Ghosts of North Dakota

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When we started this project in 2003, there were plenty of places where we arrived too late; we showed up to discover there wasn’t much left to see in many cases. Now, years later, we’ve been sad to see many of the places where there were things to see… vanish just the same. If you didn’t see these places already, a visit now would reveal that you’ve arrived too late. Here are… Read More

Ruso, North Dakota

Ruso, North Dakota is in McLean County and had a reported population of 4 in the 2010 Census. A claim from an unknown source that we’ve seen around the web says Ruso is the smallest incorporated town in North Dakota. Several unincorporated towns are even smaller, like Hanks (pop. 1), and Merricourt, and ghost towns with zero residents.

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.

Ghost towns come in all varieties, and their abandonment happens for a multitude of reasons. Common on the upper plains are railroad ghost towns, places that vanished when the automobile became the norm. There are natural disaster ghost towns, like Mose, ND, and industrial disaster ghost towns like Picher, OK. Silver City, North Dakota is another variety of ghost town — a settlement abandoned at the completion of an infrastructure project which… Read More

Wells homestead, rural Elbowoods

During our trip in July of 2014 we had the opportunity to visit several places that once stood in Elbowoods, North Dakota, a town erased from the map when the Garrison Dam flooded the Missouri River Valley. Not far from the Susan Webb Hall Memorial Congregational Church, this homestead, settled by the Wells family, sits vacant. Diane P. commented about this place on our Facebook page and filled in many of the… 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