We’ve previously posted about Gingras Trading Post, which holds a share of the claim to “the oldest standing structure in North Dakota,” dating back to the days of the fur trade, before the homesteading era brought European settlers en masse.
That place, Gingras Trading Post, is reportedly the oldest standing structure in the state *still on its original foundation. This place, Kittson Trading Post, is reportedly older by a smidge, but it was moved to this location in Walhalla at a later date. The inscription on the monument tells the rest of the story.
Fairview Lift Bridge is a place we’ve visited before, but the last time we were there, the sky was full of smoke from wildfires, so we promised ourselves we would go back again when we got another chance, and that chance came in July, 2017. We had just learned that the adjoining Cartwright Tunnel, the only railroad tunnel in the state of North Dakota, was in danger of implosion if funding couldn’t be raised for a restoration, so that became another excuse to visit this rusty beauty spanning the Yellowstone River.
The last time we visited Chaseley, North Dakota, was in June of 2005, and it was a spur of the moment stop that we hadn’t planned. We took a few photos but didn’t run into anybody wandering about, so we moved along to the next stop without learning much about this tiny town in Wells County, right in the middle of North Dakota.
On the way home from a trip to western North Dakota in July of 2017, however, we decided to make another stop in Chaseley, and we’re glad we did, because we got to meet a couple Chaseley residents and learn a lot more about this slowly vanishing place.
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know “ghosts” is a metaphor that refers to the ghosts of our past, and most of the time, that manifests itself here in the form of photos of our vanishing places. Sometimes though, we run across a story so interesting, a piece of forgotten history or local lore so fascinating, that we feel compelled to write about it. This is one of those instances
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.
This is one of two rural schools we photographed in Clear Lake Township, and we’ve seen it referenced simply as Clear Lake School. Kathy Wilner emailed us to say she’s been documenting one-room schools for the North Dakota Historical Society and had the following comments:
It was [originally] located on the south side of a body of water called Long Alkaline Lake, straight north of Highway 36 on 31st Ave SE… This would be east of Robinson. It was moved from North Merkel Township in northern Kidder County. The person I visited with told me it was called Barton #8 and he attended 8 years of school there.
Today, it rests all alone in the middle of a farmer’s field, about four miles west of Robinson in Kidder County, right off County Road 36.
Photos by Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC