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Tombstone, Arizona Before the Tourists ?>

Tombstone, Arizona Before the Tourists

Tombstone, Arizona is forever embedded in American Old West lore for its status as an outpost for scoundrels and heroes, and as the site of the infamous 1881 gunfight at the OK Corral (the actual gunfight happened near the OK Corral, not in it, but we’ll leave that subject for others to cover in-depth) in which the Earp brothers gunned down Tom and Frank McLaury (McLowrey) and Billy Clanton. Before the gunfight, however, Tombstone was a town like many others…

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The Invisible Beaches of Ridgeville, Manitoba ?>

The Invisible Beaches of Ridgeville, Manitoba

Ridgeville, Manitoba is a shrinking community in southern Manitoba, about ten miles northeast of Emerson, or sixty miles southeast of Winnipeg. The average visitor would never know it today, but about 9,000 years ago, Ridgeville was beachfront property. Glacial Lake Agassiz (one of the largest of all the glacial lakes and larger than all of the Great Lakes combined) created a successive series of beaches in the Ridgeville area as it drained. Today, the soil remains sandy, but Lake Agassiz…

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Canada’s First Ukrainian Orthodox Church ?>

Canada’s First Ukrainian Orthodox Church

It took a year to gather the photos for this post, largely due to my own confusion about two churches named St. Michaels. I stopped in Gardenton, a tiny town in southern Manitoba, just over the international border from Minnesota, because I had been photographing some places in Tolstoi, which is just a short distance away. I hadn’t done much pre-planning or research on Gardenton, but I was pleased to discover some abandoned places I could shoot. Exploring Gardenton, I…

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All That Remains of a Manitoba Ghost Town ?>

All That Remains of a Manitoba Ghost Town

The divided highway which straddles this tiny country church is the only hint that a metropolitan area of more than 700,000 people lies just thirty minutes to the north. Otherwise, this serene spot on the prairie is a place out of time, a remote spot on the table-flat plains that were once the bottom of glacial Lake Agassiz. This church, however, is the last structure from what was once its own metropolitan area. Union Point United Church is all that…

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Ghost Town on Broken Kettle Creek ?>

Ghost Town on Broken Kettle Creek

In Plymouth County, about twenty miles north of Sioux City, stands Ruble, Iowa, a tiny dot on the map near Broken Kettle Creek. Ruble was founded in 1900, and was never really more than a roadside pit stop, with the store serving weary travelers and regional residents under the leadership of H.C. Marbach. The small one-room country school served area students in the early days until a larger school was built on a different site. The store once had a hitchin’…

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The Final Chapter in Capa, South Dakota ?>

The Final Chapter in Capa, South Dakota

We visited Capa in July of 2015, near the end of a four day trip to explore some abandoned places in North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota. So many times, when visiting vacant, out-of-the-way places on the high plains, we find a regular, criss-cross grid of gravel roads, intersecting every mile or two, and we can easily drive right up to our desired places, but that was not the case in Capa. The road we traveled to Capa began…

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Daydreaming on Main Street in Struble, Iowa ?>

Daydreaming on Main Street in Struble, Iowa

Struble, Iowa is in Plymouth County, about thirty miles northeast of Sioux City, and not far from another place we recently visited, the similarly-named Ruble, Iowa. According to the 2010 Census, Struble is a town of 78 residents, down from an all-time high of 327 in 1910. I was fooling around on Google Earth One day when I stumbled upon Struble, and we decided to visit so we could photograph the abandoned buildings in town. In April of 2016, we found…

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Here’s What It Costs to Buy an Old South Dakota Church ?>

Here’s What It Costs to Buy an Old South Dakota Church

We were out photographing some historic and abandoned places in April of 2016 and we had just decided to call it a day and head for home when we discovered this place by accident. Technically, this address is listed as Elk Point, South Dakota, but really it’s a spot along the Interstate 29, just a mile north of the Vermillion exit, about thirty miles northwest of Sioux City. This old church didn’t have any signs remaining that would tell us…

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Historic Rock River Crossing ?>

Historic Rock River Crossing

Anderson Bridge was built across the Rock River in 1900, on the northwest edge of Doon, Iowa. About thirty miles southeast of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Doon is a town of 577 people, and the hometown of western novelist Frederick Manfred, who published 22 novels between 1944 and 1992. Anderson Bridge is a riveted Pratt Through Truss bridge, and it was open to traffic at the time of our visit in 2016. It actually looked like it was in pretty…

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Ghost Town: Mondak, Montana ?>

Ghost Town: Mondak, Montana

This is Mondak, Montana, a true ghost town in Roosevelt County straddling the Montana/North Dakota border, two and a half miles west of Buford, North Dakota, and ten miles north of Fairview, Montana. Mondak has an incredible history as a rough and tumble outpost designed to serve liquor to thirsty North Dakotans after their state became one of the first to go dry. Mondak was founded in 1903 by businessmen intent on making money in the bootlegging and saloon trade….

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Capa’s Catholic Church, Just Before the End ?>

Capa’s Catholic Church, Just Before the End

In July of 2015, we stopped in Capa, South Dakota to get some photos of a place with only one remaining resident.  It was a beautiful place with plenty to photograph, but we discovered the former Catholic Church, which had been unused since 1940, had recently collapsed. Recently, Iowa photographer Dick Evans contacted us and offered to send some photos he took in Capa shortly before the church collapsed, which we’ve posted below. Judging by the condition of the roof,…

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Mining Relics and the Majesty of Spearfish Canyon ?>

Mining Relics and the Majesty of Spearfish Canyon

One of America’s greatest scenic byways winds through the Black Hills between Spearfish and Lead, South Dakota, featuring waterfalls, thousand-foot cliffs, and roadside turnoffs where travelers can stop and photograph the sights. Spearfish Canyon is so beautiful, some scenes from Dances with Wolves were filmed here. About halfway through the canyon stands the remains of the Homestake Mining Company’s Hydro Electric Plant No. 2, a now-closed relic of the gold mining operation just up the Canyon in Lead, South Dakota….

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Bad Luck and Bad Judgment Leave Owanka Nearly Abandoned ?>

Bad Luck and Bad Judgment Leave Owanka Nearly Abandoned

Not quite six miles south of Interstate 90 in the undulating green hills of Pennington County lies Owanka, South Dakota, a near ghost town with a story of bad luck and bad deeds that led to its present depopulated state. According to a number of sources, the present population of Owanka is two, although there are two more residents who ranch on the outskirts of town, effectively doubling the population. We first became aware of Owanka after our friend Maya…

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Devils Tower: The First National Monument ?>

Devils Tower: The First National Monument

A visit to Devils Tower National Monument gives one a sense of mysterious contentment; a degree of spiritual calm instilled by few of North America’s natural wonders. The tower is located in the Black Hills of northeast Wyoming, not far from Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore in neighboring South Dakota, and just down the road from another place we visited — Aladdin, Wyoming.  It is a rare honor to visit a place like this and bask in the grandeur of the…

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The Remains of Cottonwood, South Dakota ?>

The Remains of Cottonwood, South Dakota

On Highway 14, about halfway between Wall and Philip, lies sleepy Cottonwood, South Dakota. We visited Cottonwood at the suggestion of our friend Maya Greywolf who had been momentarily captivated by these abandoned places while passing through on a roadtrip. We had little idea what to expect, but we were thrilled at the photo opportunities when we arrived. Interstate 90 passes a few dozen miles to the south of Cottonwood, and travelers use that high speed corridor to access highly-photographed…

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Carlyle, Montana: Prairie Ghost Town ?>

Carlyle, Montana: Prairie Ghost Town

There were once over two hundred people in Carlyle, Montana, but today it is a ghost town. The remains of the business district (visible in the background, behind the elevators) are secured on fenced and posted property, and are a shadow of the small town that once stood here. Carlyle’s most visible remnant is the former school standing on a hill across the road from the elevators. It appears the present owner opened up one wall on the west side…

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Tiny Aladdin, Wyoming is For Sale ?>

Tiny Aladdin, Wyoming is For Sale

Aladdin is a former coal mining settlement in Crook County, today a tiny roadside stop in the Black Hills of northeastern Wyoming, just a short drive from Devils Tower National Monument. Census records indicate a peak population of 200 people during its coal mining heydey, but today, only 15 residents reportedly remain. The centerpiece of Aladdin is the 118-year old General Store which does a brisk business serving travelers on the road between Devils Tower and Belle Fourche, South Dakota….

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128 Years of Postal Service in Rockham, South Dakota ?>

128 Years of Postal Service in Rockham, South Dakota

Rockham is in Faulk County, South Dakota, about 80 miles northeast of Pierre. I visited Rockham while on a trip to shoot several neighboring places — Miranda, and Lily — and they all turned out to be beautiful places to photograph. I did not know the significance of this Post Office when I arrived, but it stood out among the buildings on Broadway Street as a place that was cared-for and maintained nicely. Rockham’s reported population in the 2010 Census…

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The Lonely Streets of Miranda, South Dakota ?>

The Lonely Streets of Miranda, South Dakota

Miranda, South Dakota is in Faulk County, about forty miles southwest of Aberdeen. The scenery on the way to Miranda was awesome; like being adrift on a sea of prairie in places, with barely a power line or telephone pole to be seen. Miranda is an unincorporated community of about a half dozen inhabited residences, and upon arrival I was pleased to discover it had a number of vacant and abandoned places to shoot. On the south end of Pine…

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Going Back to Hillhead ?>

Going Back to Hillhead

After I visited Hillhead in 2014, it was pointed out to me that I missed the building that was once the school. So, when I was planning a trip to shoot some places around Aberdeen in June of 2015, I decided I would travel through Hillhead again on the way back home and see if I could get a shot of the school. The old grocery store looks much as it did in 2014, standing alone along the highway where…

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