Thank You for 15 Great Years

Karnak, North Dakota

Fall of 2018 officially marks 15 years since we began documenting North Dakota’s ghost towns and abandoned places. I’ve previously written about how we got started (by accident). We photographed our first three places in 2003 and started the website in early 2004, and in that time we’ve driven more than 65,000 miles and traveled through every county in North Dakota in search of abandoned and vanishing places. We’ve photographed true ghost towns with zero residents and vanishing small towns with a handful of residents remaining — places like Merricourt, Corinth, and Haley among many others. We’ve photographed abandoned places of interest including San Haven Sanatorium, Fortuna Air Force Station, and the Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel to name a few. As we’ve photographed these places, we’ve learned a lot about North Dakota and its history and we’ve tried to share as much of that with you as best we know how. Our photography has gotten a little better over the years and my ability to put it into words has grown too. And we hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have.

North Grand Church
North Grand Church

We’ve sacrificed plenty to do this over the years. We’ve run three cars to ruin with all the extra miles (one of those stories is here), we spent about ten years paying for every fill-up, meal, and hotel room out of our own pockets, not to mention our substantial webhosting and bandwidth costs, and we missed any number of family gatherings because we used a holiday weekend as an opportunity to escape from our 9-to-5 and hit the road, but we’ve enjoyed every minute of it and we would do it all again.

Recently, I discussed Ghosts of North Dakota with my friend and long time partner-in-roadtripping Terry Hinnenkamp, and we both agreed that it is time for these dads to take a break. We still love fooling around with our cameras as much as we always have and love a good roadtrip, but our multiple trips per year have occasionally taken on the feeling of “obligation” — something we do to keep followers happy, to keep our Facebook page growing, to keep North Dakota’s vanishing places in the stream of content that flashes past all of us every day. If you’ve ever had a hobby that turned into a chore, you probably know the feeling.

When we started photographing North Dakota’s abandoned places, we were one of very few people doing it (Andrew Filer is someone who’s been doing it for a very long time), and we may have attacked it with a little more fervor than most, but today, there are a LOT of artists and photographers dedicating their efforts to this great state and covering it in their own unique way. Don’t believe me? Check out the work of Jack Dura, who photographs North Dakota places in his travels as a journalist for the Bismarck Tribune, MJ Masilko, an artist who paints the places she photographs, and John Piepkorn, who has contributed tons of galleries to Ghosts of North Dakota over the years. There are others, too, more than I can mention. Zachary Hargrove of Furious Skies, Nate Reynolds of Lost Places on the PrairieTim Riley of Whispers of the Past, Bob Hoffman of Country Candids and many, many more. With so many people doing it, we’re confident there will still be a stream of glorious North Dakota content for you to enjoy… click the links and follow all of those artists, you won’t be disappointed.

San Haven Sanatorium
San Haven Sanatorium

This has all led up to this, an official announcement. Terry and I are on indefinite hiatus from photographing North Dakota’s lost and withering places. The website will stay right here, and you’ll likely still see an update from us now and then, and probably contributor galleries popping up from time to time. There may or may not be another Ghosts of North Dakota book in the future, and who knows, sometime down the road, Terry and I might decide it’s time to take it up again. We’ll see. Until then, thank you. Your continued reading has meant everything to us over the last 15 years.

Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp
Ghosts of North Dakota

53 Comments on “Thank You for 15 Great Years

  1. I grew up in ND & now being away from there -Your postings bring back memories, keep up the excellent hunting’s of History

  2. Troy/Terry—
    I just want you to know how much I appreciated your talent in showing yesterdays North Dakota.
    My grandmother was raised on a farm in Deisem, which no longer exists. I purchased your books and hope that you will put into print all the photos that you have taken since the 3 books were published.

  3. In a year of dying friends your announcement just makes me sadder. Fifteen years is a long time and your dedication is appreciated.

  4. I live in Washington state but grew up in one of the now almost ghost towns you’ve shown pictures of (Juanita). Thanks for the interesting photos and information you have shared.

  5. Hamar ND
    Thanks for the memories.
    2nd and 3rd grade 1945-46 in that school house with my mother as the teacher.
    Dad, Joseph Joramo owned farm just NW of town.
    Thanks Again
    Floyd Joramo

  6. Thank-you Terry and Troy!! Your dedication to this project has been tremendous . All of those who now live in or have lived in North Dakota owe you a huge debt of gratitude for the history, memories, beautiful scenery, and general reminiscences by those that have followed you these fifteen years. It has been wonderful to connect with families that have passed through the area and left their mark on North Dakota. Enjoy your temporary retirement from this project. Yes, I also believe you will return someday with new photos and stories to share. Until then, we will continue to enjoy your books and web pages and look back at what you have accomplished.

  7. I can’t say enough good things about the work you’ve done and this website. It’s fabulous, and I’ll be sad to see it become inactive.

  8. Terry/Troy,
    Thanks you both for all the wonderful photographs you have taken over the years. I grew up in North Dakota, have been away for far too long and can’t wait to retire back to ND. You have inspired me to get my own camera and to travel the “roads less traveled” in ND in pursuit of abandoned farms and building to photograph. I have done similar in the states I have lived in since leaving ND. I hope that you will occasionally get the bug and go out and shoot a few and post them from time to time. I will miss your posts. When you were active, I couldn’t wait to see the next place you did, or when you books came out, when the next one would be published. I hope you will in the future publish more books. Thank you again for showing the beauty of a very underappreciated place. I like to refer to ND a America’s best kept secret for people and places.
    Thanks again!!

  9. I have really enjoyed your posts and books, and you’ve allowed for more interesting in state travel to see some of these places.

  10. Thanks guys! You did a great service for helping to document the history of North Dakota. I really enjoyed seeing and reading all the articles and pictures. Happy trails!

  11. Thank You Troy and Terry! I have enjoyed your documentation. While growing up and with many return trips to NoDak, I witnessed a lot of the Ghosting. Many of the places I remember are no more, but are preserved in your posts and books. I think of your work as a time-lapse picture book of the 1904 Atlas of my home county, that I used to pore over often as a child. There were 2-3 families per section/ square mile, and I bugged my parents on who all those people were. Very few stayed on. I read somewhere a few years back that there are between 3 and 4 million NoDak born folks living outside the state. Great Work!

  12. Thank you, Troy and Terry! You have done a remarkable job of preserving these sites in pictures, especially the places that now exist only in those photographs. I am in awe of your dedication and the historical value of the “ghosts” you’ve brought to us. You deserve some rest and a chance to just live life.

  13. Thank you for all your great photographs and time and effort that you have put into your website. As others have mentioned, it has been great being able to see all the pictures and remember times of living in or visiting North Dakota. Even though I have lived most of my life in Alaska, I am proud to say that I was born in North Dakota. It is a great place. Thank you for photographing Antler, ND and area where my parents were raised. Again, thank you for all that you have done!

  14. I love your photos and have never taken for granted your effort. I have followed you for many years. Pls don’t forget your followers. Pls keep in touch now and again. You have become family.

  15. Troy and Terry, you and your work have allowed me to fill my mind and heart with images and descriptions that make me happy and fill a need to stay connected to North Dakota. Thank you.

  16. I am very grateful for all your post and sharing over the years. As much as I will miss seeing new posts, I hope you enjoy every minute you can with your families. Thank you.

  17. I have enjoyed all the pictures and articles. Thank you so much for all the time and effort spent putting it all together. I was born and raised in Blabon and Finley, North Dakota but left when I married – however, North Dakota will always be “home”.

  18. We appreciate you a lot. I know you wonder why you do it sometimes, but it’s very interesting. Waiting for (hopefully) more info on omeeme. Thank you. Tim

  19. Was interesting following all these segments of old towns some very nicely scoped out . One was our old stomping ground ! If you ever do some again . I will be watching my e mail thanks for all the work you did .Pfeifer

  20. THANK YOU so much for all of the time and passion dedicated to this site. You have done a wonderful job of documenting ghost towns of ND. I have always joined the website and your wonderful work.

  21. Terry/Troy, Thank you so very much for the beauty both in image and writing. It has been a pleasure and I will likely continue to visit. After you are both rested, I hope to hear from you again! Enjoy your time with your family!

  22. I have noticed fewer post from you and do understand completely your decision but will I miss getting these post!! Thank you so much, us that do not live in ND but might have passed through there once. I have loved every minute of this.
    Good Luck and maybe every once in awhile we will see something????

  23. I feel like someone died. I do understand the need to take a break, 15 years is a looooong time. I cannot tell you how many times I brewed up a cup of tea and settled in for a virtual tour of another North Dakota ghost town when the email notice came. You guys kept me company on many a snowy day here in on the Great Lakes. The photos of the buildings and places were always beautiful, but the landscapes, especially the skies, motivated me to get in my car and drive west to take a look. I love the Great Lakes, but I now know why people are drawn West. It is simply beautiful there. Hold on to your state with all your might, no matter what the politicians and developers tell you. I’m gonna miss you. Maybe one day there will be an email notice from Ghosts of North Dakota bc the two dads decided a road trip was in order. Sure hope so. Thanks for everything you did. It was really important work. Safe journeys, always.

    • Sharon I understand completely. Many times if I checked my mail quick I would save them to read later when I could relish in the sights and history. Always so interesting, you two really did a great job and made us happy in front of our computers.

  24. thanks guys from Cape Cod bill commercial off shore fisherman from New England

  25. Have enjoyed all of your work and will miss it a lot, but you deserve a break! Best wishes!

  26. Troy & Terry—-The mere words of “THANK YOU” seem so inadequate at this time. You guys have done just an absolutely beautiful job of documenting so many of our disappearing sites/towns and helping to keep these memories alive. I, along with so many others, are going to miss your postings immensely, but understand completely the reasons why. These past few years as my wife and I have traveled all around the state to schools to speak about the deadly consequences of drinking and driving, with the car that our family (Deutscher Family from West Fargo) was killed in by a drunk driver on 7/6/2012, we have many times “gone out of our way” to drive through many of the very places that you have documented. It has been so very rewarding! Again, a big Thank You!!
    Lynn Mickelson, Colfax, ND

  27. I was born in Mayville in 1949 and grew up on a farm near Turtle Lake. I moved to Alaska in 1971. I visit ND frequently as most of my very large family is still here or is invested in some way in the state. Every time I fly into Bismarck I note during the approach – the diminishing sign of abandoned farmsteads, which are identified and delimited by the remains of shelter belts to the north and west. The absence – or hopefully, hiatus – of the authors of this website is just another vanished farmstead in my heart. I wish you the best in whatever endeavor you undertake. I hope that you will have the opportunity to contribute to this website in the future and greatly appreciate the links that you have provided. Travel safe, do good works and stay in touch. Thank you for your research and your pictures. God Bless you.

  28. Very interesting old photos of places, and their history. Some rather interesting stories with them, also. Enjoyed!

  29. Troy and Terry,
    Thanks for the 15 years of wonderful photos. Some of the photos were taken near my hometown and bring back fond memories (I think). The Wabek Saloon is the fondest!

  30. Form Germany to you Ghosts of North Dakota thanks for the homepage, thanks for the books, thanks for everything! Incredible job!

  31. Thanks for the hard work over the years. As a native north dakotan from no-wheres-ville, ND (my hometown looks like the town from courage the cowardly dog), who moved to no-wheres-ville, PA (my closest neighbor here is .7 miles away, i know, close for ND standards) for its better climate and job opportunities, good luck to you and i will miss it!

  32. Thank you so much for all you have put into your travels and bringing history alive. I am new to the state and you have introduced me to my “new home”. Past and Present. You have made a big difference in how I look at was once what I thought of as a desolate and dreary place. North Dakota is a beautiful state with plenty of wonderful things to see. Thank you for bringing that to me and all your readers. Now when I see an abandoned town or farm, I think about who lived there and what it must have looked back then. Enjoy your families and I will continue to read whenever you have something to write!

  33. Your work will truly be missed! There are no words and ‘Thank You’ just doesn’t seem enough. Very sad, but, thank you for what you’ve done. Very inspiring! Enjoy your family time or what’s left of it.

  34. Back in the 1970’s-90’s my work often had me on the road in ND, SD, and MN–and so often I wished I knew the stories of the abandoned places along the way. What you have done in your 15 years is take us on your journeys, and on facebook the comments often added more to the stories. Thank you most sincerely for letting us tag along; rest well, and will be hoping to hear from you again.

  35. I have one of your books and I’m curious about places like these. Did you have to get permission from the cities to take pictures and go inside some of the buildings?

  36. Sorry to hear of your hiatus from the Ghosts of North Dakota Project.
    I just got inspired within the last 6 months due to your website.
    Completed my first visit & photo trip in August 2018 to North Dakota.
    Visited many of the locations on the website retracing your work.
    Thanks again, and do keep everyone updated as you can.
    Your efforts and work matter and are of value!

  37. 15 Years!

    This site has been a joy and inspired many a road trip while we visit my wife’s relatives in ND. Have all the books too!


  38. Thank you for your work and your dedication to bringing us the stories of these abandoned towns.
    My grandparents all died before I was born but they were all pioneer homesteaders in ND — in small railroad towns in the Upper Red River Valley on the Traill/Grand Forks County border and in the far northwest at Ambrose just as Divide County was breaking off from Williams County. In trying to learn their stories and understand and document our family history, I am very intrigued and thankful for your work.
    I believe the old hospital you showed at Ambrose, overgrown now with weeds, is the one in which my mother was born in 1911. It’s a fabulous picture and it looks quite a lot more advanced and modern than I would have thought for that era in that part of the frontier.
    Thanks for showing us this history. Since I never got to talk with any of them and I’ve never been to Ambrose, this gives me a sense of what it might have been like in those early pioneer days.
    I would like to buy your books, especially those that have anything about Ambrose, old Minot (where my grandparents moved and my mother grew up after selling the homestead), and Reynolds and Buxton, where my other grandparents lived. Please advise where I can send a check (I’m sorry I don’t do on-line purchasing).
    Thank you! Best wishes to you and your families. Your photographs are stunningly beautiful and tell poignant stories.

  39. Hi my great-grandfather John Oscar Hansel homesteaded in the Havelock area in the early 1900s and owned property there in the Havelock area until his death in 1931 we would like to learn more about that area if we could or if someone else knows any information on that thank you Patty Hansel Lee

    • Your best bet would be to get ahold of the New England, ND centennial book as it does have information on Havelock.

  40. IN the homestead days my grandfather R L Johnston was the owner and operator of the Alpha store and PO at Alpha ND in golden valley co.
    the only thing left is the Alpha graveyard..if you are interested I have a Picture of him standing on the steps of the store sometime in the 20s..also an envelope with the Alpha postal stamp on the envelope
    thank you doug davis

  41. Thank you! This website is amazing, and it showcases the bleak prairies of North Dakota perfectly. Reading the comments section of each piece, I see dozens of people reconnecting and sharing stories about their hometown, which is really quite touching.

  42. I came across a book from the Wild Rose Lutheran church 50th anniversary 1910-1960. Really quite interesting. I would like to send the book to you if you want it. Just need an address of where to send it.

  43. Me too. I miss seeing all the beautiful pictures and the history that goes with them.
    Are you ready to come back yet????????

  44. I have enjoyed your work for so many years and also the calendars! Will miss you but best wishes in your new-born freedom…

  45. Amazing work Troy and Terry!
    I have the 1 book, must buy the 2 others.
    Cheers from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

  46. I just “stumbled upon” your website and thank you for maintaining it so others can enjoy it. Having never been to the Dakotas, I am hoping to add both to my list of places visited next year. Being retired, I love to spend several weeks in a state, visiting not just the well-known locations but those lesser known locations as well. Your website will help me plan a wonderful time in your lovely state!!

  47. thank-you, and will wait for the book. Be stupid if you traveled that many miles, spend that many days, and took that many pictures but didn’t plan to share with your family and friends.

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