Ghosts of North Dakota

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Mighty rivers require mighty bridges and several impressive examples have spanned the North Dakota stretch of the Missouri River.  The river valley near the former town of Sanish has been home to several.  First, the Verendrye Bridge, a steel truss bridge completed in 1927, crossed the Missouri at Sanish.  In 1934, the first bridge to be known as Four Bears Bridge was built downstream near the town of Elbowoods.  They served North… Read More

Sanish, North Dakota, 1926

Old Sanish, North Dakota came to an end in 1953, when the river valley it occupied for over half a century became the bottom of North Dakota’s newest reservoir, Lake Sakakawea. Sanish’s residents left for higher ground, as did the residents of other low-lying towns like Van Hook and Elbowoods.

Straubville, North Dakota

Sometimes we photograph a place and find out years later that it’s gone, sometimes the place is gone by the time we get there.  But the one constant is that the list of places is growing all the time. Here’s another list of ten more significant North Dakota places that have unfortunately lost their battle with time. When you’re done with this one, check out 10 Lost North Dakota Places, and 8 More Lost… Read More

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… Read More

One of the worst crimes in state history occurred April 22, 1920 on a farm just north of Turtle Lake. It was a gray, overcast day and light rain had been falling. Local resident John Kraft noticed the neighbors, the Jacob Wolf family, had left their laundry on the clothesline overnight and their horses untended. He went to investigate and stumbled into what might be the most horrific crime scene in North… Read More

Fargo Fire 1893

June 7th, 1893 was a typical Wednesday in Fargo, sunny but windy.  Fargo’s six thousand residents were going about their lives, carrying out their business from mostly wooden storefronts and traveling from place to place in horse drawn carriages and wagons.

Blanchard is a small town in Traill county about a half hour north of Fargo.  Our Facebook fans warned us that there wasn’t much of a historic nature left to photograph, and they were right.  Linda Grotberg commented: “Blanchard, is another reason why your “ghost project” is so important! The two churches, Seim’s Store, Wally’s garage, Blanchard #1 (although the school bld is still there used as a house) Grandma Hazel’s house,… Read More

This is the Standing Rock Hill Historic Site, south of Kathryn and west of Enderlin, just up the hill from Little Yellowstone Park, right off Highway 46.  It is also just a short drive from Jensen Cabin at Wadeson Park.  Standing Rock Hill Historic Site consists of four Native American burial mounds, the largest of which is marked with the small standing rock shown below. There is a fairly serious grade up a minimally… Read More

This cabin was built in 1878 by Norwegian immigrant Carl Bjerke Jensen, made from hand-hewn oak.  The cabin and the land were donated to the State Historical Society by the Wadeson family in 1957.  This cabin was in pretty bad shape until it was restored in 1981. I stumbled upon this place while taking a drive near Kathryn. This is the Wadeson Park Spillway, right across the road from the Jensen Cabin. Photos by… Read More

North Dakota has dozens of small towns approaching ghost town status. As the population declines, they tend to go through a transition period during which the population fluctuates. Aging residents pass away and young people go off to college. It’s not uncommon for a town to be abandoned, only to be re-inhabited for a time–drawing in those who are attracted to the solitude and the dirt cheap cost of living. Heaton is… Read More