We first visited Larson, a near-ghost town in Burke County about 85 miles northwest of Minot, on a stormy day in May of 2010. According to the Census that same year, Larson had a population of 12.
As I recently planned a trip to photograph some Saskatchewan places, I decided to stop in Larson before I crossed the border to check on things and see how much had changed in six years. We had been told there was more activity for a time due to the oil boom, and a man camp had been planned for the area too, so I was unsure what I would find when I arrived. Would Larson be bustling with new activity? Would Larson’s previously vacant properties be inhabited with new residents who had repurposed them as housing, as we’ve seen in so many other western North Dakota communities? I wanted to find out.
Continue reading “Six Years Gone in Larson”
Larson is a near-ghost town in Burke County, about 38 miles northwest of Kenmare, or sixty miles northeast of Williston. It was established in 1907 and had a peak population of 114 in 1920. Larson, and the nearby town of Columbus, were named for Columbus Larson, an early postmaster. There’s a good-sized concentration of residents with Scandinavian heritage in the area.
US Census Data for Larson
Total Population by Place
1960 – 62
1970 – 35
1980 – 21
2000 – Does Not Appear
2010 – 12 (CDP)
We arrived in Larson at the same time a storm front was moving in which made for some dramatic skies as a backdrop. The former church was the first place that caught our eye. The kicked-in front door told us vandals had already been there.
Can’t you just imagine classic American automobiles coming and going at this old filling station on the corner of Division Avenue and 2nd Street?
Larson was quite sleepy for decades, went through something of a revitalization during the height of the oil boom, then slowed down again as oil prices dropped. We’re told it is still busier than it was before, though (see comments).
The people in this house had the best TV reception in town.
We didn’t know for sure, but this looked like the old Larson school. Can someone confirm?
We’ve been told Murphy’s Fine Food and Spirits was quite the hangout back in the day.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC