Say Goodbye to the Sanger County House

Sanger, North Dakota

We first visited Sanger in 2004 and quickly fell in love with the County House. Someone had told us it was the former post office in Sanger, but we visited again in 2013 and an area resident told us it was known as the County House — the remnant of a boarding house from the horse and wagon days. Back then, it was a two day journey between Minot and Bismarck, and the County House’s location in Sanger was a convenient stopping point for travelers to spend the night. Continue reading “Say Goodbye to the Sanger County House”

Another Visit to Cayuga

Cayuga, North Dakota

In summer of 2014, I stopped in Cayuga on my way back from South Dakota and was shocked at the number of great photo opportunities. I was at the end of a long day and just snapped a few shots, making a mental note to come back. We were thrilled to discover it’s just as beautiful in the fall as it is in the summer.

Continue reading “Another Visit to Cayuga”

Ten Lost North Dakota Places

It’s always a thrill to see enthusiastic residents get involved in saving historically and culturally significant places in their communities, but in North Dakota’s vanishing small towns, the losses frequently outnumber the wins by a significant margin. It’s something we’ve seen time and again in over ten years of photographing North Dakota.

What follows is our personal list, by no means exhaustive, of ten significant North Dakota places that have unfortunately lost their battle with time.

Continue reading “Ten Lost North Dakota Places”

Return to Sherbrooke

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

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.

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

This old Studebaker with suicide doors sits in a field.

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

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).

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

The front porch has collapsed.

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

Inside the garage

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

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.

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

Someone broke a car window a long time ago.

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

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.

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

At first we wondered whether this may have been a courthouse.

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

It appears it was field stone on the bottom with brick on top.

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

This one charred timber told us a fire was responsible for the demise of this place.

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

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.

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

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.

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

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.

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

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.

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

The floor inside the pink house is barely distinguishable from the ground outside.

Sherbrooke, North Dakota

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

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The Old West of Medora, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota is the leading tourist attraction in the state, so perhaps it’s apropos the population is only 112.  This is the biggest, most diverse little town you’ll ever visit — the hotel rooms outnumber the bedrooms in this town, and the streets are chock full — complete with antique and gift shops, saloons, museums, wildlife, scenery… the list is endless.  But don’t expect the typical, there’s not a McDonalds or any other franchise joint for miles. Continue reading “The Old West of Medora, North Dakota”

Waldorf Hotel 1911

I was rummaging through a box of old postcards at an antique store some time ago and I found this old damaged postcard of the Fargo Waldorf Hotel in 1911.  I did a restoration job on the postcard and came up with this.

The Waldorf in Fargo was built in 1899, right across the street from the depot.  For immigrants from the east, this was frequently the first stop in North Dakota for a lot of travelers fresh off the train.  The Waldorf went through several owners over the years, and was also known as the Milner Hotel and the Earle Hotel.  It was destroyed in a fire on December 13th, 1951.

This postcard was mailed on July 6th, 1911 to Miss Bess McCullough in Milton, North Dakota with the following message:

This is a view of the hotel in which I work.  My room is five blocks away — Hal

Waldorf Postcard Restoration
waldorf-back-web

This postcard was a fold-out card, and had the menu from the Waldorf kitchen on the inside.  You can’t get a meal like this at a hotel these days without breaking the bank.

waldorf-1911-menu
waldorf site today

On the site of the former Waldorf Hotel today — a bank which was later converted to an architectural firm’s office.

Original copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

An Old West Hotel in Manfred, North Dakota

Manfred, North Dakota

Manfred, North Dakota is in Wells County, about 30 miles south of Rugby, near the geographical center of North America. Manfred reportedly had 439 citizens in 1920, but that declined to 70 by 1960, and about a dozen when we took these photos in 2006. We actually hadn’t planned on stopping in Manfred, but we drove right by it on the way to Silva and Fillmore, and when we saw the hotel from the highway, we immediately decided to go to Manfred on the return trip. It was worth it. Continue reading “An Old West Hotel in Manfred, North Dakota”