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Ghost Town USA’s

Guide to the Ghost Towns of

NORTH DAKOTA

“The Peace Garden State

 

 

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Western & Eastern Treasures

Ghost Town USA Column Index for North Dakota

From the Dakota Badlands in the West to the Red River Valley in the east, the "Sea of Grass" known as North Dakota, is loaded with a thousand or more ghost towns, near ghost towns and barren/rubbled town sites.  Like most of the plains states, North Dakota has had its ghost towns short changed in magazine articles and books; at least on the national level.

 

North Dakota's ghost towns are generally the end product of increasingly efficient transportation, more mechanized agriculture, and the lessening of the need for stations and stops along the railroads.  There were also a high number of rural post offices, which usually consisted of small post office located on a farm.  These rural post offices (RPOs) would typically move as the postmasters changed, or as one farmer would tire of the added responsibility.  Sometimes these RPOs would develop into small communities by the addition of blacksmiths, stores, schools or churches.  They may continue their growth into small towns or larger cities.  However, those are rare.                

In several of the small towns we visited on our journey into the state in 1995, I stopped into post offices and asked the postmasters why the towns were fading.  The most popular theory is that beginning in the 1920s the growing popularity of automobiles killed many small towns.  Larger towns could attract discount markets and “Big Box” chain stores, and the small town "Mom and Pop" stores couldn't compete price-wise or product-wise with the national mega-stores.  It made more economic sense to drive a few extra miles to save a few dollars on groceries.  During the Depression of the 1930s, many smaller storeowners and farmers were bankrupted.

 

Why or how the need for these small towns had been lessened is not important.  The fact is, in North Dakota, over a thousand former towns have either faded to mere shadows of what they once were, been totally abandoned, or have disappeared.

 

This list barely scratches the surface of what is available.

 

PLEASE NOTE: 

Where photos are indicated thusly (PHOTO!), please use your browser’s “BACK” button to return to this page.  More photos will be added over time.

 

THE GHOSTS

 

AMIDON

 

Amidon is Slope County’s nearly dead class D county seat, and is the smallest county seat in the country.  It is one of only two remaining towns in the county. 

See our AMIDON page for additional details.

This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.

APPAM

Williams Co.

This old Great Northern Railroad station is located 32 miles north of Williston.  It was established in 1916, and the post office followed the following year.  It closed in 1972.  In 1990, only 30 folks remained in this town along the present day Burlington Northern Railroad.

ARMOURDALE

Towner Co.

Railroad station/rural post office established around 1900 on the northern end of the SOO Line Railroad track running north of Egelund, through Pasha.  On SH 69, about 1.0 mile north of US 281, at a point 11 miles east of Rolla.  It is no longer shown on most maps.

BELMONT / BELLMONT

 

Traill Co.

Originally established as Frog Point in 1871, the name was changed to Bellmont in 1879.  The town site was platted in 1880, but the population never got much over 75.  There was no railroad, so the town withered and died.  It is said it was destroyed by a flood in 1897, and the post office closed in 1909.  Belmont was located in the Red River Valley about ten miles east of Buxton.  A park is located here now.

BUCYRUS

Adams Co.

This class D community is located on the south side of US 12, along the Burlington Northern Railroad, 8.3 miles northwest of Hettinger.  First called Wolf Butte, then Dolan, Bucyrus was established in 1907 by the railroad.  Early businesses included a bank, barber, two blacksmiths, a Lutheran church, drug store/doctor office, feed store, two general stores (one with the post office inside), grain elevators, hardware store, harness shop, hotel, lumber yards, a newspaper, the railroad depot, a real estate/law office, restaurant, school, and a shoe repair shop.  In 1930 it reached its maximum population of 124.  In 2000, Bucyrus was a town with only 26 people and a cluster of abandoned buildings.  Only the church and half the homes were still used in 1995.

See our BUCYRUS page for additional details.

This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.

CLEVELAND

Stutsman Co.

This class D-agricultural town is located just north of I-94 at EXIT 238, 25 miles west of Jamestown. Cleveland was settled in 1882 along the Northern Pacific Railroad, by a group of folks from Cleveland, Ohio.  The post office opened in the same year, but closed only two years later.  In 1900 it reopened, and is still in operation.  In 1995, the main street had several vacant structures, as well as a bar and new modular buildings housing the post office and town hall. There was also grain elevators, two newer churches, and an old school building with its newer appendage, the community center.  Most of the homes still appear occupied, but as a town, Cleveland is fading.  On the south side of the railroad tracks a newer store/gas station caters to the 112 townsfolk that remain in a town that polled 341 folks in 1920.

This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.

CRETE

Sargent Co.

This Northern Pacific Railroad town was established in 1900, and once had 200 people.  It has faded to about 40 in 1990.  

DRISCOLL

Burleigh Co.

This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.

GASCOYNE

Bowman Co.

This class D-agricultural town of 23 folks (2000) is located on the south side of US 12, and along the Burlington Northern Railroad line, 17 miles southeast of Bowman.  It was first called Fischbein, when it was laid out in 1907 along the railroad.  In 1908 it was renamed after one of the railroad's construction foreman. In 1911, it incorporated as a village.  In 1930 it reached its peak population of 97.  Some of the active businesses including a bowling alley, general store, grain elevators, lumberyard, and a school.  The post office closed in 1982.  In 1995, the lumberyard, bowling alley, school and two other commercial buildings were all vacant, along with the majority of the town's homes.    PHOTO!

This is one of the towns featured in my newest book, GHOST TOWNS: Yesterday & TodayTM.

LEAL

Barnes Co.

This class D-agricultural town is located along the SOO Line railroad tracks and SH 6, about 20 miles north of I-94 at EXIT 283.  It was founded in 1892, and incorporated as a village in 1911.  It reincorporated as a city in 1968.  Its current population of 36 is much lower than the 1930 population of 105. 

LUDDEN

Dickey Co.

Ludden was originally settled in 1883, in 1886, the town moved to the railroad, a mile to the east.  In 1890, there was a post office, railroad station and 400 people.  Ludden incorporated in 1909, but has faded since then.  In 2000, only 29 people remained at the second site.

NOME

Barnes Co.

This class D-agricultural town is located on SH 32, 19 miles south of   I-94 at EXIT 302, which is ten miles east of Valley City.  It had 70 folks in 2000, down from its 1940 peak population of 277.  It was founded in 1900 along the Northern Pacific Railroad and incorporated as a village in 1907.

OAK CREEK

Bottineau Co.

Founded in the early 1880s, by a group of homesteaders, this was the first settlement in the county.  It was an agricultural community, and along the stage line to Devil’s Lake.  In 1884, the Great Northern Railroad pushed tracks through the area, missing the town by a mile.  The folks relocated, and the new site was known as Bottineau.  The original site is marked and is one mile northeast of Bottineau.

OAKDALE

Dunn Co.

This rural post office was established in 1889, and was located near the fading town of Dunn Center.

REEDER

Adams Co.

This class D-agricultural town is located along the Burlington Northern Railroad southeast of Bowman. It dates to 1908, and still has a population of 181, down somewhat from its peak of 395 in 1930.  The downtown core of commercial buildings is about 75% unoccupied. 

ST. ANTHONY

Morton Co.

On SH 6, about 17 miles south of Mandan, this old community was first called Littleheart when it was laid out in 1890.  In 1896, it was renamed by a group of Roman Catholic German/Hungarian settlers who established a large church and school.  With a 1990 population of 80, down from its 1930 peak of 130, this small town is slowly fading towards ghosthood.

Temple

Williams Co.

Temple is a class C former Burlington Northern railroad station about five miles west of Tioga, a half mile west of Haarstad and about 30 miles northeast of Williston.  The post office was open from 1908-1965.  By 1920 Temple had 90 people.  In 1960 that had dropped to 25 and by 1980 that number reached zero. Both the school and church are abandoned and old farm equipment sits around the site.

 

“At present, the town consists of a church, a school, an old store, a few old houses, and a couple of junked cars.”

Information and photos contributed by John Piepkorn, December 2007

 

See our Temple page for additional details.

WHEELOCK

Williams Co.

This town was established on the Great Northern Railroad in 1902.  It was incorporated in 1916.  In 1930, the peak population of 115 was reached, and the town began fading and in 1990 only had 23 folks.  On January 1, 1994 the town disincorporated.  The post office, which originally opened on August 1, 1902, became a branch of the Ray Post Office on Feb 25, 1966.  Wheelock is located on the present-day Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad 19 AIR miles northeast of Williston, in the northwestern part of the state.  See some photos of Wheelock here… Church, Grain elevator, House, Main street, Residential area, School, An old store, Last open store.  All these photos are courtesy of Claire Eide, June 04, 2006

 

“Wheelock was pretty good. There were actually quite a few people still living there, maybe 15 or so, and it was weird trying to look around because they would stare at us. It was kind of creepy because it was weird to think that people would actually live there! The town looks completely abandoned, and we think that the people that live there now and living in these houses that were abandoned (as they look old, not painted, junky, etc.)  haven’t made an attempt to fix up their homes.  Also, there were ‘No Trespassing’ signs and ‘Private Property’ signs everywhere!!! There weren’t many places we could go.  So, my husband and I drove up and down the few “streets” we could and snapped a few pictures.  I got out of the vehicle a few times to snap some pictures but someone’s dogs nearly attacked me!!  We wanted to walk around the town, but we figured we better not because of the residents and posted signs.  And of course the dogs!!

 

We did visit the cemetery on top of the hill.  It was neat to visit it.  We noticed that the town, or surrounding area, must have been booming.  A lot of people from the late 1800’s.  The town must have been abandoned several years ago.  This town needs a museum of some sort telling about the town and why it became so desolate! I think it would attract many people.  It was neat to look at, but it’s always more interesting when you can read about the history of the area and the people that lived there. 

 

All in all, it was fun to visit.  We would like to go back.  We were also hoping it was completely abandoned though, so we could bring people next summer when they visit.  However, I have a feeling it won’t be completely abandoned - probably the opposite - as a group of younger adults were even building a brand new building or garage of some sort in the town!” 

Contributed by Brittni Thiessen, September 16, 2008

 

Wheelock had a population of 30 in the 2000 census. (GBS)

ZION

Towner Co.

Only a cemetery remains of this old Dunker Colony that isn’t shown on modern maps.  Actual location not determined.

  

MORE INFORMATION

 

Historians estimate that there may be as many as 50,000 ghost towns scattered across the United States of America.

Gary B. Speck Publications is currently in process of publishing unique state, regional, and county guides called

The Ghost Town Guru's Guide to the Ghost Towns of ***

These original guides are designed for anybody interested in ghost towns. Whether you are a casual tourist looking for a new and different place to visit, or a hard-core ghost town researcher, these guides will be just right for you. With over 30 years of research behind them, they will be a welcome addition to any ghost towner's library.

 

Thank you, and we'll see you out on the Ghost Town Trail!

 

For more information on the ghost towns of NORTH DAKOTA, contact us at Ghost Town USA.

 

E-mailers, PLEASE NOTE:

Due to the tremendous amount of viruses, worms and “spam,” out there, I no longer open or respond to any e-mails with unsolicited attachments, OR messages on the subject lines with “Hey”, “Hi”, “Need help”, “Help Please”, “???”, or blank subject lines, etc.  If you do send E-mail asking for information, or sharing information, PLEASE indicate the appropriate location AND state name, or other topic on the “subject” line. 

THANK YOU!  :o)

IMPORTANT

 

These listings and historical vignettes of ghost towns, near-ghost towns and other historical sites in NORTH DAKOTA above are for informational purposes only, and should NOT be construed to grant permission to trespass, metal detect, relic or treasure hunt at any of the listed sites.

 

If the reader of this guide is a metal detector user and plans to use this guide to locate sites for metal detecting or relic hunting, it is the READER'S responsibility to obtain written permission from the legal property owners. Please be advised, that any state or nationally owned sites will probably be off-limits to metal detector use. Also be aware of any federal, state or local laws restricting the same.

 

When you are exploring the ghost towns of NORTH DAKOTA, please abide by the Ghost Towner's Code of Ethics.

 

 

 

 

 

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THIS PAGE

FIRST POSTED:  January 27, 2002

LAST UPDATED: November 28, 2010

 

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