Following the Rails of North Dakota

The Dakota Territory was settled sparsely until the late 19th century, when the railroads entered the region and vigorously marketed the land. 

USTerritories

According to Wikipedia:

“The success of the Northern Pacific Railroad and the Great Northern Railroad was based on the abundant crops and rapidly increasing settlement in the Red River Valley along the Minnesota border between 1871 and 1890.”

“The railroad was the engine of settlement for the state. The Northern Pacific Railroad was given land grants by the federal government so that it could borrow money to build its system.  The federal government kept every other section of land and gave it away to homesteaders. Meanwhile, the Great Northern Railroad energetically promoted settlement along its lines in the northern portion of the state.  The Great Northern Railroad bought its lands from the federal government, as it received no land grants, and resold the land to farmers one by one. It operated agencies in Germany and Scandinavia that promoted its lands and brought families over at low cost.”

“The battle between The Great northern Railway and Soo line Railroad to control access across northern North Dakota resulted in 500 miles of new track and more than 50 new town sites just in one year.  Many of the towns sites were never settled and were abandoned”

Towns began to dot the countryside as growth followed the rails.  As the population of North Dakota declined, the buildings were left under the care of Mother Nature.  Follow the old railway lines and you may just find yourself in the presence of a ghost town yourself.  Many of these abandoned towns and the land that these debilitated buildings reside on, are now privately owned.  Stories of the old inhabitants that once lived in these homes or worked in the buildings flowed though my mind as we drove through the empty streets.

The back roads of North Dakota were unlike any other that we have encountered.  Some roads would end in a marshland full of migrating birds others would just end…  Road Closed.

Advertisements

North Dakota Ghosts- The old school in Forbes, North Dakota

Dan and I were on a mission to find abandoned properties near Fargo, North Dakota as we were heading north on a business trip last year.  My father grew up north of Fargo in the small town of Crookston, MN and I still have family living in Moorhead, MN.  What a great way to mix business with pleasure and take some extra time to explore this area and visit some family.

Stumbling upon ghostsofnorthdakota.com (take some time to stop by their website), we were surprised to see just how many towns, excuse me,  ghost towns, North Dakota actually has.  The decline of the small town in North Dakota and how they have captured these sites before they disappear off the land forever was inspiring to both Dan and I.  The trip sounded interesting, exciting, and educational all at the same time.  We grabbed the Gazetteer and planned our route of the road less traveled.

Northeast North Dakota, although flat, has its own beauty.  There may not be majestic mountains, enormous river gorges, or the sounds and tranquility of the ocean waves in this part of the world.  However, the flat land makes its own palette as shades of the blue sky, and the green, yellow, and gold in the fields combine to make art.  The sound you hear, is the song of the tall grass as it sways in the wind, or the flutter of wings of the migrating birds.  Perhaps it is the silence… at least that is what we encountered in the northeast portion of the State.

Our plan was to see some of these ghost towns that ghostsofnorthdakota.com speak of and to capture a piece of these sites before nature takes over and slowly deteriorates the walls that provide strength to a structure.  Follow the abandoned rails, and you will see what was left behind.  Oh, the stories that these small towns can tell.

For the next few posts, I will share the sites we encountered.

Forbes, ND

Welcome to Forbes, North Dakota.  Founded in 1905, the population at the 2010 Census was 53.  

According to a former student, the school closed its doors in 1987 and is now left to decay.  Walking through the halls, you can almost hear the laughter of the children and the wisdom of the teachers as they guide their students through the coursework.  The grass on the playground is tall and the chains have now succumbed rust.  The ceilings crumble, the paint is peeling, and the moss grows rampant.  Soon, she will be gone.