Ghosts of North Dakota

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Berlin, North Dakota

We recently received an interesting batch of photos from Paul Ensign regarding Berlin, North Dakota. It’s a place we first became aware of when Sabrina Hornung sent us some photos back in 2011, and which we visited for ourselves in 2012. Paul’s Great Grandfather was Wilhelm G. Lentz, proprietor of the Berlin Blacksmith & Wagon Shop around 1912, and the photos Paul sent along from his collection are very interesting.

Hanks, North Dakota

Hanks, North Dakota, in Williams County, about 33 miles northwest of Williston, is a lonely outpost on the prairie, just one resident away from being a ghost town. Hanks was the subject of some national media in 2008 when National Geographic published The Emptied Prairie¬†(available at the link only with a subscription) by Charles Bowden, a polarizing piece roundly denounced by many North Dakotans in letters to editors, in the Dickinson Press… 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.

Sims, North Dakota

Sims, North Dakota is a beautiful near-ghost town, founded in what was at the time a somewhat remote spot on the prairie of Dakota Territory, about 35 miles west of Mandan. The Northern Pacific arrived in 1879 and extra boxcars were set aside to be used as businesses and shelter until a proper town could be constructed. The original settlers were attracted to coal that was easily mined here, and several early… Read More

Rival, North Dakota

Years ago, Wylora Christianson sent us a photo of a grain elevator, the only remaining structure from a town that never was: Rival, North Dakota. She was under the impression that the elevator was to be torn down soon, so she felt compelled to photograph it. The Rival Elevator is so named because, as a Soo Line townsite, it was intended to rival the nearby Great Northern Railroad town of Lignite, North… Read More

Susan Webb Hall Memorial Congregational Church

Officially, this church is now known as Susan Webb Hall Memorial Congregational Church. It once served Elbowoods, North Dakota, a town now-submerged under Lake Sakakawea, as part of the Fort Berthold Indian Mission which dates back to the 1870s. Update: This church was reportedly burned by an arsonist in 2019.

Unfortunately, we have to do a post like this from time to time. As the years pass, many of the places we’ve photographed also pass… into history. Whether it be the wrecking ball, weathering, or disaster, many of the places we’ve photographed since 2003 are now gone. We documented some of the losses in 10 Lost North Dakota Places and 10 More Lost North Dakota Places, now, unfortunately, here are 8 More… Read More

In our quest to find lonely, out-of-the-way places to photograph, we often get recommendations from people, and many times, the coordinates of those places are just a search away. However, we’ll occasionally run across the name of a place, and when we enter the name into mapping software, the search turns up zero results. Maybe it was an “unofficial” townsite, never incorporated, and there’s no record of it… Here’s one way to… Read More

Merricourt, North Dakota

Merricourt is a very remote town in Dickey County, about fifty miles south of Jamestown. There are fewer than a handful of residents in Merricourt — just one family remains in this near-ghost town.¬†We didn’t intend to visit Merricourt when we went on an adventure in October of 2014, but some last minute route changes took us right through town, so we stopped to snap a few shots, nine years after our… Read More

Freda, North Dakota

Freda, North Dakota is a true ghost town in Grant County about 35 miles southwest of Bismarck.  Freda started out as a Milwaukee Railroad town, and once had a population  of 50 plus its own bank.