Ghosts of North Dakota

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We revisited Manfred last summer for the first time in six years and found some things had changed for the better.  Look at the Hotel Johnson in 2006 compared to how it looks now… the residents of Manfred have made amazing progress on the old hotel. Copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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… Read More

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… Read More

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.   The present owner of the property is using the grounds and the buildings for horses and other livestock.  We knocked on a few doors… Read More

Manfred, North Dakota

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… 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

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… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More