During the rapid expansion of the railroad across the state of North Dakota in the last few decades of the 19th century, towns sprung up in a matter of weeks every few miles that the tracks were laid. Some of them stayed and grew over time, thriving into cities or remaining smaller towns, while others lasted only a short while before being abandoned. What’s left of them is the shells of buildings where there once was activity and life. These 11 ghost towns are still standing, even if just barely, today, and they’re haunting to look at.
The name Arena came from its location in a natural valley surrounded by hills. It was founded in 1906 and had a peak population of about 150. When the Great Depression hit, the town was abandoned for good. All that is left now is this church and an equally weathered school house.
Tagus was originally named Wallace when it was founded in 1900. The name was changed to avoid being mixed up with similarly named town in Idaho. The town still reported a few residents in 2000 but is almost entirely abandoned today. The highest population it ever had was 140 almost 80 years ago.
This small ghost town never had a population of over 50 people. The post office officially closed in 1984 when the population had dwindled down to less than five. Today, no population is recorded. Carbury was actually originally supposed to be named Roth, but due to some confusion with the railroad officials when it was founded in 1906, switched its name with a nearby town which is still known as Roth.
Sherbrooke was once the county seat of Steele county but lost that seat to Finley, ND in 1919. It was not actually a railroad town which was part of the reason the county seat was moved. It was founded in 1884 and had a steady population for a while, even the hotel in Sherbrooke once housed President William McKinley in 1896 during a trip to the state. Unfortunately, the town is now just a ghost and hardly any of the original structures remain standing.
In this long abandoned ghost town, rotting homes and businesses still stand, though few. When it was a thriving and bustling town of 150, there was a blacksmith, grocery store, bank, hotel, a pool hall, and more. Most of those are permanently gone today.
A lot of the original buildings are still standing in Wheelock today, such as this schoolhouse. They are still deteriorating as the years wear on. Like most of these ghost towns, it was a town founded for the railroad. The tracks still run through town today and are used by the BNSF railroad. This town has only been abandoned since the late 90s, having been populated since its conception in 1902.
Omemee was once the site of an important junction between two major railroads. It was a huge town with over 600 residents at peak population. There were many businesses and homes, even an opera house, and it flourished after it was founded in 1906. But its success would only last for four short years. By 1910, the population had already been cut in half. The population withered for years until there was no one left. Only a couple of buildings still stand today, and they are hauntingly empty.
Although the rails do not go through this town anymore, the grain elevators still stand where the tracks once passed. This town has been abandoned for decades and these are its final remains, along with a broken down schoolhouse and a cemetery.
This true ghost town has been empty for decades. Although a few buildings still remain, most of the town is permanently gone. Temple was named by the Great Northern Railroad, changing it from its original name Haarstad. That name came from the first postmaster who founded the town by building the post office there in 1906. Many North Dakotan towns are named after the original postmasters that built the first post offices some years before the railroads came through.
This railroad town was named after the railroad construction foreman's daughter when it was founded in 1910. The last few people living here left some time around 1976. A meteorite that is on display in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City was actually found here in Freda in 1919 when the town's population was about 50.
The last resident of Verendrye left the town in 1970. The only remaining building is shown here, the original site of the schoolhouse. It was named Falsen originally - and that name is shown on the front of the school - but was changed in 1925, about 13 years after it was founded. A memorial statue for an explorer named David Thompson also remains at the site of the ghost town.
These fascinating places are beautiful in their own creepy way, and are just a few of many that exist around North Dakota. A lot of ghost towns have absolutely no remaining buildings at all – just faded memories and the outlines of roads, overgrown by nature and disappearing into history.