped in and had a few beers and then he asked where we were from. I told him small town in eastern Iowa, he says him bartender helper is from a small town in eastern Iowa too! I said DeWitt by chance??? he looked up and said YES thats it!!! What a small world. We also bought a tee shirt. I’m in the area again this year an will be driving up there tomorrow I hope it’s still open!

  15. My grandparents, Mike and Maggie Ritter owned the grocery store. My father was August Ritter who married Patty Breitling from Venturia. I have many memories in Venturia, helping grandma cook at the schoolhouse which had two Huge classrooms only. We roller skated in the memorial building for parties. Great place. Great memories.

    • My cousin Wayne and I were sent to get groceries at Ritters store. Everything was written on the slip along with the price. I think suckers were 2 cents..
      We were busy all day playing in Venturia.

  16. my dad grew up on a farm west of Venturia and my great-grandparents had home there. My uncle owns the lumber yard that looks abandoned, he stored his combining equipment in there for many years. We were down there about a year ago and he let us go through it and I found several things, some old windows and the coolest door with window pains in it .I’m hoping someday when we build a house to use in it as a reminder of the place where my dad grew up. I love the old depot and always have to look in the windows and imagine too “if walls could talk”.

  17. My hometown! Fond memories. 2 room schoolhouse; same 4 classmates for all 8 grades; same teacher grades 1 – 4 (Mrs. Rhome), grades 5 – 8 (Mrs. Schlenker); school cook was Aunt Maggie; great meals (even homemade ice cream sometimes); probably why I weighed more in grade school than I do now! buying candy cigarettes (yes you could do that) at Uncle Mike Ritter’s grocery store and also watching him candle eggs in the back room; drinking Grape Nehi and eating dreamcicles at Diede’s cafe/creamery; rollerskating at the Legion Hall; school plays at the City Hall; Dad was the postmaster for many years and when he retired Mom took over.

    • We must be related! Maggie and Mike were my grandparents. Are you August Doctkers child? I must’ve played with you.

    • All these pictures bring back great memories. My parents Edward and Anna Diede owned the restaurant/creamery. Our Saturday nights were the busy nights and we had to work whether it was helping in the restaurant or candling eggs. Being we lived in the restaurant I was sewing and sewed my finger my mom got your dad (who was next door in the post office) to pull the needle out. Yes the school house up on the hill. You were much younger than me so maybe you don’t remember me. I do want to get back there soon.

      • I do remember you and your sister Ardella. Great memories of eating pushups, dreamcicles, and drinking strawberry, grape nehi and orange crush at the cafe. Always a treat.

    • I know this post is old, but my goodness- My grandfather was Cornelius Dockter- I believe August was his uncle. I visited Venturia when I was 7 (I’m now 37). I don’t think I’ll ever forget my time there even though I was so young. I stayed with my great aunt Olga. I loved all my aunts, but she was just my favorite- we were kindred spirits. Been thinking so much about Venturia and Ashley lately. I have great-Grandpa Jakob’s autobiography he wrote about life as a pioneer and it’s one of my most prized possessions. I was born and raised in CT- but my grandpa Cornelius was my everything. I end up being mistaken for a Midwesterner most of the time 🙂

  18. My husband and I retired to Elgin ND. Lived in California Bay Area for 25 years. Are you still in the area? I’m on Facebook if you like to reminisce. I would enjoy that.

      • I will try to find you on Facebook, if that’s ok. My mom and dad both passed in 2008. I remember your mother, Clara fondly. She had a beautiful head of hair and so kind to me.

      • Hello Doug my name is Colleen (cookie) Dejneka and my maiden name is Schrenk
        I use to go to Venturia every year with my parents Albert and Martha Schrenk. We would stay at my grandma Sophie’s house
        I use to play with a girl who’s last name was Dockter and she lived in a house on a hill behind the playground we use to play at. I am 58 so I am guessing she is around the same age but I can’t for the life of me remember her name might you know? We were just in Venturia the summer of 2020 but it was on a Sunday and the bar was not open which was bad timing on my part. I would have loved to connect with someone to fill my husband in on the history. What great memories I have of Venturia! I don’t have Facebook but my email is

  19. What great memories these photos bring back. I remember we actually took a grade school class trip on a train out of that Depot to Ashley!

  20. I have been there. My late husband’s niece lives on a farm near there. This is what a lot of towns are beginning look like in ND. Lehr is very similar. I was born in Wishek.

    • My Great Grandparents immigrated to McIntosh County from the Ukraine in the late 1890’s. The Railroad was advertising land out there. They were called Russian Germans because the groups had left Germany in the 1700.s lived a few hundred years on the Black Sea area before coming to N Dakota. I believe my Grandmother was born near or in Wishek. Does Wishek still exist? I would love to see pictures of it or know of any news. I someday would like to travel there however I don’t know where they lived but am pretty sure they farmed and lived in mud or prairie houses with the grass roofs.

        • My Mom (Wilma Rudolf Boschee) was raised in Wishek and my Dad (Clarence) in Lehr! Most of my siblings were born in Wishek, I was born in Jamestown ND when my Dad became a mechanic instead of a farmer. We left in 1966, when I was only 1! But we used to drive to Lehr (where my Grandparents (Adam Boschee and Bertha Kautz Boschee) lived most summers from WA state! Love reading all these comments. I still have relatives in Wishek (Delmar and Deloris Zimmerman).

  21. My grandmother was born in Greenway, lived in Streeter, she and my mother would take the train to Venturia, must have been back in the 20’s or earlier. My neice and her family live nearby on a farm Albert and Coreen Schumacher and their children..

  22. Doug Dockter my name is Matt my wife and I bought your parents house from them in 2002 after they moved to Ashley! Your mother was a very nice lady that took us out to the house to show us around and even though your dad had trouble speaking we had a nice talk. Just wanted to let you know we love going out there for hunting and fishing we have made a lot of memories with family and friends and we are keeping the house maintained, we live in Park Rapids mn.

  23. Pingback: More Venturia, #NorthDakota #abandoned #ghosttown :

  24. I moved to Venturia with my parents, Andrew and Mona Jarske, and brother Paul Jarske, in 1938 when
    I was ten years old. My father was the Soo Line Railroad depot agent and we lived upstairs in the depot
    pictured. We lived there for five years. My friends and I learned to dance and roller skate in the waiting
    room of the depot. My father played on a baseball team when we lived in Venturia.

  25. Thanks to those responsible for posting these wonderful pictures! My grandparents, Asoph and Ernestine Haas, lived in the southwest corner of Venturia from 1959 until the 1990’s. The collapsing single car garage pictured belonged to my grandparents. Before moving to town, they lived on a farm about two miles to the southwest. My other grandmother lived in Ashley, which is a big town compared to Venturia, but my brothers and I always had more fun in Venturia! During the 60’s, my grandfather worked at the elevator and I would hang around there, watching them work the scales and dump the grain from the trucks. Grandpa would even buy me a bottle of pop from the pop machine. I also remember him taking my brothers and me to the cafe for an ice cream cone. And we always had to make a trip to the grocery store to buy candy. The city park still has some playground equipment, but one of the pieces of equipment that was the most fun has been removed. It would whip you around, lift you off the ground and briefly give you the sensation of flying. Ashley didn’t have anything like that! Which was probably one of the reasons it was removed — too dangerous!!! Thank you everyone for sharing your memories of Venturia. They brought back a lot of memories of my own.

  26. My Dad, Walvin Kaseman, was the manager for Venturia Lumber about 1952. We lived in town for about two years. My grandpa Kaseman’s farm was about 4 miles northwest of Venturia.
    Love to see the buildings remain.

  27. If we sign up with you, FB should keep their hands off! I love reading your stories!! I don’t know if I will majpke it out to ND again, but if I do, I have a ru. Ing list of where to go and Venturia is one of them!

  28. Venturia was dead 41 years ago, when I photographed it for the Dakota Photo Documentary Project. Fr. Bill Sherman, a rural sociologist and author of several books on North Dakota ethnography, told me a good story about Venturia. In the early 70s, he and a group of students were surveying rammed-earth houses (semeljankas) in the area. It was over 100 degrees and they went into town to the “recreation” (i.e., a bar with a pool table). Two teenagers were playing pool and talking German. The old guys at the counter were talking German. They asked the barkeep for beers and she said, “you want that cold or warm?” At that point, Bill said, I thought to myself, what country am I in? I photographed the Bicentennial wagon train coming up from South Dakota and crossing the state line south of Venturia. They were singing “Oh, Susanna, ist nicht wahr das Leben ist so schön?” But the photo I most remember taking is of a boy standing on the sidewalk with a lollypop in his mouth.

  29. I have memories of Venturia as my grandparents “Lelm” lived by the Lumber Yard. My parents lived on a farm for 18 yrs NW of Venturia. They milked cows as many people did then. I was born in Ashley in 1983. My parents left in 1993 when I was 10. We go back to Zeeland and Venturia every Deer Hunting season 👍🏻

  30. My Dad was the manager of the Lumber Yard in early 1950s. We lived maybe two years or so. My grandfather’s farm was located about 6 miles northwest from Venturia.

    • my parents were in the Jubilee 1951. wow is the word.

  31. Sadly, the Duck Inn has closed. Don
    retired and Waddled Out for the last time on December 30 2018. It had been my dad’s favorite place to enjoy a cold beer. My husband, brother, sister and I always stopped in when we were in the area. A lot of fun memories there throughout the years with Don and the gang. The Duck Inn will be missed. I think Don is looking to sell if anyone is interested 😉

  32. My Dad, Walvin Kaseman, wife June, and two children, Bernard and Kathleen lived in Venturia about 1951. My Dad managed the Venturia Lumber Yard.

  33. Interesting pictures and even more interesting commentary. My great grandfather was Chris Joachim and had a General Store in Venturia I believe it was from 1913-1920. Him and his brothers were some of the Germans from Russia. Wish I had some pictures of the old store or just knew where it was located.

  34. I enjoy reading all the comments, we’re probably all related. 😁 if memory serves me correct…my great grandfather had a harness shop in Venturia (Herbold) My grand father Julius may have been born there, I know my father Royal was born there. Somewhere along our linage a Herbold married a Doctor. I believe the Doctor’s donated land for Trinity cemetery which is where my father, mother and grand mother are buried. I believe my grandmother was a Doctor (Emma). I have a first cousin running a farm in Ashley (Perry Betsch) and my grand parents on my mother side are buried in Ashley’s cemetery ( the Shock’s)

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