Ghosts of North Dakota


Driscoll Zion Lutheran Church

It’s always amazing when you run across a place like this rural Driscoll Church… like they just left yesterday. We were on our way to visit Arena, North Dakota in September, 2016, when we drove right past this place and decided to stop for a visit. Zion Lutheran Church is in Burleigh County, Harriet-Lein Township, and is described as “rural Driscoll.” In reality, it is about ten miles north of Driscoll, or… Read More

Arena, North Dakota

We first visited Arena, North Dakota, a ghost town in Burleigh County, about 35 miles northeast of Bismarck, in 2004, and we’ve been keeping our eyes on it ever since, with the assistance of some kindred spirit adventurers who check-in from time to time to let us know what’s happening.

In 1883, Bismarck had only been “Bismarck” for ten years, having existed first as a tiny frontier settlement called Missouri Crossing, then as Edwinton, until 1873. Bismarck assumed an important place in the history of the American west when it supplanted Yankton as the capital of Dakota Territory in 1883. Settlers were soon streaming in.

Bismarck Fire 1898

Like Fargo in 1893 and Chicago in 1871, Bismarck fell victim to a massive wind-whipped fire on August 8th, 1898. As was the case with so many pioneer-era cities around the nation, Bismarck in 1898 was a city constructed largely of wood. When coupled with a frequently unrelenting prairie wind, any unusual dry spell created extraordinarily dangerous conditions.