The events of 1930 could be considered a textbook example of “hard times” anywhere in America. The stock market crashed near the end of 1929 and ushered-in the Great Depression. Unemployment skyrocketed along with the price of imported goods. North Dakota and other rural states endured unprecedented drought that would eventually lead to the Dust Bowl. In the midst of these events, it wasn’t uncommon for families to pack up as many of their belongings as they could carry and move to greener pastures, leaving their homes and farms behind. Even so, the residents of the tiny community of Schafer, North Dakota and nearby Watford City found it odd when, in the spring of 1930, the six members of the Haven family stopped showing up in town.Continue reading “Schafer Jail, a Mass Murderer, and a Vigilante Lynch Mob”
Niagara, North Dakota: Former Home of a Serial Killer
Niagara, North Dakota is just off US Highway 2, not quite forty miles west of Grand Forks. It was founded in 1882 by settlers from Niagara County, New York. According to the 2010 Census, Niagara has 53 residents.Continue reading “Niagara, North Dakota: Former Home of a Serial Killer”
Leith, North Dakota After the Turmoil
We first visited Leith, North Dakota, in Grant County, about fifty miles southwest of Mandan, in May of 2007. We had heard that it was a shrinking rural community with a few abandoned places to photograph, and we found that to be true, but we could not have known that Leith would become a place of conflict just a few years later when a white supremacist would move-in and thrust Leith into a national spotlight. Continue reading “Leith, North Dakota After the Turmoil”
We visited Balfour in November of 2014, nine years after our first visit, to get some photos of all the things we missed the first time. We actually tried to revisit Balfour in 2012, but a road construction crew had traffic at a complete stop on Highway 52, complicating our travel schedule, and we decided to wait until another time, so it was nice to finally get back there. Continue reading “Back to Balfour”
Back to Balfour
Kathryn is a beautiful little town in Barnes county, nestled perfectly into the landscape of the Sheyenne River Valley. It is more of a small town than a near-ghost town with a population of 57, but with an abundance of abandoned places and other photo opportunities.
There’s a nice little bar in Kathryn and one or two more businesses, plus some nicely maintained homes. If you decide to drive the Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway, Kathryn is the perfect non-touristy place to stop in for a beer.
The former bank.
If you drive the Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway between Valley City and Kathryn, North Dakota, you’ll be treated to a roadside panorama as incredible as nearly any in the state. It is beautiful.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp
Kathryn, North Dakota: Ripped from a Western Movie
Pingree is a small town in Stutsman County, northwest of Jamestown. According to the 2010 Census, Pingree is home to 60 residents. Pingree was founded in 1881 and reached a peak population of 268 residents in 1920.
We didn’t have plans to visit Pingree, but we saw a few photo opportunities from the highway and decided to stop. On the day we visited, several local residents were busy towing cars from the townsite. There is a sizable auto repair/salvage operation in Pingree.
This church is beautifully well-kept and still in use.
The former Pingree depot and gazebo.
Relics of Pingree’s railroad heritage are prominently displayed in town.
Inside the caboose.
The former Pingree Jail — two cells.
Photos by Troy and Rat, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Inhabited as of 5-07
Marmarth, ND is a Badlands town in Slope County in the extreme southwest corner of the state.
Marmarth is one of the more populous towns we’ve photographed with 130 people according to the 2010 Census, but minimum conveniences. Marmarth has lost 190 residents since 1960.
There’s an exhilarating old west ambience in this part of the state… Montana is only five miles west and it’s just a three hour drive to Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. The landscape is a harder, chalkier badland than the more pastoral lands to the east and radio signals sometimes elude the car radio as the highway winds past the occasional butte. There’s a gas station, a bar/steakhouse (with excellent food), and a railroad bunkhouse where you can rent a room with a double bed for $15 per night. At the time we visited, we were told they had dial-up internet in Marmarth, and satellite was the only way to get TV programming.
The most prominent abandoned structure in Marmarth is Barber Auditorium. It’s actually two buildings, Barber Auditorium and First National Bank of Marmarth.
The train depot has been cut in two pieces and relocated to a stretch of grass along the highway as you enter from the east.
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The 1st National Bank and Barber Auditorium in downtown Marmarth, built in 1918.
In the basement of Barber auditorium.
The red velvet theater seats still wait in the murky black.
The staircase on the main floor of the auditorium.
A former storefront, now only storage.
The former Mystic Theatre
These were the first two jail cells ever installed in Marmarth.
The Pastime Bar has cold drinks, and the food in the steakhouse at the rear is excellent.
One former filling station.
Another former filling station.
The depot has been moved.
It now rests on blocks alongside the road in downtown Marmarth.
A boarded-up school.
We rented rooms at this former railroad bunkhouse for $15 bucks a night.
See more photos of Marmarth here.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC