Ardoch is a town of around 60 residents in Walsh County.  We visited Ardoch once before to photograph the quite impressive Mondry Elevator, a visit during which we spent quite a bit of time looking for a phone lost in the tall grass.  Since I was in the area again, I decided to stop in for a better look.

Ardoch City Hall

There are an unusually high number of trailer homes in Ardoch, both inhabited and abandoned.  Most of the historic structures are now gone, with only a few exceptions.  I was somewhat shocked to discover a teenager burning leaves in a driveway right in the middle of town.  It was a breezy day at the end of the driest summer in decades… seems pretty risky in a town without a fire department.


Photos by Troy, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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Ardoch, ND

We stopped in Ardoch primarily to photograph the elevator which Terry had been wanting to shoot for some time.  We drove into town past the city hall and a little yapper dog promptly ran right in front of Terry’s car and stopped.  He just stood there staring at us.  So Terry started to back up, and a second dog joined the first in circling around his car.  We were kinda stuck, not able to go forward or backward very quickly for fear of running over these two little dogs.  And the whole time it’s happening, the woman who owns the two dogs is sitting in a lawn chair, watching.  She had a look of befuddlement on her face–like, how did this happen, these two geniuses are trapped in the street by my chihuahuas?

Inevitably, Terry was able to break free from the insane chihuahuas, and we proceeded to the elevator.  Terry took some shots while I did a social media update, and he got some good ones.

Terry walked the full perimeter of the elevator in waist high grass, snapping photos all along, and then returned to where I had parked the car across the highway.  I was grabbing a bottle of water out of the car when I looked over and saw Terry kinda patting himself down, looking for a phone that was no longer there.  He had just finished walking through waist high grass for like, thirty minutes straight.

I asked him, “Is your ringer on?  Will your phone make noise if I call it?”  He nodded.

Terry walked back across the highway and I took out my phone and began calling his repeatedly while he listened for it to ring.  He was walking through the grass, and I was watching him from across the highway.  I would dial his phone, his voicemail would pick up after 15 seconds, and I would have to hang up and call back.  And he’s still just over there on the other side of the highway, waving his hands along the tips of the tall grass and prairie flowers like he’s the lost phone mystic or something, about to sense the electromagnetic energy of a lost Sprint slider phone.

Then all of a sudden, he squatted down in a wrestler’s stance and rotated right to left like a radar dish, listening.  I looked down at my phone.  The voicemail picked up and I had to hang up and redial.  I called back and looked across the highway at Terry — he was still crouching in the grass.  The call connected and I saw Terry leap into the grass — he found it near the garage door pictured second photo down.  It’s a shame there wasn’t a reality TV crew around to capture it the way I saw it.

I went back to Ardoch in 2012 and got a few photos of Ardoch without any problems from Taco Bell’s mascot tryout class.

A beautiful, nearly full-page photo of this elevator appears in our book, Ghosts of North Dakota: North Dakota’s ghost towns and abandoned places.

Photos by Terry Hinnenkamp

Mondry Elevator in Ardoch