Defining what exactly constitutes a “ghost town” can sometimes be tricky. In our years of exploring North Dakota’s abandoned places, we’ve often encountered former towns where the townsite itself is empty, but there’s a farm about half a mile down the road. Sometimes a former town like Sims, North Dakota has an active church, but nobody actually lives on the town site. And still other times, we will hear objections from people who feel as though we’ve misrepresented their town, or somehow labeled it a ghost town because it appears on this website, in which case we clarify that this site is about ghost towns and abandoned places, like the former First National Bank and Barber Auditorium in Marmarth, North Dakota, a town with a population numbering more than a hundred.Continue reading “20 True Ghost Towns: Population Zero”
Sherbrooke, North Dakota is in Steele County and it is a true ghost town with no population. Sherbrooke was the first totally abandoned town we ever visited back in 2003, at a time when we didn’t even have proper cameras — we just videotaped a walkthrough and then took screen capture photos. A decade later, nature has continued unwaveringly to reclaim this place.
When we moved south of the main road through Sherbrooke, we realized we had not paid close enough attention to the ruins there when we visited a decade ago. A large building once stood there, and today the field stone foundation remains with some intriguing artifacts within. We’ll detail that in the captions below.
This old Studebaker with suicide doors sits in a field.
This is the former home of Arlene Carpenter and it was the last occupied home in Sherbrooke until it was abandoned sometime in the 1980s — EDIT: perhaps into the nineties (see comments below).
The front porch has collapsed.
Inside the garage
If you’ve looked at many of the galleries on this site, you know we occasionally give reminders on the real danger of walking around in abandoned townsites, and this is a prime example. This well is deep, and full of water — and it’s about a thirty foot drop before you hit the water. If you fell in this headfirst, you would drown before anybody could get you out. Someone thoughtfully threw an old gate over the opening.
Someone broke a car window a long time ago.
Sherbrooke was once the county seat of Steele County before having it snatched away by business people who saw fit to move the seat somewhere more significant — Sherbrooke had neither a railroad or a navigable river. Sherbrooke’s residents fought it all the way to the North Dakota Supreme Court, but eventually lost, and the county seat was moved to Finley (also home to an abandoned Air Force Station). However, the ruins of this building on the south side of the road seem to be something of some importance, a building representative of a place that was once an important seat of government in the 1880s and 90s.
At first we wondered whether this may have been a courthouse.
It appears it was field stone on the bottom with brick on top.
This one charred timber told us a fire was responsible for the demise of this place.
Terry reminded me of the story of the Sherbrooke House Hotel which once stood in Sherbrooke, a place where President McKinley stayed in 1896 during a trip to visit North Dakota. So when Terry spotted the bed frames shown above in the ruins of this building, we couldn’t help but wonder if this was the ruins of the Sherbrooke House Hotel.
As we were walking around in these ruins, whoa, another open hole in the ground. It looked like a sewer main that once served whatever structure was here. One more hazard that could catch you off guard and cause you to break an ankle or tweak a knee. If you choose this as a hobby, please be careful.
This pink home is the only other structure still standing in Sherbooke, and it might be the most completely overrun home of any we’ve seen. Trees and weeds and vines have completely covered and infiltrated this place. We had to do some pretty extensive ducking of dense brush to get close enough for photos.
Exploring this lot in Sherbrooke is a little like a nightmare where you’re in a forest and the branches continually reach out for you, tugging at your clothes, threatening to sweep you away in an instant. The silence and remote location juxtaposed with images like the playhouse above with decorative curtains hanging in the window combine to create an eerie feeling in Sherbrooke. Terry and I both felt it.
The floor inside the pink house is barely distinguishable from the ground outside.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC