The end always comes. As we’ve documented here, here, and here, our historic places are frequently losing the battle with time and the elements. The places shown here, two churches, a school, an Air Force installation, and a Nordic ski jump, were all photographed in the last decade or so, and now — in the blink of an eye really — they are gone. This is why we shoot ’em… because too many of them share this fate. Here are five more lost North Dakota places.
We visited Brantford in 2013 and found a near-ghost town (we’ve since been told it’s officially a ghost town these days) with a crumbling public school and this derelict church inhabiting a shady spot in the grass behind a shelter belt of trees. The bell tower had been removed and placed in the grass alongside, and it occurred to me that the pose — steeple in the front and sanctuary behind — conjures the image of a shepherd leading one of his flock, into the afterlife perhaps.
A follower sent us an update on Twitter to let us know the Brantford Church was nowhere to be found when he last visited.
Update: Nancy Ludwig reports the church and farm burned in March of 2016. (See comments)
The Gascoyne school was not in great shape when we first visited in 2007, and it had deteriorated significantly by the time we visited again in 2015. About two dozen of the former students’ desks were stacked inside, but a site visitor informed us the school was burned and/or razed in 2016, desks and all. We’re told the school was structurally deficient to the degree that the desks would have been dangerous to salvage. What a shame.
When we first visited this place in 2012, we incorrectly identified it as a ski jump at Sully’s Hill, near Devils Lake, but it’s actually a short drive east of Sully’s Hill. This is the ski jump at the former Skyline Skiway, and it had a colorful history. The collective comments on this place include reports of serious injuries that landed a few brave (or foolish) jumpers in the hospital, tales of Olympians who jumped on this hill, and hundreds of memories from former kids who spent their formative years enjoying this place. In 2016, a visitor reported the remains of the ski jump blew down in a windstorm and just a small portion of it remained standing.
Ghost town Temple, North Dakota lost its schoolhouse a few years ago when the owner moved it to a new location to be used as a residence, and a site visitor has informed us the former Temple Church, shown here in a photo from Nicole Simpson, is gone now, too. With the few structures there were still standing in this true ghost town, the loss of the school and church takes Temple a significant step beyond ghost town, toward archaeological ruin.
Fortuna Air Force Station
Fortuna Air Force Station was perhaps the largest of the abandoned military facilities we’ve photographed, a collection which has grown to include the Stanley Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (the pyramid), Minot Air Force Station, and Finley Air Force Station. It was a radar facility designed to track incoming aerial threats — Soviet bombers — in the days that preceded the advent of the ICBM. As missiles became the norm, the mission of this station evolved, but it couldn’t beat the pace of change. It was partially deactivated in 1979, and closed for good in 1984. In the last couple of years, all of the remaining structures have been razed with the exception of the main concrete tower which once held a large radar dish. We’ve been told it will be maintained as a communications tower for civilian purposes.
What do you know about any of these places? Have a memory? Are there any other places we’ve photographed which no longer stand that we should know about? Please share it in the comments below.
16 thoughts on “5 More Lost North Dakota Places”
I haven’t seen anything from you folks in almost a year? Have you been posting during this time?
Did the church have a cemetery?
I once heard that a UFO painted a radar signature at both the Fortuna AFS main site and the GATR comm. site 4 miles west. This was sometime around 1968. (I was there 70-72). I heard site personnel were told not to discuss it). [There are verified reports of sitings above 2 of the Minuteman sites near Minot also in ’68. That report can be found on the internet].
So sad to see the inevitable decline and disappearance of so many of these places. A HUGE THANK YOU to you guys for all that you have done in the past to help keep these places ‘alive’ just a little bit longer. Have not seen or heard anything from you guys for so long. I’ve really missed that. I know from some of your past writings that because of some idiots that got in and messed up your site, you thought it would be very tough or next to impossible to keep doing this because of the financial drain. If you can or care to, could you bring us up to date a little? Thanks for all you guys do!!
Hi Lynn…any relation to the Mickelsons from Pelican Rapids, MN?
I wrote to you about 4 years ago about Leipzig.
I have pictures from there and the first post office that was in my grand dad house. the house is falling down.
The old school house is still standing but used for meetings only.I am 90 years old and was born in that house. I would gladly share the pictures with you.
Would love to see them Arthur. You can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you!
Good to hear from you guys again. It was such a nice surprise to open email and find something from Ghosts. Really miss your adventures, your photos of this fading history and the beauty of the vast sweep of NODAK. Don’t be such strangers, eh?
Knock on wood…luckily, I still see stuff from you pretty regularly.
Anyway, I was wondering if you had ever taken any photos of the Old R. M. Miller Occidental Flour Mill here in Valley City? They’ve spent the last 2 weeks demolishing it. The view from our house and yard will never be the same. 😦
A fire destroyed the Brantford Church and the farmstead it stood beside in March 2016. The foundations and trees have since been buried and the area is one bare field.
Looking at the latest satellite imagery, it looks like the entire farmstead where that church used to sit has been razed and converted to crop land. Wow…I wonder where all those buildings ended up!
So sad to see places of history disappear in your state Troy. However, special thanks are in order for you and your crew for taking the time to document & taking photographs of them for all to see in the coming years. Please keep more of them coming.
John M. from Massachusetts.
I noticed a few other people saying it’s been a long time since we have seen a new posting from you. Are you guys getting out, much?
I found an obituary for a distant relative Jean Crepps – Jacobson who passed away in March of 1932 – she and 4 of her siblings resided in Chasley North Dakota.
They spelled it differently.
My mother was born in Brantford in 1923. My family visited in 2005 and there were still relatives living there. Sad to hear that it’s officially a ghost town. Does anyone have contact information for Nancy Ludwig? Thank you
First, for those of you who want more, there are a couple of really good sites about ND which anyone can post to and there is something new all the time. One (abandoned old farm homes and ….) covers all of the US, but has a lot of ND. There are others, just do some exploring.
Second, I will try this site again, but hope the authors are doing a better job of controlling some of the mean spirited and erroneous comments by themselves and others who comment here. An example, they pictured what they called an “abandoned” cemetery that I was familiar with. The rural cemetery had been planted to a plant that only grew a couple of inches and minimized the cost of maintenance. When I pointed out their error they never acknowledged it and I received several less than kind remarks from people who wanted to drag some of the first European settlers in ND thru the mud and I know those families and know what was in their hearts. Shame on those people with their remarks. So, we will see.