A State of Existing, North Dakota

“Ghost towns stud North Dakota, and this empty house is just one bone in a giant skeleton of abandoned human desire.”

A quote from a perfectly written article for National Geographic about North Dakota titled,
The Emptied Prairie” By Charles Bowden

I remember, as a little child, walking hand in hand with my father across fields of long prairie grass.  I was amazed by the dance created by the wind as it touched each blade of grass.  To this day, I can close my eyes and visualize the sight seen as we walked closer to an abandoned farmstead and the excitement noticed in my father’s eyes and heard in his voice. I learned from him that these abandoned properties are not a place of destruction, but a story of endless outcomes.

The trip to North Dakota was an incredible journey, one that I am happy to say, was shared with an amazing man.  Dan and I enjoyed the migrating birds that this pothole region attracts and the vibrant colors a North Dakota landscape can provide.  Visit North Dakota as seen in some of my previous posts:

North Dakota Ghosts- The old school in Forbes, North Dakota
Abandoned Outside Forbes, ND
Following the rails of North Dakota
North Dakota Shines

This trip included some of my favorite abandoned properties to date. As I am writing this post, I can still see the texture of the peeling paint on the rickety walls or see the layers of personal material left behind on the floor.  Two different properties that told two different stories.  The old farmhouse with the herd of cattle watching us explore was full of color and texture – a feast for a photographers eyes.  I could only imagine the grandeur of this home when she was alive with activity.  The other property included in this post was just as incredible, but for a different reason. My grandfather was a talented violin maker and carpenter.  Watching him play the instrument as a child, taught me the wonders of music.  Violin, piano, and cello are three of my favorite instruments that can send a shiver right through me whenever heard.  Now imagine mixing the two…  an abandoned property with musical ties- WOWZA!  The music sheets were strewn throughout the home, and a shell of a guitar was left behind in an empty room.  I can almost hear the music that played within those walls.

This concludes the series on North Dakota.  Where will our next journey take us?  For now, take a walk with Dan and I as we tour some of the most intriguing abandoned farmstead that we have had the privilege to photograph.


274 thoughts on “A State of Existing, North Dakota

  1. These are wonderful photos. I love these types of places. The endless questions that one asks wandering through what is left of others lives and the stories the remnants tell. Great post. 🙂

    • Thank you! The clues left behind are what I find amazing

    • Wendy Br says:

      I agree. My husband and I took a trip to South Dakota a number of years ago to do a genealogy search, and we found an entire abandoned town. We believe this to be the last town my grandparents lived in before they emigrated to Canada. I was able to find a map of the counties at a second hand store and we actually, with the help of a passerby, believe we found the actual house they lived in. It looked in much the same state as this one. For just a moment I felt that I was part of their lives, and it was incredible.

  2. Joe says:

    Your photos consistently amaze me Cynthia, very impressive 😀

  3. mrslanny says:

    Very cool pics! Can really get the feel of the place through your photos!

  4. Thank you! I will never forget these homes!

  5. Wow Cynthia, this is my favorite set from you to date! Like that album that’s good cover to cover, each one of these knocks it out of the park. Great work!

  6. Heather says:

    what a magnificent photo opportunity you had Cynthia, these are beautiful photos…a few remind me of a painting…I’ve a blogging friend I used to visit painted scenes just like these…love your photos!!!

  7. Thank you Heather! I am having so much fun playing with texture layers.

  8. Very impressed with your results from this shoot. I see you revel in what is offered up by nature after people have gone. Great stuff.

  9. Thank you so much for your kind words! This was a wonderful trip with so much to take in.

  10. Fantastic as usual. When we shoot, I can recognize the great shot just by the way you engage the scenes…the unique angles and your detailed perspective shines through in your work.

    You really captured our time and places in North Dakota well. We were very lucky to happen upon so many sites. I hope we can get away again soon to do more of the same…before they are all gone.

  11. segmation says:

    I have never planned on going to North Dakota or coming to North Dakota. Thanks for opening up my eyes!

  12. hollybecker7 says:

    You photographs are visually stunning.

  13. Eliza Waters says:

    Impressive haunting photos, sad in a way, a way of life lost, one wonders what stories these walls would tell. Brava on being FPd!

  14. darknesslites says:

    Lovely shots

  15. awax1217 says:

    There is a starkness to the photos. Very impressive.

  16. beautiful photos! i love the muted colors.

  17. elainecanham says:

    Beautiful pictures, thanks. But just so sad to think of the life that was once there.

  18. You make it easy for us to imagine who lived here, how, and when. Great photo essay.

  19. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

  20. worzelodd says:

    Great Story- lived two years in rural Manitoba, and spent summer afternoons exploring such places by A.T.V. The beauty and mystery of those lives I will Never Forget. Thank You..

  21. Blondie says:

    Congrats on being freshly pressed! Great photos, what stories and curiosity they show.

  22. These are gorgeous. Simply gorgeous. Having grown up in the Midwest myself, I’d always seen abandoned farm houses such as these and couldn’t help but wonder what stories they held. You truly captured glimpses of these stories is such a beautiful way. I can’t tell you how amazing these are. Keep up the great work!

  23. coco201314 says:

    I like your shots very much !Very impressive !🙀

  24. I love the sentence “these abandoned properties are not a place of destruction, but a story of endless outcomes”. Very impressive!

  25. dshah96 says:

    Nostalgia. Memories. They keep the heart beating even when the stimulus is gone.

  26. drew delaney says:

    What awesome pics. My grandson goes to college in ND. I live in Manitoba, near the Minnesota border.
    Don’t see much of these diamonds my way. Good to catch it now while you can.

    • The truth behind your statement… “Good to catch while you can” is spot on. We have revisited many of these properties only to find them gone. It reinforces the -Why we do what we do-
      Thank you for the compliment!

    • Drew- We live in Southeastern Minnesota- We love to pack up the car and see where the road takes us! We never know what we will find and is always an adventure.

      • drew delaney says:

        Wow! We really are not that far away from each other. I live on the border of Minnesota, but on the Canadian side. Nice to meet you here. You have no idea how you have inspired me. I wish there were more old buildings around.

      • Nice to meet you here as well! Are you on the (north) eastern or western portion of the state? If you are more towards North Dakota/MN/Canada let me know, I have a website that we used to find ghost towns in North Dakota.

      • drew delaney says:

        I live on the Minnesota, Ontario, and Manitoba border. I shop in Roseau or Warroad usually. My oldest son lived in Warroad for many years and they raised their two children there. My grand-daughter lives in Fargo. I was forty when she was born. She’s now twenty-six and working toward a x-ray technician.

      • Beautiful area you live in! On our travels, we also have not experienced much abandoned homes in that area. The Fargo area is a different story! I will look at my notes and will send you a message with a link of ghost towns near the Fargo area. I also have family in the Moorhead/Fargo/crookston area 🙂 small world!

  27. merkiva says:

    Absolutely stunning! Your pieces draw me in…to wonder about the life that was being led, the family playing that guitar and the little boy that grew up and left behind that little red truck. Truly inspiring!

  28. Incredible photos, thank you for sharing. I look forward to seeing more.

  29. You’ve captured the essence of change found around the nation. Interesting

  30. onomatopoeicbliss says:

    Is this what ND looks like today? or way back when the NG article was done? I hear today it looks more like drilling rigs, pickup trucks, ruffians, booze, drugs and hookers.

    • Although I believe the Northwestern portion of the state has seen the increase in population due to the fracking. We were traveling the opposite side along the Minnesota/North Dakota border. Yes, the images portrayed in the post is what ND along the MN border appears as today. Beautiful in its own way.

  31. persiouxer says:

    The first picture….waking up to a cup of coffee, sitting on a porch, looking at a view like that. That’s the way I want to live. Thanks for sharing!

  32. I like your photos. Wish I was talented like that with a camera.. Thanks for sharing..

  33. Tim Shey says:

    Wow! Beautiful photos. I have hitchhiked through North Dakota a number of times over the years. Every state has something beautiful about it.

    “A Short Hitchhiking Trip”

  34. […] A State of Existing, North Dakota […]

  35. sonatano1 says:

    I like seeing abandoned places for some reason. I wish I had time to explore a little bit. I admit I’m afraid of accidental trespassing though.

  36. Paul Bowler says:

    Brilliant photos, very strange and haunting as well.

  37. The Road says:

    […] Here are some really incredible photos. A State of Existing, North Dakota […]

  38. […] A Book Review for High Plains Drifter Are You An Angel? A State of Existing, North Dakota […]

  39. couplestylo says:


  40. Missy's Crafty Mess says:

    Wow beautiful. That house must have really been something in its prime.

  41. salaamshots says:

    this is an astonishing photo that’s romantic without trying to be

  42. Merilee says:

    Really, really, really beautiful. I absolutely love this!

  43. elaineorth says:

    Love the image and the words accent the window within my mind.

  44. My husband and I love to travel the back roads here in NW OK. He also likes to photograph the adandoned farm buildings. Makes you wonder about the people who had lived there and what were their hopes and dreams. Great post.

  45. These pictures are absolutely amazing! I’ve always wanted to visit abandoned farmhouses here in Texas… Did you have to ask permission from someone (whoever now owns the farmland) to enter, or have any trouble at all if you just parked nearby and walked in?

  46. tantegretchen says:

    Lived there 7 years. Met the love of my life, moved away, but left my heart there, fer sure!

  47. Dave says:

    Cynthia, the struck my heart, for sure. My dad spent his latter years hunting for places like this, to tell their story. Of course, back then his work was in film. He would have loved to see these. And I do. Thanks for sharing

  48. Parvinder says:

    Reblogged this on speakingof.

  49. Don Royster says:

    As a writer and storyteller, these spaces you have taken photographs of make me want to create stories of the people who once lived there. The loners, the families, the brave souls who once occupied the houses and called them home. Thanks for the experience.

  50. Reblogged this on Honeymead Books and commented:
    When politics are more important than societal growth.

  51. evsetia says:

    I like all pics ! Old thing but very impressive.

  52. Wow, Beautiful photos
    You r very great 🙂

  53. My kind of photography! Great shot

  54. Stunning – both the words and especially the photographs. Congratulations on being freshly pressed and happy 2014.

  55. Elisa says:

    Why doesn’t someone snatch up these places!?!?

    • Sometimes the cost of remodel or clean-up in these properties would be too great. The majority of these properties are left to Mother Nature. How I would love to remodel one of these abandoned homes or buildings to live in!

  56. pjsarecomfyn says:

    Beautiful pictures!

  57. Great work Cynthia you have really captured the moment love them 🙂

  58. Very creative! Thanks for making me smile!


  59. sidfernando says:

    Reblogged this on Sid Fernando + Observations and commented:
    Fascinated by ruins anywhere—Sid Fernando

  60. HelloWonders says:

    Wow! These pictures are stunning!

  61. GoosBall says:

    Impressive photographs ….
    you surely enjoy photography

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  62. Michael Snow says:

    Love the photos. But they are a sad reminder of how many farms have disappeared in the wave of big ag. Though I’m from S. Dak,, (can see Neb. bluffs from the farm), I had been in every other state west of the Mississippi before I made it to N. Dak.!

    • Thank you so very much for the compliment! It is sad to see the family farm disappearing to make way for the larger corporate owned farms. I believe every state has its own beauty. Take care!

  63. absolutely stunning! thank you!

  64. dheerajsah says:

    very nicely shot! have a kind of theme in them…

  65. You’ve captured the beauty of my home state like I’ve never been able to find.

    I spent years hating it and everything around me and the plain boredom of the vastness of the prairie, but now, as I plan to move away, all of these photos cross my path and I’m struck by missed opportunities and unseen sights and by just how much I’ve misjudged this place.

    Perhaps I’ll travel the backroads on the way back to visit family next time.

  66. Natchurally says:

    Really great captures! I really like the variety of feelings which are delivered by the different styles of editing the pictures!

  67. Incredible images! It takes amazing vision and a creative eye to make abandoned and derelict structures like this tell a story. You can almost hear the music filling the rooms of that house if you stare at the photos long enough. Thanks for sharing.

  68. BV says:

    These photos, although highlighting decay, are full of life. So poignant. They tell a story and make me ask, “Why?” “What?” “How?”

  69. Drew Montgomery says:

    Awesome post / pictures…makes you wonder what the stories are!

  70. jakemason5 says:

    Incredible!! I remember the time I took a trip to North Dakota. It was amazing! I remember it like it was yesterday. Great story and awesome pics!! I want to go back soon!!

  71. testakleez66 says:

    Reblogged this on http://www.darwinsrightleftwing.com and commented:
    Very Cool!

  72. These are some of the most beautiful photographs I have ever seen! So amazing and wonderful! Perhaps you might go and photograph in South Dakota next? That is where I am from, and I guarantee it is gorgeous (maybe even better than North Dakota).

  73. So beautiful. Your photos are very eye-catching and really incredible.

  74. Those are beautiful! That is one of the things that I love so much about being in the prairie lands, is coming across so many old, abandoned homes and barns. I wish I could manipulate the color like you do – I am much to much of an amateur. Well done!

  75. peterjfoster says:

    You have a real style about you. The website is very attractive. You write well and very interesting subject and the photo’s are great! What a pleasure to come across your website. Have a great (and creative) New Year.

  76. poheart88 says:

    Reblogged this on Purpose of Heart and commented:
    Mirror images

  77. mordee says:

    I like old houses

  78. seanpfarley says:

    These are absolutely stunning photos. Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by abandoned buildings, towns, and cities. I’m reminded of Pripyat – that sad, dour city left suddenly after the Chernobyl disaster. For me, in these photos, it’s seeing what’s been left behind – the clues, the icons, the pieces of a family’s past. What propels someone to leave it so suddenly?? Anyway, I’m rambling. Just gorgeous!

  79. […] A State of Existing, North Dakota. […]

  80. Though my Lithuanian landscape differs greatly from North Dakota yet the same spirit indwells as in your touching photography so in my memory. These are the unforgettable works – the challenge- the judgment of the modern civilization – something that reexamines the soul and wakes up. Thank you.

  81. though outwardly my Lithuanian landscape differs greatly from North Dakota pictures yet the same spirit indwells here and challenge – I hear the lost lullabies in your unforgettable pictures – They are the heart’s rehabilitation

  82. aworldoffilm says:

    Nice post, I like your blog.

    If you are interested in world, classic or indie cinema please look at my blog. Thank you. http://www.aworldoffilm.com/

  83. Shreya says:

    awesome pictures ! loved it
    Have a lovely yr ahead

  84. Mdm Madame says:

    I heart this photo.

  85. SMartins says:

    Beautiful shots!

  86. I’m slightly in love with photography and this is amazing!

  87. jamieaaron03 says:

    beatiful photos, i love abandon homes too.

  88. yogacatie says:

    Wow! I also love those old tumbling down houses in the middle of a field, it was so cool to be able to take a peek inside with you, thank you!

  89. Sheri says:

    Reblogged this on Puddles and commented:
    This seems like a good article to read, about change and harsh conditions. Having lived in North Dakota, and considering the people their both kind and brave, I look forward to its perspective.

  90. elzaphod says:

    I love to take pictures , when I do and get around to it. I see the difference between those who snaps pictures and photographers, there ‘here’s what I saw’ compared to ‘here is what I perceive ‘. I just wish i could see it before I take the picture. Outstanding!

    I was getting paranoid looking at this pag , i thought i was suffering from low blood pressure when i saw the snow flakes fall ‘o’

  91. nina says:

    Beautiful photography. It both speaks volumes AND leaves much information to the imagination. Nicely done.

  92. rkb665 says:

    Great piece and images! The pre-plastic days make better empty house images I think. Happy New Year!

  93. Pauline says:

    These photos are both eerie and beautiful. And sad, too! Thank you for the images and sharing your gift.:)

  94. Ruth says:

    I only knew two people from North Dakota but I would love to visit. Wonderful photos.

  95. Almost Iowa says:

    Great photos! It’s so sad, all those homesteads built on dreams, melting into the fields.

  96. trashbus says:

    Incredibly beautiful!

  97. Scott Fox says:

    Goodbye middle class, hello photo ops.

  98. While attempting to explain to my 92 year old mother about what a blog is and why we have one, I was perusing the “Freshly Pressed,” blogs and ran across yours. She and my father were originally from North Dakota, so I checked out this post. Your photos are hauntingly vivid captures of that recreation and speculation of what was and is. She is blind, and got out her magnifier to look. I was struck with what you said about the stories and possibilities. You might be interested in this lovely memoir my father wrote before he passed of three strong women who did the homesteading in North Dakota: http://coolbrook.net/ I see it is being sold on Amazon and Abebooks, which was interesting for me as well. Thanks for the each part of where your story helped my story this evening!

    • WOW- You just brought tears to my eyes. The comments and the vision of your mother with a magnifier did it. I am glad that I can bring so many views back to a place in time or to a place of fantasy. I appreciate every single word in your comment and are heading over to read your fathers memoir. Thank you so very much!

  99. Those are quite wonderful pictures. Makes me me want to go to north dakota.

  100. cchicblogger says:

    Well just to put it out there. I will say that I live in the flat land of North Dakota

  101. Scott says:

    This kind of stuff interests me very much. It takes me back to some of my past which was a very long time ago. My folks, before I came on the scene lived in a little house at a place called Rucker Siding, a place where rail cars were stored. It was a small, one-bedroom. I’ve been there a few times in years past. Rucker Siding and the little house exist only in my memory. Your story and photos brought that old place to the forefront. Thanks.

  102. aboayoob says:

    Reblogged this on aboayoob's Blog and commented:
    Can see you very well

  103. helenrj says:

    I stumbled upon your blog while browsing Freshly Pressed. I was blessed to view your pictures. Wonderful!

  104. Amazing photos and great blog! Thanks for sharing ☺️

  105. lauramacky says:

    Very cool photo! I just found you on freshly pressed. 🙂

  106. Beautiful photos! Every one gets more breath taking, its funny how old raggedy things are beautiful to an artist eye.. Happy New Year!

  107. Outstanding photography- captures the timeless beauty of the past!

  108. mastahj says:

    Wow! These shots are something else! what type of camera and lenses were used for this if you don’t mind me asking! It seems like you captured the essence of the location very well! Very impressive. I was wondering if you could look at a few of my posts and maybe give me some tips! Please and thank you!

    • Thank you so much for the compliment. “Lucy” my trusty 60D Canon is what I carry with me 🙂 As for lenses- For the most part, I use my 18-135, and my 50mm. I really believe it is not the equipment used, but it is the gift of seeing the world with different eyes. Art is special in a way that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To keep your eyes open to seeing the beauty in an ordinary item is something I need to remind myself of daily 🙂 Your post “THE SUPER MOON AT JOSHUA TREE” is wonderful and I look forward to seeing more in 2014.

  109. insiderwell says:

    Very beautiful/eerie/thought provoking imagery, thanks for sharing.

  110. Stunning, stunning photography! From a fellow writer and photography enthusiast, I must say you have truly captured the essence of what once was, and the imagination of what could be. When seeing an old place like this so sadly forgotten, I always wonder…who lived here? What were they like, and what circumstances made these people leave? Old buildings, and history, is such a perfect blend of a few basic facts mingling with one’s own imagination. Photographs like yours makes the imagination of the writer in me run wild! Beautiful, love them!

    • I really do appreciate your words and I am glad they took your mind on a short trip 🙂 Your words so perfectly explain how I feel as I walk through the door. It is like opening a book and running your fingers through the pages

  111. […] only your words.  Your pictures, dear friends are also beautiful and inspiring.  Pictures of your journey along the road, your weekly photos, pictures of your garden, your family, your travels and not least of all, […]

  112. […] she has dachshunds, so now I can’t leave ever. 😀  The post that caught me originally was a collection of pictures of a decaying farmhouse in North Dakota — sad, but neat and intriguing and […]

  113. Great photos! I adore watching pictures like these!

  114. Make Something Mondays says:

    Seriously, how did you get to be so good at this?! These are amazing. I could look at them all day.

  115. I’m incredibly happy to have stumbled upon your blog – so many great pieces. Very inspiring to say the least.

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