If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know “ghosts” is a metaphor that refers to the ghosts of our past, and most of the time, that manifests itself here in the form of photos of our vanishing places. Sometimes though, we run across a story so interesting, a piece of forgotten history or local lore so fascinating, that we feel compelled to write about it. This is one of those instances
Tag Ramsey County
All That Remains of Grand Harbor
This school house still stands, right off Highway 2, between Devils Lake and Rugby. If you make that drive, you’ll see it just north of the highway. To our knowledge, it is the only remaining original structure from the town that once was Grand Harbor, ND
Vintage Views of Devils Lake
We’ve been collecting postcards and vintage photos for years with the intention of doing a book one day. Today, I discovered a couple postcards depicting vintage views of Devils Lake, and thought we should share these on the site. The quality of the first postcard was so good, we were able to zoom and bring out some interesting details.Continue reading “Vintage Views of Devils Lake”
The Flooding of Grahams Island
Captain Duncan Graham was a Scotsman who came to North Dakota after getting started as a fur trader for Hudson’s Bay Company. Graham believed there was profit to be made in the trading business, and he founded a trading post on the island that now bears his name. Though the date is in dispute, Graham is believed to have inhabited the island around 1810 to 1817; far earlier than the flood of homesteaders to come six decades later. Continue reading “The Flooding of Grahams Island”
It is looking like an early spring this year, and you need no more evidence than these photos, taken on March 15th, 2015, in south central North Dakota.Continue reading “An Early Spring”
An Early Spring
Understanding the Rise of Devils Lake
The rise of Devils Lake has been a strong contributing factor to the abandonment happening in towns like Church’s Ferry and Minnewaukan, but also on hundreds of individual farms and properties all around the lake. We’ve shown you some views of the inundation in the past, including the Harmon home and a satellite view of the lake. Continue reading “Understanding the Rise of Devils Lake”
There is a concentration of vanishing places in the lands surrounding Devils Lake — places like Hamar, Grand Harbor, and the remains of a ski jump. In the last few decades, Devils Lake has risen steadily and has driven even more people from their homes and farms, and inundated numerous roads and highways. Continue reading “The Rise of Devils Lake”
The Rise of Devils Lake
Devils Lake Rises
Most North Dakotans know what has been going on in Devils Lake over the last few decades. A steady rise of water levels on the lake has inundated towns like Church’s Ferry and Minnewaukan, plus numerous farms, homes, and businesses. Without a natural outlet, the lake has continued to rise and has been the subject of contentious political battles. One of Terry’s best photos features a home which was overtaken by the ever-expanding shoreline of Devils Lake.Continue reading “Devils Lake Rises”
Bartlett is about twenty miles east of Devils Lake and is about as close as you can get to ghost town without actually being totally abandoned… there is perhaps one occupied property, and we saw the remains of several crumbling homes. The former town site is quickly getting overrun by nature — the roads are shaded even on a bright day like this one. As we drove into town, untrimmed branches reached into the road to greet us, nearly touching the sides of the car.
The Andreas Historical Atlas of Dakota (pre-statehood), published in 1884, describes Bartlett like this:
This place, located near the east line of the county, on Section 25, Town 153, Range 61 was commenced in the fall of 1882, upon the completion of the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway to that point, and for a number of months had a wonderful growth and business, the population, at its maximum, reaching 1,000. there were 250 buildings in the place, and the people had high hopes that its boom would be a permanent one. But the laying out of Lakota, in Nelson County, four miles east of Bartlett, and the establishment of the county seat at the new town, resulted in the removal of the bulk of its business to Lakota and the city of Devils Lake. One hotel building was taken down and removed to West End, in Benson County, where it was metamorphosed into a number of cottages. There remains at Bartlett two hotels, several stores, and altogether some twenty five or thirty buildings.
A population of over one thousand in 1884 had become just 120 residents by 1910.
US Census Data for Bartlett
Total Population by Place
1910 – 120
1920 – 98
1930 – 67
1940 – 78
1950 – 51
1960 – 39
1970 – 19
1980 – Delisted
The railroad tracks just outside of Bartlett were the site of a terrible railroad accident in April, 1907. The Great Northern Oriental Limited derailed just after 1am, rolled down an embankment, and caught fire when a gas tank exploded, an explosion so loud it was heard in Lakota, four miles away. Three died, including mail clerk Harry Jones who was killed instantly when the car he was riding in was telescoped by another, and an unknown Greek laborer who burned to death, trapped in the wreckage.
There were reports that the tracks had been tampered-with, a suspicion perhaps bolstered by a derailment that had happened less than a year prior, on the same stretch of track, just 100 yards away.
When you’re the only resident left in town, there’s nobody around to object when you rename N. 24th Street to Bartlett Rd. with a paint brush.
This part of the state in the Ramsey/Nelson/Grand Forks County area has a couple cool little places to visit, like Whitman, Mapes, and Niagara.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp
Bartlett… Almost Gone
Webster is in Ramsey County, just north of Devils Lake. Someone has done a fantastic job of preserving the former Webster School. We couldn’t tell what it’s used for today, but someone told us it’s occasionally used as a hunting lodge, and it looks fantastic. We’ve taken the liberty of removing the power lines which ran through the foreground of this picture so you can appreciate the structure more fully.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC