Blabon: Ten Years Later

Blabon, North Dakota

In October of 2003, we visited Blabon, North Dakota, a tiny near-ghost town in Steele County with a handful of residents, and it was the first stop on what would become a ten-year exploration of North Dakota’s ghost towns and abandoned places.  In 2013, we returned to Blabon after ten years to snap some photos and reflect on one of the stories sent to us by a very early fan of our website.

Blabon, North Dakota

Where there was once a small town with two grain elevators, a hotel, bank, bar, post office, and 900 residents, there are now only a handful of structures, a resident or three, and this lonely old collapsing home. Not even the train tracks remain. We’re not positive, but the home shown above appears to be the oldest, and perhaps the only remaining original structure in Blabon.  The roof has deteriorated considerably over the last decade.

Blabon, North Dakota

We actually have been to Blabon twice before, the last time in 2004.  Since then, the home shown above has been offered for sale on Craigslist several times.  We’re not sure if it ever sold — it is in really poor condition.

Blabon, North Dakota

Storm clouds on the horizon, as seen from the Blabon Cemetery. We noticed a fifth-wheel camper parked nearby which appeared to be lived-in and there appeared to be a little more life in Blabon than when we last visited.  We didn’t see anybody out and about, but it looks like Blabon might have gained a few residents.

Blabon, North Dakota

Ghosts of North Dakota and Churches of the High Plains hardcover coffee table books make a unique Christmas gift. Blabon is featured in Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 3.

Blabon, North Dakota

Shortly after we founded the Ghosts of North Dakota website in early-2004, we received email from a gentleman in Norway named Øyvind Sætrevik whose great grandparents came to America around 1900 for a shot at the American dream.  In a series of emails (which have unfortunately been lost) he told us the story of his great grandparents losing a young child to illness, and eventually they gave up on their American endeavor and returned to Norway, leaving behind their child’s grave in Blabon as the only indication they ever came to America.

Blabon, North Dakota

We searched the headstones in the cemetery for an obvious match to the circumstances, but nothing seemed obvious. If Mr. Sætrevik is reading this, please contact us.

Blabon, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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Kongsberg, ND

Kongsberg, North Dakota is a tiny near-ghost town in McHenry County, just a few miles east of another near-ghost town, Ruso.  Originally dubbed Olivia, the name changed to Kongsberg in 1916.  The population of Kongsberg never exceeded 50.  Kongsberg’s church celebrated their 100th anniversary on July 1st, 2012.

This was actually the second town in North Dakota named Kongsberg.  The first Kongsberg was near Abercrombie, but their Post Office closed in 1905.

If you know anything about Kongsberg’s present status… number of full-time residents, the nature of the buildings shown etc… please comment below. Thanks to R. David Adams for contributing these photos.

The former Kongsberg State Bank

The former Kongsberg State Bank

Kongsberg, ND

Kongsberg, ND

Kongsberg, ND

Kongsberg, ND

Kongsberg, ND

St. John Lutheran Church

St. John Lutheran Church

St. John Lutheran Cemetery

St. John Lutheran Cemetery

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Alfred, ND

Alfred is a near-ghost town in Lamoure county, southwest of Jamestown.  Alfred is unincorporated, hence official population figures are hard to come by, but there appear to be perhaps ten permanent residents in the actual town site with more in the surrounding rural area.  Alfred’s reported peak population was 150 in 1930.

Alfred has a well-maintained cemetery and a Seventh Day Adventist Church which was in session the day of our visit.  There were approximately ten vehicles parked outside, so there is plenty of activity for such a small town.  As we’ve seen in other towns like Alfred, the church will quite likely survive long after the residents are gone.

The northeast portion of Alfred is largely abandoned structures, near the lake and the former rail line (now gone).  The rest of the town is quite nice.  Alfred was founded by Englishman Richard Sykes, who founded five towns in North Dakota — Sykeston, Bowdon, Edgeley, Chaseley, and Alfred.

There are actually three structures in this photograph. On the right is a garage, in the center is some kind of small, one-room structure, and hidden in the trees on the left is a full-size home. Interior shots are below.

This is the interior of the one-room structure shown above.

This is the entryway of the home hidden in the trees.

What would have been the living room at one time…

This is the former kitchen and dining room. There was a small hole in the floor, and the you could see through to the basement. The integrity of the floor is a little suspect.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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Vanished: Pelto, North Dakota

Pelto, North Dakota

Pelto, North Dakota is a town that no longer exists, except in the memory of those who grew up here. Located in Nelson County, between Grand Forks and Devils Lake, Pelto is an example of a settlement that has vanished with the railroad transportation culture that birthed it.

Pelto, North Dakota
Former site of Pelto. Image/Google Earth

In the era of the steam locomotive, there was a town every eight miles along the track, where engines could stop and refill their water tanks. Today, the tracks still pass just north of the site of Pelto, and there’s a nearby farm that looks abandoned, but nearly everything else has vanished.

Nathan Mastrud contributed these photos of Pelto with the following comments:

Pelto is about 42 miles east of Devils lake.  The only thing that really remains of the town is a Pelto tombstone. The fields that surround Pelto are slowing filling with water, abandoned farmsites & pelicans. The road to Pelto is Closed and has water up to the shoulder for most of the trip.

Pelto, North Dakota

The information on the memorial reads:

Pelto Merc Store-Closed 1957

Enterprise Consolidated School-Consolidated 1915-Closed 1969

Pelto Hall

Finnish Lutheran Church Established 1899

Pelto, North Dakota

A single metal milk container remains standing.

Pelto, North Dakota

There are only a few skeletons of the foundations buried in deep prairie grass with a couple automobile parts dumped in the swamp.

Pelto, North Dakota

Photos by Nathan Mastrud and Punchgut Studio

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Heaton – Six Years Later

We returned to Heaton, in Wells County, nearly six years after our first trip in 2004, to find things had changed noticeably.

This is an animation showing the former Heaton Bank and the Hawks of Heaton Gift Shop (which we believe may have been the Post Office at one time as well).  As you can see, sometime between 2004 and 2010, the structures disappeared.  We don’t know what happened to them.  Several homes which used to stand in Heaton are gone now as well.

Silva, North Dakota

Silva, North Dakota

Pierce County
Inhabited as of 4/06

Silva was founded in 1912 as a Soo Line Railroad settlement. It reportedly reached a peak population of 125 in 1920 and has been on the decline ever since.

Silva’s most famous former resident would be Julius Thompson who at one time was the world’s tallest man at eight feet, seven inches. Thompson died in 1955.

In the late nineties, North Dakota State University did a study on statewide population decline and featured photos of Silva on the cover of the finished report. Unfortunately, the buildings no longer stand as they were burned due to infestation.

Present-day Silva appears to be home to a dozen or so residents, and perhaps 4 to 6 abandoned structures. The church, sans bell tower, stands alone on the east edge of town, with most of the remaining structures on the other side of the road leading into town.

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Silva, North Dakota

Silva, North Dakota

Silva, North Dakota

Silva, North Dakota

The vault is the only remnant of the bank today.

Silva, North Dakota

Silva, North Dakota

Order Book Two

Silva, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

See also: More from Silva, North Dakota

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An Abandoned Farm near Lucca, North Dakota

Old Lucca, North Dakota

Lucca, North Dakota was founded in 1891 as a Soo Line railroad town, about a mile south of the present town site, and just north of a ghost town known as Binghamton, of which nothing remains today. Lucca was moved north, to be near the Soo Line/Northern Pacific Railroad junction, in the southeast corner of Barnes County, in 1900.

Old Lucca, ND

We visited in 2005 and found present-day Lucca looks a lot like a salvage yard these days, with only one or two abandoned buildings, and they were in the middle of some very elaborately posted private property. It was pretty hard to get any good pictures, so we chose to photograph this abandoned farm just north of town.

Old Lucca, ND

Whomever occupied this farm left a very long time ago.

Old Lucca, ND

Old Lucca, ND

Old Lucca, ND

Old Lucca, ND

There were crumbling outbuildings and fieldstone walls in various states of decay on this old farmstead.

Old Lucca, ND

Old Lucca, ND

Old Lucca, ND

Old Lucca, ND

Old Lucca, ND

These photos of the cemetery are from the present-day Lucca townsite.

Old Lucca, ND

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Blabon, ND

Steele County
Inhabited as of 10/04

Blabon, ND is in Steele County, not far from another ghost town on this site, Sherbrooke, ND. Blabon is the first ghost town we ever investigated. It is presently inhabited by approximately 8 to 12 people. As many as three houses were clearly occupied and one trailer home had a satellite dish on the side.

Blabon was founded in 1896, named for Joseph Ward Blabon, a Great Northern Railroad official who visited the townsite in 1897.

We received an email from Norway that reads as follows:

Sending you some pictures of Blabon as it was about 1900. My great grandparents did own/run a grocery store/pool saloon. The moved back to Norway about 1915 i think. Nice site you’ve got here 🙂

Greetings from Norway!
Øyvind Sætrevik

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