Wellsburg is a small town in Wells County, both of which are named for the Edward P. Wells, a former legislator.  It was founded in 1910 and harbored a population of 150 in 1920.  According to Douglas Wick’s North Dakota Place Names, the population had dropped to 14 by by 1981.  Scenic Dakotas has a Wellsburg gallery too.

These photos were contributed by R. David Adams.  His captions are included below.

Only a few abandoned houses, most were lived in however many lots with no house left at all.

School now a house with a garage. nice!

Classic early turn of the century building in great shape due in part to occasional painting and fixing and TIN! I would have so much fun with this building were it mine!

Photos by R. David Adams
Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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Wellsburg, ND

Emrick, North Dakota is a tiny town in Wells County, about half way between Carrington and Harvey.  Emrick was originally named Doland, but the name was changed to avoid confusion with a town in South Dakota.  Emrick never held more than 25 people.

R. David Adams shared these photos of Emrick, and his captions accompany the photos.

Welcome to Emrick. The Main street is in the back where the buildings are lined up.

Two Abandoned garages with no houses.

What’s left of a business of some kind.

one of two occupied houses at the end of main Street

A park was dedicated here in 1968 for the Shriners.  Editor’s Note:  The Postmaster in 1906 was a gentleman named Fred Clough.  Perhaps someone can enlighten us on the relationship to “Cy.”

Full view of the front o the store. The sun has been unkind to the drapes!
Part of the main store. I talked to a lady who grew up here and said this was on very well stocked store.
Looking down the main street
Still items waiting to be sold on the shelves!
Train Tracks thru town. Had several elevators at one time as well as a water tower and coal/wood loads for the steam trains! Very new building is a big trucking loading/unloading facility!


Photos by R David Adams
Original Content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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Emrick, ND

Sheyenne River Academy opened its doors on this site north of Harvey in 1904 and was in operation until the end of the 1976 school year.  It was a Seventh Day Adventist secondary school.  The new location known as Dakota Adventist Academy opened in 1977 near Bismarck.


Sheyenne River Academy

The present owner of the property is using the grounds and the buildings for horses and other livestock.  We knocked on a few doors at a nearby home in an attempt to get permission to go inside, but we were not able to find anyone around.  So we snapped a few quick photos and left, hoping to return some time in the future when we can get permission.

There are four buildings in the academy facility, but you can barely see it from the road. The main gate is fenced and no longer used.

Sheyenne River Academy

Someone has knocked out a window just to the left of the entrance to make it possible to park a vehicle inside the building.

Sheyenne River Academy

Do you have our hardcover photo book, Churches of the High Plains?

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy has a Facebook page here, and you can read more about the history of the academy here.

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Note the dirt ramp on the front steps.

Sheyenne River Academy

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

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Sheyenne River Academy

Manfred: Six Years Later

Manfred is a near-ghost town just off Highway 52 between Minot and Jamestown.  We visited Manfred previously in 2006, and decided to stop again for an overdue visit on our way to north central North Dakota.

Manfred is home to about five residents these days, and several of them are doing a fantastic job at buying up properties and securing/restoring them.  The Johnson Hotel was on the brink when we visited in 2006, but has since been repainted.  In addition, there was an old school in Manfred which we chose not to photograph last time because it looked as though someone had been living in it.  It is now undergoing a thorough cleaning, and the residents of Manfred have plans to restore the portico over the front stairs when they can raise the funds to do so. Continue reading “Manfred: Six Years Later”

The Last Resident of Heaton

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 one of those towns.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Brian Miller, the sole remaining resident of Heaton. We found him on the tractor, working well past sundown on a chilly November evening.

Only twenty five years old, Miller was raised on a farm about a half mile outside of town. As a child, Miller and his friends used to ride their bikes into town to get a can of pop and a candy bar at the local store. “There used to be an old bank there,” Miller says. “We’d sit on the steps and eat our candy bars.”  The store closed in 2003.  Miller says the Post Office closed when he was quite young, but he remembers going into Heaton early one morning to get their baby chickens off the mail truck. “We were excited about that,” he says.

There were perhaps fifteen residents in town in those days, enough to justify a trip to town on Halloween. “I remember we used go there and trick or treat when I was real young, too,” Miller says. There were two elevators, a lumber yard, a post office, a bank, and a church in Heaton back then.

But over the years, the population steadily declined. “Everybody that was there was getting older,” he says. “People passed away. Some just moved.” A tornado that wiped out some of the structures contributed to the decline.

The owner of the gas station went into the nursing home and then passed away some time later. Miller’s father bought the place and turned it into a meat processing facility. “That’s going pretty good for us,” he said.

In 2009, he bought a house and moved it to a vacant lot in the center of town. “I got in there about January of 2010,” he said.  He wasn’t the only resident at that time, however. “When I moved in, there was another family living in town and they had three kids,” he said. They split up and moved out of town last summer, leaving Miller and his dog as the only remaining inhabitants. Miller’s closest neighbors are now an elderly couple who live just west of town.

When asked if he gets lonely, Miller said “Yeah, I guess. I grew up on the farm and I’m pretty self-sufficient. I enjoy the freedom of that.” Miller had planned on returning when he finished college, and had hoped to find a farm to buy. But when he bought his house, he was attracted to the Heaton lot by the availability of water and electricity.  “I enjoy the freedom,” he says. “You can go and do what you want, but I guess it does get a little lonely.”

A farmer by trade, Miller works for a local rancher and maintains his own cows and chickens. Like any other farmer, Miller starts his day by feeding his animals, then spends most of the day at work. “You never know how many hours a day you’re gonna have to work,” he says. “During the busy times it’s morning ’til dark pretty much.” In his free time, Miller goes hunting and fishing.

In addition to water and electric, Heaton even has fiberoptic internet service. Last summer, Daktel installed it for all the farms in the area, Miller said. “Every farm in our area has it too, so we’re livin’ pretty good.” Miller has to provide his own heat in the winter via a propane furnace.

Despite the modern amenities, living in a ghost town is not without challenges. Although the mail comes via rural mail delivery, Miller drives to Jamestown or Bismarck about once a month for groceries. He visits the grocery store in Carrington, about twenty five miles away, for more immediate needs. The small town of Bowdon about eight miles away is a frequent stop as well. “They have a credit card gas pump there, and a little grocery store too,” Miller says.

We noticed on our last trip to Heaton that things had changed quite a bit in the six years since our previous visit–many structures were gone. Miller says many of the properties were forfeited to the county due to unpaid property taxes, and then Speedwell township took over and razed many of the properties due to health hazards.  And the process of ‘cleanup’ will continue. “They plan on burning a couple of the old buildings down this winter,” he said.

Miller says the property owner of several lots in Heaton is a Montana resident who only occasionally comes to town.  “He was back here about a month ago,” Miller says, “And he was coming to get some of his stuff out of these old houses, and he said a bunch of stuff was missing. And I said, the front door’s been open on the place, and there’s been a lot of people coming through and going through these places. It’s kinda like, what do you expect?”

Although proud to be a resident of Heaton, Miller doesn’t plan on spending the rest of his life there. “I’d still like to get out on a real farm,” he said. He expects to end up on his parents’ farm or his grandmother’s farm, which is just a couple of miles from Heaton.

I asked Miller if he plans to leave Heaton empty when the time comes. “I’d hope… I plan on selling my house, I mean if I could leave it there and sell it or if I have to sell it and have it moved, either way.” I asked him what are the chances he could sell his house to someone knowing they would be the only residents of Heaton. “You’d be surprised, I think. It would be pretty easy to sell it.” What does a house sell for in Heaton? Miller estimates he could get twenty thousand for his. And if he can’t sell it, he’s open to renting it. “There are a lot of jobs here,” he says.

Being the last resident of Heaton does have it’s advantages. “People ask me where I live and I tell them I’m the only one left in Heaton. I’m the Mayor, the Sherriff and everything,” Miller says. “They get a kick out of that.”

See our Heaton Galleries here and here

Heaton – Six Years Later

We returned to Heaton, in Wells County, nearly six years after our first trip in 2004, to find things had changed noticeably.

This is an animation showing the former Heaton Bank and the Hawks of Heaton Gift Shop (which we believe may have been the Post Office at one time as well).  As you can see, sometime between 2004 and 2010, the structures disappeared.  We don’t know what happened to them.  Several homes which used to stand in Heaton are gone now as well.

Disappearing Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg is a central North Dakota near-ghost town, in Wells County, about eighteen miles east of Harvey. It was founded as a Great Northern Railroad town (Heidi Ermer contributed a photo of the old depot) and was originally called Viking. According to North Dakota Place Names by Douglas Wick, the name was changed to Hamburg by German residents, but later the Hamberg spelling was adopted as a compromise with the Scandinavian settlers in the area.

US Census Data for Hamberg
Total Population by Place

1940 – 154
1950 – 124
1960 – 64
1970 – 51
1980 – 41
2000 – 28
2010 — 21

Hamberg, North Dakota
During our visit in 2008, this school looked like it had very few years left in it. Unfortunately, it burned to the ground on April 1st, 2012, during one of the driest springs on record. A Facebook fan reports a controlled burn got out of control due to the wind and the dry conditions.

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

The traffic passes, but rarely stops.

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg’s Post Office.

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

Hamberg, North Dakota

A quiet Saturday morning in Hamberg.

Hamberg, North Dakota

See also: More Views of Hamberg
See also: Hamberg Flashback
See also: More Abandoned Hamberg

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media


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An Old West Hotel in 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”

Heaton, ND

Heaton was founded in 1899 as a Northern Pacific Railroad town, named for George Heaton, the manager of land sales for the railroad. Population figures include 400 in 1930, 62 in 1960, and approximately 5 when these photos were taken in 2004.

Heaton, about twenty miles west of Carrington, North Dakota, is an interesting town. We visited in May of 2004 and there were three or four houses which looked occupied, but a ton of vacant homes. The whole time we were taking these photos, we could hear kids playing nearby.

Site visitor Brandon Miller, who grew up one mile north of Heaton, wrote to tell us it was his Grandfather’s opinion the tornado which ravaged Heaton in 1907 was a big reason for the town’s eventual decline.

In it’s heyday, Heaton played host to a post office, a lumber yard, gas station, bank, hardware store, two hotels, and three churches.

 In 2012, we spoke with the final resident of Heaton.

Wanna see what we found when we returned to Heaton six years after this visit? Check it out here.

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